Marriage in India isn’t just a union of souls- it’s as much about a mingling of families, extended and immediate, as it is about the soulmates. Indian weddings are inevitably big fat affairs where the ceremonies and traditions far outweigh what had initiated the relationship- love and an era of emotional upheaval.
In the evolving spectrum of marriages, however, feelings tend to maintain a strong hold. More often than not, certain customs are forfeited, the shackles of a bounty of rules are loosened, rituals are a bit less rigid and celebrations take center stage- all in the name of that wonderful realisation we call Love.
Rosy reality or skeptical survival?
The rosiness of reality tends to get far more obscure once the celebrations give way to the tediousness of life. As a relatively unknown female (mostly, because the context stays Indian) gets constantly scrutinised and verified- in first person- what emerges is a cacophony of pending adjustments that are not always too easy to make.
A few days into living with the new member of the family and things suddenly start going awry. From having to deal with the young bride’s naivety in some aspects of ‘managing the household’ to having to ‘put up with’ her emotional outbursts, life in the house suddenly seems like a lot more drama than usual.
Things start taking a dip into more troubled waters, often silently but steadily, when the mother- son bonding appears to be at stake. For every mother, their child is the world and for Indian moms, perhaps a bit more so. Specially when it comes to being mother to a male child, things get somewhat too intense emotionally. With their ardent devotion to their sons, the mothers expect unwavering loyalty and unflinching affection from their son. All this is well and normal but not when the son has another woman in his life and the mother can’t help but get unreasonably jealous, feeling the need to show off her importance in her son’s life through random gestures of boisterous affection and downplaying the efforts of the daughter-in-law in every instance possible.
True, this isn’t the scenario in all homes, but a staggering part of the population still has to deal with this unwanted stress of being too little for someone who means too much to them. Incompatibility is not so much a problem, as is the desire to emerge as the better ‘lover’ between the two.
The weight of exaggerated expectations
Generations of Indian families have partaken of celebrations and mourned in grief together. So when parents expect their child to marry and get settled, it’s very obvious that they want them to live with them, with their spouse- and hopefully children.
Perhaps that’s not the breeding ground of all problems per se. But trouble starts brewing in paradise once you get embroiled in this uncanny tryst of keeping your son to yourself. Sure he has been a son and will always be, yet as he embarks on a conjugal journey in life there definitely needs to be a break even point- a line needs to be drawn over the potency of ‘influence’ that each of the ladies can exercise in his life.
Yet, it isn’t a matter of ‘exercising influence’ at all. For none of the contending parties is consciously trying to assert their supremacy over the other- it’s just a clash of emotions within oneself that leads them to behave in a a manner that is surely unworthy of their person.
Here we may be deemed unfeminist because we choose to focus on the mother- in- law and the daughter- in- law as being at the heart of the dispute. But even here things pertaining to a typical Indian society are at play. Parents are seem to be more possessive about their sons, and more protective of their daughters. Inevitably then, after marriage, it is often the son who is feared to be lost to the wife by mostly the overly affectionate mother.
It isn’t as if the daughter- in- law is subjected to torture and humiliation, or she is barred from doing things upon her own free will. In the 21st century, we are hopeful that such bondages are mostly done away with. But the lingering feeling of being a new entrant into the family comes to the fore more often, what with the mother trying to make ‘limited appropriate’ space for the wife of her son.
At the middle of all this hierarchy is a fear of the mother of not being the only love of her son’s life any more. Indeed, as portfolios expand and responsibilities get more dynamic, the son would have to make adjustments within his time frame of twenty four hours in a day. Here is where comes the integral decision for the mother to make- letting her son go just a bit more.
Certainly not your days of yore
Gone are the days when a marriage conducted with all rituals and customs would restrict couples from going their own way when things get awry. With each of the partners, who are more respecting of their selves and more aware of their worth choosing to walk away from an inconclusive relationship, the future is brightly bleaker than the past. Relations now a days are almost entirely a matter of love and compassion, of respect and understanding than a social obligation to stay together, forever.
Perhaps it’s time now for moms to cut the slack- not with the love though. It isn’t that the parent- children bond is a one way thing- children also love their parents more than enough. But the fleeting moments that life encompasses, it is only wise to make way and space for everyone and everything that can make your life all the more worthwhile.
Living has always been a conglomeration of relations and of spreading love, the more you can. A life well lived wouldn’t be a myth, if you had freely loved with all the love in your heart. To moms, to sons and to their spouses- let love be a free flowing entity and life will be pure bliss!