Hey, I’m really sorry to hear about the difficult time you’re facing.
I understand that you must be going through a lot, as you’re dealing with quite a disturbing situation. Unfortunately in our culture (I’m talking about India and Pakistan, both – as I am a Pakistani), the concept of dowry and pressurizing girls’ parents for money is an issue that isn’t shown much resistance to. Even educated and literate parents buckle under such pressures, as somehow or the other it is deeply ingrained in our psyches that girls are inevitably a “burden” and the parents must show their daughter’s husband and in-laws that they are extremely grateful and indebted to them about the fact that they have managed to somehow “accept” the girl in their family.
First of all, you must realize one thing. You cannot depend on anyone for your happiness. No one. Not your parents. Not your husband. Not your friends. You’re an educated, career-oriented girl who must realize this that every individual is responsible for his/her own happiness and whenever a situation/crisis arises, you have two options:
1. Find happiness and positivity in the present circumstances
2. Have the willpower and the mental capacity to alter the situation in a manner that allows you to be happy.
My honest and sincere advice to you is to take control of the present situation. You should be strong enough to realize that even in a marriage, “love” and “emotional dependence” aren’t the only reasons that keep it going. You’ve pointed out numerous bad qualities in the boy that you were scheduled to get married to. I’ll repeat a few of them:
1. His family wanted your family to provide them with dowry,
2. He and his family weren’t open minded enough to accept you as you are, instead were regressive enough to prohibit you from working,
3. He was dominating and controlling to the extent that he wouldn’t allow you to wear the kind of clothes you wanted to, he would want you to inform him whenever you’d want to leave your house, he would ask you to whatsapp him pictures of yourself whenever you’d be out of the house, etc.
4. He would often say offensive things to you and would treat you badly.
I’ve noted down my sincerest advice to you, please do not take offence to anything I’m about to state.
Firstly, the dowry issue is something that should have made you put your foot down. It’s an extremely demeaning custom that educated people should actively fight against and shouldn’t even give it a second thought. Aamir Khan has done an absolutely wonderful job in one episode of his show “Satyamev Jayate” that addresses the issue of dowry. I’m pasting the link here. Kindly watch this video.
Secondly, if you were raised by your parents to follow your mind (which I totally agree with), I don’t understand why you would mould yourself to fit into this boy’s regressive criteria of how he wants his wife to behave, what he want his wife to wear, whether she should work or not, etc. He shouldn’t be deciding these things for you, instead he should accept you and love you for who you are and how you want to lead your life. If he isn’t okay with how you want you to lead with your life, clearly he doesn’t love you and instead wants to change you into someone he might be able to love. If educated girls like us refuse to take a stand against this patriarchal mentality of men “controlling” their women, then there’s no difference between us and uneducated, downtrodden girls who are clearly considered by society as a burden. Don’t be blinded by your love for someone who wishes to force you to lead your life in such a regressive way. There is nothing more disrespectful than being okay with a marriage in which your husband doesn’t trust your decisions and makes them for you. And you are being disrespectful to yourself for giving in and allowing them to boss you around.
Third, all of these incidents happened before you got married. They wanted to control you and your lifestyle even though you weren’t living in their house. These are clear warning signs about how this torture would have only increased had you eventually gotten married and settled into their house. Such a marriage would have never made you happy. You wouldn’t have been able to survive in their house happily if you had to make a compromise at every step along the way.
Fourth, I would advise you to just let this situation go. Focus on your career and your growth as a person. I’m sure that later on in life, you’ll find someone who will respect you enough to love you and accept you for who you really are. Moreover, I hope next time you’re strong enough to take a stand against the issue of dowry.
Always remember one thing – you must read this carefully, as this is the most important part of my advice to you – never change for the worse for anyone. If you want, change for the better. My mother dealt with numerous psychological issues and there was a time when she was so engrossed in her clinical depression that she wouldn’t get out of bed for days. My father, who is an extremely strong willed and powerful figure, not only helped her deal with her psychological issues, but he taught her a lot about strength and dealing with challenges in life. Today, my mother is a much stronger individual, all thanks to my father’s support and his strong sense of willingness to fight his own battles, which served an inspiration and motivation for all of us to fight our battles in life instead of resorting to depression. A marriage is supposed to teach you to grow together as individuals, not change for the worse or being forced into making constant adjustments that kill your ability to respect yourself.
I hope that my advice to you hasn’t offended you in any way. I only wanted to communicate my thoughts and feelings to you honestly. I hope that you find my words helpful in some form, no matter how small the impact they have on your life and this difficult time.
I’ll pray for you and your happiness. Feel free to reply to this post and I’ll get back to you.
Mehr-un-Nisa Azad Kamaluddin