marriage

Marriage so far

I’m married for almost 7 months now. I realised that I might have expressed my thoughts on marriage in general on my blog or other blogs I follow, but I never quite wrote about my own. My best friend is getting married in March and she really wanted to know what I felt about “being a married woman”…honestly, my first though is that “married woman” sounds yuck to me and I can’t quite identify with the term “married” when it’s coupled with “woman”. Makes it sound like an old and jaded mahila. That’s the thing about words…they feel and sound so different in different languages even though now I am exactly that: a married woman. Anyway, I don’t intend to digress.

Marriage so far hasn’t been any different from my single life to be honest. There’s nothing we do differently apart from the fact that we now stay together on a day-to-day basis. I think the portrait of a marriage differs depending on what you wanted when you wanted to get married, your educational and family background, the people you hang out with, the values you relate to and so on and so forth. I never looked forward to the wedding day. When I said marriage, I meant marriage: living together, sharing day-to-day life, having a joint bank account (I still don’t have this, but I have no idea why I’ve always wanted one), eating together, bitching together (although my husband only listens…but with the kind of interest I’d only associate with girls), having friends over, never having to make the bed again and such other mundane stuff. I never bought the concept of marriage between families. It shouldn’t be and I wouldn’t have it that way. Of course, it’s a different thing altogether if your families are cordial and do manage to spend time together and actually enjoy it. But it shouldn’t be a requisite.

Our marriage so far has been exactly that. We have shared duties based on our preferences. I cook, he cleans. I buy groceries, he pays the bills. Sometimes I clean the washrooms, sometimes he does. He tidies the bedroom, he runs the washing machine, he folds the clothes, he makes the bed. This post is increasingly making me realise that I might be lazier than I thought. My husband pretty much does everything other than cook. And apart from cooking and making a huge mess, I do little else. But in my lame defense, we both do exactly what we like doing. I love cooking and he’s obsessed with cleaning. While I can show complete indifference to a sink with 4-5 vessels, he simply cannot bear the idea of not having an empty sink. New ingredients and recipes make my heart dance with excitement; different floor cleaners and brooms and the cleaning paraphernalia have the same effect on him. That explains the industrial size bottles of hand-washes, toilet cleaners, floor cleaners, surface cleaners and acids we have stocked up. On our common days off we just sleep longer, watch TV, do some shopping that can’t be done online and spend a relaxed day.

When our parents come over, each of us treats the other set of parents like they’re our own; but I reserve my disregard for age and lack of restraint while saying whatever just to my own. My in-laws do have a fair idea of my impulsiveness and neurosis though. I think it helps if the right expectations are set right at the beginning. I have seen a lot of girls go out of their way to impress their in-laws and the extended family at the beginning, but this can be quite stressful in the long-run. When the lovey-dovey time is long over and the work stress catches up, all you want to do is spend holidays in peace. Keeping up with the sacrificing, making-compromises-for-love bhartiya naari image can be extremely frustrating. What you once did for love makes you wonder and mull over questions you conveniently refused to ask yourself at the time of trying to be a perfect wife as the society would love to see it: why should only you change everything? why is it taken for granted that during your time off work you’d divide the time between your husband’s home and yours equally while the husband divides it in a 4:1 proportion? why is it that you are expected to go show yourself to your husband’s mum’s friend, their neighbours, their kaamwali baais and such other people you don’t care about at all?

I found it easier to let my mother-in-law know right from the beginning that I was exactly like her son: I didn’t like visiting random people, I’d much rather spend time lying on the couch with my eyes glued to the TV, I loved my family just as much as he did his, I wouldn’t give in to what his grandmother thought I should do, if I was not going to listen to my own grandmother. I mean if at all I had to listen to one grandmother, it would be my own. Once this was known, even at the cost of sounding rude at the beginning, my mother-in-law being a progressive woman understood it perfectly. Plus now, when I do go to all the above mentioned people and sundries, I am seen as a very adjusting and understanding bahu who let go of her precious time reserved for doing nothing. My mother-in-law and I share a very nice relationship where I am comfortable arguing with her just like I am with my mother. Of course she practises a little more restraint and hardly ever tells us what to do. And this is only possible because she is an exceptional woman. She has never felt the need to interfere in our marriage even though I married her only child. She expects nothing from me, which is why I wouldn’t mind doing some things voluntarily. The same is true of my parents. Even though they’d like it if my husband visited all the different family members, they have never asked him to do so. I think they are anyway used to 2 extremely headstrong daughters so it wouldn’t come to them as shock if they asked and he refused.

All in all, marriage has been fun so far. And I think it always will be if it stays the way it is where we have enough things to do together but also the possibility of doing our own thing. Funnily enough, having the possibility of doing your own thing significantly reduces the number of things you want to do alone. It helps if you can tell each other that you want to be alone for a while. I do this often because there are too many things I enjoy alone, while my husband is a more balanced person who prefers being alone or in a company of a select few, but is just as comfortable in a loud boisterous group. He is not the nitpicking kinds who’d want way too particular things. I am very very particular, but his moderation evens things out I guess. I am impulsive and volatile while he is calm and composed…but we somehow seem to balance out as a group. Although he does the balancing, I just reap the benefits. 🙂

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The wedding house

It’s almost 2 months since we got married and so about time for a post about the wedding. The funny part was that we got married 2 days after we had the reception. Sounds odd, but that was only practical. So since we already had quite a few guests at home since 4-5 days before the first reception, and since we are both too lazy, we didn’t really make it for the marriage registration on the reception day.

I had gone through quite a bit of heartache and headache before the reception. There were multiple changes in the dates and the plan in general. We had all agreed that I wouldn’t wear Mangalsutra. But one fine day Em’s mum suddenly called and tried to cajole me into wearing it if only for 5 minutes, just to appease her mum. And I kept resisting saying that it wasn’t  a matter of time but my principle and that if I really believed that it made any difference, I’d totally wear it forever. She tried to play the let’s-make-the-old-people-happy card, but I didn’t buy it since I didn’t particularly believe that old people were right. If anything, they should just sit back and watch without actively participating in matters that don’t concern them (No disrespect intended. I LOVE my maternal grandparents. They respect my choices, I respect theirs). Plus, if I had to do something just to please another human being even if it meant going against my own belief system, I’d much rather do it for my own grandmother. I know my grandmother, I love her and making some compromise for her wouldn’t seem so insulting because of the years and years of love we share. But what was the excuse of doing it for a grandmother that I had met only once in my lifetime?

I don’t blame her. I understand her point of view too. After a certain age, what matters to you most is making your old parents happy, especially if it doesn’t require a huge physical effort. But I was right in my place too. I planned on getting married just this one time and wanted it done my way…in a way that’d let me look back fondly and not with resentment and bitterness. I tried to make my argument but I was simply not being listened to. In this case, I played my usual tell-the-boyfriend card and told EM the entire story and scolded him for having to listen to this and said that this marriage was just like any other where the girls have to make all the compromise. While my parents agreed to let me have my own way, the truth is that my dad would have liked it if there was a priest. But I had fiercely rejected the whole idea and made him give in. Now, listening to EM’s mother’s idea of wearing the mangalsutra but not doing anything my dad wanted just seemed wrong and hypocritical. I told EM that if I wore the mangalsutra, he’d have to be okay with the priest even if we didn’t believe in it. I didn’t have to do much convincing. EM was himself enraged with the whole idea and explained in his extraordinarily effective and convincing way that I would do no such thing.

Now EM’s mother being an incredibly intelligent and progressive woman, she saw the point and gave up the idea. She also realized that the expectation was unreasonable when we had the whole thing already figured out. We resolved the whole issue in no time and agreed to stick to what EM and I wanted irrespective of other people’s choices. Then there a few other issues like these where everyone apart from the couple to be married was discussing what was the best way to do this, who should be invited, what gifts should be given out, what food made etc. I’m not complaining. All these were important questions and somebody had to do it. But there were tempers flying and irrelevant discussions happening.

Apart from a couple of glitches like these, that are only natural for anything that involves more than one person and more than one point of view, the wedding was a fun affair. We had guests come in a couple of days before. I was pampered like crazy with the wonderful food of choice, a 5 hour manicure, pedicure, facial et al session (first and last in my life. I’d much rather watch Seinfeld with a huge bag of crisps). We had a guy come over to paint our hands with henna and it was beautiful and almost hypnotic to watch the silky mix make magical shapes on my hands in no time. The entire family got together, all at once, after a very long time.  For the first time in my life I wasn’t feeling all that irritated among so many people and started appreciating family and relations and the priceless connection you feel with people who are so happy for you and participate with such an open heart in your joy. In fact, they didn’t just participate but celebrated our relationship’s gradual step into the married life.

A lot of our relatives came from far off as well. Even friends came despite the weather not being all that great. There were no major functions, there weren’t any glamorous functions. Just a lot of lovely people coming together for 2 people they loved and cared about and in general to just hang out with all the relatives, do some catching up, share some fun anecdotes and enjoy. The whole affair was a bit unconventional based purely on love and understanding. There were no weird ego issues, no throwing tantrums, no crying…just people, food and fun. We had 2 receptions. One in my town and one in EM’s after which we, with a bunch of close, special, non judgmental relatives spent another 2 days in a huge guesthouse in a little hill station nearby. We all chatted, took pictures, went for long walks, drank loads, had copious amounts of tea with lemon grass. After this fun-filled 5 days people slowly started dispersing and getting back to the inevitable routine, but everyone hopefully feeling rejuvenated. EM and I then took a trip, just the two of us…yes, you can call it the honeymoon, where we spent most time talkign about our relatives and the events in the last few days in general over awesome food and drink, before settling into the usual place and bunch.

The house that was magically transformed into the wedding house marked with people, food, festivities and fun got back to its usual silent everyday existence…but not without the lovely memories of the first marriage that it witnessed.