Men, Stop Looking For a Wife Who You Expect To Be Like Your mother!
August 8, 2022
Marriage in the South Asian Community
“When you’re married…”
Those are the words us South Asian women start to hear a lot of once we hit adolescence. Marriage is a topic which appears to begin early in our lives, many times it can feel that we are being raised only in order to be ‘married off’. With these words, a number of ideals we are expected to match are thrown at us. We are told it is a woman’s duty to get married, to bear children, to cook, to take care of the home.
The way we are told to perceive marriage can be the very thing that puts us off the idea of it. It is not portrayed to us as a union, something which is sacred and beautiful, but more of an agreement or negotiation. We belong to our family, carry their honour/pride and then we are passed to another family, to a man we barely know. We are supposed to become their responsibility and hold their honour. It seems as though we are not our own individual person, but that we are tied to men all our lives and that is all we are worth.
So, when it comes to looking for a partner, we go into the world of arranged marriages, chaperoned meetings, and having to look ‘perfect’ with a heavy heart. You feel almost humiliated at what you’re reduced to. Just a girl who has to look a certain way, act a certain way, and be prepared to become a doting housewife/daughter-in-law. It’s no wonder we come to dread those conversations, we start to mentally block out the questions, the commands, the expectations.
“When you’re married you won’t need to work, your husband will provide”
“When you’re married you will have to cook for everyone”
“When you’re married you have to be able to make your husband happy”
“When you’re married you will belong to a new family”
“When you’re married don’t do anything to embarrass us”
A common positive alternative is:
“When you’re married you can travel!”
This implies freedom. This fills our minds with the excitement that when we are married we can go to all the places our protective parents wouldn’t allow us to go. But with the existing restricting ideals of being dutiful to another family, is this really enough of a good point to change our mindset towards married life? Instead of our parents permission, we will need our husband's permission, sometimes our in-laws permission. So the appeal is once again lost.
I realise I’ve set a rather negative image here. Of course not all South Asian women are faced with this portrayal of marriage, though I’m sure many can relate. Growing up with first generation parents who had an arranged marriage, we tend to look at how our mothers are treated, we observe their married life and behaviours. As young educated women brought up in a western world, the kind of life our immigrant mothers have is not often one we’d visualise for ourselves. So, when we refuse to get married to a certain type of individual we may be seen as ‘picky’ or ‘demanding’. But no, we are just trying to save ourselves from a life we know we won’t be happy in.
I’ve found that most women want similar things from a man. We may have our individual preferences, but ultimately it comes down to us wanting to be valued as an independent person with thoughts, opinions and control over our own choices. Yes, we understand our Islamic duties as a wife towards her husband, but we also understand our rights as a wife.
So this one’s for all my ladies – know your worth and stand for what you want in life and in marriage.
Final comment specifically for the men – stop looking for a wife who you expect to be like your mother. Instead look for one who can be a friend, an equal, an individual.
Sara is a Teacher from the UK. She shares her experiences with mental health, as well as teaching activities and photography on her blog: calmingpresence.wordpress.com
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