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Ships Ahoy -- floundering marriages


Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 17, 2011   #1
It is not hard to see things the way I am wanting you to see them.

Imagine a cluster of ships, sailing on turbulent waters. Our marriages are these ships and frankly, some of them are listing -- which means, they are tilting and having difficulty moving forward; some others are also beginning to show signs of the same.

When we look around, we see other clusters, families; the ships within them mostly sailing upright, or like ours, floundering. It is a fact that the seas are choppy, turbulent and going is rough; but we admire those clusters where the ships are doing alright inspite of the condition of the water. Naturally we wonder about them and think that there must be a good guiding person or persons, or that they must know some principles of sailing that is helping them thrive and surge on.

Like I said these ships are our individual marriages and the turbulent waters, the environment we must sail through. The question is what are we all doing wrong and have no common knowledge of ?

First what is the turbulence ? This is the new freedom which women in India have discovered. One could say that this is itself not the turbulence, but in some fashion it is creating a turbulence in the waters. It would be wrong to ask women to go back to the earlier ways of being uneducated and lacking the earning power. The problem is really the lack of the guiding principles which tell them as they attain this power to earn, of what can go wrong. A sense of the larger picture.

What they do not know, or appreciate completely, is the vastness, and the desolateness of the ocean -- of the life ahead. I have seen the same thinking in many instances to recognize it as a common mistaken notion and the danger of taking this course.

Why point the finger at women and not the men ? Because in this regard, for men, little has changed from what was earlier . They had all this freedom, to be educated, to earn; it is only for the women that this is changed so dramatically in recent times.

The question for women is -- once you do willingly accept a man as your husband, why do you still consider yourself as an independent person? Because the man by tradition accepts the matrimonial bond completely, and the person his wife is.

But the woman soon finds faults in the man, maybe because now she works closely with others, or is it because she imagines that as she now has an independent earning, she is capable of sailing along even without the man. And thinks to herself that what had kept women subjugated in earlier times was not having an independent source of income. Even though this is hardly how the man would have thought, or taken advantage of except in rare cases.

So mostly the woman just imagines her lot as of one suppressed and now finally she has freed herself. Then pushing along this line of thought further she begins to imagine her husband as actually oppressing her and thinks the more she frees herself from him the better will her lot be. So she starts to imagine a life, with herself and her son or another child, and the man she was married to is taken out of the picture entirely.

There is a dangerous fallacy in this thinking, yet women are doing exactly this, and we can see what the outcome has been for them.

Where did things go wrong ? From the time when after marriage they did not commit to their bond. Instead chose the slippery slope of tasting an over-abundance of independence.

What they missed to see is that society is man made, I should say man-and-woman made. Therefore it's values are worldly, that is, they will be self-preserving and self-perpetuating. If you do not do the acceptable thing you are at the mercy of the waters beneath and all that lurks there. Once you have made a matrimonial pact, you need to move to the next stage. Of preserving that, of doing everything you can to hold it together. It becomes your prime purpose and duty. Men have accepted this fact, and more naturally accept their marriage, quickly moving into the next stage of nourishing the family and protecting and sheltering it.

Rajiv
isai 12 / 111  
May 18, 2011   #2
Greetings !

The essay displays understanding of the main issues. There may be some minor errors, omissions or poorly expressed ideas.

Regards
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 20, 2011   #3
because she imagines that as she now has an independent earning, she is capable of sailing along even without the man.

She certainly is capable, and I bet she will earn more money than you! :-)

What is going on here? Is this supposed to be ironic or sarcastic? So WEIRD!

I have a question: Who even cares about marriage anymore? As far as I know it is a tradition from primitive times, and it is oppressive to women.

How can it be so significant as to cause women to fall into some trap, something about... what, exactly? Not obeying the husband? Or did I totally misunderstand you?

Men are quite capable of caring for kids and cooking dinner. Women are quite capable of designing websites and managing employees. I love your Kahlil Gibran writing style, Rajiv, but you have to explain this one for me. Are you really saying women collectively have some trend of overindulging in newfound empowerment?

That is so weird! For one thing, every generation change is like hitting a reset button, so how can "women" in general be taken by surprise by a newfound freedom/empowerment? But besides that... I just think in the 21st century we do not need to make any distinction at all between men and women, because both genders produce talented professionals. Both genders produce bad parents. Both genders produce sociopaths. Both genders produce heroes.

And life is so strange... it seems inappropriate to place any specific expectations on anyone. I guess I am probably misunderstanding you! :-)

Here is a poem I wrote for you:

If a marriage flounders because of the woman's career, obviously the couple did not manage their lives in a way that would enable the marriage to continue.

If a marriage flounders because of the man's career, obviously the couple did not manage their lives in a way that would enable the marriage to continue.
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 21, 2011   #4
Two things happened today which I see as related. Your response to my essay is one, and the other needs some explaining...

I think it would be safe to say that climate plays an important role - though hard to trace - in shaping the culture of a place and its people. I am talking of entire civilizations, as opposed to say just differing climates within the US, and how that may affect its people. As a matter of fact, more difference can be noticed just across its border in Mexico, or any South American country; although not Canada, which is similar in thinking and values and behavior to the people of US.

Canadians and Americans are generically migrants from Europe; and their inherent culture was formed in centuries living there, not the last two hundred years that we know them.

I had never observed the changing climate of where I am now as closely before, as I had nothing to compare it with earlier. The months from April-end to mid-July are known as hot here. Yet the "Indian summer" is nothing like any common experience in Western countries. People used to only US climates might think of the heat here as merely physical, but it is much more than that. It has an affect like an illness, starting from the lower back and working its way up to the head with aches spreading in all the joints of the body.

I wondered how had I managed earlier -- or how others who could not afford cooling in their dwellings, managed. Some sort of acclimatization one thinks, but it seems not humanly possible to put up with three months of this unremitting heat ! Then like a miracle, a storm built up last night, a shower came and it is most pleasant now. A brief respite, I know but I understand now how it has always been here in the centuries past. This is the second event.

Marriages are one of the earliest constructs of civilizations. And civilizations themselves, built as they are on differing influences, will hold them in different regard.
linmark 2 / 328 7  
May 21, 2011   #5
Kevin, I wrote a long reply but it disappeared as I clicked on another website. How can I retrieve (as a draft??)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 21, 2011   #6
Ah!! I'm sorry to hear that. I don't think you can retrieve it. My browser (firefox) has an add-on that saves the content of fields so that if I use the BACK button I will still have my work. Whenever I lose a long post I was working on, I assume it means that it was the will of the Great Eternal Whatnot that I get a fresh start and try again. :-/ sorry!

And civilizations themselves, built as they are on differing influences, will hold them in different regard.

Okay, but I still challenge you to explain why the institution of marriage must be saved by women relinquishing some of their freedom and empowerment. Why can't it be saved by men who give up some of their power? In a patriarchal hegemony, it is the men who have to give up some power.

I mean, I am really taken aback by some of the essay. Like, in one part of it you mused that women might become critical of their husbands because of experiences they have working with co-workers. And then you went on to write that they may even begin to feel like they are independent. So, it really sounds like you are saying women should depend on the men, stay at home, and not have the same amount of household authority.

Watch this crazy thing I'll do below:

Marriages are Gender oppression is one of the earliest developments of civilizations. And civilizations themselves, built as they are on differing influences, will hold the ideal of Equal Life Experience for both Genders in different regard.

I reject all silly notions that it is the woman who must submit to the man or forgo career opportunities.

We all know that the tradition of marriage is characterized by norms that reflect the gender oppression of primitive times. Reinventing marriage to accommodate real gender equality is at least as meaningful as the institution of marriage. Some people have squeegied their 3rd eye clean enough that they're able to see the sacredness that is infinitely more important than the form of social manipulation called marriage. To hell with marriage. I'll have nothing to do with traditions that have kept women oppressed! :-)

And if my girlfriend absolutely insists on getting married, that's fine, but I'll not accept her taking my last name. (Like branded cattle!) No, she can keep her own damn last name. :-)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 21, 2011   #7
One more challenge for you, Rajiv: A 19 year-old girl from India writes an essay about wanting to be a physician. She also wants a fulfilling marriage. What advice would you give her?
Notoman 20 / 419  
May 22, 2011   #8
You write well, Rajiv. There are some minor errors, but the essay flows. What is the purpose of this essay? Is it an assignment of some sort?

Let me point out a couple of things that caught my eye before delving into commentary on the content.

Our marriages are these ships and frankly,

You'll need a comma after the word "ships" because the rest of the sentence could stand on its own.

; but

Don't use a semicolon and a conjunction together. Either use a comma and then a conjunction or a semicolon with no conjunction when you are combining two independent clauses.

of ?

You have a space between your sentences and the question marks. Why ?

Because the man by tradition accepts the matrimonial bond completely, and the person his wife is.

I am not sure what you are trying to say here. I think the meaning gets lost in the semantics.

has an independent earning

independent earnings

And thinks to herself that what had kept women subjugated in earlier times was not having an independent source of income.

This is an incomplete sentence.

Even though this is hardly how the man would have thought, or taken advantage of except in rare cases.

Another incomplete sentence

Then pushing along this line of thought further

Add a comma after this phrase.

Instead chose the slippery slope of tasting an over-abundance of independence.

This sentence needs a subject. Who chose?

it's values

No apostrophe

If you do not do the acceptable thing

Comma after this clause

You employ the second-person tense throughout the essay. Generally speaking, formal English essays don't use the first or second persons. At times, I wondered if this was a personal entreaty to your wife to obey. When you used "we," "our," and "you," I found myself wanting to know just who these people were.

Okay, now I will move on to commentary on the content. I ask what the purpose of this essay is because I can't imagine a situation in which it would be appropriate (unless you are freelancing for a chauvinistic organization).

You say:

for men, little has changed from what was earlier

I would argue that A LOT has changed for men. The women of India have changed and that certainly impacts the men of India. I am sure that the new-found freedoms have created a turbulence in the marital waters for Indian couples, but other than subservience from the women, I don't see any solutions in your essay. At one point, you say: "It would be wrong to ask women to go back to the earlier ways of being uneducated and lacking the earning power," but you don't have me, as a reader, convinced that you believe this. Are you suggesting that Indian women earn BAs, BSs, MAs, and PhDs only until they get their MRSes? What should Indian men being doing to adapt to the new reality of wage-earning wives? Shouldn't they be supportive, even proud, of their wives' successes? You mention Indian men nourishing the family, but I get the sense that you mean that merely in a bringing-home-the-bacon manner. I don't see you or your ilk nourishing the family by taking the kids to doctors' appointments, cooking dinner, cleaning a toilet, or changing diapers. I imagine that the working women of India feel oppressed if they are expected to put in fifty hours a week at work, do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, AND dote on a husband who sees himself as a maharaja.

You seem to imply in your second post that westerners do not hold marriage in high regard. I suppose that would be true if one were to look merely at divorce statistics, but I think it is an unfair and condescending assumption that westerners hold marriage in low regard. An American or European would look at your essay and think that Indian men care only about personal prestige and power instead of the happiness of their wives or the stability of their marriages.

Seriously, is this for your own practice, for an assignment, or for some publication called Misogynists Weekly? I think understanding the purpose of the essay would help us as readers to understand a bit better where you are coming from.

ON A SIDE NOTE: HI LIN! *Smooch*
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 22, 2011   #9
There are different things happening here. I am talking of the situation as it is coming up in India, which may be compared to what was happening in the US, the emancipation of women, around the time of the second World War. A significant difference in how it will play out in India and other Eastern countries, specially as they adapt to their newly formed democratic governments, is that it will all be against the backdrop of an existing example -- that of the US. Of the US more than other European countries, which have really followed its lead in this.

We as onlookers, or bit-players in this social phenomena, tend to simplify situations, mostly for the comfort of our own understanding. We see similarity in the 'women situations' and consider that the process of their emancipation, will follow the same pattern as in US. But think of some women, smart enough to recognize this pattern and the sympathy they can garner for their cause. The western influence is bearing down with so much force in all countries, that even that can be worked to their favor.

This is unlike how it would have taken place in the US and other western countries, because at that time there wasn't anything as a precedence to push the phenomena towards. Both men and women took the change forward in steps with a sufficient balance of reason. But now, the unscrupulous, or even the woman impatient for her ends, can do such things, as move out of the house herself or ask her husband to leave, and expect to be taken as 'forward-looking'. You may find little to fault her in this if her reasons for doing it are acceptable to you, but in our own societies, we have actually 'been had' by them.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 22, 2011   #10
You seem to imply in your second post that westerners do not hold marriage in high regard

Well, that was probably because I went a little overboard and said, "Who even cares about marriage anymore?" Ha ha, that was my fault. I don't really have such disdain for marriage, just the parts of it that involve gender oppression.

against the backdrop of an existing example -- that of the US.

This is an interesting observation. I've gained a lot of insight from Rajiv, so I assume i'll gain insight here.

But think of some women, smart enough to recognize this pattern and the sympathy they can garner for their cause. The western influence is bearing down with so much force in all countries, that even that can be worked to their favor.

I don't understand what you mean by this. You are pointing out that some women will take advantage of sympathy due to the fact that women in the western world have become empowered? For example, Indian women might stop taking the subservient role now that some countries have female presidents...

This is unlike how it would have taken place in the US and other western countries, because at that time there wasn't anything as a precedence to push the phenomena towards. Both men and women took the change forward in steps with a sufficient balance of reason.

Again, this is interesting.

But now, the unscrupulous, or even the woman impatient for her ends, can do such things, as move out of the house herself or ask her husband to leave, and expect to be taken as 'forward-looking'.

Yes, that is precisely correct. It is called freedom, and I would want it for my daughter.
You have not "been had" by anyone. I'm so surprised at this! I still love you, Rajiv, but you cannot use "cultural differences" as an excuse for pretending that men should have privileges that women do not have in this strange life. Or maybe you simply mean that NO married person should give up on the marriage, and maybe you would criticize men just as readily for giving up on a marriage.

So, I think I have figured it out. Rajiv is concerned that marriage is being degraded as the result of many women leaving their husbands as they seek equality and independence. As long as men are being held to the same standard, I guess it seems okay.

But as Noto mentioned, it is the MEN who have been the oppressors, and it is the MEN who should do something to preserve marriage now that women have claimed their equality. Maybe men should save their marriages by staying home and cooking while the women go to work! :-)

Rajiv, you never answered my question: Would you discourage a married girl from finishing med school? The way you answer that question wil help me make sense of your argument. Thanks for having the courage to take this controversial stance and start a cool discussion!

However, I really think I understand you now. You are not against letting women have careers; you are observing that the rapid cultural change is causing a lot of women to walk away from marriages. So... that is cool! :-)
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 23, 2011   #11
Yes Kevin, the final paragraph of the essay says exactly that !

Here's an exchange I had with an Indian friend when I mailed him the above essay. He knew I stopped working and stayed home with my girls who were very young at the time. Initially I thought that he like many others, disbelieved my real motives in choosing not to work...

Some men have chosen to do exactly the opposite in the disguise of preservation and basically it is this background which if you ask any woman (they would agree on it) is the main reason for their defiance at the earliest given opportunity.

The final two lines you wrote tell me that you think I took shelter under the guise of preserving the family, and did not do what I should have done !

Are you speaking as others would ask on reading this, or is this a question you yourself have ? I think you're posing it from the others point of view -- but it is your own doubt about what happened with me.

I'll get personal now as that may be the only way to explain it.

You've had a maid problem for some time. You tell me that often you get up in the morning and mop the floors -- of all the three levels. This isn't something you will want to broadcast, yet you recognize it has to be done. Truth is, that something of a similar nature happens in all households, and only those close to the family come to know about it.

If you lose your job, and at the same time your spouse lands an equally well paying job -- I am certain you'll not hinder her, but will even take up many of her functions: cooking, doing what you have to for the kids, and at the same time you'll continue hunting for a job.

If over some time your wife's prospects in her new job keep improving, demanding more and more of her time, and in consequence, you have to do more and more for the home -- how willingly are you for that arrangement ?

How far will you go to preserve your family ?

That's the difference !

No, you got me wrong. The final two lines talk about men who shirk their responsibility, which is not just bread earning but taking care of the family affairs in general. It is the image of such men, as dominating, in which they would like to stand up and prove they are no pushovers. Like a man cannot do well in everything without a woman, a woman cannot succeed completely without a man. Some like to believe otherwise and take a call on it but eventually fail.

I understand your story man. Would it be worth it's while by putting a straight question to your wife and ask her upfront what is it that makes her not go along with you ? Does she feel that you should be working and earning money as she is doing or are there some other things about you which are bothering her so much that she thinks its worth ending the long relationship. Or does she think she has taken whatever she could (if anything) from the relationship and now can get by alone or with someone else. I think you should ask for a one to one meeting and thrash it out instead of trying to read her mind and build a picture by yourself. If the worst is in store then so be it but you never know what the outcome could be, maybe something entirely different !


.. I am looking for a job, and my wife's job demands more and more of her time -- my prospects are diminishing. And we both can see that.

I might say to myself, in the other case I would have taken care of her, so if it comes to the worst she will take care of me in later life. Of course it would be a different story were we all to go back to India now, but then she has to take the fall ...

But now introduce a game-changer, forcing me to take the fall. Thereafter, she just keeps the upper hand for the next ten years and more. No need for promising anything in return. Just keep me hanging there.

You suggest meeting her one on one and asking what the real problem is? She'll say -- no problem, I just want to be alone.

And when her assignment is over, she'll go back to US amongst her other family.

Kevin, you ask me what advice I would give an Indian girl planning on doing med school in the US, that she have a happy marriage. I don't know what to say to her; I'm still awaiting the final turn of my own.
linmark 2 / 328 7  
May 23, 2011   #12
(This thread is getting pretty hard core amongst you gentlemen. I am compelled to present the opposite sex's POV here.Please excuse the intrusion Lawllll!!)

What I first posted (and lost in the Great Eternal Nether-virtual land where no Firefox BACK button can retrieve) was to ask Rajiv if the analogy of climate difference between civilizations (northern western cool vs. Indian southern hot) was how he/you perceived the evolution of the marriage institution in the West?

I think it would be safe to say that climate plays an important role - though hard to trace - in shaping the culture of a place and its people.

From your first essay, there were some excellent attempts at "enlightened" understanding:

Like I said these ships are our individual marriages and the turbulent waters, the environment we must sail through. The question is what we all are doing wrong and have no common knowledge of ?

This was one-sidedly negative. It would help to also examine what "we" are doing right and doing consciously despite the "turbulent waters beneath and all that lurks there" to present a balanced perspective. However, this glimmer of balanced enlightenment faded fast as the essay became more one-sided and more negative:

Where did things go wrong ? From the time when after marriage they did not commit to their bond. Instead chose the slippery slope of tasting an over-abundance of independence.

What is "over" abundance - compared to what?

Once you have made a matrimonial pact, you need to move to the next stage. Of preserving that, of doing everything you can to hold it together. It becomes your prime purpose and duty. Men have accepted this fact, and more naturally accept their marriage, quickly moving into the next stage of nourishing the family and protecting and sheltering it.

Marriage is a legal contractual status of mutual dependency, mutual sharing of property and responsibilities. Traditionally, women have accepted this with much more at stake (i.e. dependency) than men up to now. I don't see how you can imply that only men protect the family. So this is where your essay failed to deliver a strong closing argument. It just ends in nowhereland.

This lopsided perspective was confirmed (and exacerbated) in your personal post of today. I do not mean to denigrate you in any way, nor is this meant to be male-bashing. At worse, please consider this as an open dialogue with a female help columnist. At best, I hope this exchange can shed some "light" on your suffering or serve as gentle psychotherapy.

My feedback on your story is that clearly, you feel insecure... because:
1) your wife's career is surpassing yours
2) the prospect of dependency is daunting to say the least. Not only are you negative about your wife, you are highly distrustful. Do I detect some hostility rearing its ugly head here:

But now introduce a game-changer, forcing me to take the fall. Thereafter, she just keeps the upper hand for the next ten years and more. No need for promising anything in return. Just keep me hanging there.

3) she is not dependent on you. It sounds like she has family in the US and does not need to return to India where traditional male supremacy and female dependency may overrule/override and obliterate her career prospects. Do you feel insecure because you do not have this option and if you did, what would you do?

And when her assignment is over, she'll go back to US amongst her other family.

4) you find housework demeaning...

Some hard questions:
1) why do you have a trust (or distrust) problem? what are the basic signs that you are seeing (another man, less affection from your wife?)

2) have you taken any steps to diagnose the health of your male-female relationship? how is the communication between you and your spouse? Are you good friends, do you enjoy being together, do you laugh and play etc. etc. together?

Some easier questions for you:
1) where would you prefer your girls to grow up?
2) could your job prospects in India provide a better future and overall family well-being happiness for your entire family?
Notoman 20 / 419  
May 23, 2011   #13
I jumped into the fray without an inkling of the underlying issues. Duh! (Slaps self on side of head) I thought Rajiv wanted input on grammar and writing style. Now I see that this is much more personal than comma placement.

Know what kind of peace you want before you start a war. I am not much of an advice giver, but Lin had some good input.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 23, 2011   #14
Yes Kevin, the final paragraph of the essay says exactly that !

Yep, I had to read this correspondence twice to understand, but now i do. i apologize for my earlier misunderstanding.

This thread is getting pretty hard core amongst you gentlemen.

ha, i enjoyed this a lot. i enjoyed noto's ideas, too. this is such an interesting thread.

this essay...at first i was worried it expressed a totally chauvinistic perspective, but now i see that, as i suspected, Rajive was writing something much deeper and more complex than i could discern. To people who stumble upon this thread...imagine this situation:

You are a married man, and you see a cultural change taking place that puts you in the role of the oppressor, and your wife resents you for it. you have a wife who associates your culture with oppression and american culture with empowerment. she desires empowerment and as a result becomes resentful of you. you have taken steps to make sure that you are not part of the oppression she now sheds, and you do believe in women's empowerment, but... it's no use. your wife has fallen in love with western culture and has soured toward you and what you represent. you lose your relationship because of forces you can't control.

i don't know how accurate that is for describing the situation here, but... it gives me something to think about. thanks, rajiv!
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 24, 2011   #15
Joe Cocker is coming to my mind: its Woodstock, in star studded cowboy boots and air-guitar -- O lord, please don't let me be misunderstood !!

Thank Kevin, essay forum is my watershed !
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 24, 2011   #16
:-) That was a cover. Nina Simone did it originally.

Now that I know your real meaning, I see that it was kind of heroic for you to risk being misunderstood in order to express this experience.
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 24, 2011   #17
Not with you at the helm here !
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
May 26, 2011   #18
yeah, seriously though... it takes some courage to express something that can so easily be misinterpreted. But if you were not able to do it, I would not have gained this important insight about the phenomenon you described.
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
May 28, 2011   #19
Hi Linmark,

The fault is mine -- I thought the dialog in my last post, before yours, would convey that this is how it happened, and not that I feared it might. I, in fact, trusted that I would be taken care of in a reversal of roles, but instead now find myself left in the lurch ten years later .. on the arguement that I did not work all these years !

This is something you might need to consider the next time you're advising on this issue. Though, on the other hand, I think it better to be trusting first .. only be aware, the world is not all populated with people like yourself.

Rajiv
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
Jul 6, 2011   #20
One more challenge for you, Rajiv: A 19 year-old girl from India writes an essay about wanting to be a physician. She also wants a fulfilling marriage. What advice would you give her?

I would not have let this hang for so long Kevin .. truth is I was surprised that I felt no inner working in my mind as I contemplated this question. I want to try and answer this now.

I do not wish to do any more bashing of Western culture and its detrimental effect on the ideals of the East. Why should I need to do that ? I am looking at something seperated in the most natural way - by gender. And what I say should hold wherever we can see a difference of gender, in animals even, if we can discern their behavior reflecting the conditions we have in marriage! And perhaps we can. I am thinking of a pride of lions, because I remember seeing movie tracks of these. They live harmoniously, the males and females, and any problem only comes up when another male ventures into their territory. Similarly, we have street dogs here in India; in the West these would be rounded up. They have patterns of behavior, for I have seen them quarreling, even when it wasn't over food. I have also seen males and females playing together, or a male basking by the side while the female plays with the pups .. remniscent of human families.

I feel inclined to think that an arrangement imposed for social considerations such as it is in marriage, will succeed, if it bolsters what has existed naturally in a relationship between genders. Two differences amongst the genders stand out starkly in a cohabiting arrangement. The female's role of bearing progeny and nursing them. And the male's greater physical capability. Given these two factors, their coming together as a single unit should have more strength and resilience than any male or female's life alone.

The second of these natural difference is transformed into 'earning power' in the present - for that's what the purpose of physical prowess in animals is, to provide and protect. When a woman becomes empowered to earn, and protection is assured by society, or is not a matter of physical strength .. the male will have to fill the void by caring for the young.

A question is, is this as good an arrangement as the earlier one when the mother bore the child and cared for it? Ask the children, since they are most like the 'outcome' here. I think they are likely to say, sure it was fine having dad around instead of mom... same thing ! So, it comes down to how mom and dad feel about the arrangement. Is it mutually agreeable ? Or was it forced by situation and circumstances. In which case, was it equally acceptable as it panned out .. or were the switched roles grudgingly taken up?

Any young woman 'wanting to work as a professional and have a good marriage' needs to look at things from at least this distance. Before pursuing a path which will lead to rewards such as society has for those who succeed professionally .. what is she taking away from the way things have worked thus far, and must compensate as part of an incumbent responsibility. Else it isn't a sustaining unit and will quite naturally come apart.

The woman who has the 'earning role' in the family may also think, but this is only good. The man is deadwood now and the kids are as much mine as his. So why the need to take care of him anymore?

I wonder how it was when the man played the sole role of bringing in the bread? What kept him from similarly discarding the woman after a time? How did she manage to have a place in the family? And it was even a place of some importance. We can look at families that have held together and with children that are grown up, and see the woman is the more dominant person after the man retires, the one more in command in the home.

Strange !
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jul 8, 2011   #21
I would not have let this hang for so long Kevin .. truth is I was surprised that I felt no inner working in my mind as I contemplated this question. I want to try and answer this now.

As I type this, I have not yet read what you wrote, but I wanted to mention at the outset that you already cleared this up. I discovered that you are not the type of man who thinks a woman should not have a career. So, that is good!

a male basking by the side while the female plays with the pups .. remniscent of human families.

Yes, and the difference with humans is that we can transcend our evolved tendencies and have freedom to jump from one role to another.

I feel inclined to think that an arrangement imposed for social considerations such as it is in marriage, will succeed, if it bolsters what has existed naturally in a relationship between genders.

Sounds like you are saying we should mimic the animals, but I am a humanist, so I don't take my cues from animals.

Or was it forced by situation and circumstances. In which case, was it equally acceptable as it panned out .. or were the switched roles grudgingly taken up?

Yes, too often historically, the woman has needed to grudgingly take up the role of the homemaker even when she wanted to pursue a career. So far, I am with you!

what is she taking away from the way things have worked thus far, and must compensate as part of an incumbent responsibility. Else it isn't a sustaining unit and will quite naturally come apart.

Sounds here like you are saying the animal tendency to act in a way that has withstood the process of natural selection should provide a foundation, and you are putting the burden on the woman to hesitate before taking a career. But like you said, our world makes it possible for women to be as effective as men and serve, for example, as the president of a nation. With less testosterone, she is less prone to get into unnecessary conflicts. So, I hope to soon have a female president.

What kept him from similarly discarding the woman after a time?

Nothing. Men have been discarding women since the beginning of humanity.

the woman is the more dominant person after the man retires, the one more in command in the home.

Yep... usually, when I argue with my girlfriend, I discover that she was the more sensible one all along. This is true not only in matters of the home. Truth be told, the reason I am a feminist is that after studying the biological differences between the genders, I have to conclude that women and men are both crazy but that women are crazy in a way that tends toward sensitivity and nurturing. So... women are the good leaders.

Anywa,y since we are on the subject, what about that question? I assume based on what you said here that you would advise a female med school student to find a husband who is wise enough to leave traditional gender roles behind.

Thanks Rajiv!
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
Jul 11, 2011   #22
Everything I had to say, I have done. I am this side of the road, but where you are the lights glitter with more promise. I ask myself why do I call you over to this side?

Seems like a large grey concrete tube now. That light on the other side pulling me on. The action has all come to an end. Such a phoney end, after the promises.

I shake my pockets, looking for something worthwhile to fall out. Its only crumbs, nothing interesting at all. Nothing to talk about.

But why do you scratch your beard so? You look weary, do you hold some hope after all? We are but tramps here. Just look at us. Our trousers, they've seen better days. These crumpled shirts, dont come too close now.

Nobody cares. Am I sad? Nah, I am quite glad it was all meaningless.

Those troubling thoughts, and cares. Wanting of things and knowledge. Nice isn't it, we came and then we're gone?

Does it even matter, if we're born again. What would you want to remember of this life? I would be just fine doing it all anew. All of it. The ignorance, the wonder of little things. The bleeding and the hurting, the questioning, and thinking. The falling ill, the feeling pain. Arrogance and humiliation. Feeling small, feeling big. Loving, rejections..

What else is really there? Till later then...
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jul 11, 2011   #23
Our trousers, they've seen better days.

Ha ha, maybe this is one of my all-time favorite sentences...

You are a mysterious one, Rajiv! Ha ha, I really don't understand this piece. You gloomed my day a little, though, so thanks a lot!

Anyway, my previous conversations with you made me aware that you share my perspective on this meaningful-meaningless ride. What is worth remembering? Certainly not my foolish antics, mistakes, or the successes that inflated my ego to the point where it encumbered me. But when I shed that conceptual gunk my person has used to build an artificial identity for the fleeting form, I'll be you again, and I'll really know your experience.

For now, I just have to sort of guess... based on your mysterious writing.

Ever gotten involved with the work of Kahlil Gibran? You remind me a little of his style.
OP Rajiv 55 / 400  
Jul 12, 2011   #24
These were my inspiring surroundings, when I joined essay-forum. The mountain range Jura in France. I lived here for just over a year.

Yes of course I've read Kahlil Gibran, 'The Prophet' . Back in the 80's it went with the Woodstock package. More recently, I found myself impatient with his style; maybe his writing effected me more than I care to acknowledge.

Sarah ( EF_Sarah) is whom I acknowledge with feeling and regard of being a mentor to me. Our dialog -- You, Sean and Simone -- took me further along the way !


  • 2008,
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jul 13, 2011   #25
I found myself impatient with his style

Ha! I think I know what you mean. Strunk and White say, "Do not affect a breezy manner."


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