In support of free speech

I’m re-posting the comment made by Shaheen and liked by Renu as as a mark of solidarity for them and in support of free speech.

 

A dozen things to discuss before tying the knot for desi couples

I started to write this list after reading the past few posts on IHM’s blog, but was really inspired to finish as a response to this post. While I do agree that the best way to really know about someone is by living with them, which most Indian young men and women cannot even dream of doing before marriage. In my opinion the next best thing one can do is talk and by talk I mean discuss the 12 topics which cause disharmony in a relationship. Here they are in random order.

Living arrangements

  • Nuclear family or joint family
  • If nuclear family, then how far away or close to the in-laws should you want to live. This only applies to couples who live in the same city as their parents
  • If living in a joint family temporarily, then what’s the time frame to move out

Parents

  • Expected behavior towards SIL or DIL
  • Their level of involvement in your marriage
  • How to handle disagreements
  • Who will handle disagreements
  • Money and gift giving
  • What to do in the event they cannot live by themselves anymore

Finances

  • Spending habits
  • Saving habits
  • Debt and loans if any
  • Contribution towards the family  expenses
  • Planning for retirement, education, vacations etc

Children

  • When
  • How many
  • How far apart
  • How will they be raised

Job and Career

  • Ambitions
  • Discuss the other person’s job requirements  i.e. travel, work hours etc
  • Define what is a non negotiable job or career change
  • Time off from work, sabbaticals, higher education, relocation etc

Household responsibilities

  • Expectations from each other
  • What is a fair division of labor
  • Hired help

Religion

  • How to incorporate each other’s faith if belonging to different religions
  • The customs and traditions you will be comfortable following from the other person’s faith
  • Which religion will the kids follow
  • Even if you happen belong to the same religion /caste/ sub-sect do discuss the customs and practices that you are aware of and are comfortable following
  • Level of involvement with religion

Health

  • Major surgeries and genetic conditions
  • Communicable diseases
  • Wishes you need honored when something unforeseen happens

Food

  • Food allergies
  • Food preferences i.e. vegetarian, non-vegetarian, kosher, halal, vegan etc
  • Types of food that can be cooked or served at home

Culture and Personal Habits

  • The similarities and differences between your background, habits etc
  • The things you’d be willing to incorporate into your life from your partner’s culture
  • Things that you do not agree about your partner’s culture
  • Daily habits i.e. cleanliness, hygiene, toileting.

Sex

  • How much and how often
  • What is okay
  • What is a complete no-no

Misc

  • Pets
  • Political beliefs
  • Hobbies

I am not suggesting by any means that one has to print a copy of this post and read from it when meeting prospective grooms or brides for the first time, but if you feel you like the person across the table and would like know if you could fall in and be in love with them for the rest of your life feel free to discuss any and all of the points mentioned in the post.

15 year old fatally stabs teacher in Chennai…a different perspective

It was hard to miss the news about a 15 year old allegedly fatally stabbing his teacher while at school. Even harder to miss was the outrage and shock at the incident and the outpouring of sympathy for the teacher and her family, the lamenting of loss of respect for the teachers, and  an increase in violent tendencies  among the youth.  While only a few people pointed out what really contributed towards this tragedy, namely the educational system along with pressure from parents demanding perfect performance, the attitude of the teachers and demands imposed by society may have driven the student to do what he did.

While this certainly is true, many if not most students do not try to take their lives or the lives of others in the process. So what pushes these  few kids over the edge. Could it be that he was evil ( translated to psychopath), I don’t think so, he was  a quiet kid, non disruptive, possibly no friends at all and was only seen in the company of his mother. Could it be because he was  a Muslim, no again because there is definitive proof that people from all religions have committed suicide or murder. His religion plays a part here only if it was used as a tool or discrimination against him or to humiliate him.

What bothers me is the so called experts who have now concluded that the students are becoming violent or are only now demanding that schools advise teachers to use “less harsh words” and to “not humiliate students” are not even entertaining the idea that this kid could be mentally ill. Now, I’m not saying that he is crazy but he could very well be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD .

PTSD is a  complex condition that develops after a person has been exposed to one or more instances of physical or emotional trauma. It affects a person’s memory and their behavior.

This is what the Encyclopedia of Mind Disorders says about PTSD.

Here’s some info on the condition from Mayo Clinic.

Click on the link to find out what the folks at the United States Department of Veteran Affairs have to say about it.

More importantly here  is a  link where we can learn about how  PTSD can sometimes lead to criminal behavior.

While many readers might argue that almost all the students are exposed to the same situations at home and school and they don’t commit murder or suicide, let me give you an analogy, while this may not be perfect, I think it works to drive home the point. Not all people who smoke get lung cancer. They may develop other symptoms which are curable but only a percentage go on to develop lung cancer. So while all students are stressed only few may go on to develop PTSD and it is also worth noting that not all people with PTSD turn violent.

Also, I am not attempting to justify murder. But if we are to seek justice and not revenge we need to look deeper and investigate further.  And sometimes that involves asking questions and looking for answers that could make us uncomfortable.

Was Hindi the only subject this kid did not do well in? There are no reports of him doing badly overall in his studies.

This kid supposedly scored zero in a Hindi test. Now I haven’t seen the test and the students responses to the test but what I want to know is and here’s how one way his religion plays a part. Most Muslims in Chennai speak either Tamil or Urdu at home and if this kid spoke Urdu at home, we all know that the spoken language differs very little from Hindi. So how did he score zero in a language he spoke at home.

If this kid did not speak Urdu at home and then I can see him failing, but still don’t see him scoring zero, because in most Anglo Indian Schools in Chennai, the second language is introduced in the 4th standard, so this kid had to have 5 yrs of Hindi in his bag by now.

If all of the above reasons don’t matter, then don’t 13 notes by the teacher indicate to the teacher and the parents that the kid  is unable to do well in Hindi and switch to another second language. I know schools these days offer a couple of other choices like french, sanskrit etc. Also isn’t a good teacher supposed to realize that there could be a deeper problem by the 4th or 5th note to the parent that may be the kid needed to be helped differently.  While the parents too share a huge part of the blame and I will come to that later, many ( even the educated ones) if not most parents aren’t even aware that they need to support their kids beyond sending them to school, paying fees, buying books and sending them off to tuitions  when they don’t study properly.

Was this kid treated differently because he did not take tuition from the teacher.  I have heard nothing but good things about the teacher, but we as a society first of all never speak ill of the dead. We are the kind of people who say “Poor guy he died, all he did was murder 50 people” or “He was a good guy only he used to beat up his wife every other day”. We feel sorry for people once they are dead, we feel death absolves people of all blame. While many teachers are kind, dedicated and themselves work under enormous pressure to produce results, there are many who use the power of their positions to abuse those under them. They are mean, narcissistic, harass and bully the kids under their care all under the pretext of teaching them and the universal excuse is that “it is for the students own good”.

So while there are reports of this teacher being good, could she have been mean to this boy. Could the 13 notes be considered as bullying, if they contained personal attacks on the student instead of recommendations or information on how to improve performance.

Also, (I know I’m going to be the target of much hate mail for this ) we say that murder when one life is in danger meaning if its a kill or be killed situation is justified, when a home owner is allowed to kill an intruder who attempts to rob and kill his family. a soldier is allowed to or even required to shoot before being shot at. Then tell me this aren’t most of the students taught, brainwashed and even indoctrinated that good marks, sorry perfect marks are the only way. Failing is failure at life itself. While this is certainly not true, how many children know that. Isn’t there a chance that for many the failing in class or being detained can be a life and death situation.

There was a report saying that he feared that he will not be allowed to go to class X. Did he arrive at that conclusion himself or was it communicated to him by his teacher or was it used as a threat. If it was used as a threat, then could it be one of the factors that drove him to commit murder.  Individuals suffering from PTSD cannot rationalize certain thoughts and actions. He probably just saw her as an obstacle or threat  to his progress to class X and the only way out in his mind was to neutralize the threat posed by this teacher and that’s what he did.

Also I want everyone to imagine another way this would have played out, how would we be responding if he had stabbed himself in front of the teacher instead of stabbing her. What would everyone say about the teacher then.

What pains me the most is this student who is still a child probably has been sending out non verbal cries for help for who knows how long. Either his parents, teachers, school authorities and friends ignored those cries or were not trained to recognize them, leading to this horrific tragedy. There are multiple victims here the teacher who actually lost her life, her two daughter who have to grow up without their mother, the student’s family who forever will be branded as being ” a killer’s family” along with being harassed and shunned from society and even the student himself( yes he’s a victim too everyone).

I cried when I read that this kid just sat looking at the floor the entire time at the hospital and did not want to even meet his parents. Just think for one moment its not the loss of life both the teachers and his that worries him but that he let down his parents. Such is the pressure we put on our kids today.

We are parents need to take a cold hard look at ourselves, do we want children to love and enjoy or do we want pint size powerhouses of performance who can go on like a Duracell battery. For many if not most families getting into a good school or college might be way to a better life, but as parents isn’t it our responsibility to make sure that our kid is cut out for this ardrous journey.

Above all why do we value certain jobs over others. Why is it better to be an engineer and not a clerk at the DMV. Not everyone is cut out to be an engineer and a clerk at the DMV can have better integrity and work harder than an engineer too. Why do we value professions over people. Or, is it because an engineer earns more than a clerk at the DMV and money is what, ultimately we as parents, want our kids to make?

Do we really want our kids to be happy or is our kids success some how a way for us to piggy back our way into getting society to respect us. “His son is in IIT” or “Her daughter is a doctor” or “Their son lives in America”.

Also, why is it absolutely necessary to respect all teachers. I know for us desis teachers rank next to parents on the respect list, but there have been cases of parents who are bad or who have made not the best decisions for their kids, why can’t the same rules apply to the teachers as well. I am not advocating disruptive behavior in class by the student , but enough procedures in place so that teachers cannot get away when they physically, sexually or emotionally maim children under their care.

Also, there are multiple reports about this teacher and her family( and I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any coverage) but the very next a day not far from her school a Class X student committed suicide by hanging himself because he could no longer take the pressure and constant nagging to improve his already good scores. Why is there no outcry for him.  Why this hypocrisy. Is it because a student’s life is less valuable than a teacher’s ( I know she was killed).

In both these situations it was these young boys who actually wielded the weapon namely knife and bedsheet, but who put the weapon in their hands figuratively. If the schools and parents take credit for a students success then aren’t they responsible for bad outcomes too.

Lastly, I wish there was a well informed agency to conduct an impartial inquiry and see that justice is served. Justice may not be hanging or 20 years in prison, but treatment for the student’s mental health condition. Reading reports about his behavior after in juvenile hall and at the hospital leads me to believe that he is severely depressed and in shock. He could even be a threat to himself now.

And above all we need to learn our lesson now and instead of checking for knives and guns or installing metal detectors at schools, lets all change our attitudes towards what is success, expectations from our  children, teachers and schools, have procedures in place to train and retrain those we entrust our kids to, in the right way to behave with them. This is one of the ways we can avoid incidents like these from becoming commonplace.

Desi women and male doctors

So, what is the deal with desi women and male gynecologists. A reader recently asked me  what should be done if a husband did not like his wife visiting a male gynecologist.  The post can be found here.  I gave her the best answer I could provide stating that he may not like his wife visiting one, but he should in no way prevent her from getting necessary medial services.

So, why exactly do we shun the  medical personal in this category. Is it modesty or shame, fear or religion or is it altogether something else.

There are some cultures/ religions which practice segregation of sexes and contact between males and females who are not family is discouraged even prohibited. But, I also know,   in that those cultures or religions there is an exception for medical services and/or situations where loss of life or limb could result  due to refusing the help of a man.

Are we as women so ashamed of our bodies and refuse to let a male see us at our most vulnerable.  If  the reason is this, then why don’t we discriminate when we need a doctor to treat breast or cervical cancer or don’t mind being treated by a male doctor for fractures  in the hip or thigh or even a cardiologist. I don’t think women actively seek doctors of the same sex to treat these conditions, just the best  in their respective areas of practice.

Is it  our fear of exploitation  then, that prevents us. Sure, like everyone else I’ve read stories of male doctors molesting their patients, and I cannot even begin to imagine the plight of women who have experienced something like that, especially at the hands of someone they trusted with their life and limb.

But perverts and creeps are everywhere, is shunning the entire male gynecologist community the answer to keeping women safe. Wouldn’t it be better if doctor patient laws are strengthened and people are actually educated about the proper code of conduct for doctors and patients. It would  also be of tremendous  help if victims were encouraged to come forward and harsher punishments meted out to those found guilty.

So, if the reason isn’t any of the above, then what is it that makes us hesitate, stop or even coil at the thought of visiting a male gynecologist.

Life for the wife left behind

Hello everyone,

This post is about the lives and difficulties faced by those women left behind by their husbands who work abroad, most of the time with the guy’s parents.

There was a time when I was growing up that to get a groom for one’s daughter who was working abroad ( at least in my community) was considered the ultimate parental achievement. Everyone would congratulate the parents of the girl on finding the ultimate match.

This was because it was believed that the men who worked abroad would make more money than the men who lived and worked in India.  Now this wouldn’t have been too bad a thing if only these men could take their wives with them. But often they were left behind, as the man either did not make enough to support two families meaning his wife and future kids abroad and his parents and possibly siblings back in India. Sometimes, even if he had the  so called “family status” and could afford to live with his wife where he worked, she wasn’t allowed to accompany him. The reason for this being someone had to take care of the saas and sasur. So the bride would have to stay back with her in-laws while her husband went back to work after the 3 or 4 week vacation came to an end.

Day to day life for these women consisted of taking care of their in-laws and house hold chores. Since, I’m talking about times before email, social networks, mobile phones, the only communication they would have with their husbands would be a monthly letter addressed to his parents, or a phone call for 10 minutes at neighbors house. The in-laws would read the letter and inform the wife that the husband had written and that he was doing well. The MIL or which ever in-law accompanied her to the neighbor’s to take the phone call would admonish her saying that she was wasting her husband’s hard earned money (which  he supposedly could save for her and their kids) if she talked to her husband beyond the allotted time.

 A woman I know, who lives in India with her two kids, while her husband works abroad once told me that, when she was newly married, her husband once wrote a letter to her and when her MIL got a hold of it while she was visiting her parents, all hell broke loose. She was asked by her MIL to not return, it took her father a few trips to the in-laws home and her begging for forgiveness after which her MIL relented and allowed her to return home.

These women were never considered as human by the in-laws. They were  just free laborers. They had to cook, clean, wash all the in-laws’s clothes, be the first to wake up and the last to eat and sleep. If they did anything else apart from this  it was to wait for the 3 weeks of vacation  time when the husbands would visit.

Now this time too was not a happy peaceful time for the poor woman either, the man when not out visiting relatives or friends was supposed to spend quality time with his parents first. The wife would have to wait until it was time for bed, to spend time with her husband. If the husband wanted to visit his buddies, he could just leave, but if he had to take her out to the movies, then the in-laws would have to be notified and permission sought well in advance.

Another side effect of the husbands visiting every year would be the wives getting pregnant, so many of these women would have kids every year or so until the in-laws decided that she had had enough and put an to her reproductive capacity. Now if she did not get pregant, especially if there were no kids yet and it had been a couple of years since the wedding, or if she had a girl before she would be taunted and harassed.  Intimate details  about the possible working and non working parts of her reproductive system would be freely discussed with neighbors, relatives and anyone willing to listen.  New reasons will be conceived for her not conceiving and the poor woman many times will face threats of being replaced.

In short, these women lead lives like pseudo widows. The worst part is that this still happens in 2012 in some parts.

So, what do you think is the fascination with grooms who work abroad? Would really appreciate perspectives from those who’ve come across women/ situations  like this.

Reader Questions – Divorce, Doctors, Movie night and A walk in the park

The following are some questions posed by a reader and my answers

A girl is in a relationship, her husband has been good to her. But she has started to feel she has grown apart and wants a divorce although her husband loves her- you support this.

Let’s say a married woman starts to like another man and she wants to legally end the current marriage with a divorce, although her husband loves her – in a marriage, it has become one sided love from husband – And she wants a divorce.

Why have they grown apart?  What do you mean by “being good”? Traditionally a husband was said to be  “good” and “loving”  if he could provide the wife with food, clothing and a place to sleep. There was no expectation towards the husband to meet  or fulfill a wife’s emotional, intellectual or physical needs and desires. Men just took what they needed without even asking for it. Also, many times each spouse may grow and evolve very differently in a marriage, so sometimes instead of  growing together they grow apart. This is not uncommon.  Marriage when done right can be the most fulfilling, satisfying and fun filled experience of one’s life. But when its not working can be the most lonely and excruciating  journey ever.

As long as there is no physical, mental, emotional abuse or threat of violence and if this particular woman wants to, then the couple can try to work on their marriage by getting some counselling and trying to make the relationship work. If the woman is unwilling to further, work on the marriage then its best for the husband to let her go and try to find happiness elsewhere.

Again,  from your second scenario,  the woman has made her decision. Although this situation is sad, there is no point in holding on to someone who doesn’t want to be with you.  My one suggestion would be to end the marriage first and then find another guy, ( unless it was the husband’s abuse which drove her into the arms of another man and even then it still better to end the current relationship first ). I am not very familiar with the divorce laws in India, in the USA although some states require you to submit a reason for the divorce like infidelity or abuse, many of them are called ” no fault states” meaning that no matter what the internal dynamics, if one spouse wants out of the marriage then he/she should be able to get out. There is no way to stall or “not give” your spouse a divorce.

The husband does not like his wife visiting a male gynaecologist – what will you say?

It’s okay if he doesn’t like it, as long as he does not stop her from getting the necessary medical services.

A husband is not fine with his wife going out with her male friend often, and he certainly does not like it when she spends nights in his home watching movies – don’t you think he is well within his rights?

This is a relationship problem and not a social issue, there is no law that prevents a woman from having friends of the opposite sex. You did not mention if she goes alone to this male friend’s house, takes her husband along, whether this male friend has a girlfriend/wife/partner or even if a group of friends get together for a weekend movie night.  As you have said it yourself, she is only watching movies, from what I see her only crime would be to maybe neglect her share of household chores if she spends too much time this activity.

A husband sees his wife walking hand in hand with a male friend of hers in a park and his wife does not like him bringing the topic up- what would you expect him to do, as a feminist?

What was this husband doing in the park? Was he following her, or was he there already when his wife arrived with the male friend? Also, was this husband alone or did he have some kind of company, cause if he did then I see how the wife would not want him to bring up her mistakes or infractions.

Hope this helps.

P.S I realize that some of the things I’ve proposed are not very common in India like marriage counselling. So I’d appreciate if readers can offer me other perspectives.

What to do when when a wife forges ahead…Reply to comments part 2

This post is a response to the following comments

She is well within her rights to ask for a divorce now, as she is now higher up, and you have the inferiority complex.
In case of that, step aside as a graceful man from her life and let her marry a man of her status.
Do not stand in the way of a modern woman.

Those of us who are married are all well within our rights to ask for a divorce whether we are better than our spouses in any way or not. So unless this woman was in a toxic relationship before the promotion and looking/ waiting for some way or opportunity to get out of it, I don’t see the need for a divorce in this case.

Also I don’t think that the man has an inferiority complex, a little insecurity, yes, but inferiority, no.  With most of us having been indoctrinated from a very young age about specific gender roles and duties that women and men have, I think its only natural for someone to feel conflicted and confused when faced with a situation like this. Remember he did not say that he has asked his wife to refuse the offer, he said that she did not tell him her decision to accept or refuse, which shows that she is free to make her own decisions. But its nice that he is attempting to find a way to work through this, which is a good start.

What to do when when a wife forges ahead…Reply to comments part 1

This post is a response to the following comments

Hey, how about the disciplinary action part?
If he felt you were harsh on him, and said that at home, how would you handle that?

I am not too sure, what you exactly mean by ‘disciplinary action”. Is it asking the employee to be at work on time, to spend less time checking his phone /internet while at work, reduce the time spent on idle chatting during working hours, to be polite to customers and co-workers.  Or is it censuring against stealing from the company, harassing / threatening the safety  co-workers, chronic negligence in performing the duties that one is hired and paid for.

If its the former, then I have already answered your question in my previous post, the wife needs to do this and do it impartially and fairly and without guilt and with confidence. She needs to enforce her authority at work and the husband needs to respect that. If the husband feels that the wife was harsh with him, he should approach her either formally at work, like he would any other boss or even casually at home if he feels comfortable doing it this way ( this is just because he ends up spending a lot more time with the boss outside of work).

Also, it is the duty of any good boss or manager to get the point across without insulting, demeaning or personally attacking the employee..

On the other hand, if the employee/ husband is in trouble for threatening or harming  the health and safety of the company, its employees or clients then this wife has a much bigger problem than just having to take disciplinary action against her man. This is if her husband is actually guilty of the said infractions.  She needs to take a long hard look at the relationship first in this case. As a woman myself I would not recommend staying with someone like that without getting help both for the person  who made the mistake and finding ways to make your relationship work after that.

If you knew the tonight that you’d be taking a disciplinary action tomorrow, (and let’s spice it up here, he is in a romantic mood tonight), would you let him know or hint?

Again, if you had to fire your husband for repeatedly trying to warm the buns of his coworkers with his hands, for stealing from the company or even threatening the safety of employees, having a romantic time would be the last thing  at least on my mind.  That being said the minor day to day happenings should not matter at all, once both parties understand their roles, rules and boundaries.  Also,  when at home its nice to remove the boss, worker badges and just be a loving couple.

If there was a meeting about his performance with other managers and he is anxious to know what went on, and asks….. how would you react, especially if his performance is not very good?

This has also been answered. He should not ask, she should not volunteer any information that needs to be kept confidential for the time being. The key is to learn the difference between keeping things on the job in confidence and keeping secrets from your spouse. These are two different things.

And you have to promote a person – your husband and another person are the candidates – both equally qualified in every aspect and performing equally – equally deserving of promotion, but you can promote only one – who would you promote?

Many times promotion is not making one person in charge of another, but rather giving them an increase in responsibility or money or even a better title. Two people can be promoted at the same time. Promotions are not done by one person, usually there is multiple levels of OK’s needed to promote someone. Also, no two persons are exactly, equal in every aspect so an ideal situation would be to see which person’s strengths benefit the company and promote that person. This would be the right thing to do.


What to do when a wife forges ahead

Hello everyone,

Again this post is a reply/ comment to this email from a husband who was unsure on the effect of wife’s promotion on their relationship at and outside of work. I am going to answer this question in three parts legal implications, relationship at work, relationship at home.

Legal

I have a few questions for you, How big is your company? Most of the companies these days, at least here in the US require you to disclose if you have a close relative working for the company. Did you/your wife disclose this information? You did not mention if you both worked in the same department earlier, if you were working in different departments earlier and she became your boss as a result of the promotion, then its her duty to inform the management ( not because she is a woman, but because she holds the higher post now)  about having a close relative report to her and either find another department to head or have you report to another manager.

This will solve a lot of problems

  • Although your wife will still rank higher than you on the company’s corporate ladder, you and her will not have to deal with each other day in and day out.
  • The good work you do will be judged purely your ability to do it and not due to the fact that you sleep with the boss every night.
  • Will reduce gossip and claims of favoritism by the other members of the team, many people still doubt this, but if people don’t get along when working towards a common goal the end product suffers.
  • It will save you / your company  a lot of money in lawyer’s fees and time if the other employees in your team decide to sue for sexual harassment ( sexual harassment is  not just physical, it’s inclusive of something called as ” hostile work environment”  simply put it means that the a coworker/boss/company intentionally makes it difficult  or impossible for a person to do their job).
  • Apart from the criminal complications you might also be at risk of being sued in civil court.
  • Will help you in the future by not being a bad mark on your employment history.

Implications on your relationship at work

You did not mention anything about your wife’s qualifications or job experience or even how well she did while at your company, during this past year. I also realise that sometimes people who work in departments that create products and services which make money for the company do get better rewards than those departments which cost money. Sometimes excellent workers get laid off, just because their department was no longer deemed necessary and some not so hardworking people ride the train to success on the backs of other successful people. Now I’m not implying thats the case with your wife,but it is to make you feel better knowing that these things happen fairly regularly. And, it could even be the case that your wife is was at the right place at the right time.

I agree  when you say that the dynamics of your relationship will change with you and your wife going from co-workers to boss and subordinate. Let us say that your wife was truly deserving of the promotion she got and, the only way to avoid, you not reporting to her will  be to deny her the promotion she so deserves, then both of you need to learn how to navigate this new relationship.

Even before your wife accepts the promotion, both of you need to have a chat about how your relationship is going to be at work. You have to realize that earlier just being two co-workers you could share information or even inside jokes. But,  going forward your wife might not be able to share everything about her work with you,  even if she wants to.   No, you cannot ask her what happened during meetings, the decisions she makes etc, as it would make it difficult for her to do her job and she might even resent you for it.  You need to know that in some jobs maintaining confidentiality is of utmost importance,  and it is also an ethical and legal requirement. It does not mean she does not love you or care for you.  Its just a new  job requirement for her.

I think you should address your wife just like how you used to address her before she became your boss, but you should respect the position.  She is the boss, she may/ will have the final say sometimes. You have to respect that.  If you undermine her authority, so will the other team members. You have a choice here, to make things awkward for you, her and other team members or to appear confident and comfortable in your wife’s success and actually may be even proud of her. If it makes you feel any better, just as the saying goes that there is a woman behind every successful man, maybe its your love for your wife motivated her to do her best work. Maybe she did not want to fail you.

Changes on the home front

Your wife should definitely discuss her job offer and how she intends to proceed, with you. Although the final decision is hers to make, she should take your input, feelings and the way your relationship will change  into consideration. This is not because she is a woman and she needs your permission, but because you both are a  two person team working towards the goal of a happy, healthy and harmonious household, any decision that effects both of you should be made jointly. The same rule applies to you too.

Finally, you also need to keep the following in mind, that although women have made great strides in the past few decades , the average woman worker earns less than her male counterpart for the same job, takes more time off due to childbirth illness etc, gets fewer promotions and has to struggle or work twice as hard to achieve what the male can, even easily sometimes. Often times when a man refuses a promotion stating his family as the reason, he is seen as caring and people feel pity for him. He is seen as a martyr. But if a woman refuses a promotion or is unwilling to say travel often for her job, stating her family as a reason, then she is seen as unprofessional and at times it could even be the death knell for future promotions and career advancement.

Please discuss this with your wife, given the way the majority of desi women are raised, she is probably more conflicted and confused and does not know how to approach you. You mentioned that you loved your wife dearly, so don’t let this become a road block to your relationship.  All relationships change over time, sometimes we notice the change and other times we don’t. Make your relationship stronger by becoming more confident  yourself and letting your spouse shine.

What to do when culture holds you back from happiness

This is a reply/ comment that I posted to a question posed by a woman here, who felt torn between her culture/family and her happiness.

First of all congratulations on finding a partner who is kind, affectionate, treats First of all congratulations on finding a partner, who treats you as an equal, is making you happy, respects you and above all values you.

Now for your parents / society. Did you ever tell your parents the true story of what went on in your marriage before your divorce? If you did, what did your parents do? Did they intervene/ try to help you in some way or did they come up with the it’s your fate / destiny or he will eventually change dialogue.

If you did not tell your parents, then you have to come clean now and tell them about the time in hell that you had with your ex. This is not because you are required to tell your parents everything, but because you feel that their approval is necessary. Its going to be a slow road, but i’m sure that if they really love you, even if they disapprove on the outside they will be secretly happy that their daughter found happiness.

Society, culture and traditions’ real purpose was to create order out of chaos and to help people live a harmonious life. Culture wasn’t supposed to be stagnant, culture is supposed to evolve and accommodate. Having lived in the US for close to a decade I can tell you that there are aspects of both cultures that are same, nosy MILs, abusive husbands, dependent parents, tiffs with family and siblings, etc. The only difference is that here I feel people give themselves permission to be happy and find happiness more easily. Which is what you should do too.  Also, you are not the first person in the so called society to divorce or marry out if caste/culture/ religion etc. Its been done before and will be done more often in the future.

If your new guy (i’m not even going to call him american guy) is all what you have said then he’s probably smart enough to know that you are still conflicted and he still is with you which also makes him extremely patient. Which is also a good quality in a partner.

Do not even think of marriage yet, try to be happy in your relationship first. Make a two column list write down things about your ex and your boyfriend and compare, read it whenever you feel a longing for your former life. Find a good therapist, go alone first and sort out your feelings, then go with him. Do a workshop for inter racial or intercultural couples, start a blog ( there are many blogs written by women who aren’t desi married to Indian/paki/bangladeshi guys).

Lastly, while its certainly possible to go through life without a partner, a loving, supportive and caring partner enhances that experience a hundred fold. So GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to BE HAPPY. Hope this helps.

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