Even today when the wives are working equally long hours outside at jobs and contributing substantially to the family kitty, it is the husband who is considered to be the head of the household and in charge of finances and decision making. But slowly the changes are coming. Urban pressures are pulling the family apart and the system of marriage in urban societies is undergoing a subtle change. Today’s couples are evolving different solution in coping with the situations. Each situation is different with its ego clashes, conflicts, pressures and priorities and needs to be tackled accordingly or end up separated and divorced. The complex situations and emotional involvement between husband and wife make it more difficult to unravel the forces behind the frictions. The basic problem here is that women are now demanding more space, their rights and freedom. They are not as ready as their mothers to be submissive and meek but the problem arises because men have not changed and are not agreeable to accept a free thinking woman.
The Indian male has been brought up in a society where women have always played a subservient role where men took the lead, always. Today the materialistic society is putting more and more pressure on the family, the couples are also in the race for one-upmanship and getting embroiled in issues like the manner in which the two salaries coming in should be spent. There needs to be a clear understanding on this to avoid friction. Today’s working woman is not ready to limit herself to the role of housewife. Her work has gained a higher priority and she has less time to invest in her family. Her financial solvency gives her freedom from total dependence on her husband besides giving her an individual identity. The husband is not ready to cope with this kind of a situation and there are definite ego clashes.
The situation in the last 50 years has become quite different with a break up of joint family structures. Earlier the parents were a disarming influence in tussles between their sons and daughter-in-laws. But now, even when the wife is working in senior position, is expected to lower her priorities by looking after her children at home. In case of the husband getting transferred, she is expected to throw up her job and follow. In another situation, it has been noticed that husbands are jealous of wives working in more high profile jobs. This naturally lead to complex ego clashes, with neither ready to cow down. In today’s jobs most women are professional and competitively better than men but it is still considered a man’s world. In several cases where both husband and wife are working in equally high profile careers, they do make adjustments but for this they have to cross the initial hurdle.
When the marriages are new, both the spouses expect the world of each other and when, due to work pressure, they are not able to give enough time at home, ti definitely creates friction. But with time, if they are really interested in making the marriage work, they mellow down and start respecting each other’s demands, career and responsibilities. The recent survey done, emphasizes the difference between the early stages and later states of marriage with working women. Their career remains important for them but looking after home also acquires equal importance.
Even as they are on their way back home, they are planning of what has to be done at home and the menu for the evening. The man comes back home and puts up his feet but does try to lessen the burden on his overworked spouse. He suggests eating out or getting the milk and making the bed. But the pressure of life do lend to make their lives mechanical and less tolerant of each other.
Working couples rarely have free time to enjoy together, have fun or meet their common or individual friends. The situation deteriorates when the wife’s job and her work are not given due respect and in such cases, the woman is left holding the baby – metamorphic ally and literally. The double load of holding fort in the house and the office leaves her with little patience for loving and nurturing.
The physical strain coupled with her resentment, at being handed the short end of the stick, leads to conflict with her husband and further confusion. The real way out of this westernized concept of the working woman is evaluating their ideas and moulding it according to our needs. The lucky ones do this and become friends with each other sharing an equation. The need is not to boss over each other. If the lady of the house comes back home tired from work, the husband should be willing to make tea for her or take charge of telling the servant what to cook for dinner. They should be prepared to supplement each other.
The idea should be to make the principles of a happy marriage work for them, to have a happy family without giving work the top priority in their lives. Children are an important part of any happy family and the familial bonds are drawn closer because of them. They are also one of the prime reasons for marriage and looking after them is the joint responsibility of both husband and wife. Today there is more friction in marriages because of changes in marriage equations. We need to overcome our discriminatory behavior towards women and give them the pride of place they deserve. Women have been placed on a high pedestal in our Shastras.
They are the ‘Grih-Laxmi’ or the goddess of wealth and prosperity, then why do we consider them inferior to us? Why do we treat them like commodities to be bargained at the time of nuptials, asking for dowry beyond the woman’s family’s capacity and treating them like bonded labour to get service at the drop of a hat-gratis? Until we change this attitude, it will always be a difficult proposition, coping with Urban Marriages.