“Apna ghar khud sambhalo” – When parents throw their married daughters under the bus

Published: June 5, 2018
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Sadly in this society, there is always a distance that develops between parents and their daughters after they are married. PHOTO: AYESHA AHMAD PHOTOGRAPHY

Recently, a discussion was going on at a relative’s house amongst some aunties and uncles regarding parents’ support to their daughters after marriage, and its consequences. Unsurprisingly, most of them were of the view that a girl can never become a successful homemaker if her parents keep backing her after her marriage.

They were of the view that parents should never assist their daughter after getting her hitched. No matter what the circumstances she goes through, they should push her to compromise as if she has no other option left. Some of the ladies were proudly narrating such instances from their own lives, where they went to seek help from their fathers but they turned them down and sent them back home with their husbands.

They believed this is why they are still with their husbands. If their fathers would have supported them then, they would have taken solace in their parents’ house and would have been divorced by now. The gist of the whole discussion was that parents’ support to girls after marriage ruins their lives and leads to their divorce.

I was a silent listener and spectator to this discussion. Since they were all my elders, I didn’t consider it appropriate to interfere and put forward my point of view in the discussion. Hence, I thought of writing this blog.

“Apparently it is the 21st century, but if truth be told, we are still living in the Stone Age,” I had thought then.

Let me clarify first that by parent’s support to their daughters after marriage I do not mean financial or monetary support, I mean moral and emotional support in tough and sturdy times. There should always be assurance to women by their parents that they are not bound to deal with a problematic marriage by hook or by crook, and can opt for a way out if things go out of control.

Marriage is a sacred bond and should be preserved in all possible ways, but at times the situation becomes uncontrollable and girls need to seek support from their parents. For instance, if a girl is physically or emotionally abused by her spouse and tells her parents about the horrors of her married life, they should not direct her to continue living with her abuser as if she has no other option.

At times men are engaged in activities they do not reveal prior to marriage, like drinking, gambling, dating other girls, and so on. After marriage, their wives discover these secrets and the only shoulder they get to rely on is their parents. In such cases, parents should not advise their daughters to learn to live with it and deem it their destined fate.

I queried a few of my friends while working on this blog to gather their viewpoints and thoughts on this topic.

“Parents should never support their daughters financially after marriage, but they should always back their daughters emotionally when they are in genuine need,” said Aisha Huzaifa, a married woman. She added, “At times girls play the victim while they are the real culprit. This is why parents should be sure of the situation before lending support to them.”

“Parents should always stand by their daughters, and shouldn’t weigh their daughter’s worth by the success of their marriage,” said Aruba Adil, an unmarried working woman.

Another married friend of mine says parents should always support their daughters post-marriage by all means, as they have more wisdom and experience and can guide their daughters through their advice.

“Daughters always need parents’ support emotionally, and it doesn’t ruin anybody’s life, neither their daughter’s nor of anybody else connected to her,” said Sadiya Samson, a married working woman and a very close friend of mine.

I was quite relieved after coming across these opinions because it is not just me who thinks otherwise, since most girls in my circle hold the same opinion as mine.

I have witnessed married girls going through a lot of hardships on their own and still not opting for a divorce. They know they can’t seek help from their parents, as they will turn them down due to their so-called respect in society. Ultimately, such girls fall prey to low self-esteem, depression, hypertension and other mental illnesses. This is where parents are wrong, because they are making their daughter’s suffer at the cost of their izzat (honour) in the society.

I do agree that there are situations when parents are to be blamed for aggravating problems in their daughter’s life, but that’s not always the case. There are parents who cross all limits in their so-called love for their daughters, and teach them to never compromise or give up on anything after getting married. This kind of unfair support is also not right and will eventually lead to break ups.

When looking at financial and monetary support from parents though, there are certain boundaries. I believe girls should avoid this kind of support as much as possible after marriage. They should either rely on their husband’s income or earn themselves, in case their husbands have low income sources. Taking money as gifts, or on occasions like Eid as Eidi is fine, but relying on your parents to make ends meet is not fair. However, if any tragedy or mishap occurs causing some major loss to their daughter or her husband, then parents should go ahead and help her monetarily as well, and the girl should not feel ashamed in taking such help.

Sadly, in this society there is always a distance that develops between parents and their daughters after they are married. I have even witnessed that some married girls are not even allowed to visit their parent’s house as per their will. They are either allowed to see their parents on occasions or on days decided by their in-laws. Some are not even allowed to stay for a sleepover at the very house they were raised in.

It is wrongly believed that the more she stays at her house, the more she will become negligent of her in-laws and her household duties. This is also something that bugs me a lot. After marriage, there are times when girls need a little break from the hassles of routine responsibilities and wish to take some rest. A girl should be allowed to spend as much time with her family as she wants; there is nothing wrong with letting her have some peaceful ‘me’ time, it will not lead to her ruining her life.

In a nutshell, the traditional concept that parents’ support to daughters after marriage destroys their lives and leads to high divorce rate is a flawed one, or you can say that it applies no more. Parents must back their daughters if they are caught in an abusive or miserable relationship, and help them with a way out without making them feel bad about their situation.

Afshan Zahra

Afshan Abbas

The author is a graduate from Bahria University Karachi. Writing is her favorite pastime and she writes whenever any topic touches the chords of her heart. She likes to raise her voice on issues related to social injustice, women rights and education. She tweets @AfshanZahra2014 (twitter.com/AfshanZahra2014)

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

  • Rahul

    A lot of the so called “hardship” a married woman goes through is in her mind. In the Western countries, 70 % of the divorces are filed by women. Among educated women 90 % divorces are filed by women. Life is hard for everyone but desi women still have it much easier than most. Women tend to make decisions when they are emotional and they have a high sense of entitlement and a false sense of their value. Parents of the bride understand a divorced woman is a liability for the family and a black mark for her siblings. Her ex-husband will have no trouble finding another woman and they will be stuck with the bitter divorcee for the rest of their lives.Recommend

  • Muhammad yasser

    “I queried a few of my friends while working on this blog to gather their viewpoints and thoughts on this topic.”
    Above sentence shows that you are still unmarried and have no personal experience.
    The blog written by you is simply your opinion or the opinion of your friends.I am a married person with four children and completing 15 years of my marriage. what I want to say that after marriage the parents should give moral support to their daughter.They must give advice of tolerance,patience ,politeness and kindness to their daughter .In the beginning the couple are new to each other,.The couple should be given enough time to know each other .small dispute will arise between them,that is normal.let the couple solve their issues by themselves.The problem increase when their relatives interfere between them.. After marriage, the new environment for a girl is always challenging but she must be mentally well prepared and ready how to tackle the new situation. she must fight with tolerance ,patience and politeness not with sword and bullet from their parents side other wise the situation will never come to equilibrium.Recommend

  • Someone

    As always men are painted a horribly in “try to succeed” articles. I understand when the other spouse is abusive but thats all your article covers. How about the other side when the man is very supportive yet you are giving such ideas to women as to rely on your parents and not your husband to succeed in your married life. Do you know that with this “amazing” suggestion her parents try to invade that married life as if neither the wife nor husband can stand on their feet without them.

    Speaking from experience, I, a married guy with a son am still suffering the effects of such invasion and that has done nothing to help us but create deep fissures in our relationship.

    I love how Pakistani writers go on and on about women rights, which is good, but end up generalizing all men as horrible.

    Men, be gentle and supportive to your wife. Respect and care for her but dont allow her parents (and yours as well) to dictate your married life else you will be fighting the same battle I am.

    I would advice against the writer that wants women to stay trapped in their past life unable to start a new one. Dont trap your wife as if she cannot move a muscle without your permission, thats just wrong. But dont let her make a habit of running off to parents everyday while you are home alone wondering where did your dream of a unified family go. In life, you grow up, you gain new responsibilities and new roles which you need to fulfill, else you are being unfair to the other person that married you in hopes of starting their own family.Recommend

  • Slow Clap

    Brilliant comment. Just please make sure never to procreate. If you absolutely have to, just do your female children a solid and bury them alive early on. :)Recommend

  • wasim

    Indians can’t give moral lessons on woman after killing 40 million girls in mother womb.Recommend

  • bash gul

    I have married off five of my daughters to men of their choice and the one advice I gave them, NEVER THING THAT YOU ARE ALONE, I will always be with you at all times. All are enjoying happily. The reason me and my wife keep the farthest distance and not nag themRecommend

  • Andil Khan

    The problem you are discussing was resolved decades ago by other societies….just because you are ignorant of it doesn’t mean that they dont exist. A married female facing physical abuse in a marriage lets say in France, Greece, Mexico, Even Turkey has the option to file a domestic violence case with the local police. A repeat offence can entail serious jail time for the abusing spouse. No Parents are involved …and little girls like you do not play the victim card. Instead of asking and blaming parents to interfere more in their daughters lives perhaps you should write a blog on how marital abuse mechanism can be enhanced. Recommend

  • Someone

    I wish there were more fathers like you around. There definitely needs to be a distance between each spouse’s parents and them else it becomes some sort of a joint family system which is unacceptable to many newly weds.

    I wish I had thought of this earlier and had gotten a house far far away from my wife’s parents but its too late now. At 10 mins distance, they feel like a duty to barge into our lives everyday and sometimes multiple times a day. My wife acts like she only has one trust-able man in her life, her father, because she hasn’t given me a chance to show her I am equal if not better.

    Everyday I am in a new tug of war with her parents to win my own little family’s rights. SO sick of it!Recommend

  • Afsheen

    Why is seen as ‘acceptable’ that if the husband’s parents are infact dictating terms of marriage it is termed as ‘elders advice’ but if the wife’s parent’s dare to voice an opinion it is declared as interference and not to be tolerated? There still persists an attitude that the burden of guilt must be carried by the female of the species , she is responsible for everyone’s actions and reactions and her sole mission in life as a biwi and bahu and bhabi is to win everyone over with her self sacrifice and selfless devotion and then and only then will she be eligible for marital bliss. Once she is married her parents become ‘parai’ which is idiotic and unrealistic but again it’s a form of cultural tyranny that certain in-laws want to enforce unless it comes to their own daughters to maintain a certain ‘upper hand’.
    Then you also have those pushy mothers/parents who once they’ve got their daughters/sons nicely placed with a ‘socially upward’ family start making all kinds of demands behind the scenes. Ultimately it is between the husband and wife to sort out matters between themselves and to understand and take responsibility for their respective roles but often the ‘family’ don’t give them this breathing space. Too often people have their own agendas and are playing politics which ends up creating a dangerous power struggle between husband and wife. It takes considerable effort , wisdom , compassion and intelligence to create a working partnership on both sides but first of all both husband and wife must be given the full opportunity to do so as independantly as possible.Recommend

  • Cyrus Khan

    that’s the right thing you did. and I want to tell all the mens all around Pakistan. usually parents forces daughter to marry that guy at any cost, an uses the word BETA WO TUMHAY KHUSH RAKHAY GA, what will she get? nothing?Recommend