No Gender War Please


Gender bias exists. It is very much a truth. However, it is imperative that

this should not disturb the harmony of a family. Men and women have

certain distinct traits, characteristic reactions, differences in thoughts and

actions. It is important for a couple to recognise these differences, work

towards a compromise and to weave their disparate schools of thoughts

into a single, synchronised fabric of a balanced family life.

Men and women are brought up with different ways of thinking. This

becomes obvious within all their interactions, and is, in fact, essential for

their conjugal life. As a concept, this is very healthy, as it keeps the sense

of vitality, logic and balance alive in their judgements and responsibilities.

However, if the balance starts shifting to either side, and instead of being

complementary, it turns confrontational, it will also begin to affect the child

adversely. Petty quarrels between spouses are not a matter of grave concern.

In fact, they add value. Small arguments are inevitable in a relationship;

they help in clearing the air, making your views known to your spouse, and

keeping your mind fresh and uncluttered. As the problems come, so, too, do

the solutions. However, when these arguments become personal, and start

being used as tools for vengeance and bitter insults, rather than opportunities

to find solutions, then you begin to cross a dangerous line.

For a Husband

In the Indian set-up, when a woman marries her husband and comes to

live in his family’s house, she initially gets exposed to a “convention-shock”.

The social and family structure in her new settings might be completely

different from the environment that she has been raised in, and her inability

to come to terms with this new milieu, gives rise to this convention-shock.

Here, it is important for the husband to play a responsible and patient role to

resolve the conflicts and help her adjust in this entirely new, and somewhat

alien, world. However, without offering any help in these difficult times,

if the husband expects his wife to reconcile immediately the differences

between her two separate worlds, it will lead to a degradation of their

relationship and result in creating a chaotic family environment.

It may be generally true that often husbands still regard their wives as

incompetent and intellectually inferior, and the latter’s suggestions are often

seen as irrelevant and thus ignored. It is in such prejudiced atmospheres

that arguments scale up to extreme forms of violence e.g. domestic violence

which merits criminal action against the guilty. Children, rarely having a say

in these matters, end up as innocent victims of this adult apathy.

A family requires a head with a flexible personality, and this role

traditionally belongs to a father, especially in the Asian family set-up. To

be fair, men often have to encounter a different set of problems from their

female counterparts, be it financial or otherwise. This does upset their

composure, putting them under a lot of strain, and thereby often making

them sacrifice psychological needs of greater significance. Again, this

eventually establishes a permanent friction in their family life, emerging as

it usually does even from petty differences. These problems get accentuated

and assume alarming proportion over a period of time; gradually, leaving a

profound impact on the offspring—a setback that remains throughout the


Husband’s inflated egos, which keep them from losing ground, or

expressing their vulnerabilities to their family, make them look out for a

different set of people to vent their emotions on to satisfy their own needs.

This new company of friends acts as a barrier to greater intimacy with the

family, and again distances them from their children. This new, parallel life

may not be accepted by your children, who require emotional closeness with

their father to develop their own self-esteem and balanced perspectives.

It is natural and human for people to be a little rigid in their thoughts

and perceptions. However, an excessive amount of this rigidity turns you

into an authoritarian person, who cannot tolerate changes and will go to

extreme lengths to prevent his viewpoint from being challenged. For most

men, flexibility, sadly, means playing second fiddle to their wives, which

is perceived as emasculating and demeaning. This bloated male ego is

frequently a factor in situations and eventualities which end up ruining the

atmosphere of a family.

8Watching these ego-clashes and often one-sided arguments has a huge

subconscious effect on children and leaves them helpless in their search

for a resolution to the overbearing problems. The vulnerable child is now

exposed to the risk of developing negative and confused views towards

life—a direct consequence of his parents’ conflicting tenets of life.

In patriarchal families, the male is the unquestionable head, with

women being pushed to a weaker and inferior position. The father develops

the habit of taking out all his angst and frustrations, built up inside him

due to everyday anxieties, on his family. The stern tone of authority in his

voice is ostensibly to create an aura of fear around him, and establish his

dominance over the other members of the family. In such families, wives,

annoyed by their husbands’ inexorable and forceful nature, frequently

begin sharing their misgivings with their increasingly fearful and oppressed

children. Thus, the victims of the father’s authoritarian traits create their own

closed group, suitably cutting off the father from it. The father, unable to

comprehend this anomaly, ends up becoming even more frustrated, and the

difference between the spouses continues to grow day by day, adding fuel to

the fire. Ultimately, it is the fathers who become the sole sufferers of their

own inflexibilities, often leaving their desperate family behind.

For a wife

Through centuries of oppression and subjugation of women, there

has been an attempt to subconsciously implant in the mind of women their

physical and intellectual inferiority with respect to men. However, times

have changed very rapidly, undoing a lot of the evil of the past centuries.

In the modern age, an overwhelming majority of the female mindset has

undergone a radical change, leading to an era of woman’s independence and

empowerment. Today, it is imperative for women to realise the importance

of this intellectual liberty, and the pitfalls of falling into the age-old traps of

male domination, which only serves to show women’s inadequacies. Falling

prey to this trap further devalues your existence and worth in your husband’s

eyes. This has to be avoided at all costs. Women mature earlier than men,

and become even more dignified after marriage. As a woman, it is your

right and, in fact, your responsibility to stand up for equality in terms of

respect, opinions and values in your family. Your child especially wants and

needs to see you as a free-thinking, independent individual. It strengthens

his level of confidence and re-establishes his faith in the whole system of

the family. However, as with everything in life, even the opposite extreme

can be harmful. You have to be extremely cautious not to misuse this liberty.

Your independence will always give you ample opportunities to exploit such

situations to your benefit, by dealing with your child’s problems without your

husband’s interference. However, be warned, this will have an extremely

polarising effect on your family, and is as much an evil as is subservience.

It is essential that both parents have an equal say in matters relating to the

family, especially your children. You should discuss these issues with your

spouse in a calm and dispassionate way and any decision you take should

be finally based on the consensus of both parents. Remember, equality is for


A female’s most common trait is to be nagging. She nags out of anxiety.

She easily gets depressed. After childbirth, she becomes more concerned

about her child than her husband. Husbands, generally, are unaware of

this sensitive issue and may take it as a personal insult. Express it with a

good grace. Babbling often creates a vacuum or brings a storm between the


A large number of wives’ woes relate to their husbands’ indifferent

attitude towards them due to their opacity.

When you discover the reason of his being not transparent you will

be able to break the ice between the two of you. You will be a successful

and happy partner if you equate/identify some of your husband’s childlike

characteristics wisely… A husband’s tantrum should not be taken so

seriously. Unfortunately, wives take it like a prestige-issue and become

intolerant. Husband and wife start insulting and ignoring each other which

may take a grim turn.

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