Equals in Marriage

I was intrigued the other day when, mellowed by a sublime biriyani, I landed up overhearing a discussion about the merits and demerits of marriage being a partnership of equals. Because obviously, what is THAT? As in, what on earth is equality in marriage? There is no such thing, is my “expert” opinion as a married person. It is one of those statements that sound funny by sheer virtue of not being funny at all.

As a point for discussion I would like to assume a relationship between a man and a woman – though I wonder how it could be different with spouses of the same gender. Realistically speaking, one of the spouses always does more. And it is not always the wife, even though it is mostly them. As clearly defined roles in every household undergo blurring, and then redrawing, it throws spouses – usually husbands into chaos. Because to me, it appears that even the redefinition of household roles is being taught differently, and in different degrees to different genders.

And the shock waves – I’m being dramatic here, but maybe not dramatic enough – usually wash over spouses of the male gender. The intrinsic genetic wiring of the male predisposes them to resistance to change. Especially when centuries of conditioning has made it easy for them to stay that way. So (in the words of some of my male friends) the tide of change sweeps them in and drowns them before they can adapt – which may take centuries, considering the male gender is not wired to change its behavioural patterns quickly, if at all. In simple English, they don’t know what hit them. And they still don’t. They may have figured out how to keep from drowning, but they haven’t yet learnt to swim to safety. So I guess it’s going to be a long wait for the women.

Now, the women. Objectively speaking, women fight for a change in their conditions only because it is not conducive for their survival, let alone emotional growth. Like I had (in order to drive the fact home) pointed out to a male friend, if men were treated the women are, all over the world, and have been for centuries, men would stand up and protest too. They don’t do it, indeed (even if maybe only passively) refrain from supporting gender equality groups because honestly, who wants to be equal when they can be superior? And so, how can they be surprised if now even the women want to be superior?

Because sometimes it feels like women will, after achieving equality – which will likely take a while – start pushing for superiority. Because it is human nature – gender difference not withstanding. History is full of prime examples of victims eventually turning into perpetrators. Maybe it won’t be that bad – women probably have agendas different from men – but the drive to establish one’s superiority is part of the survival DNA.

My religion is better than your religion, my gender is better than your gender, motherhood is more priceless than fatherhood, the breadwinner is more valuable than a housewife.. Equality is a utopia towards which we can strive, because it keeps us going. And we can only keep going on till we don’t reach there. Since I’m from the “journey is more enjoyable than the destination” school of thought, I hope to not reach that symbol of perfection in my lifetime. The only practical thing to do, as we live out our lives daily, is probably to respect the partner that does more, and accept that the balance will probably always be slightly skewed. Maybe the imbalance keeps things interesting?


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