You know how women are always told to ‘adjust’, especially after marriage? While it is true that both the husband and wife need to adjust, because the relationship is so new and evolving, putting the onus on the woman is just wrong. Today, I have two adjustment stories, one that led to a fantastically happy family, and another that led to a miserable relationship. The inspiration for this post is this post called 3 Adjustment Stories from Women’s Web.
The first story is of my parents. They fell in love when they were colleagues at their respective first jobs, and informed their parents about their intention to marry. As expected there was much opposition but seeing as the two were steadfast in their commitment to each other, both sets of parents relented. But trouble for my mom had only begun. Since she was not the one to choose the bride, my dad’s mother did not take very kindly to my mom from the beginning. My mom was routinely asked to wash the clothes of the whole family, chided for being not so conversant with work around the house(she was the youngest of 6 kids and was not used to so much house work, but then so was my dad), taunted for being an outsider etc. All this was in the absence of my father, who, in those days, used to go to work, then go to university in the evenings to get his MTech degree. Not wanting to trouble him with all this, my mom never spoke up. One fine Sunday my dad saw how my mom was being treated and felt very bad. He talked with my mom and told her that he will be by her side through all this and will make sure that his mother changes his ways. My mom, being the generous spirit that she is, said all she wanted was his support and she did not want his family to break apart and that ‘they will adjust’ as a couple. And they did. Whenever my mom was in a situation where my grandmother would have things to say to her, my dad would take all the brunt of the criticism. My mom left for work at 7:00am, but she was still expected to get up and cook breakfast and lunch before she left, all this after cleaning the house and taking a shower. My dad would get up with her every single day and help her in the kitchen, and took over the responsibility of most tasks around the house. He then would also take 100% responsibility of getting me and my sister ready for school and pack our lunches. Slowly my grandmother realized that she could not be a third wheel in the relationship, and all her efforts to ‘show’ my dad that this girl was not right for him were futile. In time she learnt her lesson and mellowed down. This is how they managed for 25 years and we learnt the importance of having a relationship that goes both ways in terms of trust and support. This, in my opinion, is an adjustment story that was a success, because our family was happy and there were good vibes all around. We love our grandmother, but her not treating my mom well will always tar our memories of her.
The second story is of one of my cousins. His parents arranged his marriage to his beautiful MBA girl, who used to work. After marriage she was asked to quit and stay home, and look after her in-laws. She agreed. She was made to do all the work around the house, taunted for being tardy(if she really was or not, I have no idea) all in the presence of her husband, who merely nodded along with his mamma. Then they had a baby girl and of course the inlaws and the husband ‘wanted’ a boy and she was forced to get pregnant again. All this while she kept complaining to her parents who always asked her to ‘adjust’ as did the husband, who said she is lucky to be married to him and she should stop whining and produce a male heir and it would make everyone happy. Another girl and all hell broke loose. We heard stories of her being beaten and abused. My father tried to intervene but was brushed off and chided for interfering in their internal matters. The poor girl kept adjusting to all this, thinking it was all a part and parcel of being married. The want to a son made her conceive again, and it was another girl. The last time I heard of her, she was telling my mom that she was in that relationship only because of the 3 little girls, and that separating at the first signs of a bad marriage would have done her a world of good. ‘Adjustment’ did not work for her, she says, because she is the unhappy one in the relationship, and she is afraid the daughters are also going to face the same fate.
So there you have it. Adjustment with a pinch of salt.