My Wife Doesn’t Obey me, Not Even Listening to Me!
“Udayji, I am facing a tough and terrible situation in my life now. My wife is not obeying me, not even listening to me….”a WhatsApp message from Ramprasad Iyengar, who is said to be a follower of my website.
I couldn’t help laughing. But it wass a serious, life-and-death issue for him.
“Are you living in Middle East? Are you an Arab?” I asked.
“I heard that Arabs treat their wives as slaves who should do nothing but obey them…”
“No Udayji, I am in Chennai. I am a Hindu Brahmin!”
“Oh, really? Is there any rules among ‘Hindu Brahmins’ that wife should obey her husband?”
“According to Indian culture, a wife should be like Sati-Savitri and obey the husband, right? She should fulfill my dreams, aspirations and take care of my children, right?”
“Oh, is it? I didn’t know that. Is she a working-woman?” I asked him.
“Yes. She works as a senior engineer in a private firm.”
“Did you ever talk to her about her job? Did you ask the pressure and stress she faces in office place, work place, trouble in travel?”
“Udayji, in this fast-paced life, where is the time for all those things?”
“What do you do after your office hours?”
“After a tiring day, I just relax in my sofa-cushion and watch TV at home…”
“Oh, just like any other housewife, she would prepare food, clean utensils, and take care of children and their homework. Females are not interested in politics and news, you know?”
“So, when she is totally tired and retiring to bed, you go there after watching your favourite programs with uplifted hormone gush, right?”
“Udayji, you are being very blunt and sarcastic…you don’t understand my problems”
“Of course, I don’t. At a time when she seeks complete rest, you might want her to yield to your needs…”
“That’s not always true…I try to adjust with her…”
“No – marriage is not about adjustments. Adjustment is a commercial word. This is about emotional strings in family bondage. Please don’t go for adjustments”
“Accommodation is the right word. Accommodate each other as is. Did you ever try to understand her perspective and viewpoints and accommodate her with your whole heart?”
“I tried…” his sound was feeble.
“You said her duty is to fulfill your dreams and wishes… Doesn’t she have any dreams or wishes? Did you ever ask her about hers? Do you see her as a zombie or a human being?”
He didn’t answer that. After asking few questions about her, I understood that he has been brought up from childhood to be a male chauvinistic. His wife may have silently tolerated many things for the sake of family. It was not his fault; his mind is conditioned in a normal patriarchal fallacies. It’s all about man’s controlling freak over woman.
“Do you take her to her parents?”
“Where is the time Udayji? We don’t get time to take care of my own parents.”
“Hmmm. Did she say anything about her parents?”
“Most of the times, our fight starts from there. She is the only daughter to her parents. She said she was not able to fulfill promise to her parents, who brought her up providing everything. She wants to send a part of her salary to them…”
“Is that a criminal offence?” I asked.
“Why should we take care of her parents? We have to save money for our future, right?”
“Hmmm. Was it a self-arranged or family-arranged marriage?” There have been only two types of marriage happening in India. The first one is mistakenly called love marriage. During ancient time, the marriage was known as ‘Swayamvara’, was a practice of choosing a husband, from among a list of suitors, by a girl of marriageable age.
“It was a family-arranged marriage; we followed Vedic Dharma and rituals in marriage…”
“Oh, that’s great! What does Vedas tell about wife? Does it say a wife should be a slave?”
He recited a popular Sanskrit verse (Karyeshu mantri, Karuneshu dasi…) which taks about the six attributes and virtues of an ideal wife: She has the ability of a Minister, works like a servant, is beautiful like Goddess Lakshmi, is having patience like Earth, loves like a mother, pleases in the bed like a prostitute.
“Oh, that’s from Neeti Saara. It’s not a Vedic verse. It applies only when husband also follows similar noble and good qualities. That quote is for an ideal husband. I asked about Vedic verse on a wife that you should wish or pray to the bride at the time of marriage?”
“Veda says wife is not a slave but your queen!”
“You are requesting her to become a queen to thy father-in-law, become a queen to thy mother-in-law, become a queen to thy husband’s sisters, become a queen to your husband’s brothers (Rigveda.X.85.46). Did you welcome her like a queen in your house?”
“Er…I am not sure. I remember the priests making me reciting few slokas, but I did it without understanding the meaning….”
“Of course, the girl also should elevate herself to the level of the person of those six virtues. Now, tell me, what hymn did you pronounce when you tied the thali (or sacred thread with three knots) around the neck of the bride?”
He recited another verse starts with Mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevana hetuna…
“Do you know its meaning?”
“Oh yes. I know that. This is a sacred thread which is essential for my long life. I tie this around your neck O maiden having many auspicious attributes. May you live happily for a hundred years (with me).”
“Yes, live happily with me. Was she happy with you?” I asked.
“Oh I forgot – marriage was done for your happiness and not hers. Okay, after your marriage there was a ritual – the welcoming of the bride to your home, right?”
“Yes, Grihapravesa or home coming. My entire family was present during this ceremony. The Aarti (showing lighted lamp) was performed by my mother to her.” Generally in Indian marriages, especially in the North, the mother-in-law applies a Tilak (vermilion red or orange-red colored cosmetic powder) in the bride’s forehead. Then the bride tilts a Kalash (pot) laden with rice using her right foot and then stepped into the house. After this she walked into the home leaving behind auspicious red footprints.
“Yes, this is the crux of everything – it is symbolic of the arrival of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. You are welcoming Lakshmi at your home. Did you treat her as Lakshmi ever since?”
“Not really….” he admitted.
“Of course, bride also has to elevate herself to the level of Lakshmi, pleasing the family with her sweetness of character and words. But you needed to give her much more lenience as she is leaving her parents, her comfort zone, and coming to a totally new place….”
“But I loved her during that time. That was lost.”
“You are mistaken. It was lust. If it was love, it sustains forever, irrespective of conditions and time. If love is lost, that means there was no love at all. So, don’t try to sell the love stuff here,” I said curtly.
“Yes, Udayji…So what’s the solution? I was even thinking of divorce.”
“Solution is not divorce. It’s unheard in Hindu Dharma. We don’t even have a word in Sanskrit for that. Please acknowledge that she is a different individual, differently conditioned and has a different personality. It’s a package including her shortcomings. Let me tell you something personal. I don’t like many of my wife’s characteristics…”
“Yes, same here. In fact I don’t like most of her characteristics….Then how did you manage?”
“If I don’t like her characteristics, it goes without say that she also does not like some of my characteristics, right? She has lot of shortcomings. So do I. Every human is perfect with his/her imperfections. When we accommodate each other then love blossoms. If we live a life of adjustments, love won’t happen.”
“Hmmm” he thought for a while and said: “Yes, you have a point there. I didn’t think that way. It’s give and take. So you mean to say we have to adjust in the marriage?”
“I told you already, do not make any adjustments, you must accommodate. If you follow Hindu Dharma, you should treat your wife equally, not above, not below. Give her equal respect, duties, responsibilities and privileges – that’s what our Dharma Shastra says. Some example quoted in those Shastras are NOT relevant now as today’s girls are also working.”
“I am sorry Udayji – I have never ever thought about this perspective…”
“Do not say sorry to me. You should realize your folly and apologize to her. Take care of her parents the way you take care of yours. You both are single child to your parents, right? If possible let both parents stay together and take care of your children. You can make a heaven in your house. Why would you want to convert it into hell? Did you ever think of the future of your children in case of divorce? Are you aware about the psychological chaos children face when parents separate?”
“I understand Udayji…”
“Yes, a wife should obey and listen to her husband. But it shouldn’t be done by a control freak who overpower with inferiority complex in guise of superiority. You should make her obey and listen to you by your unconditional love. It is the same vice vera too..”
“Yes, you have cleared many doubts and burst most of my conditionaing. There are many people like me face problems in family life and do not know where to seek solution or end up with following wrong advise.”
“It is foolish to seek solution from outside people. Majority of the family problems are starting from the different perspectives of wife and husband. No external solutions are there for that. Search solution from within”
“If we cannot find a solution?”
“Then approach a sattvik person who has lot of life experience. He/she will be able to open both of your eyes. Parents always may be nepotic to their son or daughter, hence may not be able to provide un-biased advise… Please try to find a person who prays “Loka samastha sukhino bhavanthu” and does not take sides. Make such people your family mentor.”
“That’s why I approached you Udayji, I have been reading your articles for the last 5 years and I know your integrity”
I ignored it and said: “Manusmriti says where women are honoured the Gods are delighted and where they are not honoured and humiliated all sacred rites performed becomes futile. So there is no point in performing any ritual or prayer if you don’t give equal respect to your wife…”
Quite ironically, on the same day I came across another case in which a good man’s life is spoiled by his arrogant wife and her family who prefered to live a show-off kind superficial life. They tried to separate the man from his parents to exploit his wealth. Many such things happen around us.
It’s very sad to see that couple does not accommodate each other.
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