Ever wonder what happens after you’ve walked into the sunset with your dream man? Today an increasing number of educated, financially independent, city bred women find themselves caught in a confusing battle of identity and tussle for supremacy post marriage.
To go from calling the shots on every aspect of their lives to adjusting to the demands of a brand new relationship and the ties that come with it; several women today realize that straddling modern values with traditional expectations is not an easy task.
When Jagriti (name changed on request) married her college sweetheart everything seemed to float perfectly well until she received her new passport, with a new name. “Though I had mentally prepared myself for the change, seeing my husband’s name alongside mine made me feel as if a part of me had simply disappeared. And I’d have to create a new identity all over again.” It doesn’t matter how expected or accepted the norm is, for most women today with a strong sense of self, it is a reluctant adjustment, if made at all. Many women today choose not to adopt a new last name- a trend that seemed blasphemous thirty years ago. However, decisions such as these, in a country that holds tradition so dear, are looked upon as ‘bold’ and usually require more than just coaxing the in-laws. Moreover, the choices made require one to put a firm foot down- a task that seems so arduous that many prefer to simply make their peace with the new change.
For a generation that has grown up on cable TV, lives off Facebook and Twitter and identifies itself with characters from popular sitcoms, the influence of the western way of life feels most normal. And this often makes conforming to traditional Indian norms a struggle. “Marriage means compromise. Period,” says Jagriti, “And though it is needed to maintain a commitment, compromise holds meaning only if both the partners consent to it.” But how often is the consent from women, a willing one? Even if they see themselves as self-sufficient and independent, women find it difficult to toe the traditional line.
“It’s strange how things work post-marriage,” says Vijaya, a homemaker, “I had been working since I was seventeen. Once I got married I was looking forward to taking some time off for myself and my husband was more than willing to support me. However, my in-laws didn’t want me to quit my job. Their logic was that while most of India prevents women from working, they were being pretty forward. My logic of course, was that whether I chose to be at home or work in an office, the decision had to be mine. It took some time and a lot of explaining until they grudgingly backed off.” When you’re caught in a society that’s facing a transition from the old to the new, such issues are bound to crop up. However, without an understanding, supportive partner backing you all the way, holding on to your beliefs can be quite an uphill task.