South Asian men don’t have it easy. It seems like sometimes the only time you hear about South Asian men in mainstream media is when they’ve done something horribly wrong. Of course, such images as projected in mainstream media do not represent the majority of South Asian men. Most men in our community – and most men in general – are hard-working and decent people. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Chances are, if your parents are from India, you’ve grown up witnessing your mom doing the lion’s share of household duties. Maybe your mom even worked, and then came home and made food for you. I know a lot of moms that did that. They were totally devoted to their kids and made sure their kids were always well taken care of. In doing so, they sacrificed a lot. After all, they left their country of origin to come to the Great White North – if that’s not a sacrifice I don’t know what is. And basically they put whatever futures they had started in India away to come to Canada. They took care of their home, and they took care of you. And maybe that’s what you expect is going to happen when you get married – that your wife will take care of you in the same way.
… Slow down. Times have changed. Many years ago, women were expected to do household chores because it’s what the men – who generally have had the power in most societies – had decided (of course they would decide that, as it made life easier for them) – but that doesn’t mean it was right. You still see it today … watch a TV commercial for laundry detergent, mops, dish detergent, basically any products related to household chores and they are clearly geared towards women.
In our community, many women, both those that are born and raised in Canada and those from India, have been raised to think about careers outside of the home, and they may work as much (and as hard) as their spouses, and may even make more than their spouses. What this means to the men in their lives is that when they come home, they are just as tired as you are and the last thing on their minds may be to go into the kitchen and whip up a meal for you. It’s wonderful if they do, but it’s a problem if that’s what you expect. And if you really want to have a marital relationship based on love and respect, then you need to change with the times – and maybe just be thankful that you had it when you were a kid, but you’re not a kid anymore.
So what can you do, to make sure your marriage starts off on the right foot? Well, the biggest thing is don’t expect her to be like your mom when it comes to household duties. The other big thing is to figure out, either before you get married, or shortly thereafter, what duties inside and outside the house, you will have and which ones she will have. Hopefully, if both people have open minds, it will be a very productive conversation.
There are plenty of couples out there that have come to some agreements over chores – and they are generally happy couples. Some of these couples may even have an agreement where the woman is doing more of the domestic work (for example, because she’s the better cook), while the man does more of the work outside the home (such as cutting the lawn, washing the car, putting out the garbage, etc). And there are an equal number of happy couples that take turns doing different chores, or share a chore (i.e. one person makes the salad, the other the main course). The key in these examples is that both parties that make up the couple agreed on these roles, and there’s a fair distribution of household responsibilities.
Whatever you and your bride-to-be decide, remember: your mom will always have a special place in our hearts, but it’s up to you and your new wife to figure out what’s going to keep both of you happy, so that your marriage will be a successful one. Besides, whenever you want to be pampered, you can always visit mom.