In my family, women were always taught to tolerate things- and it’s a common thing you hear in a majority of South Asian households. It doesn’t matter if someone is catcalling you or your husband is beating you, you just tolerate it.
The men are always right, and you just did something wrong. If you cover up more, then maybe they won’t catcall you. And maybe if you get him his meal on time, then he won’t hit you.
My aunts would tell me that a marriage is full of compromises, but they don’t know what compromise is. They give things up and their husbands gain. There’s never really a common ground being found.
Me being a millennial, I couldn’t even imagine sticking around with someone emotionally abusive, let alone physically. I’ve always been this outspoken girl who never let anyone turn down the volume on her voice.
This would always cause my aunts to say “you’ll never be able to keep a man this way” or “how do you expect a marriage to work if you can’t come to compromises” or “you have to learn to tolerate things, Shanila.”
What they still don’t realize, is that a compromise isn’t giving up things so that your spouse can be happy, it’s both of you giving up something so that both of you can be happy. And tolerating these toxic behaviors only encourages them even more.
For a long time, the things they said stuck with me. I thought that I wouldn’t find anybody because of how strong minded I am, and my refusal to tolerate any kind of abuse. And it never really bothered me, because I was true to who I am and respected myself enough to value my mental health. But about three years ago, I realized that I shouldn’t feel like I need to lose a bit of myself to be with someone; they should respect who I am.
It’s now time that South Asian families start teaching women to value their mental health. It’s now time for them to teach women it’s okay to put themselves first. It’s now time for them to teach women that they don’t have to tolerate abusive husbands, whether it be emotional or physical. It’s time for women to feel like they don’t have to tolerate things just because that’s what’s expected of them. It’s now time for women to accept that they are humans beings who deserve to be valued.