The Tradition of ‘Saving Marriages’

Saira belongs to an average middle-class family. She was brought up in a way that she always knew she would be married off according to her parents’ choice as soon as she hits the ‘right age’ i.e. early 20s. She was never serious about her education as she always knew her destiny was to be a housewife. In an arranged setting, she is married off. Like any other young girl, she hopes to lead a happy married life full of love and care. She happily gets married to a guy chosen by her parents for her. But it doesn’t take long for her to realize that her husband is into extra-marital affairs and is not career-oriented either to the extent of being totally careless about his family’s future. After few years of marriage she has two daughters and she leads a life full of physical and mental abuse and faces domestic violence every now and then.

With the passage of time, the torture starts affecting her psychologically making her unable to lead a normal life and look after her kids the way she should be. She leaves her husband and starts living with her parents and starts to earn for herself by joining a salon. After few months, Saira’s husband realizes that he should have his family back in his home; so he persuades his wife to come back ensuring that he will treat her with respect and care in future. Trusting his words, she goes back to live with her husband. But things do not change for her and she faces the same ugly situation as before – a life of domestic violence and constant degradation of her existence. Again, she decides to leaves her husband this time with a determination to never get back.

She begins living in her parents’ home and unfortunately her mother dies after sometime – the only one in the family who supported her to earn her own living and leave the troubled marriage behind. Saira sets up her own little salon to financially support herself and her two daughters without being a burden on anyone. But she faces immense pressure from her family members to go back to her husband because he has again approached to have his wife and daughters back. She tries to resist the pressure but ultimately she gives in and agrees to go back and save her marriage yet again, because the husband is willing to.

It’s been few days only since she has gone back with her husband. She doesn’t know for how long things will remain normal and when she might again have to take a decision to abandon the abusive marriage. But for now, the little salon that she had set up has been winded up and she is again dependent on her husband for the finances.

Maheen belongs to a well-educated family. Her father is a senior executive in a multi-national firm. She herself has been a software engineer. Her parents find an apparently suitable guy for Maheen – from a family they had never known before, just like it happens in a usual arranged marriage. When she meets the family at her home for the first time, she doesn’t like them for she could clearly see that the family was very different from her own family as they were all uneducated villagers and in the entire family, it’s the guy only who is educated; so it would be very hard for her to adjust in a family with a very different environment. She cries, pleads before her parents not to marry her off there but all in vain. She is forced to say yes and after trying to resist for some time she agrees to marry as per her parents’ wishes; hoping that her fears would turn out to be baseless.

Maheen gets Nikahfied within three weeks and then she starts having regular interactions with her husband over the phone. Only after few conversations she realizes that the guy is not someone who would respect his life-partner; always trying to sound superior to such an extent that in her first ever conversation with her husband, Maheen is called ‘jahil’ (ignorant). Before her Rukhsati, she gets the idea that she won’t be leading a life of respect and care after marriage. She shares her fears with her parents but it doesn’t work. The family’s elders decide that things shall get better after marriage; hence, the marriage takes place.

From day one, Maheen starts noticing a weird behavior of her husband, which is either aggressive or insulting with a total lack of interest in getting to have an emotional bonding with his new wife. She tolerates the behavior and after few months she gets pregnant. But conceiving doesn’t make her happy as she was still struggling with having a good relationship with her husband. She shares her fear, yet again, with her family and cries because she isn’t ready to have a child when the baby’s father hasn’t been able to give his wife the feeling and confidence of a true life-partner. But she is silenced by telling that becoming a mother is a blessing and one should fear God before even thinking of being unthankful for such a blessing.

Maheen is told that her husband will become a loving and caring person once they have a child in their family. Thus, Maheen listens to her parents and welcomes the child in this world, but only to realize that nothing changes in her marital life even after having a baby.

The disrespect and humiliation continued, the reason of which she could never understand. Although she is pretty and belongs to a well-off educated family, she has been tolerating all sorts of behaviors of her husband only with a hope that some day his behavior might pleasantly change. Today she has three kids. Her days are spent taking care of her home, her kids and her husband’s needs. Unfortunately, the husband’s behavior hasn’t changed. It does get better sometimes, but that remains for a very short period of time and Maheen hasn’t been able to figure out why his behavior has always been so awkwardly unpredictable. Her in-laws tell her that her husband’s attitude has been weird since his childhood and she needs to learn to deal with it.

Sometimes Maheen loses patience and feels like leaving her husband but now even if her parents encourage her to do so after listening to their daughter’s sufferings, Maheen doesn’t muster up courage to take the bold step. She thinks that after having three children, now it is too late to leave the father of her kids; especially because she doesn’t want to separate herself from her children. Therefore, she is saving her marriage, no matter how compromising it is. But her life is far from any sort of a happy married life.


This blog originally appeared in ARY Blogs

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