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By you desk
Tue, 02, 20

My husband has two older married brothers and their wives started complaining that I was not doing any work...

Dear Nadine,

I am a married woman, and I have three children. My youngest child is now 7 years old. Since his schooling started, I feel bored as I have a lot of time with hardly anything to do. I got married 14 years ago. I am a doctor and had been practicing for only five month when my father accepted the proposal of his son’s friend. My husband is well educated and at a high position now in a multi-national. He had no problem with me working, but the same was not the case with his family. My husband has two older married brothers and their wives started complaining that I was not doing any work, and they were the ones who were cooking. My mother-in-law told me that I would have to do my ‘turn’ and cook for the family. My hours were long as I was a junior RMO then, so I suggested hiring a cook and offered to pay his wages. But the whole family vetoed me and my mother-in-law said that in their family it is simply not done. She said just because I am a doctor, I cannot be excused, and must cook like her other daughters-in-law. The pressure mounted after my son was born and I had to quit working. My husband consoled me and said that I could start working once our son started his schooling, but then I had a daughter and another son, and had to forget about working.

With the passage of time, I have seen how hypocritical people can be. My sister-in-law, the person who was most vocal in my opposition, doesn’t mind her own married daughter, J, working. J lives in joint family, too, and works full time. She has hired a nanny for her kids and a maid to do her ‘turn’. My other sister-in-law has also hired a maid and her excuse is that she is now tired and cannot manage to do so much work! I am the one who had to sacrifice my career because in my husband’s family hiring cooks was simply not acceptable. I feel frustrated and deceived. Why did they have totally different rules for me? I feel like shouting at them all, including my husband. He didn’t stand up for me. He was supportive and helpful but never once told his mom to relax her rules. What should I do?

Deceived Doctor

Dear Deceived Doctor,

It’s a strange trend in our society; getting doctor bahus and then making it impossible for them to practice medicine. Then, we hear boys complaining that girls waste their seats but as husbands they don’t let their wives practice. My dear, you are not alone; God knows how many doctors sit at home after getting married. What has happened cannot be undone. Shouting at your sisters-in-law will not achieve anything. However, what you can do is talk to your husband and tell him that since all your children are school going, you would like to start working. I know of a case where a lady doctor did exactly that. She did some courses and initially assisted some senior doctor. Now she is running her own clinic. You will have to work extra hard to make up for the lost time, along with looking after your children. But, at least, no one would tell you that you cannot hire a maid. As for J, well, it’s not your sister-in-law because of whom she is working full time. It’s her reasonable in-laws who did not demand that she stayed at home and work. Just because you got a bad deal does not mean that others should also suffer. Besides, situations keep changing. The sister-in-law who says she is tired and cannot manage has a point, too. Throughout her life she did work hard but now she is probably older and doesn’t have the same energy level. Having said that, one should not just stop working because one doesn’t have to; it’s is better to remain engaged in work or other activities for health reasons. The women who simply sit and watch TV do not really fare well health wise. But that is something no one needs to tell you, as you are a doctor. So, instead of trying to take out your frustration on your husband or torturing yourself about the fact that J is working, start doing what you want! Good luck!

Problems that need a solution? You can e mail Prof. Nadine Khan at [email protected]

Write to Prof. Nadine Khan, ­c/o Editor ‘You!’ magazine, The News, Al-Rehman Building (4th Floor) I.I Chundrigar Road, Karachi.