How to deal with changes that come with marriage (a perspective for women)
If you’re a married person, or someone who is considering marriage in the near future, I can bet my bottom dollar that you have experienced some amount of anxiety with regard to how marriage changes one’s life. Deepika Padukone in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani lets us know that “shaadi is dal chawal for pachaas saal till you die” (being married means you eat rice and dal for 50 years till you die). On the off chance that that is in fact true, imagine being used to eating your mother’s variety of cuisines that she so kindly replicates from those Sanjeev Kapoor TV shows (or Hotstar if your mum has that smartphone figured out FINALLY) until one day, voila! Marriage. After all, mutual fund investments are subject to market risks (the only bit we manage to comprehend out of those TV advertisement endings that are fast forwarded very cunningly), and marriage is quite like a mutual fund investment. Two families and the two partners come together and invest in a new family their time, attention, concern and many more resources. As in mutual funds there is always a risk of stocks going up and down, accordingly sending the investment off on a spiral, marriage brings with it a chance for changes we may or may not have expected. The following is what you can expect will change with marriage if you’re a girl person:
Many girls in India grow up with the belief that ‘betiyaan paraaya dhan hoti hain’ (daughters do not belong to their parents as they eventually must be married and live with their in-laws). If you’re married and are now living with your in-laws, you could possibly expect the following changes:
If you are married into a joint family:
1. New family:
Until now you have been used to calling just your mother and father “maa”, “mumma”, “papa”, “baba”, etc. Since you marry into your husband’s family, you acquire a new pair of mummy and daddy. Though nothing much changes with regards to the number of people you have around, your roles and responsibilities may be different. If back at home you were used to having breakfast in bed, there are chances you might now be expected to have breakfast at the table with your in-laws among other new roles. Dealing with in-laws can be a very challenging process. I feel a lot of the difficulty comes from their evil portrayal in the Indian daily soap opera (our favourite saas-bahu serials). Women almost expect their mother-in-law to be this very poisonous and dominant woman who loathes the woman her son has married along with an oblivious father-in-law who does not have a say in his intimidating wife’s choices. Newsflash! Uncommon.
It helps to understand that your new parents are also as anxious about the changes in the family structure as you are. A lot of the time, just explicitly discussing one’s anxieties can help relieve them. Talk to your new parents about how much you miss home. Tell them how else they could set up the living room. Suggest alternatives to their usual quality time activities, or suggest they set apart some quality time in the first place. If you have married into a joint family, chances are so was your mother-in-law and by then, she could probably write a thesis on how to deal with being part of a new family. Ask her or any other woman in the family what you could do. Make them an ally in your evil plans of ordering dinner in and go for a movie.
It’s important that you eventually look at your new family as just family. Time is definitely a factor in that comfort kicking in, but your effort and will play a huge role too.
2. Quitting your job:
Unfortunately, or not, some working women quit their jobs after marriage for several reasons. Their husband’s family might be living in a different city and they might have to move. They might choose to stay at home when planning to have children. They might not be able to handle the workload, what with their homemaking and office deadlines, both. They might even be asked to quit their job in case their in-laws are conservative and do not believe they should be working. This can become the source of a great deal of bitterness very soon. Someone who is used to having a 9 to 5 schedule at work can find it frustrating to not have much to do around the house. It can also be stressful for women to go from being financially independent to suddenly having to ask their husbands or whoever runs the house’s finances for money every time she needs to get groceries or even go bra shopping!
It helps to discuss this change before marriage. If you go in prepared to be a housewife, you have the buffer time amidst all the wedding planning to think of what else you could possibly do with your time. It helps, also, if this decision of you quitting your job is a mutual one and not enforced upon you. In the latter case, the bitterness is bound to kick in anyway.
However, if you are already married and quit your job and have not yet had this discussion, there is good news. It’s never too late to openly discuss your feelings. If you wish to go back to work or take up another job, there is really no harm in bringing this up. Maybe start with the member who you are closest to in the family, preferably your husband, your compadré!
If it’s just you and your husband:
Moving into a two-person family from a bigger one can bring up many feelings. You might feel lonely, bored, or even enjoy the privacy. In case of loneliness, push for quality time with the hubby. Ensure you have some me-time set out all for yourself, too. It will help you appreciate the time you can give yourself. This is especially important if you are not working currently. Develop old hobbies or pick up new ones. Explore newer social circles around where you live. Rekindle old friendships. Most importantly though, talk to your husband about how you feel. It is important that he is aware of the way you feel at all times. Remember, he cannot read your mind and communication is key.
You might have an increased workload if you are the sole homemaker. It can be a very distressing experience and render you fatigued and exhausted. This will affect your relationship with your husband if you do not have the energy left for the day’s end when he comes home. Responsibilities at home can be even more overwhelming if you are working and have to keep juggling between hats. Sharing the load is the best way to help deal with this change. It helps develop intimacy between the partners and an awareness of the workload the other has. You could also discuss hiring help, but remember to discuss the same. Hiring help is a financial decision and it’s important that all members are on-board and in on it.
5. You’re married:
In both the cases, you are newly married. All this while you have been by yourself (unless this is not your first marriage, which is great because you are experienced, though there can be challenges there too and maybe we could discuss those in another blog), and quite suddenly you have a mate. A mate! This person is going to be there. All. The. Time. That sort of commitment could take some getting used to. One of you might be the kind of person who is used to pressing the bottom-end of the toothpaste tube and one of you might be the kind who starts from the top. One of you might be alright with that wet towel on the bed. One of you (and yes my biases are pointing to the boy persons here) might need to learn to keep that toilet seat down! As small and irrelevant as these nitty-gritty details appear, they can actually be very significant if they keep piling up. Think about the tiny rituals you perform very religiously from morning to night, starting from how chirpy you are when you wake up to how much light or noise you are comfortable with when going to bed. These little things are a big part of your daily life and the smallest of changes to them can be super frustrating. For selfish reasons, and selfish reasons alone, it is good to get to know how different your partner’s daily routine is from your own.
Start with the honeymoon and take your time with that. If you have not had the privilege of a long enough courtship to get to know each other, start as soon as you can. Knowing each other inside out carries the risk of finding out a little too much about things that you do not like. If that happens, work on falling in love with your partner’s idiosyncrasies. Think about whether they would still be the person you love without them. Establish clear boundaries about what you like or not with regards to things like hygiene, punctuality, remembering anniversaries, gifts, etc. among other things.
Whether you live with your in-laws or just with your husband, your life changes drastically when your baby comes into the picture. This happy change can be very emotionally and physically taxing, and maybe, we could discuss how to deal with that in another post.
If you’re a boy person, fret not. We shall soon have a post for you, with love.
If you are facing any issues in your marriage, you can speak anonymously with our counsellors at Askmile.com.