Dear Auntie,

This June I will turn 28. I am a post-grad and a government servant. I earn 55K and live in a conservative joint family. I am a bachelor and have started making savings. My elder brother is married and has three children. My other two (younger) siblings are still studying. My father is a marketer and bears almost all the expenses of the house. He is bossy.

My mother and sister-in-law often quarrel on small matters. They lack tolerance (not generally, but for each other). Sometimes I act as a mediator, but often stay out of matters so as not to make things worse. My elder brother has a hot temper.

My parents want me to get married since they feel that I have a permanent job and am at the right age. What if I get married and my spouse also gets involved in the quarrels? I am very conscious of intra-family quarrels. I don’t earn enough to live separately and bear the expenses of a household. My parents are also getting older and will need extra care in the years to come.

I am very worried about my life, my marriage and family matters. Please advise.

‘I am worried about my life’

Bachelor

Dear Bachelor,

Living separately from the family will bring another set of problems, which could include a tight budget and a lack of hands required to run a household. But worrying in advance does not make problems go away. Whatever life choice you make will present its own set of anticipated and unanticipated challenges. Think ahead about potential issues and prepare accordingly.

If you decide to move out of your family home after marriage, you could opt to marry a working woman, so that you have a two-income household. This will reduce the pressure and financial burden on you and is a way of life that works for many people.

You could also start looking for a better-paying job before getting married and setting up your own home. But there is no telling when you will get that job and how diligent your spouse will be about managing money.

If you anticipate that it will be difficult to move out of the family home after marriage because of family pressure, try looking for better-paying employment in another city. This way, your wife and you will be on your own and away from family quarrels. However, I hope you realise that not being physically present is no guarantee that you will not be involved in family fights. It takes a certain mindset — and not distance — to avoid that.

In case you decide to stay with your parents after marriage, get to know potential partners before you make it official. In fact, you should do this even if you plan to move out after marriage. Discuss these issues with your potential partner during the getting-to-know phase and listen to her point of view while thinking of solutions together. This will set the ground for transparent communication and will be good for your partnership in the long run.

You come from a conservative family, but it is important that you ask your family to let you get to know your potential partner. Tell them you want to discuss practical matters with her rather than plan secret dates, if that is a concern for them.

Personally, I think a working woman who is busy in an office during the day would not have the time to pick quarrels with her in-laws. At the same time, there might be expectations of daughters-in-law helping with housework which will need to be thought through and dealt with.

Bottom line: Challenges are pretty much guaranteed, no matter what you decide.

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in crisis and/or feeling suicidal, please go to your nearest emergency room and seek medical help immediately.

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to: auntieagni@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, May 22nd, 2022

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