I will not quit my job just because I am married

Published: July 27, 2014
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God blessed me with an education, skills and a career to help me make a living for myself, so then why should I live the life of a slave? PHOTO: REUTERS

“Yes, I cannot quit my job. I am a career-oriented woman, and I have put in years and years of hard work to get to where I am today.”

Rija’s fiancé decided to end their relationship when she explained to him that her career would hold a certain amount of priority in her life after they tie the knot.

“Why are careers important for men only? Why do most Pakistani men not want their women to work and excel in their profession?” asked Rija sadly.

I didn’t know what to say to her, but am thankful that their relationship ended before they got married. Things could become bad and she wouldn’t have had a way out… like me. She is lucky to have found out what his intention was before marrying him; now she can pursue her dreams. I, on the other hand, am still trying to convince my husband to let me step out of the house to work.

 “When I proposed to you five years ago, you were not this obsessed with your career. I thought you would submit to my demands,” says my husband now, irritably.

Aghast I asked him why he thought I had become obsessed with my work. I asked him to explain the cause to me. He had no answer. But I did.

I became obsessed with my work because I was sick of being treated like a cook and a maid. I am not an uneducated, dependent woman who will bear this disrespectful treatment. God blessed me with an education, skills and a career to help me make a living for myself, so then why should I live the life of a slave?

I was lost when he gave me an ultimatum; he asked me to either quit my job or quit my marriage. He says he wants to start a family and for that I would have to leave my job for at least 10 years. I had a miscarriage in the first trimester of my pregnancy and have not been able to conceive since then. Now I find myself being split between five years of marriage with my husband and eight years of hard work on my career. I don’t understand why I would have to choose between the two. What pains me the most is feeling unloved by my husband. Writing is my passion but my husband is my love. I want to save my marriage – not to maintain my social status but – because I truly truly love him. I just wish he knew that…

My husband does not help me financially in any way. He runs the kitchen of the house but that is it. He says that if I leave my job, he will bear all my expenses but I do not see why we should be financially burdened when I have the ability to earn. I don’t need financial assistance; I am capable of earning a decent living myself.

I was brought up in a family where my father was the sole breadwinner; he had many mouths to feed but he made sure that each one of his children were well-educated and could stand on their own two feet. When I decided to go abroad to pursue further studies, my parents were immensely supportive. And while people passed remarks about how appalling it was that I was sent to the UK alone, my parents brushed off all the unkindness and continued to encourage me. In such a situation, would it be wise to bid farewell to a career for which I struggled so hard? Yes, I cannot guarantee that I will not have any financial problems, but I have skills that we can rely on to lift us out of our plight.

My husband was also educated abroad and works at a multinational company right now, but he behaves like a typical Pakistani man who believes a woman’s place is at home and, perhaps, near a stove or a baby. He earns a reasonable amount and I am willing to work part-time – we could easily afford a baby-sitter but he refuses to listen. He wants me to submit to each one of his whims and fancies but refuses to give in to my wishes even once. Why? Why should a woman be considered a baby-making machine or a free of charge house maid?

Even after five years of marriage, I still feel like an outsider in his family. We are culturally different and, unfortunately, abuse is not considered out of the ordinary. A year ago, I confided in my mother-in-law about something that was bothering me, but instead of hearing me out, she interrupted me and was quick to say,

“A woman is like a shoe, if it doesn’t fit, throw it away and get another.”

I was shocked and insulted. I wasn’t brought up in an environment where women were made to feel inferior so her words pinched harder than I had expected, but then I reminded myself that one could not expect anything better from an uneducated person. But my husband is educated and he sat there silently. Not once did he correct his mother’s ignorant and derogatory statement nor did he try to assure me that he thinks any differently.

If I am not able to produce a child, who is to say that my husband will not succumb to his mother’s mindset and marry someone else? Who is to say that he will not leave me for another woman?

Girls like Rija are lucky to have found out about the ways of their partners in the initial stages of their relationship because women like me have no option but to lose their career that took years to build or lose the men they love.

Ishrat Ansari

Ishrat Ansari

The author works at The Express Tribune.

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