Dear Daughters, Please Don’t Get Married

Marriage has nothing exceptional to offer a woman in the 21st century.

I must be the only Indian mother in the world to advise her daughters never to get married. EVER. Everyone laughs when I say this. Indian mothers are notoriously obsessed with the nuptials of their sons and daughters. I must be joking when I advise against it. I must have had a fight with my husband, you all snicker.

But I say it in earnest. Marriage has nothing exceptional to offer a woman in the 21st century. Even today, the institution continues to follow age-old patriarchal values that place the financial, physical, emotional and social needs of the husband above the wife’s.

It’s still the woman who changes her name, leaves her home, adapts to a new family, becomes the default in-charge of the housekeeping, social relationship-building, elderly care and childcare, and gives up her job when the babies are born. Indian girls have new aspirations to step out of the home, work and fly, but Indian boys still expect someone to make them tea and ensure that their clothes are laundered.

Essentially, marriage reduces a woman’s power and increases her responsibilities.

If you’re lucky, you find a husband who is loving, caring and mindful of your needs, though he has no special obligation to. People urge you to be thankful for your blessings as if it’s a precious gift only a few can possess. If you’re unlucky, you’re insulted, criticised, disregarded and ignored, or beaten, raped and treated like a punching bag. People say it’s a domestic issue and tell you to ‘adjust’.

Most Indian marriages, however, are somewhere in the middle. How good or bad they are is irrelevant. Marriage is a prerequisite to living, like roti-kapda-makaan-shaadi.

Till a few decades ago, marriage – for women especially – meant security, social acceptability, a source of income, children, and a companion in old age, all of which were worth the effort. These days, however, women can very well have all of these while single. So what do they need the burden of a husband for?

As someone who’s been twice married, you may consider me an authority on this matter. Both my marriages were poles apart. One was arranged; the other is of my own choice. One was a prison sentence; the other was liberation. One was a hell of fear and hate; the other was a paradise of love and desire. One left me broken, bruised and powerless; the other has given me wings, healed and nurtured me. Both led to my spiritual development. Both helped me to introspect and find myself.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need marriage to do that. Not anymore.

Yes, my husband today is a good man and my best friend. But we both agree that being married has not added anything to our relationship except for social sanction, which was a big deal for my generation. But it doesn’t have to be for yours.

What I’ve learnt about marriage (a happy one or an unhappy one) is that it’s never about the other person, it’s about you. Every day is a new journey into yourself, your own insecurities, fears, social anxieties, and suppressed pains and triggers. Marriage certainly isn’t going to cure them. You still have to do the spiritual self-work yourself — in addition to someone else’s housekeeping and laundry.

Men can be amazing lovers, wonderful companions and they are very useful for sex. But you don’t need to marry them to enjoy them. Claim your freedom, respect and desires. Let the guy earn you every single day. Men are best behaved on their toes.

I secretly long for the day when a whole generation of Indian women will reject this outmoded institution in favour of meaningful, equal relationships. That’s when entitled Indian men will change. That’s when society will evolve and we will #SmashThePatriarchy. Till then, have one lover or several, have kids, have pets, run a house, run a company, follow your dreams, fall in love. Just don’t get married.

Lead photo: At the airport, sending my firstborn off for higher studies

Update, 2.24 pm: My husband says he has nothing to do with this article. Please stop messaging him your condolences. (But he does hope all boys who planned to propose to our daughters read this.) 

First published in eShe’s March 2019 issueRead this article in Hindi here.



602 comments on “Dear Daughters, Please Don’t Get Married

  1. Shanaya

    No,Your are not the only mother.My mother said the same thing to us and she proved it by not forcing my sister for marriage and it feels so good and liberalised.

  2. Anonymous

    This is same i tell everyone about my daughter….feeling like dis article is written by me..

  3. I agree with you. Marriage kills and destroys your true self. In the end, all that is left out of you after Marriage, be it a happy or a sad one , is just a life full of heartache and compromise. Who needs that? What become to the true and raw YOU ??

  4. Absolutely rubbish. I dont know how i came across this on my nees feed, maybe a passive aggresive wife posted it to feel sort of better.
    It was all well till i read the word “obligation”, a sense of expectation from a husband to give equal status, ensure the wife’s needs are taken care of. Why?? This pseudo feminism has fo stop. The fact is you must cut this nonsense and take responsibility of your own lives. So simply choose a partner that will resepct you, before you marry get settled, buy a house of your own, dont try to pick and choose when it suits. Women in india and im talking modern india have a habit of picking and choosing what suits them and its absolute bollocks. Rural ibdia has serious issues as far as women rights are concerned but hey urban india is a different story.
    Very ill informed and bitter article written by someone who’s probably living in a house made by her husband. Where did the feminism go then?

    • Annie Mathew

      Dearest Ms. Priya … everybody is entitled to their opinion just like you. So does the writer of the passage. There’s no need to blast a person for bringing out their genuine thoughts. Everyone is born free n entitled to their opinion n choices for their life. If you like bondage so be it.

      I would like to know what marriage actually is that a woman is not entitled to any rights as an individual! You may have a husband who loves n cares for you as an respectable individual ! Mine does …. and im not a person who will accept anything less. But I’ve seen majority marriages where women are enslavened and not given a matter of choice in anything. My FIL used to be one of that kind. All definitions for how GOOD women should be but a man Scott free of any responsibility of any choice or action that he takes; plays around with womens feelings as if pain was something they should tolerate and never acknowledge; control women types. The disgusting type of MCP who thinks a woman does not have an identity of her own. Seeing him and the many men like him I too never want my daughter marrying an asshole like that. Why do we force our daughters into slavery? Be it a man or woman …. God has given you two hands and legs … or did handicap all men and given all abilities only to a woman that our society deems that a woman shoulder all burdens yet acknowledge that man is the stronger in might ! Come on … open your eyes n feel for your clan. Just because you and I don’t go thru unjust treatment in the name of marriage that does not mean that loads of women are not treated like shit by theit men and his family !!

      Women could do with a little support or silence if not support from other women like men support their clan !!! We suck at it because all we women like to do is elevate ourselves whilst showing down other women. It’s a way of boosting our morale up isn’t it.

      The writer brought out the TRUTH of her life, what is there to be offended so much. If a man writes down a woman or tarnishes a woman I don’t see any other man booing him down. How come women tend to feel so offended on behalf of other men …. wow !!!!

      Anyways your opinion you are entitled to … so am I !!!

      Have a great life dear. Live and let live !!!

    • HeartCatcher

      What a nonsense, don’t get marry but go for date,just like everyone just need a fuck buddy like you ,you don’t want that your daughter don’t get marry that is your choice to play with her life , but how you gonna justify your two time marriages ? Doesn’t she deserve to marry? Indirectly you are choosing her life her but you portray just like you do care , you don’t care , you are just s mentally retorted person who are polluting the current world with damn freedom of speech or personal opinions , my foot , same pseudo feminist, pick and chose when you need a man , what basically you are teaching to your daughters/children? That it’s okay to sleep around ? To be the need of every bed ? To used again and again just like toy? Isn’t it better to be the queen of one heart rather to be the need of every bed? You just have restarted mind with no logic but have envy,hatred ,jealousy against the abilities of man.

      • Shin Kaur

        I have to agree. This article is a load of bollocks. She is basically condoning casual sex and thinks that women are incapable of choosing a respectful loving partner, and that all men are incapable of being that respectful loving partner. Not every man has to control the relationship, not every man expects his wife to be chained to the kitchen sink/stove, and be his sex slave. What a narrow minded opinion. This would be a horrible future if everyone went this way.

        I completely agree with you Priya. Women have the choice to get settled before marriage. They can choose a partner who respects them. Not all marriages work out, but neither do al relationships.

        What a boring isolated messed up world we’d live in if everyone lived alone and just ‘hooked up’ when they wanted sex, and those in relationships lacked substance, and people too easily quit and moved on to the next partner whenever they wanted to, like changing socks. What would happen to kids? We’d have all these single parent families, or kids who didn’t know who their parents were, or a dwindling population worldwide. Kids should grow up in a family, with parents, grandparents, siblings, with aunts/uncles/cousins around. This is a very isolated society the writer is portraying.

        Before you read this, bear in mind the writer had a bad marriage, but still chose to get married a second time! Also, make your own choices. Don’t listen to this person or that person, don’t listen to me even, make your own choices.

      • Anonymous

        Daughters getting used again and again…. wow what a angle of thought, handed down over age’s by culture and tradition. Ha ha ha. Son, so you think the men involved in such acts are not being USED ! Poor thinking, pathethic perspective.

        It’s all the same for men and women dear son. If you haven’t been able to see it that way is not your fault. It’s the fault of culture and tradition.

        Men are being used again and again just the same with women who ‘f’ around. Cloth worn once, be it by a man or a woman and re-worn by another person ….. it’s all the same … it’s second hand item. 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    I enjoyed reading your article. For once, it reminded me of my mom…who just said, “I want you to be happy no matter what” when I told her that I don’t desire to get married (I was hardly 18 then). 10 years later she still stood next to me when I struggled to convince the society and relatives that marriage isn’t my choice ever. Another 10 years passed, my whole family supports me in my decision. Just this week I was telling my friend that “Just because I love someone, and just because that someone is an amazing lover who cares for me, I don’t need to marry him.” Thanks for writing this. I know there is someone out there that has the same thoughts and beliefs but it is good to hear.

    • Anonymous


  6. Anonymous

    Hahaha! Ridiculous comments by insecure men/women. Wait till one day you have your own child that you love so much and want what’s best for them, you’d be biting your tongue. Don’t be condescending, think many many MANY times before commenting. The world doesn’t just work in your way. It works in plethora of ways. Be respectful. You want it, you earn it. No one is entitled to respect without warning it

  7. Anonymous

    I want to date your daughter pls. As you have given her consent to have many boy friends. Let me also be her boy friend.. Give yor no pls..

  8. Anonymous

    Idiotic article.. With one’s own thoughts.. Go and complaint to Supreme Court to ban marriages and have many boy friends and have sex as men are useful for sex as per your nonsense article..

  9. Anonymous

    Very good.. Don’t ever get married.. Now it will be easy to date women.. Women will be easily available as they will not marry..

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