Negotiating Space for Gender Equality in Mixed Marriages

Too often, a woman is undesirable starting from the time she is in the womb. She is considered to be a burden. She is born to marry. Her family and the family of her husband manipulate her. She is expected to give birth to children and suppress any desires of her own. With these historical pressures, gender roles are often accepted in a marriage without question. There is an added layer of complexity when it comes to interfaith marriage.
Rarely do partners discuss gender equality while in a marriage or before getting married. For one, there are emotions involved. Our minds may have also become passive in their ability to recognize that our social standards – may not be right. 
Generally, in a healthy relationship, interfaith or not, a partner is able to complement the other. Each partner can compensate for each other’s weaknesses. A healthy couple is able to grow and learn without cut throat negotiation.
To this day and age, to some degree, the female is the primary nurturer and the male picks up the responsibility of providing for the family. A great deal of conflict arises because of a certain family’s expectations – especially when it comes to children. 
For religious couples – it depends on how religious the partners are and how willing they are to give in to each other. 
On the other hand, for couples where religious identity is not of importance, gender equality can be more pronounced. Couples who have married interfaith may likely have a more progressive perspective. A situation is discussed and weighed in on and the agreed plan is carried out. In other words, there is a democratic process.
Getting to my own personal interfaith marriage, the support of my spouse has made all the difference. As much as I would like to tout that I was always an independent woman making decisions for myself that is not the case. I am also the product of our society's expectations. Yes, I did choose my life partner which was a daring thing to do back then and daring even now. For the most part, I was ready to accept my position as a typical "wife". It was my spouse who found it unacceptable for me to not have an opinion. This only goes to show that despite living in a modern age where there is a burden that the female carries it is pertinent that a support system is created where the female is encouraged to question traditions. As interfaith parents and role models, we can influence future generations to strive for gender equality in their adult life. The chains of patriarchy that we hold on to must be broken.


More by :  Shailaja Rao

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