by Kiran Jhamb
A post with the tongue in cheek approach.
She had brought some old photographs to share. In one of them she stood in a seedha palloo
sari with her head slightly bowed, shoulders drooping and a hesitant smile on her face. Besides her stood her husband - legs apart looking straight into the camera, proudly holding their one year old son as a trophy - for all the world to see, proclaiming a happy family.
It was difficult to connect the enlightened, no-nonsense empowered woman of today with that submissive, docile, biddable wife peeping through the snap. When confronted, she threw back her head and laughed aloud. She had projected what her husband wanted to see so that he may enter the matrimonial snare and the happy family be formed. This had been the icing. The cake was all hard because after the new nine days she had gone back to being the decisive woman that she is. Hubby dear had to shrug, bear, grin and readjust his notions of masterfulness. In short, let him panic about losing the marriage, had been her policy and a successful one; their son is now studying engineering.
In India shaadi
is the first word a girl understands after mummy and papa. Marriage is a matter of karmic destiny for her. Though the pretense of consulting her is made she is handed the bridegroom whom her parents find best out of the lot. Her lot had been no different - PhD or no PhD - because she was turning thirty.
We all know women in the absence of men are totally different creatures. Once the topic opened during the lunch time, the impromptu hen party continued way beyond the mere lunch hour. The seasoned wives compared their notes and the upshot was that they are no more in the victim mode. Their financial muscle aided by Eve’s guile had put a big smile on their faces. Anyway life is a comedy for those who think - a tragedy for those who feel! Being a wife - enjoying the drama and exhilaration of living with a man - is a marvelous adventure for a woman provided she uses her wits. You just have to understand the simple male mechanism, then you can make it hum and soar the way it was designed to be. Of course mastering this art takes time and patience. Study your husband carefully, constantly, ceaselessly. The last is very important because he keeps on changing, you have to provide the constant. Note his positives as well as negatives - his strengths, achievements, uncertainties and inadequacies.
Actually, men are very easy to please. Don't make issues over small things. In small matters let him taste victory. It adds to your positive image. There are times when a wife has to be silent, holding back the sharp words lest the disagreement escalates into a full blown storm. She should control herself, and by doing this indirectly control her husband. Stoke his ego. Listen patiently even to his bragging (all men brag!). Just pretend to toe the line and he would be happy in his fool’s paradise. No need to act the shrew, agree with him and then in a reasonable voice and logical manner smash the premises of his argument and do at a later date, whatever you originally intended to do. If you have to, don't be afraid to compromise. Compromise is simply acknowledging in an adult way that his point of view though different is okay.
Once the coaching of his mother and sisters stops, and it does stop once you give him his child, then he is all yours. But let him do whatever he wants to do for his family - you need not participate in it but you need not break his illusion that you-are-participating. The innocent approach is the best, 'Now let me see/Do I have it right' and cordially let him carry on. The filial, sibling bonds have the seniority status over matrimonial bond.
If it is not very inconvenient, try to please your husband. Coo 'Poor dear' at regular intervals. Praise him before others. Give him his own whatever he wants - his own newspaper, his own chair, his own dressing table. Is he fond of drinking - don't remonstrate, that’s the time he is most amenable to your suggestions! Is he messy, leaving-the-towel-on-bed type, coach yourself to be robotic in your cleanliness drive. Is he very social? Learn to entertain.
In reality it's a two way training. Do you like shopping? Coach him not to trail along. Ditto for the visit to your maika (mother’s home) - where his presence creates a lot of work, and on the other hand let’s not forget being apart sweetens togetherness! You bear the lion's share but appoint some household chores for him. And if you can absorb the flashes of his displaced anger, then train him not to be resistant to yours.
Neither be a mind reader nor expect him to be a mind reader. Wife to him will never appear as a damsel in distress. So don't be a hurt princess. Getting even is much better than being a tragedy queen because otherwise, the anger rages for years. Don't make declarations without due deliberations; be careful - licking the spittle after spitting is impossible. Never threaten to leave him unless you mean it.
An intelligent woman is one who hides her intelligence. Be graciously feminine as expected by the notions of gender roles. Enjoy the privileges of being a woman. Don't let him forget his role of being a provider because your role of being a caregiver is stuck on you. There is no need to unfurl the flag of feminism. A sweet tongue can do wonders, use the manner which you use with your five year old and you will be surprised - the irate papa too listens! All that he needs is ‘atta-boy-pat’ and ‘good job!’ from you. Respect him and expect respect from him.
The wind is in your hair when you zoom out of your home. Forget home troubles at work place and enjoy the camaraderie. Your hours out compel him to take on household chores, because your salary is needed to maintain the living standard that he has got used to.
Convince him he is someone who prides himself on being modern and open minded. Convince him he never in fact had anything to do with those horribly crusty notions of a wife - they were passed down to him from his parents. Show him your unwillingness to live with hurts. Don't expect miracles. Without nagging, without petty recriminations - but by being loud and open a modern wife does become the protagonist of her home epic. After all a good marriage is the goal set by society for women. ***