Married Life

When my reluctant husband became my biggest supporter

When she married, Prathibha Agarwal’s husband didn’t understand her motivation to work. After several years of marriage, things changed and so did he
supporter

My life always felt scripted. Born and brought up in Kolkata in a beautiful and traditional Marwari family, I was sheltered, protected, and pampered. After college, I married and relocated to Hyderabad to begin afresh, with new hopes of giving and receiving love, and dreams of writing a part of my own life story. I have always been a people person, and found a calling in teaching. My desire to work was not from rebellion but to step out of my comfort zone, try something new, make something of my time. No woman in my family or my husband’s family worked. But I had an itch to do something more.

It’s difficult to break out of a mould one has grown up loving. My husband was extremely cooperative initially, but he was not used to seeing women work. When the principal wanted to give me more responsibilities, it put a strain on our relationship. Then I got pregnant, and my aspirations went on the back burner. It was not a sacrifice. My two sons were my life and nothing else mattered.

My family was my very own universe. But just like our bigger cosmos, this one too needed expanding.

After almost 20 glorious married years and two grown children, I found myself wanting more. The more I thought, the louder the voice within grew. At first, yoga was a way to deal with these emotions, to try and understand them, give myself something to do as my nest grew empty and days seemed longer. Soon it grew on me. Unknowingly, I had found a new calling.

Related reading: My mother-in-law rejected me, but that’s not my loss

married life

I went from taking yoga classes to teaching them. It has been six years now and somehow they seem like a lifetime. Not because the time has seemed tedious, but because the transition has been so smooth. And there is only one person to thank for that, who stood up and stood by, while I went about workshops and classes. The change was not easy, even though his support made it seem so. I remember when I was in Goa for a course and began to feel homesick. My younger son fell ill. I decided I’d had enough and wanted to return. But my husband encouraged me to stay on. “When you have given so much of your time and effort to this,” he said, “don’t leave it now. Stay on and stay strong. I will take care of the house and the children. I am here for you.”

Knowing that I had beside me such rock-solid support and faith in my abilities pushed me to go on and not just complete the course, but take up yoga as a profession. Without my husband’s unwavering backing, I could not have managed this mid-life transition as smoothly and with such confidence. This was the same man who was once apprehensive of me working!

I’ve wondered what made him come around to understanding my desire to have a life beyond family. To comprehend that finding a career would not mean sacrificing family time. It has been a long journey of acceptance and faith, for us both. I had faith in him. Respected his frame of thought when he wanted me to be home. I did not pull at the string so hard that it snapped. Gave him enough room to know that I accepted his way of thinking because we are a team. The change may seem sudden. But it was slow and consistent. As I let go, so did he. He saw that I could manage both work and family. And if I fell short, he could compensate. We could both grow as individuals only if we grew as a couple and vice versa.

To those in similar situations, all I can say is, believe in yourself and your relationship. Do not pit one against the other. Nurture what qualities your spouse has. Marriage is the tree we water every day for years, before one day it suddenly blooms.

My husband is today my rock and the reason I can leave home, travel around the world pursuing my passion, because he understands that work and home are not disparate, but a confluence of my energies, just like our marriage.

We work on things together, in tandem. I write my future with my own words of love, trust, sharing, support, and faith. A few chapters began late because others needed more time. My story isn’t scripted anymore because it isn’t just mine. It’s ours.

(As told to Shahnaaz Khan)

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