Saturday, December 7, 2013

"A wife should NEVER be the first priority"

In my blog, I often talk about the importance of the husband/wife relationship and I have often said that that the husband MUST put the wife first, and vice versa. I believe that a marital relationship must come first, above children and both respective parents. Why? Because a good, solid husband/wife relationship is essential for a happy home. It creates a positive & peaceful environment for the home (as well as the family) and it sets a good example for children of a healthy marital relationship. And, if the husband/wife have a strong relationship - then there is no hardship that they can't endure - because they are fully united as a supportive team. Plus, having a good relationship with your spouse makes life a little sweeter!

The problem is....a lot of male Indian commenters think that this is absolutely outrageous. Over the course of writing my blog, I have got several comments ranging from "a wife should NEVER be the first priority", "the wife should come last or else her ego will get too big", and yesterday somebody called  my beloved husband-ji "a bad son" for giving me "too much importance" and that I should "apologize" to my inlaws and that "the problem lies with your husband for following in his wife's footsteps for he thinks he is obliged to please you and you alone now that you were in his life."

As many of my readers know, I have an excellent relationship with both husband-ji and my dear inlaws. Yes, my husband, puts me first (as he should!!!) and I put him first. And that certainly has no negative effect on my relationship with my parents OR inlaws - in fact, it makes them happy and confident about our marriage. If anything, it has a positive effect on our parents.

But, really, I am simply BAFFLED by this mindset...

I thought that was what marriage is all about. Husband & wife put each other first - otherwise, what's the point of getting married? If you are only going to put your parents first, then why even get married in the first place? Or simultaneously, if you are only going to put your children first, then skip the marriage process and just adopt or do artificial insemination! Oops...I forgot - they'd need a servant maid to cook and take care of the kids (otherwise known as a "wife" to these misogynists!!!)

And what a patriarchal mindset it is...of course it is essential that a husband should be put first, and his parents, and the children....but what about the wife? If the husband is given the first priority, shouldn't the wife be given that also? Why are there festivals like Karva Chauth that celebrate the husband's long life - but nothing for the wife? Isn't that a little imbalanced???

Clearly, the wife needs to be appreciated, especially in an Indian household. It is she who has to "adjust" first, it is she who has to take care of the family and juggle her work/aspirations with family, inlaws, children AND household, and I'm sure to these commenters is is also her responsibility to keep the flame alive with her husband. (Not to mention, stroking the male ego is a full-time job within itself...LOL)

The fact that these commenters think that the wife is undeserving of being put at the same level as the husband is quite troubling. Or the fact that if they think that by giving the importance to her, that it will "inflate her ego" and then she will all of a sudden abandon her family...is quite crazy. Last time I checked, nobody left for being appreciated too much! 

WHY is is so threatening to put a wife first? Is it because it gives her more power in the relationship? Is that what it's all about? A power trip? I thought marriage was supposed to be a loving, mutually supportive relationship. Or is it supposed to be a master/slave relationship? Have I got it wrong here...?

I think these types of mindsets are used as a form of controlling the woman - they think that if they complain enough about her, then "she will continually strive to be better", when in reality, all it can create for the woman is under-appreciation, misery and resentment - which is a perfect combination of being trapped and searching for a way out. Not to mention, whatever is inflicted on the woman is also inflicted on the soul of the home - in the soul of the children. Children grow up to see their mother figures as inferior, abused and controlled.

Can you imagine if somebody said "it is outrageous to put the husband first. Never ever, EVER should he be put first! Just because he is a male." What a disservice to a human being, and a disservice to a marital relationship - and all based on gender, too.

So here I am, Mrs. Madh Mama....GLADLY a bad influence on the Indian institution of patriarchal marriage by influencing husbands to put their wives first!


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And....don't forget....My Best Marriage Advice!

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Dear readers, what do you think? Do you think it is important to put your spouse first? In what ways has it benefited your relationship?


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62 comments

  1. @Alexandra

    This question of who to put first is clearly established in a western marriage which is essentially about two individuals. The question becomes slightly more complicated in an Indian marriage where the family comes with the marriage. For a man, wife is definitely important and should be, but so are his parents. It is like asking which eye you like the most, left eye or the right eye. You need both the eyes for a complete vision. For him, everyone comes first. But, still he is told to choose between his mother and wife, which is most painful for him, two most important people in his world. Why it has to be an either or situation for him? Is it his fault that both the DIL and MIL, mature women that they are, cannot resolve their issues amicably and put the blame on him.

    You have worked hard on your relationship with you inlaws and your husband has reciprocated your feelings. Thus, you can demand that he is respectful to your patents. There are DILs who are plain abusive towards their inlaws but still insist that their husband are absolutely respectful towards their parents. I believe that all relationships are equally important. Nobody has to come first or last, that how it should be. One has to maintain a balance and give equal respect to everybody. One may call it diplomacy, but that how life is. The trouble starts when you insist on establishing who comes first, because life is not a race where one has to come first.

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    1. It is established in a Western marriage because that is what we were taught from an early age, and also in Western marriage there are vows which are "put your spouse before all other".
      The only thing is.....in an Indian household, if the wife puts her husband first, as well as leaving her natal family, why can't the husband also put her first? After all, we will all outlive our parents.
      Usually it doesn't come down to "a choice" between parents and wife, but sometimes it does. In many ways, I feel like the (traditional) indian male is also married to his parents.
      I don't think I necessarily "demand" that my hubby be respectful to my parents, more nurture their relationship. If I had to choose between my husband and my parents, it would be him I chose, 100% of the time. Or maybe because we are a love marriage we are already familiar with this choice.

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    2. Well, anonymous, nobody here is asking the wife to be disrespectful to the husband's parents.

      You can be respectful but still put your spouse first. When you talk of asking the guy to choose between his eyes, you do realise that in patriarchal societies, we do not give that choice to women at all!

      Why do the guys moms act immature & see the spouse as competition? Because they do not have healthy relationships with their husbands & put all the pressure on their child.

      When you marry, nobody is asking you to discard your parents but you should make marriage your priority. If not, why marry? Men who complain that they are stuck between their wives & moms rarely agree to the fact that their mom CAN be wrong at times & behave like immature teenage girls. They usually shut up in front of their mother & take it out on their wives. Sometimes, in life you have to accept that your best friends do not get along & maintain the relationship individually with them. The problem comes when we try to force ppl to get along.

      In arranged marriages, everything is stacked against the wife. The son will listen to his mom coz he "knows" her longer.

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    3. @Alexandra

      Who told you that Indian marriages are not without vows. The Christian marriage vows are more or less the same as the Hindu marriage vows. It is the same in every culture. Both are about dedication and duties to each other. In addition, the Hindu marriage vows also talks about duties towards family, friends, society and having a spiritually nourishing life.

      http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/significance-of-7-vows-in-indian-marriages.html

      As you yourself mentioned Indian men are married to their families as well as their respective wives. So, their position is far for complicated. With all his good intentions, if he puts one before the other, it just adds fuel to fire. So, most men are forced to tread a tight rope, not because they want it, they have to, otherwise, nobody is happy. You have never demanded that you husband respect your parents but some women do that. They are utterly abusive towards their inlaws but want all the respect. Then they put all the all the blame on "patriarchy" "misogyny" etc. If things do not work out they can ofcourse slap false dowry case on their inlaws to settle scores.

      You have made an investment into you relationships with your MIL, husband etc. Many women do not do that, but want full returns. There is also something else, the fact that wife has to leave her home is much touted fact. But man has to realign his relationships in his own home. For him nothing has changed, but for his family, things have changed. He too is inexperienced. It is a steep learning curve for him. But he has to be perfect from the word go. It takes him sometime to just understand that all his older relationships have changed with marriage and he has to rebuilt them all over again. It is a highly traumatic and turbulent time for him. Whoever, said Indian man has it easy is stupid. The mighty Indian man is the worst sufferer.

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    4. @Anonymous: In most cases, the Mom in laws have had it so bad in their own relationships, that they become totally focussed, even obsessed with their male child, even with their female child in some instances. All because they were never put first, never respected, never heard in their own marriages.Sometimes, the only time they get any recognition as an entity is when they bear a make child. After she becomes the Mom, she realizes that the child was the only one who put her first, and hence she never wants to let that go, never wants to be put second ever again, and hence competes with the new wife, and the vicious cycle continues. Where there is a relationship of equality and respect amongst the in-laws, often, those are the happiest homes that let their children live and blossom. The spouse has to put the other first, and then on that thread, everyone finds a place in their life, making a cohesive unit. Putting wife as a priority does not mean giving up on parents. But if you ever tell a wife that your parents come first, she will always resent you somewhere deep down, and resent the parents and the relationship that she had staked her whole life upon.Which is why this imbalance has to change.It successfully breaks the vicious cycle, as the wife now will feels no need to be obsessed with her child or feel the competition, as she has her own partner who keeps her number one in his priority list.

      Just because it did not happen before does not make it right. The right thing HAS to start somewhere, and the time is now.

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    5. @anonymous - yes, I also took those vows in front of the sacred fire and goddess Mahalakshmi.
      Your opinion being a traditional Indian male is interesting to read.

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    6. "You have never demanded that you husband respect your parents but some women do that. They are utterly abusive towards their inlaws but want all the respect. Then they put all the all the blame on "patriarchy" "misogyny" etc. If things do not work out they can ofcourse slap false dowry case on their inlaws to settle scores. "
      Ah, usual straw feminist rubbish. Was waiting for that to come along. Even *if* you grant your assumption that "some" women do that, lets all blame that on feminism eh? Never miss an opportunity to diss feminism.

      Do you even know what patriarchy means? *sigh*

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  2. I completely agree. The marriage is the foundation of a family, and once you place other things as priority over each other, everyone will suffer. Of course all things must be in balance; no marriage exists in a vacuum and a strong marriage will be able to bend as needed to meet the needs of others in the family without sacrificing either spouse. But the practice of putting the woman last absolutely sickens me. This is the ultimate cultural rift between Western and Indian society. Indian marriage is about DUTY, to take care of you husband and his family and to bear them children with no thought to your own needs or desires. Westerners believe marriage is about LOVE, and that the bond between two people
    comes first and all the rest follows. The views are so completely opposite that each side has a hard time wrapping their heads around how the other way could possibly work. According to traditional Indian standards, I am a terrible wife. But my husband loves me for me and that's all that matters.

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    1. I soooooo agree with everything you said! Once you start putting anything before marriage - whether it be career, kids, parents, friends....it is easy to push the marriage to the sidelines.
      I think in Indian culture, love is expressed through duty, where in Western culture it is expressed through love and quality one-on-one time like dates etc.
      I am totally a terrible Indian wife too! :D but at least I'm romantic!

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  3. "whatever is inflicted on the woman is also inflicted on the soul of the home - in the soul of the children"

    this. just this. Of course, if someone think that children should learn that their mothers are only there to be slave for the family, that little girls should grow up to learn that their ultimate purpose is to be slave for someone else's family, then I guess that's exactly what is intended. A sense of entitlement is passed down to the little boys, and a sense of servitude passed down to the little girls.

    I'm devoted to my husband, but he is also devoted to me, and there's nothing wrong with that. If he didn't care about me, wouldn't that be a problem? Likewise, we care for our parents and there's none of that mom vs. wife business. A wife is not use and throw - work her till she dies and then you can get another. I guess there are people who think that way but I am glad we don't.

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    1. Even in the most "educated" or "progressive" families, I have seen the woman's needs come last - "what needs?" LOL
      The mom vs. wife thing never came up for us either, except for that trip to Goa. I wanted to show my MIL that married or not, he rolls with me - so either she joins us or not - in our journey. And luckily, she did, because she didn't want to lose him. And luckily, she also gained a friendship with me too :)

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  4. To me the question of who comes first or last should not arise...everybody has her/his own place in the scheme of things and all deserve respect plus care.

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    1. I agree....but sometimes it does come up. Not too often though. If all are understanding and united then there should be no problem.

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  5. Unfortunately, India doesn't seem to be a country that empowers women and as long as they are seen as commodities nothing will change. I hate to say this and I am not excusing the men, but this belief that women are not equal and lower to men is perpetuated mostly by women themselves. Daughters are told by their mothers (of course not all) that they are burden and should be married off as soon as they come into age. They are told that they must endure everything for the sake of the family. DIL becomes subservient as soon as she enters the husband's family home. Their own mothers tell them that this is what they are supposed to do and the way things have been forever.

    Good example of this, a week after we came back from the honeymoon and before they all went back to India we decided to take his family to Niagara Falls. Mother and father, his sister and niece. We rented a van and drove the 7 hours there. Husband was the one mostly doing the driving although I helped some. Of course I was sitting next to him in the front the entire time. His sister at one point said to me: "Why are you always sitting in the front; my father is in the car". I replied "because I am his wife and this where I sit". It was not his father making a stink about not sitting in the front, it was his daughter.

    On the other hand, husbands have been so dependent on the mother for so long that they can't seem to give their wives the place and respect they deserve. There shouldn't be a who comes first between mother and wife because after you choose to get married and start your own family there should be no questions that the wife should be the priority and viceversa.

    Is not about not caring and loving your mother any less but now is the time to move on and start a new life with your wife and give her the place she deserves. It has nothing to do with women been entitled and spoiled.

    Millie B

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    1. This is why I think the term "patriarchy," though oft-maligned, is so apt (and it also applies in Western society too). It is not boys vs. girls - it's a system. Not a zero-sum game. The system of patriarchy is inherently unequal, and so embedded into societies that we are happy to get AS MUCH AS we can out of it, even though that means contributing to the system.

      It's mothers telling their daughters how to be subservient so at least they're treated nicely, because the alternative is much worse.

      It's women getting married as an excuse to go into "early retirement."

      It's mother-in-laws visiting the same cruel treatment on their daughter-in-laws that they themselves got because it is the only power they will ever be able to hold.

      It's Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin all over the TV pushing back women's rights for the common woman because they're seen as "better than the other women" by those in power and are given all kinds of money and air time that they would not get if they wanted to fight the system.

      It's making the most of the golden cage we're trapped in (some cages are more golden than others) instead of breaking out into the cold, dark, unknown, and hostile world.

      It's being pet dogs to be cherished instead of stray dogs to be kicked.

      I'm not as much of a feminist as I think I should be, but I do see the effects of patriarchy and women encourage the system too, because in the short-term, it's more rewarding than calling it out, breaking it down, and instituting a more just and equal societal structure.

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    2. @ millie - I totally agree. Women can be the biggest supporters of patriarchy and misogyny - because it is scary to go into the unknown and put value on one's self, instead of serving others, because that requires one to focus on one's self - and one's self alone! Being free can be scary.
      Everytime I do something fun with my MIL she feels guilty after. Whether it is going to see a movie, or staying up til midnight reading a novel. She thinks that she has to continually do things to serve others. It is all in her head.
      This dilemma of the wife vs the mom - seems to come up a lot in the Indian household. It is very odd. There should be no choice because the wife comes first. The only thing is, in a traditional Indian household, the man stays and starts the family and then the family is seen as an extension of his parents. So it differs so much between the Western mentality that "you go off and start your own family". That is also how I view my daughter - I feel she is only mine for a short amount of time before "she sets off into the world someday". This kind of freedom/independence is foreign to many conservative Indian families as everyone is always together.

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    3. @Andrea - I have no words. That was sooooooo brilliant and well-said.
      I didn't realize that I was a feminist until I had a daughter.

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  6. Alexandra,

    Where do I start? I come from a family FULL of people who believe that the wife/daughter/sister should not be valued. My father's brother apparently told my mom after she delivered me "don't worry, you will have a son next time". What kind of a person tells a new mother this?

    What is worse is that much of the patriarchy I have witnessed in my family is ably supported by the women. The women in my family have bought in to it so completely that they just don't see it. My mother, as ill as she is with the various ailments she suffers from, will still serve my father and bring him food as if he is an infant and can't fend for himself. One of my aunts casually made a remark years ago about "girls are easily brainwashed but it is hard to do the same to boys" and to her sons "don't let these girls get their hooks in to you. All they want is to find good boys, entrap you and then you will be stuck for life". When I was engaged to be married, this same aunt told me "when you are in the honeymoon phase get as much jewelry out of him (husband) as you can because afterwards, once the romance wears off, you will get nothing".

    I've done what I can with my mother but there has been no change (she calls me a feminist as though that is a bad thing, continues on her way, continues to complain about my dad and how he has to be taken care of, and continues to serve him his food daily). I think it would be accurate to say that I am estranged from my family- I couldn't take it anymore.

    I have a daughter and I simply cannot imagine treating her differently or as any less because she was born with a vagina.

    Raina.

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    1. @ raina - yes, I do believe it is carried on by the women as well - they enable men to behave like infants, and not the strong, capable men that they can wholly be. Just like you said in your family, it is engineered from an early age and carried on.
      I totally agree - this nonsense must stop with our generation and our children. We must not carry on these types of thinkings.

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    2. @Raina- Good for you for breaking the cycle. You are a hero to your daughter and she is lucky to have you!

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  7. Brilliantly put. Don''t get married if you cannot put your marriage first.

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    1. @boilingwok

      Both MILs and DILs are equally immature. Never point at the mistake of a women, be it your mother or wife. Women simply do not accept it. So there is no shutting up/opening up. It is not about right or wrong. Their egos are so big they fail to see beyond themselves. Who told you that a wife does not view MIL as competition. Both MILs and DILs are highly competitive.

      It comes as surprise to men the ingenious excuses women invent to fight. Can someone imagine food to be a matter of fight. The quantity of food is manipulated to deny other proper intake. A women's imagination begins when a man's imagination ends. Then, after indulging in these nefarious activities each one of them act innocent. The MIL becomes the loving mother being wrong and the wife becomes the 'victim'. Then, the blame is laid at the door step of the man. They are both equally evil. Oops, only one is evil, how can you call the DILs evil in this age of "political correctness" and "women empowerment". Not to mention, the ill advice that flow from the girl's mother 24x7 in the name of "protecting her rights". Women indulge in the most disgusting behavior but nobody dare accuse them. They are the perpetual 'victims'

      It is high time women own up their mistake before asking for whom to put first and whom to put last.

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    2. Anonymous - this must be you, who commented out of context on my blog. I was fair there, but will I have no choice but to be harsh here.

      MIL and DIL both are forced to this kind of 'hustling' for power and attention. It is said that limited resources cause people to want to fight - look at what happens at Walmart on Black Friday in the USA. If there is a situation where women are given no power at all in a familial relationship, certainly both are not above trying to grasp at what they can.

      The way out of this situation is to view and treat women as equal to men and to not limit their power for the sake of a man's "fragile ego," but to see them as equally important decision-makers for the family. Then, in an environment where we feel valued, there is no need for this sort of power-grabbing behavior. If it continues at that point, then it is a failing of the individual.

      If you believe the things you say here, that MIL and DIL are "evil" and "immature" and that "women indulge in the most disgusting behavior," then I IMPLORE you, do not ever marry. If you loved your mother at all, you would not put her in such a terrible position that you hold in such low regard.

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  8. very well written..I loved the flow..

    www.numerounity.com

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  9. Great post Alexandra! I am continually shocked at how much stress new Indian wives are subjected to and how little credit they get for it. In my (American) culture, a husband who neglects his wife would probably be criticized by his own parents for being a bad husband! Probably due to the Western love-based marriage vs. the Indian duty-based version. I don't claim that there is a "correct" model for marriage & family relationships, but all you have to do is ask a simple question: Is the entire family enjoying a happy and loving relationship? If the answer is yes, then regardless of priorities (which could change based on the situation), the marriage is a success!

    P.S. From the looks of it you've had a smashing success with your marriage adventure :)

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    1. As a Westerner, I am also shocked. It is interesting to hear your perspective as a Western man.
      I totally agree - if my children ever neglect their marriage or do not give their marriage the first priority, I would give my children a stern lecture.
      I think a lot of these behaviours are learned subconsciously within the natal home.
      I totally agree - no matter what, everyone should be happy with the relationship. It should have a positive effect on the whole family.

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    2. Seriously, you want to make it the east vs the west thing. No, it's to do with human nature and if it is flawed it has to corected.
      You think Indians and Indian parents want their sons and daughters to neglect their marriage. No, not in a country where live-in relationships are still looked down upon and the expectation to stay happily married is even greater.

      You think that they are done once they marry their sons & daughters?
      They are actively involved but somehow it is viewed as interference when Indian parents do it.
      Now, if you are guiding your adult offspring in their marital affairs, isn't that parental intervention?
      But, if Indians do the same the surely it is as per you.

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    3. @ Anonymous...With due respect to you and your culture, I gotta say that this *IS* an East/West issue, we're discussing phenomena borne out of contrasting cultures, no? I'm surprised you were offended enough by my comment to send me a private e-mail (which I'm not responding to…keeping this convo public), and I ask that you accept my apology. I really had no intent to offend.

      Though I also feel you shouldn't take personal offense to debate on the internet, I believe you are a better person than that.

      Nobody is saying that parents should be excluded from their children's marriages. But…here comes the East/West thing…you mention parents "guiding your adult offspring in their marital affairs." To my Western ear that sounds controlling and a bit counterproductive. I believe parents should be supporting of the married couple's decisions, not intent on influencing them. And that doesn't mean married couples should neglect their parents in their decision making process either, just shouldn't predicate their decisions on their parents' consent.

      When I speak of a spouse being neglected in marriage, I'm saying that their emotional needs are being neglected. I'm aware that Indian parents are diligent about arranging ideal matches and that their sons and daughters are equipped to handle the logistical aspects of matrimony, but how much emphasis is placed on the empathy between the couple? In the end it's the couple's happiness together that trumps everything, no?

      In my own experience with my Nepali fiance, I found that her mother's biggest concern about our relationship was "what would society think about us?" I understand she may have been thinking her daughter would end up unhappy due to societal pressure, but I still found it bizarre that she would rather marry her daughter to a Nepali man who she barely knew rather to a foreigner who she new very well and was in love with.

      Here's my disclosure…and I may be naive…If I am wrong about this then feel free to tell me…I engage in these convos because I like to learn about the culture on your side of the world…when you mentioned that of course Indian parents don't want their sons and daughters to neglect their marriage, the first thing I thought was, "Well, of course you wouldn't want your daughter's marriage to fail…if her husband divorced her she'd be ostracized from society." Again no offense, just sharing the perception I've formed from the information I have.

      Like I said, if your way of doing things is working for you, and everyone in the family is feeling happy and loved, then THAT'S GREAT! You've succeeded. And I believe that both Eastern and Western traditions can achieve success in this respect.

      All the best to your family & marriage from the USA :)

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  10. Madhmama

    I think you are completely misunderstanding the concept of love. You seem to narrowly define it by the love between husband and wife alone.
    Firstly, I want to clarify that you feel that sons are 'obliged' to love their parents which they are not.
    Love flows spontaneously out of a person's heart and you think it is fine for a wife to curb the love a man has for his parents and compelling to love her and love her alone.

    Seriously, marriage are only out of duty in India/Asia. So, for all these years Indian husbands and wives have loved each other only out of obligation and not 'love'; Indian children/offspring have loved their parents & grandparents only out of duty??

    And, madh mama, when you compelled your husband to follow you to Goa, he was not even your husband then. He was a man of recent acquaintance that you claimed to love but what makes you think that he should forget his very own family just because you are in his life.

    Does love with ones' girlfriend/boyfriend imply that one's love for his/her family should lessen in intensity?

    It also depends on how you define family but you can find flaws with our family arrangement while we can do so with yours.

    I also said you can't dictate the terms & conditions of love and relationship with of a guy with one's parents, You can do so for your relationship with a guy but you can't come in between a guy and his parents/siblings. That's simply not your place to intervene.

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    1. @ anonymous - "a man of recent acquaintance" - we were together for 5 years by this point. We were living together, and by that time I had also immigrated him to Canada as my common-law spouse. During that trip to India we also purchased my mangalsutram which was for our upcoming wedding the following year. Just because you are unmarried does not mean you are "an acquaintance" LOL.
      I think YOU are misunderstanding the meaning of love - maybe you have not yet experienced it yet. A marital relationship is truly sacred - it is two strangers meeting, falling in love, and making a life together, forever. It is different than a parent/child relationship, as that is automatic. For that reason, marital love is incredibly special. It is a different kind of love.
      Nobody is "intervening" because a marital relationship comes first in our life. It also comes first for my inlaws and we respect each other for that. That is why we all get along.

      A word of advice - DON'T get married.
      I am not publishing your other comments because they are rude and abusive. You are officially banned from my blog.
      I really pity you. If you do intend to marry, please spend the 8 hours that you were leaving rude comments and rather spend 8 hours doing something productive or investing in your relationships. It will make your life better.

      P.S. Don't ever disrespect my husband again.

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    2. Well said Alexandra but don't waste your time with Anonymus any more. He will probably get arranged to a girl of mommy and daddy's choosing meaning most likely someone thin, light skinned with long hair and a college degree that she will most likely not be able to use because she might no be allowed to work so she can take care of her new family. A woman that will not even say boo to any of them and that they can control. She will be somewhat pretty regardless of how ugly Anonymus may look so she should thank the Gods for sending such a wonderful specimen of _______ into her life. I really feel sorry for you Anonymus.

      A woman's imagination begins after a man's imagination ends. Seriously dude; GET A LIFE!!!! Preferably one of your own choosing. And for the record I may live in the US but I am not an American woman. I was born and raised into a very religious, conservative and suffocating Latin family.

      Please forgive me Alexandra if I am coming across as aggressive and rude but this man really ticked me off!!!! Reminded me of the male, chauvinistic pigs I grew up with!!!

      Millie B

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    3. @ millie - you should have seen the other comments which I could not even publish from this fellow! He deserves a firm reply! Totally ticked me off too & made me want to vomit! Ugh

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    4. He is spammed on mine too. Now, he comes to my blog and comments on posts irrelevant to topics. Boring trolls need to go get a life.

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  11. @ Alexandra - Typical gora bashing Hindu values. Cheap publicity! Nothing else. First try to understand the value system and then try to comment.

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    1. Clearly, we practice Hinduism differently.
      I'm guessing you're the type to do Durga Puja and then go home and disrespect the women in your family. Oh, the hypocrisy! Do you think Durga will honour you & give your prosperity in your life that way, if you do not honour the goddesses which are in your very life?

      Yatra Nariyaha pujyante! Ramante tatra Devataha! (translation: Where women are respected, Gods make their home)

      Delete
    2. Let's see, Alexandra bashing Hindu values. What would those be: violent gang rapes and the victim been treated like the criminal, treating women like they are disposable, India's Aids Epidemic which ranks 3rd in the world, a booming sex trade and child slavery and exploitation.

      Just like mine supposedly good old Catholic values: raping children by priests is not a big deal, the view that contraception is immoral and is better to have unwanted children left and right, women have no reproductive rights whether is no contraception and no abortions even if the mother's life is in danger or conception was due to rape, women enduring abuse and infidelities at the hands of their husbands and then putting a happy face at Sunday mass... I could go on and on giving examples of both.

      Of course there is also good in both but I am just been facetious here although these are known problems.

      Some people always hide behind cultural values and religion when they cannot come with a better argument.

      Millie B

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    3. LMAO @ "typical gora bashing Hindu values". How about you present a more reasoned argument as for why she's wrong, if you think so? So much ad hominem and stupidity.
      I'm not a "gora" and I don't find any "bashing" here, care to elaborate?
      Usual cultural superiority on display, can't take an ounce of criticism.

      Delete
  12. True.Well written and apparently a lot of the chamchas of a certain Captain are mad! I actually posted a tongue in cheek about him.

    http://seagullsgalore.blog.com/2013/11/27/ten-things-captian-crunch-should-stop-doing/

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    1. No kidding! I had no idea that putting a wife as a priority would be such a threatening thought. To me, it is natural.
      LOVED your captain post! tooooooo funny!!!!! OMG Chutney Marys!!!!!! :D

      Delete
  13. There is something I also want to say that wife should be first priority to a husband in a married relationship or who else would it be?
    A female colleague, friend or some neighbour. Absolutely not.

    But when you say that wife and wife alone should be a priority outside their marital relationship so that his family members should fade into oblivion or love for them shouldn't be a priority, then there's a problem.

    Love can never be bound.

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    1. Agree to disagree...
      Nobody is asking family members to fade into oblivion....ours didn't! They respect that our marriage is the top priority & we are all very close. Maybe that's because both our parents are happily married and they also give their marriage the top priority.

      Delete
  14. The truth is that Hinduism with regards to gender roles has become sort of derailed in the current times. Those that yell loudest know the least about the very religion they purportedly believe in. I doubt they've read the texts.
    Because Hindu texts clearly state that once married, a man should ensure that his wife is happy. To the extent that they also clearly state that should a choice arise between keeping his mother or his wife happy, he should choose his wife. Of course, ideally such a choice should never arise.
    Furthermore, Hindu texts talk about the 4 ashrams of life - or 4 parts. After study/singlehood comes married life and all its responsibilities. Then come Vanaprasthashram when people are encouraged to start separating themselves from their worldly ties and finally comes vanaprashtashram when they should be totally detached from said ties. The parents of the husband should remember this and stop expecting to be the topmost priority. They have their place as do the other people in the family. No one should feel forgotten or taken for granted.
    I will agree to disagree with you on the 'spouses should put each other above their children' part though. To me, my child is something I and my husband created with our love. I put my child's needs above all else as I would expect my husband to do so too. But that depends on each family's dynamics.

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    1. Hi Alexandra, I agree with Anonymous here. It was never a question of who comes first. Hinduism is widely misinterpreted. Ideally no one should be made to choose. If you tell me that Indian marriages are only duty bound, its wrong. I had an arranged marriage. The kind in which my parents introduced me to my husband and we decided to marry each other. I would say that Indian marriages, at least middle class marriages are duty-out-of-love bound marriages.

      Delete
    2. @nithya - you are correct. Not all arranged marriages are out of duty only.
      Perhaps there is love in duty, and duty in love...
      For me, it is not so much "being made to choose" etc, but rather it is my choice, luckily nobody has tried to compete and everyone in the family is on board.

      Delete
  15. Wow. This post is quite popular. :P

    I find the comments you mention in the post quite disturbing. I think a lot of people misunderstand the concept of the wife submitting to the husband and many other concepts that permeate the traditional Hindu family. If a man is doing his 'duty' then he would absolutely respect, uplift and care for his wife as if she was the top priority in his life BUT, he would not disrespect his parents at the wife's whim. I know you understand that Alexandra but clearly some others do not. A man should never be asked to choose between his wife and his family as that's just ridiculous to begin with. How could you chose between the woman who cared for you with love for your childhood an the woman who will care for you with love for your retirement years? It would be impossible in many circumstances. A mans wife should have respect for all a mother has done for a child, especially if she is to raise children of her own. A man should also respect the wife's parents for the same reasons and she should not have to choose. I think as long as there is still the concept that a woman leaves her family and doesn't go back home (sometimes women aren't even allowed to visit) then the men will always have trouble between MIL and wife. Fair is fair is it not? If he takes her parents away, she may try to take his. Negative behaviors breed more negative behaviors. It's high time that India break this cycle.

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    1. @American Punjaben

      If things were so simple, nobody would have complained. Whom to put first is not a choice a man wants to make. It is something thrust upon him time and again. In western society this problem probably never comes up because each have its own space. In an Indian society it invariably come up and there is no escaping it to the point that men feel suffocated in relationships. In India unfortunately relationships form a web which entangles an individual. It is very difficult to separate one from the other without tripping on someone's feeling. Most unfortunate.

      "A man should never be asked to choose between his wife and his family as that's just ridiculous to begin with. How could you chose between the woman who cared for you with love for your childhood an the woman who will care for you with love for your retirement years?"

      You have put it most beautifully. Many women are not willing to understand this simple thing. India needs to break this vicious cycle, but for that a man would need maturity and support from both his mother wife because he too is the victim of the same social conditioning. The sooner it happens, better for everybody.

      Delete
    2. @APPI - I wholly agree. Very well said.

      Delete
  16. I agree with you! It amazes me the kind of idiotic comments we sometimes get about things in India from Indians that don't even reflect Indian culture! Hindu culture doesn't teach you to treat your wife like a slave/dog and withhold affection/love/comments to keep her ego from swelling! I would love to see whoever claims it does back that up with verses from any reputable Hindu spiritual text! Though I'm sure that won't ever happen.

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    1. EXACTLY!!!! In my opinion, it is a perversion of true Hinduism. Or else they should not celebrate any goddesses at all.

      Delete
    2. @Alexandra

      Hinduism has always celebrated the immense powers of women. Shiva and Parvati are the prime example of the equality between man and women. Their love story is most beautiful and it transcends time and space. Shiva is the all powerful god of destruction and Parvati is the incarnation of Adi Shakti (the female force controlling universe). In many ways, Parvati is more powerful than Shiva. They both acknowledge each others immense powers. There is no ego between them. According to Shiva, without Parvati, he is not Shiva but merely a Shava (dead body). Shiva is the body, Parvati is the soul. Together they hold the balance of the universe.

      Sometimes, Shiva forgets that he has a family, goes to the cremation ground to meditate and smears his body with the ashes of dead bodies. Parvati has to make special efforts to bring him back. Sometimes, Parvati takes the form of fierce Kali to slay demons, and Shiva has to pacify her. They both understand each other perfectly. Like any modern couple, they give each other space. They have their misunderstandings, family issues etc. but manage to to find time to save the universe time and again. That is why, a perfect couple is compared to Shiva and Parvati.

      Delete
    3. @anonymous - I love that. It's almost like people have forgotten that....we need to get back to that...

      Delete
    4. Parvati, whenever she becomes Kali, is uncontrollable. Once after slaying the demons, Kali started destroying everything on her way. The gods requested Shiva to pacify her. Shiva went up to her, but in her rage Kali did not recognize him. Shiva ran out of ideas. He simply lay in her way. When Kali put her foot on him, she looked down. On seeing her husband, she stuck out her tongue out. This is the image that we see in many of images and idols of Kali. Everytime Parvati assumes the form of Kali, Shiva has great difficulty in pacifying her. Now, image if the almighty Shiva had such difficulty, what to talk about ordinary men.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t12mUMPP30E

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8ycZK6V-1Y

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loguohpl1S0

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fw_XKV1sOY

      Like all love marriage couples, they had to face resistance. Parvati's mother told her "shiva is a wild and unsophisticated, why marry him?". But Parvati was adamant. On the day of marriage, Shiva left his tiger skin, snakes and wore beautiful clothes. Parvati's mother was enchanted by him and convinced that he was the best groom in the world for her daughter. Even gods have to convince their parents, such are the ways of the world.

      Delete
  17. the white part of whindian...February 24, 2014 at 6:54 AM

    I've been reading through a ton of your blog posts because my boyfriend (fiance) is Indian and I'm white, and I have been extremely curious about how his family works. They all live in America, he was born here as was his sister I believe, but both parents were born and raised in India and had an arranged marriage and all that fun stuff. I'm actually quite traditional in many of my values, so I'm hoping that helps me out a little. I can cook, I'm great at household chores, like you I don't believe that divorce is an option, and family is extremely important to me.
    However, I'm still worried that I won't be liked. I really only care about his mother and sister (he hates his father, an arranged marriage gone HORRIBLY wrong for his parents) but it's still daunting. His sister is quite a few years older than him, so she's almost like a second mom with how protective she is over him. (Sooooo I'm thinking it could be like inheriting two MILs in a way, and part of me thinks the sister might be tougher.) His sister's boyfriend is Puerto Rican, so there's already a foreigner thing going on there and she told their mother about her relationship and with a bit of time their mom seems to have come to accept that. Their father doesn't know about that. The first person to know about his sister's relationship was my boyfriend, so naturally the first person to know about his (after over three years together) was his sister a couple months ago. She...didn't take it well. The main issues?
    I'm 2 and 1/2 years older than he is. He's the baby of the family. I'm white, and therefore unfamiliar. We have a long distance relationship. And then he stuck is into a three way conference call out of nowhere and boy was that an awkward event. She was definitely NOT happy about it, and made that quite clear.
    I know that he cares a lot about his mother and sister, so I'm really concerned that I'll never be able to make a good impression. Plus when we're together he insists on doing everything for me. Takes my dishes off the table and washes them. Wants to help fold laundry (he was staying at my house with my family and wanted to do this!) he basically insists that either he cooks for me or we cook together but in general I'm not allowed to cook for him on my own (unless I sneak it!) He won't even let me clean on my own, he insists on always helping. It's not that I don't WANT to do these things, it's that HE doesn't let me!
    He's quite the opposite of the typical Indian male as far as I've read, probably because he is completely determined to be the opposite of his horrible dad. And even though he obviously cares deeply about his mother and sister, he does not let either of them contact him since they're so obsessive, he has two phones and keeps that one off, and then he will call them every now and then. (He tells me it's tough love, that they both fuss too much, and that he wants them to live their own lives instead of obsessing over his.)
    He is a wonderful wonderful man, and I love and care for him deeply and I'm extremely proud of him in so many ways. I'm just worried that I'll be hated because I'll never get the chance to show them that I can (AND WANT) to take care of him too!
    Sorry this is such a long (and probably annoying) post, but I was wondering if you might have any advice. His father will never be in the equation (honestly my boyfriend refers to the man as "It") but I want his mother and sister to be!
    Do you think it would help that my parents are also kind of a mixed couple? My mom's as white as can be and my dad's Armenian. You can see both in me, but only if I'm next to them. On my own I look completely white (I'm pretty pale, paler than my mom, but I have really dark hair which comes from my dad.)

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    1. Thank you for reading!
      That is strange that his sister is in an intercultural relationship herself yet is against you, it may just be a terretorial thing for her - either that or she is concerned how you will take care of her parents.
      Take it slow and steady, you can win over his mother and sister by standing the test of time. They will grow to love you once they start to adjust to your presence in their lives. Don't take anything personally, and keep reaching out to them and attempting to build a relationship regardless of what they do. You have to show them that you're not going anywhere.
      Your man sounds wonderful - he's a keeper! As long as you have him, everything else will work itself out...and focus on your relationship FIRST....xo

      Delete


  18. Mar 20 at 9:53 PM


    Very interesting post. Found it randomly when I googled should wife be a priority. I've been questioning my obsession with this need ever since I've been with my spouse who I dated for a while before we were married. I try to ignore his devotion to his parents since they live in India and it is not in my way of life. But every now and then am remjbded how I am not number 1 through his reaction to little things I say. I compare this reaction to how his dad treated me when we first married and its not the same. In other words his dads open insult to me in his own house was never addressed but my honest opinion of t his dads ridiculous comments bother him tremendously. Note that these conversations are between us and not in front of his parents. I think there is a strong cultural undertone in this almost unreasonable sense of respect for parents vs wife. We are both Indian so by culture I mean something deeper within ones family. Also his dad was abusive to the kids and mom so I don't get this at all. I am at the point of wondering if this marriage is worth the effort since after 5 years of being together I will never be even on par with his parents or siblings. I am open to hearing your comments even if they may be tough to digest.

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    1. Sometimes certain behaviours like the ones you are telling, are learned from within the family. So seeing the abuse his father did to his wife and children - he may be unconsciously mimicking it, he may not even realize to the extent that he is doing it.
      What you can do, is when he behaves in a similar manner to his father, say "you sound just like your father right now", OR have a deep conversation with him and ask him how he felt when he witnessed his father abusing his mother. And does he know that sometimes the things he does is the same thing.
      He needs to know that you are unhappy and that he is at risk of losing his family if he does not work on this WITH you to improve your marriage.
      He also needs to know that you as a wife come FIRST, he will die with you by his side, not his parents. Kids need to see that your relationship is strong because that is what they will grow up and mimic when they are finding love.
      He is not married to his parents, he is married to you. And also how would he feel if you were to behave as he did and flip the switch? Not good, I'd imagine. He needs to place himself in your shoes for a moment.
      I would strongly recommend couples counselling so that the counsellor can teach him how to show more respect to you. I know many conservative Indian men do not believe in counselling, but if his marriage is at risk he may agree to go. And go to a male counsellor.

      Delete
  19. Indian Mothers should understand the followings:
    Kahlil Gibran

    "Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable."

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  20. I'm a south Indian woman in an arranged marriage of 4 years. We both now put our family - each other and our daughter - above everything else. It did take some time for both of us to understand how important it was to support each other and not our respective mothers. We both have domineering and possessive mothers, and we both learnt (still learning) that unless we supported each other and put our nuclear family first, our moms would fight each other by proxy by making us husband and wife fight.
    All orthodoxy aside, it's the practical thing to do, to put your spouse first. But thanks to the patriarchy, women put their husbands first but men don't put their wives first. Men, always put your wife and children's needs above the wants and demands of your mom. Your mom will be fine even if you don't cater to her whims, I assure you. Your mom may need financial support and physical help, maybe even your emotional support to some extent, but not for you to spend all your money and time for her alone or to follow all her old fashioned advice.

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  21. This is outrageous! You should ask the Indian hypocritical husbands that what have they done special treatment from the family

    ReplyDelete

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