Why the known devils?

Why the known devils?

Some men don’t leave any stone unturned in putting their wives down. She is the butt of all his jokes both in private and public. Yet, why do these women continue to suffer in silence? wonders Deepa Ballal.

One of my friends chose “the known devil rather than an unknown angel”. Despite finding a caring friend and companion in her colleague, she decided to stick to her demoralising husband.
Ever wondered why known devils are preferred over unknown angels? Sounds a little strange, but that’s a theory that many women apply to save their marriages and, almost blindly, believe is the formula for a successful married life. Does that mean it’s a happy one? Not necessarily...

 When stories of how a couple broke up spread like wild fire, passing judgement becomes commonplace and easy. Truth is, a marriage ending in a divorce doesn't necessarily mean the couple hate each other, and a sustaining marriage does not essentially mean all is well. But what conspires between a couple is best known by none other than the couple themselves.

Like it or not, most marriages reach a stage, wherein love isn’t the main ingredient. When the dawn breaks, you don’t seek to be showered with kisses, but a helping hand, a caring soul. 

Sure, everyone yearns for love in marriage, but does love alone suffice? “I don’t lack love, I need respect,” says a determined Sridevi, to her niece, in the movie English Vinglish.

Even the French writer and philospher, Michel de Montaigne once said, “If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love”.

When husbands get physically abusive one has the moral ground to knock the doors of the law. There are bruises, scars and much more tell-tale signs. But what happens when husbands get verbally abusive? When their mockery and bursts of temper are all aimed at their wives? Some men don’t leave any stone unturned in putting their wives down. Others manage to turn every boulder in the vicinity, shattering their wives’ moral frame in no time.

Topics may range from the wife's weight to her glasses, her family background to her culinary skills, her job to her decisions. She is the butt of all his jokes, in every situation, both private and public.  Naturally, the scars the wife suffers are deep, but invisible. “I was shocked to see my friend's husband mocking at her wearing glasses when she was unable to locate the candles on their child's birthday, and all she did was laugh it off,” says a nonplussed Megha Nakul. And that is what most women end up doing - not make a big deal out of it; some refuse to even acknowledge the issue; eventually, they get used to it.  

Are we, for no reason, reading too much, and too many times, between the lines? Could we categorise Megha’s example as ‘men’s sense of humour’? Or was the husband really being obnoxiously sarcastic?

Intrigued, but confused, many of us settle for simple solutions, the first of which is to cease further pondering or probing! Most women would rather wish away the ugly reality of their marriage than rock the marital boat. It is this pursuit for (unfair) equilibrium that corrodes one from within; many don't even realise this, while many others simply choose to suffer in silence, for years together.

Of course, the perpetrator needn’t always be the husband. Taunts may come from outsiders, too. “My father-in-law holds working women in high regard, and thinks very little of homemakers. And since I fall in the latter category, I was never sought to give any opinion. And if at all I did give an opinion, comments like Your brains still work would boil my blood. So, I simply stopped conversing with him.

 There is no point talking to people who look for avenues to degrade you,” maintains Sushmitha Upendra.
 “I should have put my foot down initially; I really regret it,” accepts sexagenarian Sharmila Rao, another victim of verbal abuse. She is, but, among the very few who alteast have the courage to voice their views now.

We may think ‘better late than never’, but at what cost? All those prime years spent in self doubt... will they come back? Isn’t it too much of a price to pay for a make-believe relationship, where one’s true worth isn’t really acknowledged? “Whatever happens to us, we ought to see if we too were part of it in some way,” says Roop Rai. True that. Only with self responsibility comes the transformation from being a doormat to a self-respecting individual.

Bullying, in a relationship, could be nipped at the bud or let to blossom into a pungent gigantic flower. One needs the strength to say, “This is not acceptable!” Playing the victim garners sympathy, but being the fighter strengthens one from within. Marriage is, after all, a battlefield of sorts, where communication is the primordial weapon, and love, respect and gratitude the essential ammunition. 

So, if ever your little daughter stands upto your yelling, for a change, stop to ponder. Why were you verbally abusing in the first place? Wasn't there a better way to handle the matter? And thank your stars, for your toddler has mustered the strength to say ‘no’! A tool she may lose, in the years to come... 

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