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The Wife Is Not A Maid - Article From A Marriage Therapist

Harkiran Kaur

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This is an article from a registered marriage therapist in the US but the advice doubly applies to majority of Indian couples I have seen. Most recently on another forum a member (a Singh at that) posted that if the OP of the thread went through with a marriage that he didn’t feel anything for the wife (it was arranged) at least he’d have someone to clean the house, do all the laundry, cooking, serve him and have sex without ‘having to pay’. That comment was disgusting and it shows the expectation and view many supposed Singhs have towards women in general. Is this a general Punjabi Cultural thinking? Anyway I found this article I’d like to share because it might help some to realize marriage is an equal partnership or should be.


Wifes Are Not Maids
Barrington H. Brennan
Wives are not maids - Barrington Brennen

Men, what are you looking for in women? Husbands, what are your expectations from your wives? Twelve years ago (2001) I wrote an article entitled “Lord, Please Give me a Housewife.” In that article I attempted to inform readers how terribly many wives were being treated and how unrealistic were the expectations of many husbands. Today, more than a decade later, I sadly report that far too many wives or female live-in-partners are still being treated like house maids and mere sex partners, not lovers, partners, and spouses.


Far too many fathers and grandfathers are still re-enforcing abusive, controlling, and extremely
traditional behaviors of men toward women. In addition, far to many mothers and grandmothers are still teaching their daughters that the role of the wife is to be unquestionably subjective to their partners, serve them, feed them well and give them all the sex they need, and their marriages will be happy.


I am still hearing men say that they are “looking for wives to take care of them.” I am also hearing women say that “they are looking for a man with plenty of money.” These are two expectations that when mixed with extreme traditionalism will create controlling and abusive relationships. (Look out for next week's article:“Lord, please give me a good husband”).


During courtship, many men are sweet, giving, caring, helping and compassionate. These men would literally do anything to capture the hearts of their girlfriends--even if it means cooking, washing, and cleaning the house. After the wedding bells would have ringed and the honeymoon would have ended the husband’s true colors begin to show themselves. Within a few months to two years after the wedding day the wife discovers that her husband is really not that sweet, caring person she first met. Although he would come home from work hours ahead of her he refuses to prepare meals, wash dishes, and clean the house. Instead, he relaxes in the arm chair half a sleep while watching television. When she arrives home from work, even if it is very late, he demands attention and to be served his freshly-made evening meals. How unreasonable! It is an unreasonable expectation. This is the kind of expectation that can cause serious martial discord in early marriages. Why? Because it is one partner treating the other like a servant or slave. It is making the wife feel as though she is her husband’s property, thus devaluing her meaning and purpose in life.


THE WIFE I WANT

Let me share a few lines from the article wrote twelve years ago where a husband describes the kind of wife he wants (It was published by Judy Syfers in the book "I Want a Wife"): Here it is:

(Harkiran Note: Let me interject for a moment... does the following expectation sound familiar Singhs??? While I see nothing wrong with a wife preparing Chai and snacks for a husband and his friends who have come over and have seen it many many times in India including Punjabi families
, why is it when if the wife’s friends come over, it’s STILL the wife who prepares and serves the tea and snacks?? Why can’t the husband since she is occupied with her friends? Is it considered demeaning for a male to serve a female? If so please think why and does it fit with Gurmat thinking? Ok please continue reading)

“I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by friends, I want a wife who will take care of babysitting arrangements. When I meet people at school who I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about the things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself. . . . I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, and a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied . . .I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.”

In marriage seminars and therapy sessions, I constantly remained both men and women that they both have equal responsibility to govern and manage the home—every aspect of it. Together they should decide, based on talent, not gender, the different tasks they would do in the home. Note carefully however, that if it is mutual agreement that the wife remains at home to provide care and nurture for their growing little children, it does not absolve the responsibilities of the husbands to be involved in nurture or household duties. Some men think that staying at home to care for the children and manage the home is easy work. The often do not understand the awesome task of homemaking. Thus they refuse to participate in household duties.

“LORD, MAKE ME THE WIFE”

Here is a fable of a husband and wife who had three little energetic boys not yet old enough for school. The husband worked outside the home and the wife as a full-time homemaker (home and family engineer). The wife constantly requested for her husband to participate in taking care of the children when he gets home form work and do certain household chores. He would say that he was working very hard on the job so when he comes home he needed relaxation and peace. He said “He should not have to work at home and on the job.” He would say that his job was much harder than she was doing therefore she should be glad she is at home doing “very little.” After months of the wife’s complaints, and annoying the husband, he decided to do something about it. He fell on his knees and prayed to God to help him show his wife that his work is hard and her work is easy. He asked the Lord to make him the wife and make her the husband for just one week. He was sure that by the end of the week his wife would appreciate how hard he worked. So the Lord granted the request. The wife took the place of the husband on his job and the husband stayed at home.

The first day for the wife on the job went well. She was already use to managing and multitasking. It was easy and productive. Her colleagues were amazed with her performance. For the husband, by the end of the first day he was beginning to become frustrated. The demands from each of the boys, the noise, phone calls, rush to the store, stomach aches, cries, screams, cooking, etc. It was frustrating. By the end of the third day while his wife (disguised as the husband) was doing very well on the job, he could not go on any longer as the wife. It was far too demanding, energy depleting, and frustrating. It required too much of him. He wanted out.


So he went on his knees to the Lord. He said “Lord, I cannot wait to the end of the week. The
work is too hard. I now respect the work my wife is doing. I would now participate and do what I suppose to do when I get home. Please Lord, I cannot go to the end of the week. Turn me back to the husband before the week in completed.” The Lord said “I hope you learned your lesson. I can turn you back now, but it will not be wise. It’s too late” “Why, Lord?” The husband responded. The Lord said “because you are pregnant and that’s going to take nine months and then another four to six months of breast feeding” Then the husband screamed loudly.


Of course this is not a true story, but it does make a point. Husbands, your wives are not your maids. If you need a maid you can look in the Classified Adds and heir one. She is not required to serve you like a waiter in a hotel and you never do the same for her. Honor your wife and start sharing in all family and house-hold duties. Remember, when you are cleaning the dishes or clean the house, you are not “helping” your wife. You are actually doing what you suppose to do. She is your equal partner.




Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002
 

Harry Haller

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Jan 31, 2011
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This is an article from a registered marriage therapist in the US but the advice doubly applies to majority of Indian couples I have seen. Most recently on another forum a member (a Singh at that) posted that if the OP of the thread went through with a marriage that he didn’t feel anything for the wife (it was arranged) at least he’d have someone to clean the house, do all the laundry, cooking, serve him and have sex without ‘having to pay’. That comment was disgusting and it shows the expectation and view many supposed Singhs have towards women in general. Is this a general Punjabi Cultural thinking? Anyway I found this article I’d like to share because it might help some to realize marriage is an equal partnership or should be.
hahah I read the same post, on the same forum, but what did you expect?

Men, what are you looking for in women? Husbands, what are your expectations from your wives? Twelve years ago (2001) I wrote an article entitled “Lord, Please Give me a Housewife.” In that article I attempted to inform readers how terribly many wives were being treated and how unrealistic were the expectations of many husbands. Today, more than a decade later, I sadly report that far too many wives or female live-in-partners are still being treated like house maids and mere sex partners, not lovers, partners, and spouses.
uhm its not that one sided, let us not get into the 'men are all shits' and 'women are all brilliant' trap, both sexes exhibit equally disgusting behaviour, it is not a man monopoly

I am still hearing men say that they are “looking for wives to take care of them.” I am also hearing women say that “they are looking for a man with plenty of money.” These are two expectations that when mixed with extreme traditionalism will create controlling and abusive relationships. (Look out for next week's article:“Lord, please give me a good husband”).
yup lets have some balance

During courtship, many men are sweet, giving, caring, helping and compassionate. These men would literally do anything to capture the hearts of their girlfriends--even if it means cooking, washing, and cleaning the house. After the wedding bells would have ringed and the honeymoon would have ended the husband’s true colors begin to show themselves. Within a few months to two years after the wedding day the wife discovers that her husband is really not that sweet, caring person she first met. Although he would come home from work hours ahead of her he refuses to prepare meals, wash dishes, and clean the house. Instead, he relaxes in the arm chair half a sleep while watching television. When she arrives home from work, even if it is very late, he demands attention and to be served his freshly-made evening meals. How unreasonable! It is an unreasonable expectation. This is the kind of expectation that can cause serious martial discord in early marriages. Why? Because it is one partner treating the other like a servant or slave. It is making the wife feel as though she is her husband’s property, thus devaluing her meaning and purpose in life.
sorry, but my own experiences are that this can happen in reverse, it is not a given that only women suffer this fate, do you battle only for subdued wives or subdued people regardless of gender? I am feeling a bit left out, who battles for men like me?

(Harkiran Note: Let me interject for a moment... does the following expectation sound familiar Singhs??? While I see nothing wrong with a wife preparing Chai and snacks for a husband and his friends who have come over and have seen it many many times in India including Punjabi families, why is it when if the wife’s friends come over, it’s STILL the wife who prepares and serves the tea and snacks?? Why can’t the husband since she is occupied with her friends? Is it considered demeaning for a male to serve a female? If so please think why and does it fit with Gurmat thinking? Ok please continue reading)
my own parents are nothing like this, its my dad that prepares the teas and the snacks, my mum chats, or sometimes she does, and my dad chats, not all couples operate like this, I am sure others have similar experiences, our own Tejwant Singh is quite a modern Sikh man, although I cannot speak for the old men with white beards,

“I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life. When my wife and I are invited out by friends, I want a wife who will take care of babysitting arrangements. When I meet people at school who I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about the things that interest me and my friends. I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us. And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night out by myself. . . . I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, and a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied . . .I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.”
I see nothing wrong with the above, they are the words of a complete and utter tosser, I feel, however for anyone that reads this and thinks its normal, does anyone actually read this and think this is normal?

In marriage seminars and therapy sessions, I constantly remained both men and women that they both have equal responsibility to govern and manage the home—every aspect of it. Together they should decide, based on talent, not gender, the different tasks they would do in the home. Note carefully however, that if it is mutual agreement that the wife remains at home to provide care and nurture for their growing little children, it does not absolve the responsibilities of the husbands to be involved in nurture or household duties. Some men think that staying at home to care for the children and manage the home is easy work. The often do not understand the awesome task of homemaking. Thus they refuse to participate in household duties.
most young couples are going this way, Sikh and non Sikh, I think you are commenting on old news, dying news, the past.

Of course this is not a true story, but it does make a point. Husbands, your wives are not your maids. If you need a maid you can look in the Classified Adds and heir one. She is not required to serve you like a waiter in a hotel and you never do the same for her. Honor your wife and start sharing in all family and house-hold duties. Remember, when you are cleaning the dishes or clean the house, you are not “helping” your wife. You are actually doing what you suppose to do. She is your equal partner.
Your preaching to the stupid here, no one with any intelligence would behave in this manner, I would be interested to know if anyone on this forum actually lives like this? you would probably be better off posting this on the forum concerned.
 

Harkiran Kaur

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Harry Ji, unfortunately this IS the reality of many wives in India. Even when couples both work full time it’s usually the wife responsible for the lions share of housework and cooking. Unless of course they can afford domestic help. Which I have to admit many Sikh homes well off do have domestic help.
Yes I advocate for anyone who is downtrodden and the same counsellor is doing an article on the opposite next week (I think aimed at the women who look for rich husbands for money or marry for status). Neither is good. In fact I hate gold diggers.

I’ll post that article as well. Because it also applies to India I think. Men need to get away from thinking of a wife as a personal unpaid maid, and women need to get away from thinking of men as a bank with unlimited interest free withdrawals.

Easy if both work, both pitch in the housework. The couple can figure out what each person is best at based on their own preferences and skills (not gender). I have no issues if a woman decides to be a ‘housewife’ either but that doesn’t preclude a man from making tea or serving her guests. Or even pitching in cooking since likely she was more busy (physically) than he was all day especially with kids. Same goes in reverse if the man stays home... not so common in India but getting more common in the west if the wife makes more and they have kids.
 

Harry Haller

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Jan 31, 2011
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Harry Ji, unfortunately this IS the reality of many wives in India. Even when couples both work full time it’s usually the wife responsible for the lions share of housework and cooking. Unless of course they can afford domestic help. Which I have to admit many Sikh homes well off do have domestic help.
Yes I advocate for anyone who is downtrodden and the same counsellor is doing an article on the opposite next week (I think aimed at the women who look for rich husbands for money or marry for status). Neither is good. In fact I hate gold diggers.

I’ll post that article as well. Because it also applies to India I think. Men need to get away from thinking of a wife as a personal unpaid maid, and women need to get away from thinking of men as a bank with unlimited interest free withdrawals.

Easy if both work, both pitch in the housework. The couple can figure out what each person is best at based on their own preferences and skills (not gender). I have no issues if a woman decides to be a ‘housewife’ either but that doesn’t preclude a man from making tea or serving her guests. Or even pitching in cooking since likely she was more busy (physically) than he was all day especially with kids. Same goes in reverse if the man stays home... not so common in India but getting more common in the west if the wife makes more and they have kids.
and next week, how to obtain world peace in 2 weeks!

I admire your sentiments, I really do, and I admire the way that change will only come about thanks to people like yourself, but to me its a bit like saying to someone stupid, hey don't act stupid, and them saying uhm ok I won't.

Any man who treats his wife like that, is pig stupid, and any wife who sees her husband like that is the same, the only way these people learn is when society says such and such is bad or such and such is good, and then they listen willingly, logic and wisdom have little place in tradition,
 

Inderjeet Kaur

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Any man who treats his wife like that, is pig stupid, and any wife who sees her husband like that is the same, the only way these people learn is when society says such and such is bad or such and such is good, and then they listen willingly, logic and wisdom have little place in tradition,
Actually, pigs are very intelligent, the animals, I mean.

And society will only say "such and such is bad or such and such is good," when they have listened willingly because "logic and wisdom have little place in tradition." It's the chicken and the egg. Each must precede the other.

And neither can be first.
 

Tavleen.Kaur

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Aug 13, 2018
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This is exactly what I have and I am going through. I've been brought up and born in Canada. I see marriage as a way for both, the husband and wife to work cordially so the end result is good. My husband said many of the such things mentioned in the article and once married his true colors came to be. I became resentful, angry and hurt all the time. Have been married for 3 years and my married life is miserable. I have on many occasions tried to explain to my husband but he doesn't want to understand.
 

Sikhilove

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May 12, 2016
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This is exactly what I have and I am going through. I've been brought up and born in Canada. I see marriage as a way for both, the husband and wife to work cordially so the end result is good. My husband said many of the such things mentioned in the article and once married his true colors came to be. I became resentful, angry and hurt all the time. Have been married for 3 years and my married life is miserable. I have on many occasions tried to explain to my husband but he doesn't want to understand.
It's mad how western born Punjabis can act in this way. In the case of the men in my family, its behavior that's been
Taught by my father, cousins and uncles and by my mother and the women in my families enablement.

Many British born Punjabi men I know of my generation in England are culturally backwards. The parents, in laws, cousins etc have an impact on their thinking but ulitmately the choice is theirs.

I have seen many women my age (early thirties) who are married to British born Punjabi men being abused, beaten, cheated on, forced to wait on their husbands hand and foot etc. I myself have suffered violence at the hands of a male family member.

Of course, women can do the same and ive seen that aswell. From personal experience I have mainly seen this behavior from males. I'm sure that spreading awareness on these issues could only be a good thing, even if it changes one male or females perspective.

Travelling to different countries, I have met many women from different cultures who experience similar behavior from their boyfriends and spouses--particularly African and Arab cultures. I've also seen men treated badly and dominated by their spouses. This is all not just Punjabi specific.
 
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Tavleen.Kaur

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Aug 13, 2018
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I certainly agree with you, it isn't only our men ( Indian) rather men on the whole. I would say it depends on their upbringing. Their mothers cater to their every need. Only if they can be taught that a wife, sister or mother or in fact a women as a whole isn't someone who is just their to make their food, wash clothes and other house related things. I'm sure then and only then they will grow up to be lads that will help their wives. Our society has made these taboos that a woman is only meant for the kitchen is ridiculous even for today's day and age. I for sure will teach my son what equality is important and hope that other women do the same.

In today's world I feel as if a woman is another woman's worst enemy. LOL!

Thanks for your insight!
 

Sikhilove

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May 12, 2016
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I certainly agree with you, it isn't only our men ( Indian) rather men on the whole. I would say it depends on their upbringing. Their mothers cater to their every need. Only if they can be taught that a wife, sister or mother or in fact a women as a whole isn't someone who is just their to make their food, wash clothes and other house related things. I'm sure then and only then they will grow up to be lads that will help their wives. Our society has made these taboos that a woman is only meant for the kitchen is ridiculous even for today's day and age. I for sure will teach my son what equality is important and hope that other women do the same.

In today's world I feel as if a woman is another woman's worst enemy. LOL!

Thanks for your insight!
It depends. A mother can teach their child everything the right way and the child can rebel. Or everything the wrong way and the child can rebel against that. Ultimately it's up to the child to choose how they'll live life. If they want to live as a sexist then that's how they'll live.

But if u do your part right as a mother, at least there's the chance it'll stick.

I'm glad I went through what I did or I'd still be stuck in the pits of brown culture. I also no longer see Indians as My people. Culture is an illusion- were all the same really.

Just today I read a job advert from where I currently reside. It was posted by an Arab male saying he needs a secretary who is single so she has no issues travelling and who is 'very good looking'. Women in the Arab world can be treated like pieces of meat in the workplace, not taken seriously, sexually harassed and blackmailed by colleagues with no consequence and even raped. Insane how far sexism can go if tolerated enough. It can escalate and become very dangerous.

Regarding your situation, I'm sure that seeing a counseller would help if you're open to seeing one. They'll be able to give you professional advice. Good luck.
 
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