Advice to a new groom

Published: April 3, 2013
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Please upkeep your side of any 'bargains' made before the marriage. PHOTO: AFP

Just like two hands are required for clapping, a marriage, too, is unlikely to succeed with the efforts of one partner alone.

To all those readers who thought that my blog “Advice to a new bride” was overly derogatory to new brides, let me clarify, this blog is not a consequence of comments on that piece. This was already written even before the first was published.

On that note, if I were to have my wish for a chat with the groom before the marriage, the following are some of the issues I would address.

1. Resolve your issues before marriage:

If you have disagreements with your (future) wife on issues such as mode of attire, habits, her choice of working or not working, attending school in the future, supporting her family after she gets married and such, resolve these before you get married.

Please don’t marry someone with obvious, glaring differences with your lifestyle or religious preferences on the pathetic whim that ‘I will change her once I get married’. That is the cruelest thing you can do. It is nothing short of entering a sacred relationship under false premises.

Today, it is acceptable that the boy and girl talk before they get married.

So talk about these important issues in these critical meetings rather than each other’s favourite eatery, colour or dress design. Put your cards on the table and if she can accept them, go ahead. If you sense poor compatibility, back out. A few days of hurt are better than a lifetime of regrets, fights and grievances.

Please upkeep your side of any ‘bargains’ made before the marriage. Also keep your family in the picture about any such understandings reached between the two of you. Otherwise these are likely to create rifts between you, your wife and your family members.

For instance, in a joint family system, the mother may have issues with the new bride working after the marriage. Sensitive topics like that are best discussed with all concerned before they balloon into unmanageable balls of yarn later.

2. Don’t take her for granted:

You are basically the single most important reason she has left her family, her friends, and her home behind to start a whole new life. Do hold her hand through this very trying new period regardless of whether you are in a joint or single family setting. It is not her sole responsibility to nobly hold up the sign that reads ‘compromise’. Both of you have to hold it up together, otherwise it won’t stay up for long.

She has married you, not sold herself into slavery for life.

3. Let the newly-married mood swings go by:

Please give her a break through the ‘blues’ she is likely to go through as she settles into her new role as a wife, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, or granddaughter-in-law. You might get impatient with her sometimes quite depressing moods, but be understanding.

You are still comfortable in your home with people you’ve known all your life. She needs time to adjust, especially if she has relocated to another country or city after the marriage.

4. Never forget family:

It is quite understandable that you are overwhelmed with joy at being married to this gorgeous creature and consider her every wish your duty to fulfill. However, do not neglect your duties to other close family members in the process.

Make sure you keep a balance from the start.

Your sudden leaning towards the wife may cause others to feel neglected and this will not fare well for your pretty bride. In all likelihood, she will be the one touted as the reason for your suddenly ‘neglectful’ attitude.

A healthy balance of all duties will make this new transition easier for your wife.

5. Don’t overdo the “amazing son-in-law”:

Being a part and parcel of the Pakistani cultural scene, you too, as a groom, will be keenly judged by your family in the initial stages of the marriage. There will likely be many quiet bets to see if or not you will turn out to be a ‘joru ka ghulam’ (wifey’s pet).

Talking excessively about your in-laws, constantly visiting your susraal in the early days, getting overly friendly with the sisters and brothers-in-law and going out of your way to do favours for the ‘other side’ will make your family suddenly feel ‘left out’.

They could start to feel like they have lost their son to their daughter-in-law.

Making an effort to avoid creating such feelings will help your wife being accepted more readily as a new member of your family. Please do respect your wife’s family just as you expect her to respect yours, but do it gradually at a balanced pace.

Absolutely do not assume the role of a haughty, arrogant son-in-law. These somewhat ‘paindu’ attitudes are no longer entertained by educated women or their families.

6. Financial support:

The financial logistics is another sensitive issue after a son’s marriage. How sensibly you handle this will affect how well you and your wife will be viewed by your family as the marriage moves along.

If you are living in a joint family system then keep the money matters as they were going before the wedding. If you are living separately and you used to give some part of your income to your parents, please continue to do so without any sudden jolts and changes.

True, you will feel like you want to bring the stars at the feet of your new wife but refrain from doing so all of a sudden. Sadly enough, some girls are taught to ‘keep the money and the husband in control from the start’. That does nothing to develop trust and stability in marriage. If your wife displays immature tendencies such as these, be loving but firm from the start.

The best thing would be to discuss money management as point number one, during the engagement period.

7. Don’t be a total critic:

Overly or continually criticising everything your wife does is wrong. She wasn’t raised by your parents in your home and hence will display mannerisms quite different than what you are used to.

Just like a sensible girl is told to adjust to her husband, you also have to adjust to her. For instance, your wife may not be used to having breakfast at 8:30am sharp as does your family.  Don’t force her to do this. If the girl has good sense, she will pick up the hint and join the family in due time.

8. Don’t try to change her:

Please remember that the word ‘adjust’ is neither synonymous nor interchangeable with the word ‘change’. Adjustment is a process of give-and-take. It is made successful by the patience to forgive shortcomings, the desire to look beyond imperfections, the will to find some degree of goodness in others, and the benevolence to focus on the bigger picture rather than the trivial details.

Trying to ‘change’ each other takes the game nowhere. Honest and sincere attempts at ‘adjustment’ will create compatibility over time. Inflexible rules and harsh attempts at ‘changing’ will only breed rigidity, contempt, and resentment of each other as individuals.

9. Her place is not “under your shoe”:

It is possible you’ve been told by some 17th century-minded member of the family (or even by a friend) that ‘keeping the new bride under the shoe will keep her forever under your control’. Needless to say, it is pathetic advice.

Girls are no longer the pitiable, submissive, grovelling creatures they used to be. In behaving like an ogre, there are greater chances of you losing your respect and dignity, and getting the marriage contract slapped in your hand than getting the wife ‘under control’.

Please be a gentleman and seek calm, dignified resolutions that will go towards a stronger, loving bond. If the new bride is willing to go the extra mile to ensure decades of a happy marriage together, there is no reason why you shouldn’t either.

10. Know your responsibility:

Last but not least — ponder over what you say when you utter the words ‘qubool hai’ (I do). By saying “I accept” thrice, you are accepting a new human being as your responsibility. That human being is leaving the care and protection of her parents’ fortress and trusting you to carry on the task with equal wisdom, love and care.

Please don’t betray that trust.

Your marriage is a boat that will have a steadier, merrier journey with two oarsmen, not one. So go pick up that oar and good luck!

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aalia.suleman

Aalia Suleman

A freelance writer and poet who is keenly interested in the status of women in 21st century Pakistan. Her writing also zones in on Pakistan's new social and political status on a redefined global chessboard. She has a masters degree in English Literature and blogs and invites debates at 'Socio-politically Pakistani'. She tweets @aaliasuleman (twitter.com/aaliasuleman)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.