This is the first post of this project! If you want to get involved just send me a message! This weeks story is about a reader who talks about her life from a young age to after marriage and all that she has learnt on this journey. It is focused on cultural issues and expectations! Comment and share! Get involved!
Sacrifices After Marriage
As a woman within the south asian community we are seen as the honour and treasure of our family. We have certain roles which are expected from us and certain sacrifices we are taught to make. I learnt this pretty early on but never truly realised it till today.
I have been married for roughly 32 years and for the most part of it, it’s been fine. But that’s just it. It’s always been just fine. And I thought I was blessed for that. But deep down I knew I wanted more and knew that I was not truly content nor close to happiness. I was simply just surviving and that’s what was expected of me. To just be there.
Issues for my marriage started pretty early on, so did the realisation of me on my own. You see I was brought up in a family with immigrant parents who held onto a lot of their cultural values, rules and traditions. Never really adapting to their new country and any change or improvement was seen as a threat to their culture. This led to a lot of cultural expectations.
It was expected of me to leave education, thus leaving me without any proper qualifications. It was also expected of me to marry to whomever was of my family’s choice, which meant a person from a similar background or from the same village.
At 17 years old I was taken back home to Pakistan where I would help my father run his businesses and help my mother around the house. It was my first time visiting my mother land so everything was pretty strange but I soon adapted to life there.
I spent three years in Pakistan up until the question came of who I was to be wed to. I enjoyed living in Pakistan and for the most part of it had a lot of fun, but now is where things went pear shaped and I was now considered a women who had to be wed.
Suitors came from relatives and distant relatives, neighbours or neighbouring villages. But my mother had already made up her mind on who I was to be wed to.
It was a local boy from a poor background. It was expected of us to be wed and then to move back to the UK where we would start our family and where my husband could earn enough to support his family back home. It didn’t feel like a marriage at all, more like a business deal or charity.
To be fair my husband was lovely at first and we got along really well. But the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever and difficulties soon entered our life.
It all started after my first born, suddenly I was now viewed as “trapped” or “stuck” with a child. My husbands personality towards me suddenly changed. He suddenly felt like he could do anything he wanted to and I couldn’t leave him because I now had a child. And this was the cultural view my parents held as well. Every time I put my foot down to escape the marriage, my parents would only send me back, along with the lines of “who will marry you now? With a child?” Or something similar.
Years went on and the marriage only got worse. With more responsibilities on my head. It was my job to save, to cook, to clean, to look after the kids, to drop and pick up the kids from school. All that was expected of my husband was to bring enough money on the table to feed us and then to give any savings to his family back home.
I had to manage with all this along with his constant complaints and blackmailing every time I managed to save some money or decided to go to college. He would either use my kids or my parents as a way to prevent me from bettering myself.
And all of this was just expected of me from my family. No ifs, no buts, nobody cared about my happiness it was all about what society would say. And how a divorced woman would bring shame. So I just put up with it, after a while of fighting I just gave up. Sadly.
That is why I am writing this email today. Times have changed since when I was a youth but it seems some of these issues and expectations placed on women are still there.
If there is any advice I could give to any women out there it is this.
- Men won’t change if they don’t want to.
- Your happiness and needs and goals are just as important as everyone else’s.
- Education is important, working and being independent is important.
- Just because you have kids or a family or even spent so long with someone doesn’t mean you should continue to.
- It is not just your job to sacrifice and compromise, but a couple should work together.
- People will always talk, if your family don’t support you they need not your support either.
- Don’t give up. Go get your happiness.
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