Monday, April 21, 2014

Relationship tips for a believer in Gender Equality

Relationships are the best teachers. Only if you are willing to learn.
People come and go and they leave you with lessons. A relationship heading south and finally becoming history is a tough task master.
It bends and breaks you, until giving up on it is the last resort. Even then we are left with a thousand questions when a loved one bids farewell.
Why did it have to end? Who's mistake is it? Who tried to sweeten the pot filled with venom?
Such questions plague our mind for quite a while. We either take the high road and call it quits amicably. Or we draw some bad blood and stage a drama to get them back.
My last break up was in September. The second relationship I ever had in life ended much like the first one. It struck like lightening, the truth. Since it didn't take him more than three weeks to take a decision about us. When he took a decision the "us" parted ways as "I" and "him". Though we didn't date each other since the two countries we lived in, didn't give us many opportune moments to meet, I remember him for always admiring me for being a self respecting woman. And I hallucinated, building my castle of dreams with his half baked words.
I do not hold him responsible for going away and taking a decision that didn't have me. I also do not want to point fingers at myself for not dancing to his tunes.
When it ended, of course I was left gaping in the sky. The reasons may have been varied, many of which won't even make sense. It took me one and half months to bounce back.

And that was the time when contemplation told me of a lot of things.
For a self respecting woman who calls herself a feminist loudly and clearly, relationships aren't a piece of cake. And then in aggressively patriarchal societies like India, it is not child's play, to find a beau.
What can a woman like you and me, possibly expect ourselves to be, when we look for our other half. I thought I'll write down those pointers somewhere and this is what made sense to me.

1) Never give up on your basic principles in life. Even if that means, sharing the housework or cooking, stick to it. Life shouldn't change for a woman because she got married.
2) If you do not want to change your surname, just hang on to that decision. It isn't a legal necessity as many perceive it to be. Talk it out, your decision to keep your paternal surname much like your brother. If you do not want to hyphenate it, please do not.
And if you want to change to a new surname, please go ahead. It is your name, after all.
3) Keep your job and do not under any circumstances, try to give it up, because you are expected to do so for the husband's career. Earning your own money is the first sign of liberation for many women. And having your own money will be your only umbrella on a rainy day.
4) A joint account sounds like a very romantic idea. But your own money must be handled by you. Maintain a separate account other than your salary account, and put up a bit as an investment. Invest in a savings account, or shares or mutual funds. Or if you plan to buy a house along with him, get the papers written in your name making you an equal owner of the property. If something goes amiss, you will have proofs to tell him about your share in the investment.
5) If you have decided to move on with him to his place of work,  or to his birth place, along with his parents. Make sure that you have a few friends to lean on to. Friends you know from college or school or workplace. Friends who know you more than knowing him.
Yes, it is a very mushy idea to call his friends yours, but if your ship starts sinking, no one but your own friends would be there to help you. It may not be a very great idea to expect his friends to understand your side of the story.
Re-locating to a new place that is new for you as well as him, is the best idea for women like us.
6) Have a kid only if you want to. You didn't come on earth to birth babies. If you do not need them, announce your decision to him, before you enter into a marriage.
7) Do not let your mother-in-law be the decider of your destiny. Hold the strings of your life in your own hands. Everything from managing your finances to the decision of having kids, to the smallest of decisions should be yours and his. Do not let any member of the family like your mother-in-law or sister-in-law pull the strings for you.
8) Always have time for a hobby and if possible indulge in an activity that interests both of you. A friend of mine was recently showing me the pictures of her kitchen garden. I was happy to learn that her husband was contributing equally to the cause of bringing up a garden.
9) Keep in touch with your family. Talk to them whenever you can, and if possible everyday. Also, stay in touch with your siblings. Living in the same city as them would be of great advantage. Else atleast make sure, to not let the chords of your relationship be broken.
10) Place yourselves before anyone. Remember, if you can't love yourself, you may never be able to love anyone else. Aim for a relationship that doesn't put you at a lower pedestal. 
In case, of abuse of any kind, try to talk to him and if that doesn't work after a warning or two, just walk out. Nothing is more important than your or your self-esteem. Being a woman shouldn't take away the sense of importance from you.

Yes, relationships are tough and we all learn a lot from them. Getting the permutations and combinations right, isn't always that easy. But that doesn't mean that you have to adjust more and fall on your knees to make it work, because you happen to be a woman and a wife. 
A fallen relationship should teach you to rise and not fall deeper into it. The trick is to move on, and look for a self-respecting human who exactly knows what it is to respect another individual.
Relationships complete an individual. We must strive to look for a person, who will be our best companion for life, and a relationship that is an equal partnership. It is the boat of life, that needs two people to oar at the either sides to keep the balance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very good list! It has a strong base of practicality and is a step in the right direction for gender equality.