Adjustment – The magic word?

Couple of years back, we had friends staying over, and as usual, we spent the better part of the weekend, talking.

One of the topics that came up was of their niece who had just started working. Apparently, the family was trying to get her married off and she was being rather stubborn -according to them. They were lamenting about how girls these days have ‘fancy’ ideas and have their own demands before getting married. On asking what these demands were, it turned out that she wanted to continue working after getting married. The family was trying to get her to ‘adjust’ because obviously ‘getting married was far more important than having a career’.

I was shocked to hear this from a seemingly modern couple. They went to explain that they even tried to make her understand by giving my example. ‘My example?’ – was my reaction. Apparently they said that even career women like me gave up their jobs and adjusted. I tried explaining that I did not ‘adjust’ – it was my choice – I worked when I wanted to , I took a break when I wanted to, I was not made to ‘adjust’ at all – by anyone. I did not adjust, I just took a decision based on a lot of factors, but I certainly did not ‘adjust’.Β  All she wants is to have that same freedom. Why should she be expected to give up her way of life? Why not look for a man who has the same expectations as her. Why expect her to enter a relationship starting off with compromises and adjustments that she does not want to make in the first place. Of course, that fell on deaf ears.

It makes me wonder why a man can lay down expectations of wanting a working wife( or a non-working one, for that matter), but a girl having the same(or similar) expectations is told to adjust? If anything, I would think that it makes more sense to have all these thing on the table – right at the beginning, than expecting one person to give up all their expectations, and then have a frustrated life- all their life?

Last time, in India, I met a newly married girl. She had got married within the same community, near her parents. Her mother wanted more for her. She was hoping that her daughter gets married outside the community so that she gets a different life, but that did not happen because the mother does not have much of a say in matters like this. This girl, after her wedding, is now confined to wearing sarees, she can’t ride her scooty anymore, she can’t step out of the house without her in-laws permission. And to make it worse, most girls, apparently get a little freedom when they go to their parent’s place, but because her parents live in the same town/village, she has to go around with a ghunghat even when she visits her parents! And when she voices her frustration, she is asked to adjust, because that’s what married women have to do. She is told that she will get used to all this after some time. It wouldn’t surprise me if the cheerful, bubbly girl is transformed into a woman with hardly a smile on her face, the next time we meet her. Her husband’s life on the other hand, continues just as before.

Another girl, I know, married into a joint family. All the ‘family’ responsibilities came onto her. Including waking up before everybody else, cooking, getting breakfast ready, and even taking a bed-tea to her sister-in-law! On the weekends, her husband would go out with his old friends, while she stayed at home, looking after her in-laws. And this girl, in question was a professional, before she gave up her job because of all the pressure on her. When her husband went abroad on work, she was asked to stay back to ‘look after her in-laws’. I wonder how they would have managed had their son not been married? Oh wait – that is why they got him married! To get a care-taker! Is she happy with her life? Well, lets just put it this way – I would not have heard about all this, had she been happy.

The reason ‘adjust’ and ‘adjustments’ have become a dirty word, so to speak, is because more often than not, it is the women doing most of the adjustments. More often than not, a woman is expected to become part of a new family, take up responsibilities, live life according to other people’s terms, while her partner gets to lead his life just the way it was.

On the other hand, if both partners were to adjust, compromise, and work towards their marriage, one would feel less annoyed with the word – ‘adjust’. Of course, life is full of adjustments, compromises, but people would be happier doing it, if they did not feel forced into it. None of us will get everything on a platter, and we all have to work towards it, in some way or the other. All of us are fine with certain adjustments, but might draw a line at others. I guess a happy relationship is where both partners are not expected to make those adjustments, that they don’t want to make. So if a girl is clear about having a career, then don’t make her ‘adjust’ and get her married off to man who has made it clear that he doesn’t want a working wife. What is the worst that could happen? She might get married a little later – isn’t it better than a life time of unhappiness for both partners?

Like I tried explaining to my friends, if I had been forced to leave my job, I would have felt frustrated and annoyed. Today, because I have the option, I feel at peace with my decision. And if more women want that, the choice, – what is wrong with it? Unless both partners feel happy and secureΒ  in their relationship, it can go nowhere. And an unhappy relationship affect both partners equally. Eventually.

This is my contribution to ‘The Great Adjustment Story‘ at http://www.womensweb.in.

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38 thoughts on “Adjustment – The magic word?

  1. It is sad that such things happen even today. I feel that if parents bring their girls up without this adjustment/compromise attitude, then the girls will automatically start expecting certain things from their partner, and we can slowly get rid of this ‘woman has to compromise’ malaise.

    • Absolutely! This attitude will go only if we bring up our girls and boys in the same manner. Make both of them self dependent, strong, financially independent, and without the expectations that society tries to heap on them based on the gender.

      You are right- most girls are brought up with this expectation that marriage – at any cost, is the only goal on their lives..

  2. It is so difficult explaining all this to somebody who does not understand the meaning of equality in a marriage in a patriarchal system! I’ve been shocked when some of my close friends changed ways to become what society wanted them to become when they became wives! When asked about what about their life, their opinions before the knot and so forth, they said oh! my husband says this that and the other! The fact is there has been so much progress in our country withing the society and family, still people remain loyal to those so called rules where the women ‘adjust’ or are ‘made to adjust’ what becomes to their life – I fear the frustration will get to the kids too! sad plight

    • I know! That gets me so irritated! As if after marriage, they have no opinions of their own, no identity of their own.. A few years after the honeymoon period, all this changes though.. Then the frustration starts seeping through.

      And yes, the frustration will get to the kids too!

  3. So here is the catch, right, to make any relationship work, there has to be adjustment. And I am with the FACT that it has to be done with both parties. Now who decides the fariness of the different adjustments???

    I think when adjustments are done with mutual consent, more often than not, they will be fair. Resentments starts building up when one partner’s wishes are imposed on the other..

    I have heard couples say: “I gave up this for you.. I could have been… ” and blah blah. But I think they use adjustment as a shiled. Again, not all cases, but sadly, I have come across this type more.

    I am sure there are people like this – but don’t you think that it is resentment talking. Clearly, whatever adjustments they made – they did it unhappily, else why bring it up?

    I do understand that pre-dominantly in India and other areas, women bare the burden of adjusting, making compromises and the likes. I cannot understand however, that the educated society have different rules for ‘bahu’s’ and ‘daughters’. It does not add up. I dont know if the burden increases because of “log kya kaenge??” or because of “family maryada et the drama” again…. Why?

    oh yes, the “log kya kaenge” and “family maryada et the drama” certainly pushes the onus on the women. Have you noticed how the honour, and maryada of the family is more often than not, dependent on the women – be it daughters or daughters-in-laws.

  4. agree to all of the above and I too have heard and seen more or less these kind of incidences taking place…sigh is all I can say and thank the almighty to have given us people wise parents and sane husbands !

  5. I think its the way we are brought up, clinging to parents all the time .. even boys groewn up, get a job and they are still living with there parents ..

    Boys, especially. Girls are taught to be self-dependent, while the boys are taught to not lift a spoon!

    No privacy and also to show respect you got to do what the elders say..
    I can understand the stress with girls , I have seen my mother she never got to do anything .. first she was taking care of her inlaws, then the husband and then the kids …

    I can imagine.. Not easy at all.
    But i do think if my father was living in a separate house she might have had a more free life..

    But yeah i know how bad, when i go to india back home i do meet up with my cousins who have got marreid and see exactly what you have said …

    I hope something changes …

    I am sure things will change. Slowly but surely. The mindset is so deeply set that it will take time, but I have hopes..

    Bikram’s

  6. Like seriously!!!
    And when we do talk about all this.. we are called feminists! Why cant people see the logic?

    Sigh! ‘Feminist’ has become a dirty word 😦
    I completely completely agree to all that you said. And I especially understand ur horror.. when they took ‘ur’ example.. uffff how ppl misunderstand!
    And there’s no harm in adjusting… if only it was MUTUAL !!! hmph..!!

    If only it were Mutual – that is the key, isn’t it?

  7. Totally agree with what you have said here. It is just so hippocratic to “allow” (i hate the word in this context) your daughter to live as she wants, but have strict rules for what is expected from a DIL. It is almost as if you have got a slave 😦

  8. Sad that such stories are very much real, and an integral part of our lives…. I think we women have to learn to stand up for ourselves, as no one else is going to do it


    We women have to stand up for ourselves.. Until that happens, we will continue to be used as doormats..

  9. “Adjust” is one of those first few words that are taught to a girls in India… If a boy wants to make his career its called being responsible and wise but if a girl wants to do the same she is considered being “Ambitious”. These things are just terrible and I feel sad saying this but I really think that this would continue for a lot many years to come.

    • And a woman being ambitious is not really encouraged, is it? Ambition in a woman is almost looked down upon. That mindset will take time to change, but hopefully, it will – slowly.

  10. I was thinking if I shd write a post or just comment here…

    Please do write a post too! I am sure you have a lot to say!

    Anyway Adjustment has one ugly cousin Compromise and one more glorified cousin Sacrifice…

    oh yes!

    If anybody uses any of these three words on me, I might just scream murder!

    Hugs for being used as an example! I understand that it must hurt! All I can say is live your life in style Smitha, some might want to ape you, some criticize, some envy, you can’t control all that. It is their perception based on their intelligence…

    Absolutely! We can’t let others live our life for us.

  11. heyy, who said men dont adjust after wedding ?? Im sharing my apartment here with a person to whom I got married to ! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  12. Sigh! Tell me abt it. My husband does not have a problem, but others seem to when he is at home and I go out on work! People of late tell me I am spending too much time on Samaj Seva, which is not good for a girl, still better a married woman. Can it get worse? This when my husband is more than happy with the fact that both of us are a part of it and are able to fit it in our schedules!
    Isn’t that rubbish?

  13. It annoys me no end to hear things like this. Some people think adjustment is equivalent to compromise unfortunately…but compromise involves both partners giving and taking…not just the woman giving at all times!!! I must say, every time I read things like this, it reminds me of how grateful I am to have the parents I have. I turn 27 next month but there is no pressure from my parents to get married. Other people back in India (family friends, relatives etc) that’s a different story but fortunately being miles away helps.

    I can imagine! Distance sure helps.. And we are blessed to have wonderful parents.

    You know what’s interesting though…a couple of days ago Iread an article in a paper here about how there’s this new book in the US which is saying that women should in fact quit their jobs and be stay at home wives because when they are not earning and the husband feels like he is the main breadwinner, it apparently helps with the relationship and helps the husband feel good about himself in order to be able to achieve more at work!! I was flabbergasted to say the least. They gave the examples of Michelle Obama giving up her career or KAte Middleton about to give up hers.

    That is ridiculous! Why don’t they see it as their personal choice? Why should it be a blanket solution for everybody? There are plenty of really successful women with partners who have let their career take a backseat – why isn’t that held up as an example,at all?

    I think personally, in general, the world is regressing. My unmarried Aussie friends at the moment think I’m being selfish when I say that if and when I do have kids,I still intend on working pretty soon (I need to go…I’ll go stir crazy without my work) Mind you, none of us is remotely close to having kids at the moment but people still make judgements. Sigh.

    I went back to work when daughter was 5.5 months – because it worked for me, for us. I was comfortable making that decision, and the fact that she was in a wonderful nursery – helped. When I decided to take a break – it was because I found it tough – for various reasons, and I felt i needed the break. Husband was totally supportive – with whatever my decision was. He was a little worried that I would go crazy if I sat at home – because I had never done that before. But he was fine to go with what worked for me. Ignore these people – do what makes you happy. It will be a far happier life if you are happier doing what you are doing rather than doing stuff others expect you to do…

  14. Hearing stories of such couples make my hackles rise. Our society is such that the words ‘adjust’ and ‘compromise’ have become synonymous with the word ‘marriage’. Only for women.

    Yes, only for women! For men, it is business as usual.

    You know, that is why I don’t feel surprised when so many young people shy away from marriage and view it as a life changing event. I don’t blame them for associating marriage with imprisonment and responsibility.

    I agree.
    A lot of my friends wondered why I decided to marry so early and thought it would be the end of my freedom. It’s sad. If our society awakens, and frees us all of these impositions, then marriage can be a beautiful institution for all.

    I totally agree. If marriage is a virtual prison for one partner, can it really be anything meaningful?

  15. I should write my spouse adjusting to me. Someone who didnt know jeera from saunf, toor to channa dhal. πŸ™‚

    He adjusted and we are still happily married.

  16. i guess nobody talks about men adjusting to their new lives in India.. its always the women adjusting.. wonder why ? the saddest part is that well educated people think like this. If things are so bad in cities ,i wonder how bad things will be in villages.

  17. You have said it all… πŸ™‚ I really have nothing more to say…

    Oh yea one more thing…pls have a son also. I’ll wait with my matrimonial mish-mashes till he grows up… coz I want u as my mother-in-law!!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  18. In most marriages, adjustments mean female loss and male gain.

    Modernity seems to have made no visible change as men and also women carry on the age-old tradition, of women bearing the brunt of husband’s career-rise.

  19. Maybe your title should’ve been “adjustment-the tragic word” 😦

    Am so glad to have a husband who adjusts just about as much as I do…and have experienced the craziness of a joint family. Still feel like I can’t breathe whenever I think of those 2 years of my life. I cannot believe I adjusted that much.

  20. As far as the average Indian women are concerned ‘adjustment’ is a dirty word. The adjustment asked of them is too big a burden. I feel the average Indian parents (of girls) are the biggest fools. They slog, save and send their daughter to her husband’s household with a lot of dowry to be the caretaker of her husband’s parents. If a woman wants to stay back and take care of her in-laws when her husband works some place else, that decision must come from the woman herself. No one can ask her to make such adjustments. I remember a friend who told the man (army guy) who had come to ‘see’ her that if he intended her to remain back and take care of his parents, she was not interested in the marriage. This happened a good many years back. I remember being so surprised that she said it. But yes, it was right of her to put her cards on the table. Of course they married and are into middle age now.
    Adjustment with in-laws must come with interaction with them and the relationship that develops from it, it is not something to be expected by order or by the token that you are married to their son.

    People still think marriage is the be all and end all for a woman and want her to sacrifice a career for it! A mother recently told me that she was trying to marry off her daughter as quickly as possible as she was now earning and might get ‘ideas of independence’!!!!

    What a sorry state for the girl in your example to have parents in the same town. She cannot even go to her own home to breath a little freely.

    Good luck with the competition πŸ™‚

  21. I am very late here, but absolutely loved the post. Nothing to add – this obsession with getting girls married at the right time (?) and to the right kind of guy (?) at any cost, and then staying married, makes us demand all these ‘adjustments’ from them.
    Tweeted it and now going to share it on Buzz.

  22. I am very late here, but absolutely loved the post. Nothing to add – this obsession with getting girls married at the right time (?) and to the right kind of guy (?) at any cost, and then staying married, makes us demand all these ‘adjustments’ from them.

    Tweeted it and now going to share it on Buzz.

  23. Pingback: Tweets that mention Adjustment – The magic word? Β« Any Excuse to Write… -- Topsy.com

  24. I admire you for having the guts to do what you wanted even if it led people to think you had “given up” or “sacrificed” your career.

    I know a woman or two who are rebellious enough to not do that even if they wanted to merely because society will think they conformed.

    Quite the opposite problem to what you’ve posted about!

  25. We, as women are sensible enough to consider the aiding and non aiding factors for a certain situation, in this case career, and respond accordingly. I too have done the same just now. When my husband moved to Dubai, I too put my papers and decided to join him there. When done at our own freewill, it does not become adjustments anymore.. Only thing, people do not give most of us a choice. I am just blessed to have given that FREEDOM!! All that we can do is to try and create the awareness on this, so that when Poohi or Fareiba(my lil one) or for that matter, the next-gen girls grow up as stronger assertive women…

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