Quite the fiction it sounds, right? A joint family is rather rare these days. The modern lifestyle has severed the tribe culture into nucleated family units. Another new breed of women who have come of age are the freethinking, equal human kind. They, like men, have taken their right to earn their living and find a foothold and identity for themselves by whatever means they want. What happens when you put the working woman of the 21st century into the archaic structure of the joint family? How does the already multitasking woman hold her own and balance roles without ruffling feathers? This article is for the women who do not believe in trailblazing through wilderness but making a trail keeping the weeds intact. For clarifications read on:
You must understand that now that you have come under the social bindings of the institution of marriage, there are a new set of rules that will try to define you. One must levitate one’s identity above all of that and prioritise their life goals. If bringing up a child, taking care of ageing parents, feeding water to the strawberry plants, keeping the expense account of the family rings a more urgent bell then you must keep them a high priority. If your targets, sales chart, new ventures call out to your soul with more immediacy than familial rituals, then you must keep them higher on your list. Remember, they are all under the roof of the same to-do post it, but they have a certain order of priority that is unique to you. Do not let any preconceived notion mar that.
Related reading: How to handle relationship as a working women ? Q&A with Deepak
No, I do not mean signing documents about possible separation. You need to have a sit-down with the family you will be embracing before the wedding happens. Nothing is a better treatment than prevention. Test your independence on foreign ground before setting up your camp there. No matter what you think would be the natural retaliation of both the families, go out and have a gathering to discuss their expectations from you as the new member in the family and use that opportunity to assert your life goals to the new family you are joining voluntarily.
Make sure before you start your little juggling act that your life partner is in on this show. You might have been a fighter all through your life and you like setting up your own battlements and fighting too, but let me tell you that you will need him on your side for this one. Have a talk with your partner in crime to let him in on your plans of balancing things out and make sure you give him his part to play. He will feel more than validated to see that he is needed in your plan.
There will be more than one of those and you must remember to become a situational deaf person. Every person has their own set of experiences and second hand stories. Listen to them, but the moment you smell unnecessary camaraderie, turn a deaf ear. You are in this marriage because you want to make it work and you look forward to finding a place between your career and family. So juggle you shall, no matter where the cynic thinks this story is headed. Smile, nod and do your thing.
Take work as deadlines. Be it finishing the dishes, submitting the file, paying the bills, arranging for the board meeting, planning the family get-together or signing that big deal – you must see all of this work as deadlines. Do not treat your personal life responsibilities as extra baggage but a routine deadline that you need to meet. Besides feeling emotions, every other activity must run through the same mill of performance. You are delivering work, no matter if it is at work or home. Treat it thus and it will be easier than you feared.
Often it is your professional front that makes it a harder patriarchal challenge than home. Remind your colleagues and seniors that your current status of being married is not a predicament but a personal choice. It is true that nothing in the professional sector should be affected by the personal change, but one must be given leave to get used to a new rhythm in life. So for the betterment of the company, it is important that you are given the room to adjust to your personal life with speed to deliver optimum service to them.
7. Traditions for the toss
The rulebook says a lot about women and you must remember to forget every bit of it. Treat yourself as an individual with professional ambition, passions, emotional needs and own share of familial duty and responsibility. It is a big decision to marry into a new family where many eyes and ears will be scanning your movements. Especially in the archaic joint family structure, things will be called traditional and put on a pedestal. Do not be afraid to break the rules. Be true to your responsibilities towards both the families – the one you were born in, the one you married into – and be honest at it.
The rest, no matter how disturbing, are just distractions that you need to grow out of.