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By Anindita Datta Choudhury

I LOVE you just the way you are.’ Yawn! Haven’t we had an overdose of this particular line?
No matter how many times your partner coos this into your ear, there would be something
that he/she would want you to change about yourself desperately. Not just that — post-
marriage, you might undergo certain involuntary changes which could be shocking for your
partner.

A marriage certainly triggers some changes in both men and women. “We give up our
independence and our decisions are made in collaboration with our partner (and inlaws in
some cases),” says Dr Kamal Khurana, relationship expert at Purple Alley.

“Ideally we should not expect a person to change. But when we start cohabiting, our
expectations from our partner increase. And when he/she is unable to fulfil them, we feel our
partner has changed. We then want him to change back to what he was before marriage... or
for that matter, what she was,” he says.

Changes can be both positive and negative. While a Michigan State University study says
marriage makes rowdy men better-behaved, counsellors have dealt with cases where men
have become more violent towards their partner.

As far as women are concerned they undergo a lot of hormonal and emotional changes that
ultimately shape their personality. “Women expect men to fulfil their emotional needs, but
men are not wired to understand it,” says Dr Gitanjali Sharma, marriage counsellor. But
psychologist Anu Goel has come across cases where men have completely mended their
ways for their ladylove. “It is all about striking the right balance and I have seen quite a few
cases where men have made the ‘adjustments’ that women were expected to make about 10
years ago,” says Goel.

Times are changing; people are changing – after all change is the only constant. We tried to
find out about these changes men and women undergo after marriage.

EATING HABITS

What’s your favourite dish? We asked 36-year-old Archana Gupta, a housewife and pat came
the reply: “I don’t remember. I remember we used to have simple vegetarian food, but here
they eat everything,” says the strict vegetarian.

Yes, her husband and she have had arguments about why she doesn’t try non-vegetarian food.
“I did not want to compromise on this front even though, I think, I have transformed myself
completely after my marriage,” she says. Most men agree that with regard to food, it’s the
women who change their ways quite a bit. “And if she doesn’t cook that kind of food, she
generally learns how to make it and compromises on her own taste,” says Pradeep Sarkar, 29,
an insights director at a multinational company.

EXPERT SPEAK: “In India, when a woman comes into a new family after her marriage, she
is expected to satisfy her husband and in-laws. And food is the best way to do so, even if it
means compromising on her own taste,” says Gitanjali Sharma.

CAREER

As far as career is concerned, it is still the woman who has to compromise. When Gupta got
married, she wasn’t told that her inlaws didn’t want a working girl as their bahu. “I used to
run a coaching institute before marriage and was earning quite well. But mine was an
arranged marriage and I was banned from working anywhere after marriage,” she says. “I
was one of the most outgoing girls in my college and my friends would look up to me, but all
that has changed now,” she says.

Sarkar agrees with Gupta. “How many men do we know who have got themselves transferred
to a different city because the wife is transferred? I do not know any. In most cases the man is
independent of the woman and can take a career decision without even consulting his wife,”
he says.

EXPERT SPEAK: “Career-wise a woman is expected to compromise, because she is the one
who bears the child. The traditional gender roles come into play here. But with crèche
facilities and flexi-hours in most organisations, things are getting better,” says Khurana. And
yes, now men are consulting their wives on their career moves too.

LOOKING GOOD

It is said when a woman finds her soul-mate, she just gives up on her efforts to look good.

There are quite a few adjustments that women have to make voluntarily because of the family
she is moving into. No figure-hugging clothes perhaps, no short skirts or noodle straps. Even
if the husband does not mind it, your inlaws might, so you gradually give up buying clothes
you once loved.
EXPERT SPEAK: Anjanie Ramnarayan, a gender-studies scholar at the University of
Toronto says: “Women tend to ‘let go’ after marriage.

They start eating more, stop wearing make-up, and don’t dress up because they do not have
the pressure to look good or attract a male anymore.” However you would expect women to
use more make-up during the first year of the marriage. “After the first year, things get
mundane and that’s when the woman lets go.

Making efforts to look good completely goes off a woman’s ‘thingsto- do list’, especially
after she has a baby,” says Sharma and adds there are no visible differences, however, in the
physical traits of a man.

EQ

A woman who has let go of her dreams becomes emotionally stronger, says Gupta. “I can say
this from my own experience.

I was brought up in a liberal atmosphere, but my husband’s family was a complete opposite.
Dealing with my inlaws and the politics in a joint family hardened me,” says Gupta.

However, it seems, men do start behaving themselves after marriage and Varun Dixit, 27, an
IT professional, swears by it. The three notorious brothers in his neighbourhood were tamed
soon after they entered wedlock. “They were pretty aggressive and would get into fights and
arguments. Now that they are married, they have taken a complete U-turn,” he says.

EXPERT SPEAK: “When a man becomes sexually monogamous and is truly in love with a
woman, he becomes more logical and rational,” says gender studies scholar Ramnarayan.
However, Khurana presents a different perspective: “Men are not programmed to be
emotionally expressive. A man may seem to be very considerate from outside, but in reality
he may have just given up on arguing with his wife,” he says.

BUDDY TIME

The interaction level with annoying relatives – which was at sub-zero levels before marriage
– suddenly shoots up after people tie the knot and your beloved friends often take a backseat.
Devlina Dutta could not meet her gang of girls for 17 years after her marriage and when she
met them, she realised they were the next best thing after her husband. “We could still talk
about everything under the sun, without any inhibitions,” says Dutta.

If women talk, men bond over booze and sports. But they too have to keep a check on their
unrestrained freedom with the new restrictions stemming from the intertwining of two lives.

“They have to limit their buddy time and answer certain questions that were considered pretty
irksome before marriage,” says Kshitij Chawla, a biotech researcher.

EXPERT SPEAK: They are not wrong when they say marriage is all about two families and
not just two people. “Priorities change and suddenly families and relatives become more
important. You have to inform your partner if you want to meet your old pals. Your decisions
become dependent on your partner. And this holds true for both men and women.

BED BUGS

Snoring and weird sleeping postures are a major turn-off for most women. But they have
adapted to them over the years. Anshu Khurana, 35, a teacher, who comes from a family of
silent-sleepers, got the shock of her life when she entered the Khurana household.

Now after being married for 15 years, it is hard for Khurana to imagine a soundless sleep. If
women hate snores, men love their space in bed. Remember the Friends episode in which
Ross gives tips to Chandler on how to stop his girlfriend from cuddling? “Cuddling seems to
be a romantic idea, but I need my own space,” says IT professional Sandeep Kumar, 28.

EXPERT SPEAK: “Snoring and sleeping habits have always been a bone of contention, but
people do get over it within a year of the marriage. However, people who are in the habit of
nitpicking always complain about these little annoying things,” says Goel.