“Why does a woman work ten years to change a man, then complain he’s not the man she married?”― Barbra Streisand. This quote belies the expectations of a woman in a modern marriage. Thanks to feminist movements, now instead of one there are two people wearing the pants in the modern household. While a lot has changed and remained unchanged for the woman, what really has changed for the man. If there is a change, is it for the better? What are some of the expectations from the new-age Indian husband?
While women have gone from being the primary caregiver and household CEO to earning livelihoods and are straining at handling both roles, have we as a society gotten over the obsession of men as protectors, nurturers and strong- silent types? So what are the unrealistic expectations of Indian wives and their expectations from their new-age Indian husbands?
Who is the new-age Indian husband?
The modern husband or the new-age husband is the one who has accepted the changing realities of a marriage which could be a wife being unavailable most of the day, she could be earning more than him and he could be handling childcare and work. But when it comes to a situation he would be the one taking all the responsibilities and go back to the old role of protector and provider.
The expectation from the modern man is endless. He is expected to be like water flowing into any vessel according to the need of the hour.
Sometimes he finds the expectation stressful and intimidating.
We list the expectations from the new-age husband
The modern husband is expected to be perfect no matter how draining and unrealistic that could be for him. We list the expectations.
1. Support the family aka “Doing the man thing”
Even as the conversation is steering to equal pay and having more women leaders in businesses, society still expects men to provide financially for the family. While many women take a break or breather post-marriage or kids, the men cannot ever put their feet up or take some time off for themselves as this is seen as giving up the role of a “provider for the family “- that is ascribed to men by the society and is still top among women’s expectations of marriage. This aspect tops the unrealistic expectations about love and marriage from a man.
2. He has to be the Go-Between
Aakash Saigal, 26, a Copywriter in Mumbai says, “We’ve been married 2 years and as usual my parents are expecting grand kids, while my wife Hina is having a fledgling career she doesn’t want to compromise on. So many phone conversations are spent in convincing my parents that we may take some more time. It’s tough to please both sides as I understand both their worries.”
With inter-caste marriages and women having more financial independence and freedom, many don’t wish to follow old diktats of marriage and raising kids.
This brings additional pressure on men to maintain a delicate balance between the expectations of his parents and his spouse and kids.
The trouble with a modern marriage is that while it advertises an equal marriage – both partners bring forth their own baggage of traditional and unnecessary expectations and upbringing which takes years to unlearn and to find their own rhythm.
3. Be successful
There is immense pressure on men to be successful at any cost and at all times especially financially and in their career. This evolved from their role of the sole provider of a family and persists till today. Women still do not face such pressure because they are still expected to excel in the traditional roles of daughter, wife, and mother. In fact, because of patriarchy, the pressure on men to stay ahead in the economic race has never ebbed. Wealth, a high paying job, travel, a house, good well-paying investments are still considered to be among the many unrealistic expectations in marriage for a man.
4. Have qualities to be a great dad
Many men despite having come from broken homes have to commit to fatherhood or the idea of a perfect father.
Many may have grown up without a male role model, have endured extreme physical violence or abuse at the hands of their parents or are children of single parents or were brought by women, yet society expects a man to have ideal dad qualities galore.
Like realtor Samir Sinha, 32 who says, “I was raised by my mother and grandmom and dint have a great role model in my father. He disappeared from my life once I was ten. I still have scars of emotional abuse and neglect from him and yet I am expected by my girlfriend to want babies when I clearly don’t feel I can. I’m still figuring out how to get rid of unrealistic expectations in marriage.”
5. Don’t be aggressive, but protect
From being a hunter-gatherer to fighting wars, the story of men in human evolution has been full of violence. Their natural predisposition to aggressiveness, however, is completely a misfit in today’s times where both sexes are considered equal. However, among husbands and wife roles in modern relationships expectations from modern husbands is more.
Men are still expected to “protect” even as his aggressiveness is misconstrued as violence.
6. Be open and frank but not too much aka boys don’t cry
Men have a traditional predisposition to bottle up their feelings and even among their peers and friends, there is a very little culture of sharing one’s feelings or emotions.
Add to that the macho “men don’t cry” image created over several generations which have made them wary of letting their guard down or showing vulnerability.
Even today in a social or family setting, men are derided even for showing the slightest of emotion, weakness and God forbid- tears!
Binoy Paul, 41, a marketing professional quips, “I am encouraged to be open and frank and emotional by my wife, but not if there are things she doesn’t want to hear or she doesn’t agree with them. ”
7. The new-age Indian husband must be a passionate lover
With more and more women exploring their sexuality and asking for sexual satisfaction from men, good sex is rather passe. Among unrealistic expectations in relationships, partner expectations have skyrocketed thanks to porn and western ideologies available to women and men are expected to perform to unrealistic levels of sexual passion. They are expected to maintain their bodies, stay well-groomed and be animals in bed, no less. The sexual focus which was on women since centuries is shifting to men. Even with stress, long commutes, work pressures, and societal pressures, today men are not only objectified but are also expected to have superlative lovemaking skills in the bedroom or outside.
8. Men are expected to still do the heavy lifting aka chivalry
From dating to marriage to parenting- the image of men being risk-takers yet charming and chivalrous has been carried on since the Victorian era.
Men are still expected by women to take the lead in romance, become vulnerable to show their feelings, propose marriage and even decide on having kids.
Many a time despite women demanding equal status, most still prefer a man to make the first move, pick up the tab during a date- yet stay chivalrous and pander to the woman’s emotions.
These days, many men still end up doing the heavy lifting financially, emotionally and physically in marriage. “Women still expect the guy to propose even if we have come afar in gender equality. Men take the risks here, bear the brunt of rejection by a woman he likes and also of proposing not knowing if it will work out. Women’s unrealistic expectations about marriage tend to stem from society, popular media, books, and their own families. “We would love if women lead the way more often and it would help especially in a marriage when both parties are trying to figure out how to deal with expectations in a marriage,” says Keshav Narain, 29, a fitness coach from Mumbai.
9. My husband should be my best friend/soulmate/therapist/GF
Among behavioral expectations from a spouse, many women desire that their husband not only be their lovers and partners but also best friends, work coach, and therapists. Men, whose natural predisposition is not to air out all their feelings, have new roles to play in modern marriages. They have to be able to not only satisfy and secure a woman physically, financially and emotionally but also fill her loneliness, be a great parent and stay an ideal son and husband but also listen to women as their girlfriends are wont to do.
10. He should be able to sacrifice a guys night out
Yes of course. What’s more than the family or the wife? And it’s not the same as her shopping day out with the girls.
It’s exhausting to be perfect. That’s what the new-age husband is made to strive at and sometimes, unable to meet the expectations, he fails miserably.