or clean or dust or arrange or furnish the house. It is not that I am a terrible cook. In fact I have improved in all these tasks considerably over the past few years. When I was single and living alone, I used to survive on a staple diet of vegetable khichdi. Now I can cook an entire meal of 4-5 items including roti completely on my own. No, the reason why my husband insists that I do not cook is kind of similar to the idea of his insisting that I should regularly go to gym. The reason is my happiness. If I am happy, he is happy.
The next logical question is, if cooking doesn’t make me so happy, why would I still do it? Simple. That’s the righteous thing to do. Same goes for other household chores. Though I claim and like to believe that I do not follow the rules of the society I was born and had grown up into, the fact is, I actually feel guilty when I divert from the normal curve. And I am not the only one. All the women I know, believe, that it is their responsibility to manage the house after marriage. Interesting thing to note here is, if they were living alone or with a roommate, before marriage, this feeling wasn’t there or wasn’t so strong. Before marriage, you can live in a mess, you can eat out, you can simply chill out. If a guest comes, s/he can drink directly from the water bottle. But after marriage, something suddenly changes, and now, as per your own self imposed rules, you behave in a different way. Now you serve water in a glass on a tray to your guests.
Why such a stark change? Simple. The righteous behavior. The societal pressure. Julia Robert’s ‘Monalisa Smile’ was the perfect movie to capture this sentiment. So after marriage, you furnish your house, use dining sets which were your wedding presents, buy decorative items, learn to play host, cook everyday meals, generally keep the house spic n span. I was talking to a close friend recently who had learnt contemporary dance forms for a couple of years before her marriage, but now doesn’t get time for it. Even though her job is same, but somehow her work load at home has grown multiple times.
So when my husband insists that I avoid all the household chores, as much as possible, he is actually playing a very smart move. First of all, if he tells me to do nothing, I can’t tell him to do anything. That is a very convenient situation for him. No one likes to do the chores. Secondly, I have a much higher sense of cleanliness than him. So, the house will always be clean from his standards, since the second it crosses my standards, I would have taken care of it. Again good for him, he gets to live in an arguably clean house without moving a muscle.These two are but very tiny benefits compared to what comes next.
He knows that I do not care about cooking or cleaning and just do that because that is what I expect from myself. So when he pushes me to utilize my time pursuing what I really care about: running, hiking, writing, reading, swimming, exploring, learning; I feel indebted to him. Now, how this helps him is the main point. Since, he doesn’t expect me to do the righteous thing, I can’t expect the same from him either. I can’t expect him to shop with me for household items or drink less frequently, or go pubbing only occasionally. If I want to go on a hike from 9-12 on a Sunday morning, I feel obligated to suggest him to go for a poker night on Saturday 9-12! The very boundaries of wrong and right have been crossed! I was the first one to cross them! And he is the one to reap the fruits!
Though it may sound like I am trying to make my husband look like a bad guy, the truth is far from it. I actually marvel at his ingenuity! Why does this strategy for marital bliss work? Because ‘breaking of rules’ behavior has to start from men. Women are by far much more rule-following, righteous kind of people. If more men suggest/ask/force their wives to behave in more non-traditional ways, they will actually get more “freedom” they desperately seek after marriage and not end up becoming slaves (ref: movie Pyaar ka Punchnama) themselves! Try it guys and let me know how it worked for you! ;-)