Days pass, weeks pass and so the months. You go back to your old schedule, to follow your aspirations, to chase your dreams. Life becomes so smooth for you. You got a loving partner who never demands or complains anything from you. She becomes happy in your happiness, keeping aside her pain. She obeys what she is instructed to, forgetting her pain.
The “Pain,” she got by sacrificing her dreams, aspirations. The pain she suffered when you forget to give her career any priority.
She was outstanding in her academics, she wanted to have a successful career, and courteous life, but couldn’t because all she wanted was your support which you never gave. She was hoping that you will ask about her aspirations, and you will hold her hand to get her closer to her dreams, but you were so busy chasing your dreams that you never cared for hers.
What a women sacrifices in a lifetime are unmatched and unbeatable. Doesn’t matter how much qualified, or highly educated she is, she never hesitates to please you and obey your words. She sacrifices her looks, her appearance when she bears a child. She surrenders her independence to look after you and your family. She sacrifices her “ME” time as well.
But, in return what did you gave her, except for the “Marital Tag.” Why is it that adjustment, sacrifices, compromise, all these are for women, why can’t you make sacrifices? Why can’t you adjust to make her dreams come true?
Women are not meant to be captivated by a marital tag. It’s you who need to understand her; it’s your responsibility to give preference to her career as much as you give to yours. She is not meant to be bound by relations and circumstances. If you can do as per your desire, why can’t she? She needs you to give her time to live her life the way she wants, rather than capturing her inside the marital frame.
Indian society believes in romanticizing sacrifices. It especially celebrates women who sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their families. In fact, we are expected to think of it as our duty. However, nobody bothers to consider the consequences that we women have to bear to fulfil these expectations.
How many women in our society can put their foot down and prioritise themselves over their family and social expectations? Who can say it out loud, “I will not sacrifice? I will do what makes me happy. The gendered expectations need to stop.
Sacrifice runs in our blood, or rather, genes. An average girl in India grows up watching women around her sacrificing their happiness and needs for the “greater good” and then begins to emulate that behaviour. As a daughter, she sacrifices her educational aspirations to resonate with what her parents want. As a wife, she prioritizes her husband’s and in-laws’ likes and requirements. As a mother, her children’s happiness becomes her top priority. The romanticisation of sacrifices must have started with motherhood, but now it is a part and parcel of every woman and girl’s life. We start referring to her as ‘Balidan ki moorat’ (the embodiment of sacrifices). But is this celebration legit? Aren’t we celebrating the massacre of dreams and the fact that these women who couldn’t live their life the way they desired? Innumerable girls have been pushed, rather cheered into doing things they don’t want to.
Why does being a good mother or daughter or wife requires a woman to annihilate her entire personality?
Don’t get me wrong. Sacrifices are a part of relationships. But who sacrifices what shouldn’t always be based on gender. Besides, sacrifice and love are two separate things. If daughters, wives and mothers refuse to sacrifice their happiness it doesn’t mean that they don’t love their family. It just means that their happiness matters and that it is unfair to put terms and conditions on it.
I am not in any way trying to question a woman’s agency here. If a woman wants to stay at home for her child or to support her husband or family, it’s her decision and one should be respectful of it. However, my problem lies with the glorification of these choices to an extent where society makes it a norm, where you are teaching young girls to grow up and give up their dreams for their loved ones because that is what is acceptable, that is how one can become a ‘good’ woman and that is the way to show love.
Even today, ambition is a bad word for women because a woman’s dedication is applauded only when it is directed towards the family. Women then want to keep up to this expectation, which makes them feel sick to an extent that taking out time for even self-care becomes a cause for guilt. The idea of being a ‘supermom’ or a ‘superwoman’ is internalised so much so that one hesitates to even seek help.
Being able to pursue what one loves is basic and is a need for all humans irrespective of gender. These ‘odes’ to women who put their husband’s dream before their own, apart from putting an unreal expectation, also place an unnecessary barometer on how much one loves their spouse or kids for, then, love becomes directly proportional to the number of sacrifices one makes for them.
We, as a society, need to stop teaching young girls to emulate all these ‘great’ women who put others dreams before their own. As a woman, I don’t want to be selfless and wise at the cost of my being. I would rather be foolish and selfish and as flawed as a human can be. I would rather follow my passion and prioritise my work than be the subject of art and admiration.
“The only person stopping you from being who you want to be is YOU!”
Why should marriage be an excuse for you not being able to achieve your dreams? If you think the marriage is gonna be a setback to you, why not achieve your dreams before getting married? After all, it’s not a crime to get married at 40, if the need arises. I know of some women who chose to go in that direction, and today they’re living in satisfaction.
Every partner must thus consciously note every dream that his/her spouse had to sacrifice in the course of their lives together and later (when conditions will allow it) keep reminding and encouraging them to pursue it. Regardless, however, I believe whatever trade-offs we make, we must be ready to accept and live with our choices as we hope for the best.
Dreams only die completely when one’s partner isn’t supportive or when we give up all hopes of making our dreams come through ourselves.