A compromise isn’t always the best solution. But it’s the best solution you can come up with for a woman. Usually.

An independent, educated, much married mother of two, breadwinner of the family must understand that when her unemployed-for-years, wasteful husband and his parents want to blow up all her hard-earned money, she must compromise. And she does that – for 20 years of her married life she compromises, accommodates her high strung in-laws, she compromises on spending time with her children because she has to be out earning a livelihood for her family, she compromises on her happiness and peace of mind. And when she finally decides to say “Enough,” she must realise all over again that she needs to compromise. Frantic calls are made by her parents as well as his to explain to her why. But can anyone explain why she should try so hard to make this marriage survive? Or why she should care that her selfish in-laws go telling the world their daughter-in-law wants to turn them out of the house or that her husband has gone to live with her sister? Can anyone explain why she needs to let her children live a farcical life, knowing that beneath the calm surface nothing is alright?

Nobody has answers to that. They only know that she must compromise. For whom? For a man who lives with her because he doesn’t know better how to sustain himself? Or for the parents-in-law who need her money to feed their vanity? What of this woman who gets nothing in return? She doesn’t even get a life of her own!

As relatives of the woman-in-question, my in-laws were asked to chip in – with advice for her to compromise. That request came from no less than her parents! The mother can see her daughter’s plight but cannot see that there is a way out for her, that she does not need to compromise, that if she supports her daughter’s decision she’ll save her daughter’s life.

You would think a woman like that – she’s financially secure, fairly influential and at a senior position in the government – would know better than to stick on in such a situation. She would be able to take her own decisions, to get up and walk away from all this mess. But what is it about our conditioning that we continue to live in loveless marriages, just so that we can tell the world we’re still married? Why do we want to bury our troubles when we know they will rise up like a phoenix?

She could easily walk out with her children and live a more normal life than this appearance of normalcy affords her. But she has stayed on all these years in hope of a better tomorrow. But nothing has changed and when she finally decides to stop her harassment, they say she should compromise. Why?

Do the children (two daughters: one older than her years, the other younger than her age) need a father who is a liability? Is there any security in having a man in the house who will splurge on his whims, make unwise investments with his wife’s money and needs more looking-after than the children themselves?

It’s quite alright for this society to accept a woman in the untraditional role of a breadwinner of the family. It does not mind that she goes out of the house to ensure her children can study in good schools and her husband can wear nice clothes as long as she comes back home and does not talk about her achievements. But it makes such a hullabaloo if she wants to live by herself. These moral guardians of our society don’t raise an objection when the husband sits at home doing nothing at all, not even helping with the rearing of the children, but it raises its judgemental eyebrows in disapproval if the woman wants to speak for herself and stop this exploitation. Why is it okay for her to break one stereotype because it suits everybody but not okay for her to break another?

If I could, I’d tell this woman I’ll get her all the legal support she needs to back up her decision. I’d give her my emotional and moral support too. But my support does not count. The people who count think she should compromise.


31 responses »

  1. >There is a very simple answer to all your “why”s.Everyone concerned is simply being selfish, and want what’s best for themselves.1) The husband has it as good as it can get! Everything he gets without lifting a finger!2) Same with the in-laws.3) Her parents do not want to tell anyone in the bloody society that their daughter is divorced. Such is the indian society, being a wife is regarded higher than being on one’s own two feet! The problem also lies in the fact that she took it for 20 yrs! That is a VERY long time, and when she wants out now, no one understands why, because nothing has changed. So why now?I hope she is able to make the right decision…the one that is right for HER, that is!

  2. >good post.. D but I don’t agree with u r point where u blame society as whole Its not the problem with the society .. its an individual mindset and here it is parent of woman.Had it been somewhere in 80’s it could have been the society.. but presently, you can find number of separation cases. And to some extent now it is accepted.. ( and this is not only applicable for metro..and it is even there in smaller cities). And as far as // These moral guardians of our society don’t raise an objection when the husband sits at home doing nothing at allPPl (Idle) do not spare anyone.They never miss the chance to taunt. But if the guy is ‘Moti Chamdi'( no self respect) it will not make any difference to him. PS: If by chance that woman is u r blog reader plz. don’t publish this comment

  3. >Oh! My God, how horrible is that? She might have hung on all this while for her children, and now she has just had enough. Its so sad that her parents are asking her to compromise, when that’s where she probably seeks the greatest support. I hope she manages to come out of all this triumphant, uncompromising.

  4. >she need to be bold..she need to take decisions..!! she need to cultivate the courage to face the society…until and unless she will die compromising..!! some advices, some motivations and some awareness can definitely do good to her..!! She should realize whom to protect and not to..

  5. >@Aneri: You’re right: everyone is being super selfish! If they’d just stop to think of her…@Stupidosaur: Perhaps I do :)Thanks!@Roop: I said it all, didn’t I?@Nitin: I still maintain what I said. The mother too is a product of the society. She doesn’t exist in a vaccum.@GM: I hope so too.@Devaki: I so want to Devaki! But I’m years younger than her and my advice will in all probability come across as inexperienced and immature. I don’t think it is!@Monika: My reaction to all this is one of anger.@Vinz: She needs to but can she?

  6. >quite a thoughtful post there.Its sad that a woman in today’s world always has to play some role or the other for others sake.There’s hardly any time when she is living her life for herself.And when she does so, people start pointing fingers at her.but really nice post.really:)

  7. >this is my usual topic of controversy on my blog… women in the name of freedom and equality r being exploited … n they r compromising in the name of love for it! if i rebel.. m askin for too much ..!

  8. >I hope she does walk out. It’s just the first step that is difficult. Things can only get better … whatever her reasons for the delay she has a right to live her life. No matter how little your support counts, still give it to her. And I would say boldly and openly support her. Not emotionally – but calmly and truthfully. Indian family values can be very selfish as in this case. She is a cash cow for her family. Times have changed I know plenty of single women who are perfectly happy, independent and at peace. She should also think of the kind of example she is setting for her daughters – that of a woman anybody who would rather live for the society that doesn’t even care, or of a strong woman, who lives her life, as of now they are growing up believing women must give in to social prejudices, and their future unless they are lucky and they rebel, will be decided by the same people who rule their mother. Some people are so used to a certain way things have worked for ages, they refuse to accept change, but change they cannot stop. (thank God)…let me stop ranting, Indian parents can be a pain (read Phoenixritu’s post today) and Indian children (adult children also) need to grow up. With best wishes to her. IHM

  9. >For us she is a story..we dispense advice and move on..she is the one who has to live the decision she takes..life is unfair and despite all progress our society is still vey traditional in its outlook..It is her call only..but as members of society we must support her..

  10. >Compromise is part of most relationships. But it should be a by-prouct of love, and not compulsion. When two people love each other dearly, they don’t mind compromising…The woman you talk about may have initially done it all for love and the family, but when she gets nothing in return and her husband is nothing but a void in the picture, she has the right to move out.I have seen so many women like her in the earlier generation stick with their husbands withstanding years of abuse. I am with you on this one. Why can’t her parents undersatnd that moving out is their daughter’s best option? Why doesn’t anyone talk to the husband about changing his ways? Separating is going to be hard after 20 yrs of marriage, but it may be the best solution in this case…

  11. >hey D, it isnt about getting th legal or even moral support.. like mom was saying how difficult it is for divorced mom’s to get their daughters married off here in kerala…. and thats a frightful reality that all mom’s have to contend with…. i know it doesn make sense, but thats society in India today… there are jus so many examples around me here… and i think thats wer compromise means so much… u know, in 1000 slendid suns, he says that its amazing how much (violence) a woman can take and still not give up….

  12. >@PJ: This is truly heartfelt.@sansmerci: It’s the most sly form of exploitation of women, I’d say.@IHM: I agree – Indian parents also need to grow up!!@my space: True, she has to live this life we can only talk about.@Jira: You’re right Jira, compromise is essential to the success of most relationships. But how long?@Avaran: My dear male chauvinist, open your eyes and look at this world from another point of view as well! It is difficult for a single parent of two daughters to get her children married off but I suppose you’re only talking about arranged marriages and that also within their own community. Pray, tell me, what is the purpose of getting your daughter married off to a man who does not care for the girl he’s marrying but for the marital status of her parents? And why is marriage so essential? Should a woman give up her happiness because of how some people may view her and her children? It’s noy how much a woman can take, it’s how much she’s expected to take, forced to take. Let’s not use somebody’s words out of context.

  13. >@Avaran Agree with D’s reply. Would also like to add, just like all other humans, that there is more to a girl’s life than getting married. Our obsession with getting our daughters’ married has caused a lot of unhappiness to the society. Second, if this mother stays in this marriage there is every chance that her girls will find a fate not much different from their mother’s. So should this woman continue this farce, in the next generation also?

  14. >No matter what people say about men and women being equal, facts do point out that that stands true only in SOME situations and not all. After all, we are trying to evolve from a male-dominated society to something more favorable to both genders. Alas! It is all superficial.

  15. >What always gets to me in stories like this is the parents. I hope like hell I am never willing to put what other people think above the happiness of my child!!!

  16. >You gotto support her in every possible way! We have got just one life and we cannot afford so many compromises! And that too the ones such as this which are just meaningless!

  17. >@IHM: I totally agree – marriage isn’t the be all and end all of a girl’s life!@Solitaire: That’s the feeling one gets – the reality is so different from what it appears.@rohini: To be fair, I think a 70-year-old cannot be expected to know better than to ask her daughter to compromise. So she isn’t the villain of the piece exactly. Of course, it would help if she knew better!@Vivek: True, one life’s too little for so many compromises.

  18. >Of course she Should walk out. She knows that too. The fact that it took her 20 years to come to terms with that decision – this fact itself shall answer your queries D. Its not easy for a single mother to sustain herself and the kids in the world we have out there. No matter how accepting and broad-minded we claim to be, for most parts, we`re still in stone age. A divorced mother becomes a social outcast. And if not an outcast, she still stands out. People still avoid looking at her, while whispering in hushed tones about the course of her life. That`s the truth. And its a difficult one to face. I dont think that parents or anyone who force her into compromising, do it becos they fear the worst for her. They do it becos they fear the worst for themselves. Becos they think they are answerable to society in some way. They fear the hushed whispers. Your post makes me very sad, D. I hope this girl in question, finds her lost soul. Let us know..

  19. >Hi d,Sometime back a news item left me fumbling for words: the daughter-in-law of a Gyanpeeth awardee who is herself a votary of woman lib attempted suicide owing to her mother-in-law’s torture! This is true and police must be still investigating the case unless “compromise” between the tortured daughter-in-law and awardee mother-in-law would have blocked it.So, at the end of the day, every woman is left to fend for herself, even from the women.A very disturbing post, if I’m to say that. My sympathy goes to her.Thanx.Nandahttp://ramblingnanda.blogspot.comhttp://remixoforchid.blogspot.com

  20. >Its high time that the woman needs to think about her self rather than anyone else. She deserves to live a life of her own, according to her wish. She definitely needs to take a stand and walk out.

  21. >please stop questioning others and ask yourself what stops you from meeting this woman and offering your support?Is not it a more comfortable thing to vent your spleen onto a blog that not one of those people who are concerned in this case will ever read. Than to actually go stand by the side of that woman and help her take one steady step.Please stand up and be counted since you know who this woman is. If i were there I would do all possible to help. Do it as a favor to yourself and womanhood.

  22. >@Piper: Some things never change. She has compromised. The hubby and in-laws are back and she’s trying to get herself transferred out of the city.@Ananda: That’s so disappointing. Such stories are so commonplace and yet so unbelievable.@soulmate: I agree with you!@pinku: Why would it be more comfortable for me to rant about this than to talk to the woman concerned? My logic is that since I’m younger and considered either impulsive or naive (depending on which view you ascribe to) by relatives such as her, talking to her would be really futile. Also, my Dad-in-law was nice enough to show his support for her. And I know that for her, that counts!

  23. >ah well, im not sure i really but enjoyed ‘male chauvinist’, but there are more important things to discuss… what i told u was real experiences that i saw around home (of course in kerala), or are we just discusing utopia…. and yeah, unfortunately here in India, arranged marriages are still the norm… i mean, kids might have other ideas, but their mom’s would like to have them married off to someone from a decent family and all…. so they are worried that they would be failing in their responsibility if they dont find a good husband…. and also, about why parents insist that their daughters compromise, the parents usually worry its because they didn bring their kids up properly that they as wives dont know to behave…. remember that most of the 50+ moms alive would have their own story to say but they endured it, so they dont see why the new women should rebel…. hey i hope u dont refute this… im telling you stuff i see around me…. mom’s a teacher, she tells me stories her students tell… its easy for us educated people to argue… but not everyone is as educated, or feels so secure mentally….

  24. >@Avaran: It’s not about refuting you, but you should really hear yourself talk. You’re old enough to be able to see the world for what it is and not what your mom tells you it is! And you’re too young to be mouthing what 50+ yr olds believe:”…why parents insist that their daughters compromise, the parents usually worry its because they didn bring their kids up properly that they as wives dont know to behave….” Wow! That’s some contorted logic you have there! A woman who earns for the whole family, keeps it going, lives through torture for 20 yrs wasn’t taught how to behave by her parents?!? And just when she decided to put an end to the farce, she becomes a liability for a parents!! Where were these parents when the girl was struggling to make ends meet? And where was this society then that you talk about?And how “educated” do you have to be to argue about self-preservation?! There are so many things that are prevalent in this society which doesn’t make them right! And just because our mothers endured it doesn’t mean it’s the best option to take up.

  25. >it isnt about wether you accept my point… but the thing is, thats wat happens in the world….. i mean, im getting irritated… im telling you wats hapening in the world around me… and yr saying wat u would like it to be… and then u say that i am not in touch with reality…take th lady in question… why wud her parents then want her not to divorce…? they dont love her enough? or they cant see her suffering… no, society is more than some utopian rules, and ‘womens rights’…..

  26. >@Avaran You say, //take th lady in question… why wud her parents then want her not to divorce…? they dont love her enough? or they cant see her suffering… //Avaran, they don’t want her divorced because they fear doing something that others in their peer group are not doing. It’s exactly the same attitude that you see teenagers following when their friends smoke. It does not make them right. Do you know how many women commit suicide or are burnt alive in India? They ask their parents to allow them to come back but the parents refuse, because they are afraid of ‘everybody coming to know’ that their family isn’t perfect, or that they made wrong choices.//no, society is more than some utopian rules, and ‘womens rights’…..//Society exists for general welfare. If it does not serve the purpose and becomes an excuse for continuing abuse, inaction or exploitation of the weak, then it needs to change. And that is exactly what is happening. It’s changing, in bigger cities first but gradually more and more parents, everywhere, are realising that all their children, girls included, need to be given a chance to live happy lives. Women’s rights are human rights, aren’t women human?

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