The first year of marriage is often bliss and the most memorable. I heard this from a lot of people and before I got married I always thought why just the first year, every year can be like that, as long as the couple keeps the flame burning.
When I got married, the first year was no doubt a bed of roses. We were completely besotted by each other, people couldn’t believe this was a proper Indian arranged marriage and our courtship period was hardly a few months.
As an independent, strong willed multitasker, taking pride in being able to manage anything and everything by myself, unwittingly I applied this to my responsibilities relating to our new home as well.
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Whether cooking a full-fledged 4-course meal or doing the dishes, laundry, managing groceries, bills and other household chores, I chose to do them alone. I felt a sense of pride in being able to manage my job and a house all by myself.
At times it left me drained and I hardly had time for myself but I never thought of initiating a discussion with my hubby. How naive of me, I often think in hindsight. When women at my workplace who were married for longer, and some had kids, advised me don’t make such elaborate 4-course meals, don’t get him used to so much comfort, don’t set such high expectations that you need to face the consequences later, I always looked down upon them with disdain and pitied their husbands. I looked at it as a means of dominance and a wish to control their husbands. Now I find a lot of sense in what they said.
It’s not about control; it’s all about working together and sharing the workload.
With women working long and stressful work hours, and longer commute times in big cities, this does take a toll on their ability to perform household chores. In such a situation I don’t see anything wrong if a man chips in helping his wife in the kitchen and outside too.
Things changed drastically when we had a baby. This came like a storm and completely shook me. I could never have envisioned that this tiny bundle would create such havoc in my life. From sleepless nights to feeding troubles, she kept me on my toes. I had my mom and grandmum by my side thankfully, who helped me tide through. But with the earlier ‘superwoman’ kind of expectations that I had set, I was seeing the repercussions now and it wasn’t good. My life changed big time.
He snored blissfully, unaware of me waking up at 1.30 in the morning and trying to soothe a wailing baby who refused to sleep a wink. He didn’t have to feel the guilt that ate me up when I had to supplement my baby’s feed with formula.
After a few months, the baby settled down, but I had to rejoin work, which meant life was hectic again. I now needed support and help, but there was none to be found. And that was when I got irritated. And big time. It led to nasty fights, comparisons to how hands-on other dads are and so much more.
We are past that phase now, though I would be lying if I said all the bitterness had completely vanished. There are some scars both ways that are yet to heal. Time will tell.
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I wouldn’t blame him as much as I would blame myself for not setting the correct expectations right from the start. People often told me these things need to be discussed before marriage, the roles and responsibilities must be defined and shared. You take care of laundry, he pays the bills, you cook he cleans up the dishes. What’s wrong in that? But I never paid heed. “I am strong, independent and can do everything by myself, be it analysing the P & L of a trading desk or making Rotis.” But this notion of mine was shaken and proved wrong after I had a baby.
And that’s why I would advise all young women out there, it’s never too late to have this conversation with your beau. It’s better to have confrontations now than repercussions later which are much uglier, and the after-effects are bitter. I have learnt my lesson that being strong is not always ideal.