I got married to my colleague in 2007, yes I married a working woman (no millions in guessing I am walking on murky waters).
The two leading newspapers of our time have been running endless blogs/articles where the miserable plight of the working woman is rigorously highlighted. How her typical Pakistani mentality husband has enslaved her within the Chaar- Deewaari of her house, how she is confined to a dish washing, bread making and baby chunking machine, how he makes her beg for pennies and, yes, the mother in law and Nandhs are always there to make her resemble the captive of a holocaust concentration camp. She was educated and had a shiny career, a life, an identity and was no lesser talented than her other half. With marriage all seems lost, staying at home becomes the ultimate disrespect.
Before I move on, let me clear out that I am no male chauvinist who wants to undermine the importance of working women in society. I am only here to tell the male version of this grave tale.
The arguments and plights sung in these articles for sure make music in my house, reading such lines my wife turns bitter, all the politeness and affection vanishes away like the K-electric claims and I brace myself for a long lecture on how I took away the essence of her life.
“My falah falah friend is doing this, coming on TV, going into commercials and here I am with lost confidence and identity. I can’t even look up and face people like I used to in the good old days.” (I assume all this sounds much familiar to my married friends).
Back in 2007 I asked my wife to stop working well before we tied the knot. Just why did I do it? Frankly, I don’t have one answer. Maybe I couldn’t digest the idea of her intermingling with male co-workers but that’s something I still enjoy doing. Maybe I was brought up in a house where I saw my mom battle the housework while father greyed his hair in search of work. Or maybe I wanted someone to take care of, someone to pamper, someone to love and perhaps wanted someone to look to me for all her needs. I still don’t know.
Women of Today’s Pakistan should be thankful to their stars, although a huge number still continue to face various social doldrums in our society, but to be brutally honest a large proportion enjoys much more freedom and workplace equality than they ever did in our history. We have had women bank presidents, media gurus, sports sprinters, spokeswomen for foreign office, law experts, pilots and the list is endless. In truth, one cannot find much wrong with this empowerment.
Agreed, I am a bad boy, I stopped my wife from working and by now all women NGO’s and fire-fighters hate me. Now please relax, take a sip of your well-brewed tea and listen to my defence. I would however, leave the honey-bee nest of Saas-Bahu-Bhabhi-Nandh untouched and allow the women to discover truce themselves.
I, like most Pakistani boys, ok ok men, sounds better, who belong to middle class educated families have been taught to respect and love their wives. We have seen our fathers do that their entire lives. From the day we bring that beautiful girl we madly fall in love into our lives, she becomes the central figure in our universe. What ever we earn, our prime objective is to give her the best we can afford. Yes we are not landlord material, we earn a respectable income and have to balance it out amongst family members, but come any occasion (Eid, Marriage, Milad) our wives are the first beneficiaries. I can bet dozens of my friends have bought glittering suits for their other halves this Eid and willingly compromised with used or ordinary dresses for themselves.
If we are not letting wives work doesn’t translate into our being disrespectful to them. We hate to see them chunk a heavier check or slam them in a dungeon. It’s just that our minds haven’t been trained to accept the change instantaneously. Asking you not to work, stay home and take care of our next generation is just our way of saying that we love, respect and cherish your presence in our homes.
Some women love it while others don’t, still the winds of change are already here. In 2007, I was just 27 and not too naive to think about the consequences, but as I grew older and wiser I realised that work life is important for my sweetheart and its time that I become a bit flexible. So much so that I have offered her to switch roles for a while.
As of today, I am the biggest supporter of women going out to earn while men take care of home, trust me I have done it myself and life rocks. With 10 cooking channels on your tele, you have the chance to make easy and mouthwatering delicacies each day and become the darling of your kids. Take them to playgrounds each evening gives you fitness incentives and yes that occasional homework is just a piece of cake. Trust me its much easier than negotiating the crazy traffic on roads, office politics and the worry of putting enough food on the table. Let the women take care of it while we relax and admire Turkish beauties on TV. Your friends might find this denting their machismo but once they see you in comfy bermudas all day long with that carefree smile, you will soon have admirers and followers.
The famous novelist Appa Bano Qudsia had said that a happy marriage is all about understanding and compromise. While men today need to understand and open up to the idea that more and more women simultaneously want a house and income, women need to stop looking at men as oppressors and dictators if we are to save the marriage institution. Otherwise just look to the west and you will need to look no further.