Relationships

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.

 

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

  1. Anonymous

    Same thinh applies to men. They loose freedom too. Life is not just me, my freedom, my life, my need, my desire. Marriage is a beautiful reunion of 2 beautiful soul, who unite together to change all mine to ours! You have all right to stay single, get divorced but don’t think it is right to spread negativity of marriage. Not only women, family and men sacrifice too! I am a women and I feel happier and prosperous in all aspects of my life after getting martied. I will suggest not to get married only if there is guarantee of no sadness and grief in life! Come on grow up, problems comes in life of single and unmarried people’s life too!

  2. ‘Indian boys still expect someone to make them tea and ensure that their clothes are laundered.‘, at least I did not expect the same. As from last 1” year since my college days to corporate world I stayed with my friends, there was a time when I cook for 7 people after office hour, and never thought of escaping from the situation .Preparing tea , washing cloth all is part of life , if you know to enjoy your life then this is nothing . Life does not means to put responsibility on other how much you can take makes other happy. For me marriage is nothing but a another definition of friendship. Ad after marriage both of us has the same responsibilities and duties for the family to maintain a good life .

  3. Anonymous

    So well put Aekta.

  4. Marriage is not a necessity even for men, in current world the interdependence of each gender has vanished to a large extent in certain social circles and is vanishing in the rest of society also. There was a defined role for each gender due to various facilities or the lifestyle that existed. In today’s world bith women and men need not marry to fulfill any existantial needs, marriage is still required when you as a person want another person with whom you can be truly yourself without thinking and your flaws are accepted and tolerated. When you urge to share such an emotional bond with someone then Marriage makes sense. In a healthy marriage both will try to accommodate each other and this does not mean that any gender is supreme. A healthy relationship should have gender neutrality.

  5. Anonymous

    All human beings live only once and my nature marriage is a agreeable concept and it has worked globally. You could voice out your opinion in your personal crowd . Marriage is not at all a wrong doing it depends on how both sides keep it moving. So don’t advise anybody against marriage even to your own daughters. Rather teach them to keep marriage alive and healthy.

  6. Pragati Kadam

    This is a really awesome article. This is true that all the responsibilities of house and kids is of mother’s only. Though some men help in household but it is not up to the level of taking all the responsibilities of that particular area. I’m so influenced by this article. And yes this is the way to change the rituals about women going to men house after marriage. I am looking forward to give that freedom about marriage to my daughter too.

  7. Anonymous

    She will remain unmarried.

    • Anonymous

      Yes true let her remain unmarried so that after some years her daughter will come up with another article. ‘ Dear daughters, please get married’.. Sic.

  8. No one is going to marry your fat dinasour of a daughter anyways so don’t worry

    • Subhasree

      This is what came to your mind after reading this article, I really pity your thoughts. May Almighty bless you!

  9. Outraged wife

    Well put Aekta. It’s a much needed reassurance and a breather in the middle of “Ek bachcha to karlo” world. How and why should I take the yet another responsibility when the relationship itself doesn’t feel equal/ complete and fully at home! It’s time to raise a generation of men who are shaadi-worthy.

  10. Rubeena Arora

    I am married with two kids…
    I did not change my name and nobody dared to fuss about that
    I didn’t change my home; we live with my mom (well yes later because I wasn’t getting a job where I lived)
    I didn’t move in with my in-laws nor do I make any effort to bond with them/keep them happy(reason? it’s a long story worthy of an article itself!)
    My husband has no qualms about doing all sorts of chores although I try to outsource most household work so both of us can be free for the kids
    Still I am not happy. Why??
    I feel ignored. My husband treats our alone time together as a chore and would rather be with his devices.
    Anytime one of the kids acts up I get criticised covertly. (My husband denies this)
    Anytime something goes wrong in running of the household, again it gets pointed out (my husband says I remember only the negative and never the positive comments he makes)
    My point is I am emotionally dependent on my husband but he is not.

    • Outraged wife

      I hear you. Totally. It will take a new generation of mothers (perhaps single) to raise men who understand that when a woman chooses to return to you at the end of everyday, she expects the same – Absolute you, not your leftovers. That It’s all or nothing. That respect, warmth, communication, acceptance, acknowledgment and appreciation is all the fuel it takes. That she can afford herself everything else. That when you go for movies or holidays, it’s not about “You taking her out” as if you’re doing a favour, it’s about you two choosing to hang out together. That she can and does have a life outside you, but she prioritises you, without a doubt. Because she thinks that’s why you asked her out on marriage. Because you never stated otherwise. Because it’s the unspoken norm, known to her. And it’s you, dear men, who forgot and moved on. And it’s time she will move out and move on too.

      • Rubeena Arora

        I am trying to move on. Yes you made a very valid point-to-point she has a life outside of you- but my problem is that I actually don’t have a life outside of him (although I am working). Maybe it’s this lack of a life outside that is killing me because then I expect my husband to be there for me emotionally.

  11. NEVER …!!!!…my marriage…to Rookmani was never like that…she was my super hero and i was hers…we shared everything ….chores …responsibilities..
    Love for each other was the core of our relationship….she’s gone now.
    .3 years…i miss her so much…breast cancer….wish i can find a friend to share whats left of my life…some one
    To share my adventurous..life…local traveling by road….exploring…someone with 58 +..on the horizon as i have 70 on the horison…an adventurouse soul….educated and well read !!!

  12. Anonymous

    Amazing article and my thoughts definitely.
    No anarchy will take place if this is followed (to people who are projecting societal ruin :))
    Women will get more independent and will realise their dreams. They have the option to live with somebody – short term or long term – or not. Partners will care for each other once the “taken for granted” situation is gone.
    Another thing that needs to be nixed is the institution of “arranged marriages”. Let individuals actually work to earn their spouse. If you have to woo somebody to get them to agree to a relationship – you value it so much more. Rather than mom, aunt etc getting men a wife & them taking her for granted (if not acting like they did a big favor)
    Societal acceptance is critical for such a change to happen.
    Also – marriage does not guarantee faithfulness in a relationship (faithfulness in any relationship is defined by the individual’s character & marriage has nothing to do with this).

  13. Married and miserable

    A companion is important, unfortunately, not all husbands are companions. May your tribe grow Ms. Kapoor.

  14. I think you may have gone through problems in your marriage (hence you married twice). So what happens to those ladies who want to have children at some point in their lives? So if they do follow your advise of not getting married, does that mean that they have ‘unofficial’ kids…..the woman will in this case have to carry that burden of responsibility and expenses…..i feel your article is very one sided and not looking at it from all angles….your bad experience doea not mean everyone has a bad marriage. Such articles are detrimental in influencing how younger people think. Instead, you should say, get settled ‘where you are happy’.
    My advise to you is ‘think with an open mind’

  15. It is true that in India marriage brings so many responsibility for both male n female esp more for women.Most of our customs are only for female but time is changing.what our encesters suffered in marriage we don’t so definatly it will take time when man n women will have equal responsibilities to share after marriage but we should not guide our children like that.
    What I feel in place of telling ur daughters not to marry ,every women in India should educate their sons regarding need for sharing responsibilities in marriage n also we should educate our daughter n sons to respect feeling of others which I feel is lacking in new generation

  16. Great article! I sincerely believe my Parents push to get me married to a very traditional man has ruined my life and my health.

  17. Anonymous

    showing lack of confidence in the institution of marriage is not the solution. The feeling and experience u get from marriage is priceless, just becoz few marriage fail it doesn’t mean marriage is bad. i dont think women’s are suppressed after marriage. Husbands do support their wife’s is everything. Time have changed.

  18. If anyone thinks this is sensible we are indeed at the verge of doom… Think of all the perverts who live among us even when we r bound by vow or love in marriage.. Marriage is a sharing life n body together n being responsible for each other.. In the absence of which fornication, prostitution and who knows what will engulf humanity… Marriage is to live by rules.. We were taught to abide by rules so as to maintain discipline..marriage is discipline… Call me Orthodox but life is nothing without discipline

  19. Though it true that Indian society is patriarchal, asking your daughter not to marry at all is the most stupidest thing you could ever do. Humans are social beings. You live with your husband. You don’t know how it feels, to stay alone without a person to talk with for years.
    Friends? They will be there to support you till they get married. Your meetings with friends will become monthly once after they get married and once in six months after they get a kid. This is true for men too. Sex with others? It all works till a particular age. As far as I have seen, such lonely women seem to lead a happy and enviable life till the age of 30. After that, they act like they are so happy and proud to be independent to the outside world. But behind the scenes, I have found every one of them suffering from depression, longing for social meetings, trying to go for meet-ups only to realize that these temporary chit-chats will never replace meaningful relationships. By that time, it is becomes too late for them to get married.
    Let your daughter be herself. If she finds love, let her marry. Don’t put wrong ideas in her mind ans spoil her life. And don’t take the companionship of your spouse for granted.

  20. Anonymous

    So true. Marriage is just added responsibility where the guy is just free to do whatever he wants and his wife should dance to his tunes . With whom to talk , withwhom not to talk as if the girl has no brains .

  21. It’s because of people like you that this country is not developing. Don’t give wrong facts. People are not marrying in other countries more and more now.

  22. Anonymous

    Hope all mom’s were lik dis….well told truth n people strtd gettin itches

  23. Anonymous

    Stupid lady first of all you divorce and live alone with your daughter then put your opinion public even in foreigner countries all people are happy living with husbands don’t call you Indian one or two like you spoil the whole society’s

  24. Great thought and writing

  25. not to get marry is a great suggestion. But that does not mean you can have sex without marry. When you ask your daughter not to get marry , it simply tell her not to have sex in her whole life , if she can accept it , that will be good for her.

    • What has sex to do with marriage, if you procreation should be avoided as you would push a human being into this world with a odd family structure, then it’s fine. To have a safe and consensual sex marriage is not a prerequisite.

  26. Neetu J. Talwar

    I totally agree with everything mentioned here. It’s absolutely true for the girls of 21 St century who hasn’t got any thing exceptional in getting married. They are much more capable in everything. They haven’t got any comparison even.
    I am a blessed mother of two daughter’s and make sure that I raise them not to get married but to get completely settled in their lives so that they should not be dependent on either a man or any other woman in this world.

  27. Anonymous

    😍😍

  28. Anonymous

    Loved it

  29. Daughters have to go through lot more just to make sure their parents don’t have to face bad consequences because of her liberal behavior.

  30. Ankit Bavishi

    Wonderful Article Ms. Kapoor! Though I would be more happy when #SmashThePatriarchy becomes a reality and people stop getting married just to get social acceptance.

  31. Anonymous

    The first step is for the tradition of women going to in-laws place – that’s the critical first that needs to change. Rest will follow…

  32. Anonymous

    The first step is for the tradition of women going to in-laws place – that’s the critical first that needs to change. Rest will follow…

  33. Anonymous

    Beautiful thots…i appreciate….i hope n eish everyone feels d same n feel that getting married isnt essential

  34. HA ha this article is relief giving ,atleast someone has this thinking who corelate of mine .Thanks for making this thaught public .

  35. Anonymous

    Ms Aekta Kapoor!!! I love u!!! I really wish all mothers were like you. 💗 Not making their daughters feel as if you’ve succeeded in life only if you’re married. Despite having a daughter who has been a good student in school, did MBBS for her mother without a glitch, worked hard and got her dream car at 31, completed Masters and PhD under scholarships. Nothing mattered to her mother. Only marriage defines the daughter’s life and she can make her feel like Zero for being single😑 (daughter is not married since she hasn’t found the right one yet). Sad but true story.

  36. I totally agree with each and every line of this article.👍

  37. Anonymous

    my sincere advice to you, no matter what pls dont let your daughters get married. Even if you change your mind later pls dont spoil any man’s life.

    • Independent Woman

      Here comes a bigot reptesenting the case of men who refuse to grow up. Which is why their parents put them up for social adoption through the institution of marriage, with the expectation that the new lady takes up the duties of Moma dear; of-course with added responsibilities of serving the sexual needs and making babies.

      Often such dependent losers pursue women, even though some of them being already married.

      Despite enjoying all the perks of marriage these losers will whine about their wives and advice unmarried men to not get married.
      No wonder more and more women are unwilling to put up with such losers.

      If the arrange marriage system is taken out of the Indian social fabric, then more than half of the men will remain unmarried because based on their own merits, they just wont be able to convince any female to marry them.

      Your advice is not needed but since you have taken the pain to express it, consider it being heard and put in a rarely used compartment of the brain.

      And last but not the least, let your thoughts rest in pieeeeceeees.

      • Married and miserable

        That was such an intelligent response. Spoilt men refusing to grow up and blaming their wives for all their faults. You are right to say marriage is a social adoption of men by women and the practice continues because society has put a label on unmarried women as undesirable, unsuccessful and unwanted. I am a victim of the same. I hope marriage become obsolete someday soon.

  38. Anonymous

    So true….
    The other day i had a debate with my friend’s husband regarding the same issue. He said that it’s the rule of the Nature that the women stays back and Men go to work. But his mentality not my concern, i was surprised to see 3 of my female friends sitting there quite as if they completely agreed with him…. It’s then when i realised we women do not respect ourselves, do not value the freedom and the talents that we possess. I hope someday we do understand that we are an individual and do not need someone else to define us.

    • Anonymous

      True…we women need to change our thinking first. And raise our child properly. One woman is enemy of other woman.

  39. Women are better off without husbands. especially in india.
    A meaningful, sincere ,warm n friendly relationship between man n woman is whats important.

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