In legal parlance, there is a phrase called, “the burden of proof” that rests on the shoulders of a prosecutor to prove the culpability of an accused. Likewise, in a marital relationship, there was a time, that we had seen during our childhood days, when the “burden of adjustment” in a family was on the wife. During those days, a husband took all the decisions: Wife was expected to follow. Husband decided on where to stay, what to buy, whom to invite, how many children to have etc. Not just that, even when the couple was going together, they were not going together. Invariably, the husband led the lady: He was like the forelegs and she was like the hind legs. ‘Ability to adjust’ was a virtue expected of a dutiful wife. In fact, Wifely virtues have been amply highlighted in Tulasi Ramayana. As per the verse, ‘Devotion of body, speech and mind to her lord’s (husband’s) feet is the only duty, sacred vow and penance of a woman’. Neeti Saaram is a very popular collection of morals written by Telugu Poet, Baddena aka Bhadra Bhupala who lived during the 13th century. Since an Indian wrote this, keeping in mind the Hindu culture, it outlines the qualities an Indian bride was expected to have. It underscored the six qualities, “‘Karyeshu Dasi, Karaneshu Manthri; Bhojeshu Mata, Shayaneshu Rambha, Roopeshu lakshmi, Kshamayeshu Dharitri, Shat dharmayukta, Kuladharma Patni’.
If that was then, in the late 90s came another phase where the “burden of adjustment” was equally distributed on both, the husband and the wife. This was a very brief phase that we saw during our teenage times, dragging grudgingly into our middle age. Since it was a ‘shared responsibility’, it didn’t do too well in the union and collapsed quickly. Now, in the last few years, I have noticed, the burden of adjustment has shifted to the husband. While the wife takes all the decisions, husband is now expected to toe the line ‘silently’. This is the new social order or marital order. Earlier, between a husband and a wife, age was the only difference, and on all other issues, there was unanimity. Now, less the age, there is difference in everything else. In the bygone era, pati was a parameshwar, not any more: He is accountable for his actions and inactions. His word is neither a gospel nor final. For men in a marital relationship, it is a dark time and there is no light in sight. It’s true that many married men are reasonably happy, but marriage, as noticed, is not the reason for their happiness.
Will the new order changeth, yielding place to old?
Qui vivra verra: God alone knows!!