We often see many women exult with joy on the idea of getting married. They seem to view marriage as a synonym of happiness and self fulfilment. The actual picture is, however, quite different than the romanticised one.
Research dating back to generations ago, shows us that the mental and emotional health of married women is poorer compared to unmarried women. Married women show more phobic reactions, depressions and passivity than unmarried women. This is mainly due to the series of ‘shocks’ that she goes through; for example, the always on good behaviour presentation of the self during courtship to the daily lack of privacy in marriage, or as she ceases to be the catered to and becomes the caterer to.
The question then is that why do women want to get married? The answer lies in the process of ‘socialization’. This process starts right from the time of birth. Saying “it’s a girl” brings a girl into being, as the phrase “it’s a girl” cites the norms of gender and what is the expected path of life that she is then to follow. This process leads to her internalising the norms and values of the society that hold marriage and domesticity as a girl’s desired destiny.
These norms and values are institutionalised by family, religion etc. Family is the primary site of socialization. Here the girl identifies with her mother and tries to imitate her, and takes in that series of expected behaviours, such as, the need to be caring, loving, nurturing and also the dominant ideologies that her right place is at her marital home, that she should conform to all her husband’s wishes and so on.
These values are largely reinforced by movies, daily soaps etc, that mostly portray an ‘ideal’ women as being one who is a good homemaker , one who always follows the norms and values of the society religiously and so on. They all paint a rosy picture of marriage as being the ‘happily ever after’ a woman always desires. By the time women realise that marriage is no bed of roses, it is too late to make amends. They hardly have any option but to continue on the path they have set on as social and parental pressures make it difficult for her to step back.
Therefore, a woman’s choice is one made ‘for’ her than ‘by’ her.