Growing up each of us have different ideas of what married life entails, but as we near that epochal change in our lives or as we experience it, the once amorphous, romantic ideals begin to take a more concrete form. Concrete does not mean any less romantic, but we do get a clear idea of how big a change married life is. At one stroke the world becomes bigger and smaller simulatenously.
Once united, the time, devotion and love husband and wife owe each other exceeds all other commitments in life. There is no better way to realise this commitment or face it head on, than taking the step to live independently in their own home — a phenomenon that has only recently become common in our society.
For Namira and husband Rabeed Haider, moving out of his parents’ home was not just a decision they arrived at on their own. “It was a family decision. My in-laws wanted us to live separately. We moved out immediately after our marriage,” Namira said, bringing to light the changing mindsets within many family units.
While living an independent life, away friom the conventional confines that living with elders entails, might seem blissful from a distance, the difficulty of looking after an entire household is not to be underestimated.
“As a working woman initially it seemed impossible, but as time goes on we learnt how to move on,” Namira revealed. Husband Rabeed, according to her, has been helpful in the household chores department, but her appraisal is not an unqualified one. “Whenever possible he tries to help in my household works, but again men are men, they can’t help but make a mess.”
When it comes to maintaining a household, a very important element is the employment of household help to assist the man and the lady of the home. In our society, this structure is very common, but for the new home owner it is not easy to strike the right balance between being friendly and authoritative. Namira has watched her mother handle issues like this when she was growing up, but now that it is she who is calling the shots, she sees the difference.
“Yes, we have employed a girl on a temporary basis. She doesn’t live with us — she comes once a day. I believe the less I communicate with her the more I can be happy. But at times I have to scream because she needs to be continuously reminded to do routine tasks,” she related.
These small hardships pale into insignificance when compared to the benefits of a newly married couple living independently. In our society, it is the girl who makes most of the sacrifices when entering a life of matrimony. Namira feels that living away from in-laws with her husband evens the scales to a certain extent.
“Moving out is a new experience for both of us. Here, we both are in the same situation. If I would have lived with my in-laws he would never know what it feels like to leave your house and parents. It helps to understand each other most and moreover, there is no third-party interference,” she said.
There are other benefits that, although not as important as the one just mentioned, stand to enhance the day-to-day lives of the couple. When living under the parents’ roof, it is natural that the ‘children’ would not be as comfortable as they would like when entertaining their friends. Living separately however, the couple make their own rules — king and queen of a sovereign household as they are.
“Occasionally we do,” answered husband Rabeed when asked whether they invite their friends over for parties. “Yes, for partying, late night get-togethers with friends I believe living independently is an advantage.”
Interestingly, in many cases, children moving out after marriage is not the earth-shattering experience it once used to be for parents. For Sadia Rashid, a mother whose son moved out into an apartment, the move is actually desirable because of the changing nature of consumer culture.
“The world has changed, now people’s wants have become more fragmented,” related Sadia, hinting at the burgeoning global consumer culture. “We each have different wants, and they differ according to age and stage of life. The things I may want may be different from what my son and his wife may want. For example, I may want to decorate my home in a different way, buy different home décor items, have a different idea of what type of DVDs or books should adorn the shelves, or what artwork should grace the walls. My son and daughter-in-law deserve the chance to explore their own ideas in these matters without worrying about what I may like or dislike, and vice versa.”
Married life is indeed the most important, and in most cases, the beginning of the last phase of our existence. It requires us to change, both man and woman have to travel a distance to find a common ground. Living independently forces the couple to know each other more deeply and quicker than they would have if they lived under the in-laws’ roof. The independent home may be the physical manifestation of the common ground being talked about, but it does provide a head start to the lifelong journey of finding a spiritual common ground.
Real names of the interviewees have been changed to protect their privacy.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Esha and Zamsad