Marriage turned an independent girlfriend into a clingy wife. Yes, I am blaming patriarchy for it

It took me a month of fights and a day off from my husband to realize I exist without him.

Shreya Goswami Shreya Goswami
मई 24, 2017
Patriarchy isn't always a raging bull of a man coming at you, it's the little thought in our heads that says that we are the ones who have to change. Photo: Shutterstock/IndiaPicture

Getting married to the person you love, especially after being in a long relationship, is very gratifying. In my case, it was after two years of getting to know my partner inside and out. We were two level-headed people who fell in love over discussions on history, literature, and cinema.

No, we did not have any lovey-dovey ideas about being 'made for each other'; but we did know that we can lead a life of contentment with each other.

However, things changed after marriage.

How? Well, I felt we weren't spending enough time with each other. Marriage is supposed to assure a sense of companionship, right? Yet, he seemed distant, even if more responsible towards me. Within a month, I started feeling abandoned by him. For the first time in my life, I felt like a cornered rat, incapable of doing anything but lashing out.

I stopped hanging out with my friends after work and during the weekends. For a while, I even stopped baking, which is almost like a lifeline for me. My husband wasn't spared though--my changing behaviour took a toll on him as well. When he just couldn't bear with it anymore, he suggested that I should go and have a night out with my friends. I took it as an even bigger offence--why would he want me to stay away from him?

Things took a turn when a friend from my university days suggested I come over for a night to help her out with her PhD chapter. So I packed my bags, and went back to my old campus. For nearly 24 hours, I did exactly what I used to while in uni myself--research, write, binge watch TV series on my laptop, order-in food, and drink some chilled beer.

When I went back home to my husband, I was a changed person. Well, not completely--who can change overnight anyway?

It was then that I realized some of the things I was doing wrong. While I had been an independent woman (almost rebelliously so) with a circle of friends and a life of my own before marriage, I had turned into someone completely opposite right afterwards. I had allowed my marriage to be a greater landmark than it probably was--especially given that I already had an established relationship with my partner.

From being someone with independent thoughts, I had turned into a woman who allowed the words 'before marriage' and 'after marriage' to dictate my life. What it did was to curb more than my movements, my opinions, and even my interests--it curbed my ability to introspect.

I understood then that I had stopped seeing my new husband as my old partner. I had in fact moulded him into this idea of 'the husband'--my husband, to be precise. My expectations from him had transformed from just 'being there for each other' to 'we must be together all the time'. If we did not ever spend all day clinging to each other, then why should that be the case now? Why should marriage change either of us?

Yes, it is difficult for women (even self-proclaimed, staunch feminists like me) to let go of that teensy bit of enduring patriarchy that dictates that a woman should change after marriage. That she should give up on her old ties and old lifestyle to adjust into a new one. Even when a person as privileged as me wasn't ever expected to give anything up, the inherent patriarchy in my mind convinced me to give up, 'sacrifice' my old ways, and turn into an all-new person whose sole purpose in life is to keep her husband some company.

I know what I did wrong. And I'm happy to say that the idea of giving up on anything for the sake of my marriage is gradually evaporating into thin air. I'm well aware of the fact that all women who get married probably go through a phase of excessive clinginess, even radical transformation.

But these are just the demons we've got to fight. Patriarchy isn't always a raging bull of a man coming at you or me with the intention of rape or molestation. It's the little thought in our heads that says that we are the ones who have to change--especially after marriage.


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