When my eldest brother finished his studies, there was a spate of weddings amongst his batch mates. These were boys from families, who believed in getting their sons married early. Soon after the wedding, the newlyweds would drop in home as my parents would invite them for a customary meal. And as is the custom in my house and most Bangalore Christian homes, alcoholic drinks would be amongst the choice of beverages available for the guests male and female. Some of these guys would have a small drink hesitatingly. Some would refuse altogether. My brother understood and would not press guys who did not want to drink in front of their wives.
Soon, wifey in the enthusiasm of a new bride will start putting down the law. No drinking and no smoking. She thinks she will have the eternal devotion and love of her husband with her concern for his health. What happens instead is a stupid battle of the sexes that sours relations and throws the romance out of the marriage forever.
In the first flush of marriage hubby listens to his devoted wife often gushing over her concern and the stability marriage has bought in his life. Soon he has a drink with his friends or team mates at some occasion or office outing. Then he goes home and faces the wrath, tears or sulks of the wife. Then he starts wondering what the big deal was in an occasional drink! He doesn’t realize the notions wifey carries in her head that it is her duty to correct his supposedly “erring” ways. Constant reminders not to drink puts him in a defensive mood as he resents the nagging. The wife in turn makes this a cause célèbre and thinks that hubby is just being stubborn and needs a firmer hand to get out the habit. In her mind, this would be her success as a wife. If you were to question her at this juncture, she would have no clue as to why she was acting thus. She would probably say that it was her duty or alcohol was injurious to health or something like that. Some were misinformed that an occasional drink will lead to Cirrhosis. However most treated it as their duty as wives to stop it.
Soon wife resembles the nagging Mom and we have two people who wonder when or how the romance went out of their lives. He will complain to his friends about her nagging and drink on the sly or belligerently in front of her. She will complain that he doesn’t care anymore. Single friends who witness this drama count their lucky stars that they are single. Some prolong singlehood so that they can have some more time of peace. For most of these guys from traditional families or small town, wedding means restrictions.
Alcohol ironically without being drunk in excess cause problems in these families!
I blame the girls squarely and their upbringing and Hindi movies for this. Hindi movies portrayal of men is the most misleading and makes millions of Indian women believe that men are people with no brains who can easily be misled by friends to destruction and women are people who should protect them and if gone “astray” ( read: have an occasional drink) bring them around. Then the men are shown as being eternally grateful and devoted to their wives and following them around them like a puppy singing songs and buying her sarees! To top it all the women in these movies shed their smart clothing for the boring saree, sindoor and mangal sutra and a demure demeanor to boot and you wonder what the guy finds so attractive in her now when he was romancing her smarter self a few reels ago!! The whole portrayal sends out wrong messages and reality in the form of man a.k.a husband is a bitter pill to take for these girls. They persist however, as shown in the movie, driving deeper wedges in the relationship.
Most of these girls have strange notions of the word “Wife”. They think, cooking and cleaning and keeping a swanky house is being a wife. They think correcting their hubby and fussing over him is being wifely. They think hubby’s approval and praise of their cooking skills and housekeeping skills is their life’s mission! And a few years down the line, when hubby is used to the pampering and now thinks it his right, she joins the millions of women grumbling about being treated like an ayah and cook! I don’t know who puts the notion into their head that they are supposed to take over from their mother in laws and that their men expect it!! I wish someone would tell them that a wife is a live in girl friend and the household chores of the shared house are to be equally divided amongst them!
Over the years I have noticed something very interesting. Married girls in the family or acquaintance or neighborhood circle who are criticized by the elderly ladies for not cooking or keeping smart homes, are the happiest and contended wives I know. They do not have the burden of expectations on them of running the home or cooking and hubby who is used to this from the beginning is an adjustable guy who would not think twice about an empty fridge and grab a bite on the way home than pampered men of traditional wives, who make life miserable for their wives if the home and hearth were upto the mark and the table laden with piping hot food.
Like someone wise said, happiness and sadness is all in our own hands!
They serve too who serve quietly!