Marriage Meddlers

Marriage is not for the weak hearted.

But that doesn’t only apply to the husband and wife, it’s everyone around them as well. Its a difficult transition for everybody when two people get married. Its an adjustment and a life change. Flexibility from all sides is necessary for this alliance to sustain.

However, that’s not always the case in today’s society. Very few people understand the importance of balance and appropriate distance. People need to give the respect of privacy and space to a newly married couple. Instead insecurities get the best of us, irrational fear of the unknown takes over logic and reason. The Bahu or Damad (Daughter-in-law or Son-in-law) that you raved about to other people is secretly taunting the strings of your heart.

Thoughts like, “What if this happens? What if that happens?” interfere with our common sense and rational thinking . Is my child mentally mature to handle marriage? Will they be able to fight for themselves if someone tries to bring them down? Parents don’t realize, these thoughts have always been there every time their child reached a milestone. First time being alone; the first day of school; first play date, first sleepover; the first day of high school; first day off university;and the first day of work.

Worrying is in our natural wiring as parents.

That’s how we keep them safe, but we manage to hit all of those milestones without meddling too much in their lives. After all, what can we do about it? We can’t insist on sitting in the kindergarten class with them or go to work with them. We trust our children, we allay our fears by telling ourselves, we have prepared them for this day, and even if they fail, they will somehow learn to fly.

They have to do things on their own, for themselves, without our help because frankly, we can only do so much, the rest is on their shoulders. We can enlist our child in the race, we can encourage them to run as fast as they can, but whose doing the work? Who is actually running? In the end, its all about the effort they put in their lives that will determine the outcome of their successes.

Unhappy mother-in-law

Having said all that, what happens when that same child gets married?

Why do we let our insecurities get the best of us? Why do parents delude themselves into thinking, my child has reached every milestone, but they just can’t pass this one without my help? They are just too naive to understand the complexities of marriage. “No, I’m not sitting this one out!, I’m going to be there for my child. I have to make sure no one harms him or her.”

So you meddle every step of the way.  Son discusses every detail with his mother, and the daughter does the same. The parents decide everything for them, what they should do when there is a fight? Who should bend first? Who was wrong and who was right? Whose point was valid? Who was mistreated? What is their next step? What are the solutions?

Who is directing the marriage then?

The First Relationship…

What is the first relationship God created? Was it mother and son?  mother and father? son and daughter? It was man and wife, through which you become mother and father, through which your sons and daughters are born.

This marital bond has been called the Mercy of God. It is a union decreed by God. We live in a society where all other relationships are MORE revered than a marriage.

Every relationship is significant, no doubt, and the relationship between a parent and their child is extraordinary. However marital relations are severely underplayed in our society, and the respect and duty towards all other relationships are given precedence. The lack of empathy towards someone’s daughter or son and the play of power struggles within families are destroying the very core of our society.

One story sets out a clear example of what marriage meddling gone bad looks like and what are the long term implications of such interference.

The Story…

Imran, at twenty-eight, was settled in his career as a manager in a multinational company abroad. He decided it was time he got married and asked his mom back home to find someone beautiful. That was his only demand. He didn’t care about family, education or religious knowledge. Just beautiful and simple.  Imran’s mother met Sanya, a humble girl from a simple background and immediately took to her. She was confident Imran would approve and asked him to fly out and he did.

And so it begins…

The marriage preparations began, and as more people got wind of the alliance, the ammunition of questions by family members began firing. Imran’s mother was a very talented woman, she was ready for them all.

“How educated is she?”- She has an MBA degree…(Realistically, who is going to ask for the degree?)

“Is she religious”- She has done Hifz (memorization) of the Quran…(After all, who is going to ask her to recite the Quran at her wedding?)

“She seems too simple and village-like”- Oh no! Sanya is very modern and intelligent, she even did some modelling a while back. …(Whose going to confirm it?)

“Does she know how to cook?”- Why else did I choose her? She has done a course on Global cuisine. (Why not, because who is going to test her cooking skills at a wedding…this B.S will pass through as well)

Yes, there were a lot of confused people at the end of the day! She was going to fly out after three days. No one will ever know.

Happily Married…

The newly married birds flew off into the sunset to start their new nest abroad. Soon it was apparent that Sanya wasn’t the perfect wife in any way. She kept the house in adequate condition, but didn’t have to do much because Imran provided her with help. She didn’t need to cook, he was used to eating out anyway.

Happy married couple

He wanted her to give him attention, to be as adventurous as he was and be a companion. Imran was an exceptionally wonderful husband who didn’t demand much from his wife. He treated her as an equal. A few months into their marriage, he wanted her to become more independent and taught her how to drive, and for their first anniversary, surprised her with her very own car. Imran was very content with her. Soon they had children and even after ten years of marriage the man was still in love with his wife and saw no flaw in her.

Dream Husband.

A husband like Imran was beyond anyone’s expectation, educated,  rich, successful, handsome, adventurous, open-minded and liberal. It was a fairytale, especially for a girl like Sanya. On paper, she was no where near equal to Imran, and yet he treated her with utmost request and granted her every wish. She could not have been more lucky. Everything was in place.

She reciprocated by pushing herself and becoming more like him. Think like him. Act like him. Be interested in the things that he liked to do. She was trained to cook, clean, watch babies, and be at her husband’s every beck n call. But Imran didn’t want a domesticated wife. Such women bored him. She found a man, who placed no restrictions or any limitations on her. This only made Sanya love and respect her husband more.

Unhappy mother-in-law

The Gloves come off…

As years went by,  their companionship was as firm as a rock, so was their love. The mother, in turn, became very disappointed with the son and would often tell him,  “Be strict with her, don’t make her use to all the luxuries you throw at her feet. She will get spoiled and when the time comes, it will be difficult for you to mold her into a responsible wife.”

Imran didn’t neglect his parents and gave an equal amount of financial and emotional support to his parents as well. However, the mother could not stand watching her son being dangled around by another woman, even if she was her choice.

The parents decided to leave Pakistan and move in with their son. (You know where this is going eh?) The mother-in-law would have a sitting every night with her son and tell him every small detail of how awful her daughter-in-law was. How disrespectful she was and how incapable she is as a mother, wife and a daughter-in-law. She doesn’t take care of the house or kids, doesn’t making any effort to teach the Quran to the kids and knows nothing about cooking.

The Point of No Return

At first, Imran would just listen and try to alleviate her mother’s misconceptions, but she could not stand her own flesh and blood standing up for another woman and defending his wife in front of her. Days became weeks and weeks became months, and the brainwashing kept going on.

fights

One particular day, she sat down with her son and said “Your life is in complete disarray because you have no control over your wife.  A good wife is supposed to give you a clean home, cooked food and well groomed children and if she is not doing that, she is failing. You need to push her harder. This is the role of a wife and as husband you should be demanding those things from her.

You work day and night to earn and she squanders it. Women stop respecting such men in the end. You don’t say a thing ! You have spoiled everything. I did not raise you to be a man who would become a soft putty in another woman’s hands and would do her every bidding. She has made you into a eunch, while she is acting like the Queen of the world”

The son finally gave in.

He thought  “Surely my mother couldn’t be wrong all this time, maybe I have been the one who has been foolish. It’s been ten years, by now she should have made the effort to please me with a nice home cooked meal. My children should be doing better in school and they have not even begun reading their Quran yet. The maid cleans the house. What does she do all day? She couldn’t find the time to do anything special for me? My mother is right, I have to open my eyes and take control of things”.

Interfering Mother-in-law

Sorry folks, I have to wrap this up. This became a longer post than I initially thought, but I want to leave you with something to ponder about. Are marriages that black and white? Can anyone be impartial about it? Who is at fault? Who is right? Looking forward to your comments.

Until next time, take care.

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