‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’

Sharing an email.

“Getting married in 2 weeks and scared to Death (Love Marriage)”

Hi Indianhomemaker,

Let me confess. I knew nothing about your blog about 15 mins ago. I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India. (Yes some may think I am foolish but trust me I’m scared). Just 15 mins back I read one of your posts in the blog. was about how someone seperated from her in laws family is actually feeling at home. I was in love with that email.

Anyways, I am getting married in next 2 weeks with this guy I met last year in office. Ours is a love marriage. I love him a lot. and he too. I am not boasting but he is very good to me. very caring. More than what I am for him. We have never had any issues between us like money, freedom, continuing with job, modern lifestyle ec. We are always on the same page. He is all what I have wished for. He works in the US and I will be going with him in few weeks after marriage to US. Currently he is in india. he has taken leave for marriage.

Now the problem is, his family seems a bit traditional type. Ours is an inter-caste marriage. My family is a very outgoing modern big-city family. And my husband is from a smaller city in another state.

I have only spoken to them over phone Our parents have met personally and as per my mother they are pretty decent, soft spoken etc.

While they are good over the phone and all, I always get worried that how will I adjust in a different city with altogether different customs. My fiancee never calls me from his home. He says many people are around (too many elders in the family. He is the youngest of siblings). Although I never fight over this I always wonder will he be aloof from me when I go there. Will we never get to talk freely in our home? Will we get our space only in 4 closed walls of our bedroom. This thought actualy scares me.

While the above mentioned is not a big worry for me. What I have learned in past few months is that his bhabhi (elder brother’s wife) is a very conservative, homely , housewife. Their’s was arranged marriage of course. She is the one who cooks all the food. In charge of the kitchen. Now I am worried because I frankly, never cooked at home, I know a few simple dishes, can cut veggies but not really fond of entire 3 course meal cooking. I am ready to learn but I am scared. What if they expect me to come all prepared like their elder bahu? What if I get to hear taunts like “itna bhi nahi seekha“. Honestly, I am a very adjusting girl. I can readily learn stuff from elders. No problem in that. But I’m a bit short tempered. I cannot really bear taunts and accusations like that. How am I going to handle these situations? I don’t want to be a problem and a cause of embarrasment to my loving fiancé (husband in future).

My only big stress is that I am from a completely different upbringing. I am not one of those Hi-Fi city girls. but then, I am also not the household work kind of indian TV soap bahu. Hope you know what I mean. Hence I am worried about adjusting. I can learn and help my in laws. But I need my freedom too. I know reality is very different from what we want and wish! I love wearing punjabi suits. But cringe with the idea of wearing sarees all the time. (they love sarrees :( )… I want to wear my jeans too. Will wear it with a long kurta yaar. But atleast won’t have to part with it altogther. :(

Please say something positive that atleast I survive for 2 weeks with my in laws family. After that mostly I will go with my husband to US. but in-laws , as they say, are forever. wherever you go. I hate rejection. I will be very sad and depressed if my in laws don’t like me at all. I want their love. because I know that will make my husband happy too.

In response to my email: 

About your questions now,

1. No his parents did not ask about my cooking skills when our parents met.

2. I have talked to my fiancee about all my fears . As I said he is very understanding (listens to me atleast). He said he is OK with what I am. The way I see him, he always wanted a modern girl.

One thing came across my mind after reading some emails on your blog – Should I talk to my finance about Nuclear family/ Joint family? His home is crowded all the time. 4 people stay at his home but including chacha , aunts, cousins its always 10 people. This isn’t a big problem if all are nice but there is certainly no privacy there which he himself told me! Moreover, so many ladies in one house. OMG!! I have stayed in joint family when I was young and I have seen what my Mom and aunt went through. After we separated (took 15 yrs) they both started loving and understanding each other. Just an example!!

I never discussed about this with him because I was of the opinion that since there is no IT companies in his city. (We both work in IT). There is less possibility that we will stay with my in-laws after marriage. Was I wrong in assuming this? If yes, when should I talk to him about this? Would he feel offended if I discuss about this?

He himself likes his freedom from what I know of him. But may be he has different plans for future.

Some more emails:

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

“Leaving US is a tough decision and, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me.”

“A 28 year old, independent woman who dreams big does not really fit the definition of an ideal Indian DIL.”

“I seem to have a lot of similarities with the villainous daughters in law of India’s favourite serials.”

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23 thoughts on “‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’

  1. From what I understand of your situation, you have to live with your in-laws for two weeks after your wedding, and then you and your husband will move out and set up an independent home somewhere. You are apprehensive about that period of time and how you will fit into a relatively traditional household. Some might say two weeks is not that long (in the big scheme of things where women face living with their in-laws forever, it isn’t), yet I understand because I dread any stay at my in-law’s place that lasts more than five days. Nevertheless, I don’t think there’s any need to be to scared about two weeks, even if the idea of those two weeks doesn’t thrill you.

    By the way, my husband’s family is fairly traditional and I am not. My sisters-in-law are not traditional but they do follow some traditional patterns in their family. As I see it, your options are:

    1. Be entirely yourself and let them get to know the real you and deal with it.
    2. Be a little more traditional than you normally would be but don’t try to morph into the traditional sister-in-law.
    3. Try to completely fit into their way of doing things.

    I am completely against option 3 because it is unsustainable and it sets up expectations that you will find yourself struggling to meet.

    I myself experimented with option 1 but it was a failure. The “real me” was too much for my in-laws and while I could have disregarded their feelings, I didn’t want to deal with the unpleasantness. So I now do option 2, which is try to do some things that would please them but which don’t make me feel like I’m playing some tiresome bahu role. This seems to work and relations between my in-laws and I are cordial if not massively affectionate. Some examples of this entails exactly:

    1. It’s important to be seen at least once a day as “helping”. So even if I am clueless in the kitchen, I must offer a hand or do something like set the table, even if there are plenty of people and I end up carrying out exactly one dish. This “offering to help” is not specific to my in-laws, it exists in my family as well, except that the rules are pretty lax about it.
    2. Keeping my bra on and wearing tracks instead of shorts. (This is one of the reasons I could not live with them if I am expected to be in a bra all the time).
    3. Once I went to church on Sunday even though I don’t go anymore. Ironically, we never get asked to do this when my husband is around.
    4. Trying to eat when they eat although they eat every meal much later than I would.
    5. Spending some amount of time in the communal area, even if I can’t think of much to say.

    On the other hand, I don’t feel obliged to wake up at any specific time. I don’t feel obliged to join in every domestic chore even if the other women do it. Last trip, I didn’t eat something I didn’t like that was cooked for breakfast (my Mil was not thrilled but hey, I didn’t ask her to scramble for a replacement or make a fuss, I just ate bread). Going up to my room and resting/reading when I want.

    One thing I would say – it’s too much to expect them to love you, especially in two weeks, leave alone two years. Liking you would be good, but not at the cost of making yourself unhappy or stressed or selling out on your own personality to make them like you. I have come to believe that as long as people are civil to each other, that’s good enough. Genuine affection may grow, you may find you really like them and they you, or not. As long as you can co-exist for that period without being nasty to each other, that’s fine no? After all, as you said, you are people from completely different backgrounds, and even different generations. Why should it be a love fest?

    I also think that when you choose to do something that you believe is right and reasonable, other people may not agree. You need to be able to ignore this. It’s not our birthright to be liked all the time. I also think that while being realistic – they are traditional and probably do have the typical expectations – you need to try and go into this with a neutral, if not a positive, attitude so that you’re at least giving them a chance to surprise you.

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  2. Do you have to stay for 2 weeks in your in-laws place? Maybe you could visit for 2-3 days and then go and spend time with your parents? Since yo are shifting to the US you will be away from them as well–maybe your fiancee can help you here?
    As for joint/nuclear family— talk to your fiancee, make yourself clear.
    And one last thing–about being rejected/loved by your in-laws–don’t give too much importance to it–they are not your parents– and to accept you will take time–just as it will take time for you to accept them as a part of your life.

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  3. Dear LW,
    You need to grow up. You are not a child being sent to boarding school for the first time. You are a grown woman getting married. You will not/ should be scared of having rules of any kind in your in-laws house- be it dressing or cooking or anything else. Yes, they may be different from your family. That does not mean you should change yourself. There will have to be small adjustments both from your side and theirs which is normal for any two people to live together. Your main fear seems to be about how much your in laws would expect you to change. But, judging by your email, you seem to be way too ready to do it. I mean, when you like wearing salwars or jeans, why should you assume they would expect you to wear sarees? Even if they do, what makes you think anybody has a right to dictate how another person,an adult, dresses? Same for cooking. If you don’t like cooking, don’t cook. Your husband can cook. If he doesn’t like it either, you guys can figure out another way to get some healthy food. Just because they are from a smaller town and seem a bit conservative, they aren’t necessarily the ekta kapoor type of a family. Go with an open mind. See how things work out. As long as you know, you and your fiance are on the same page, you shouldn’t have a problem. Your fiance seems to be open to discussion. You should talk to him about the nuclear family issue.
    I have said it many times here already. And I will say it again. Do not change yourself for anybody. I know changes in dressing style, cooking, taking permission to party with your friends etc seems like a normal and inevitable part of married life for a woman. But really, it is not. I cannot emphasize this enough.
    Good luck!! Have a great life!!

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  4. Dear Letter Writer

    You really, really need to accelerate your journey to adulthood – if possible within the next two weeks. I can’t think of a nice way to say this, because you really sound waaaay too young/immature to get married.

    “Will wear it with a long kurta yaar. But atleast [sic] won’t have to part with it altogther. [sic] ”
    I don’t want to be a problem and a cause of embarrasment [sic] to my loving fiancé (husband in future).
    “Please say something positive that atleast I survive for 2 weeks with my in laws family.”
    “I hate rejection. I will be very sad and depressed if my in laws don’t like me at all.”

    – why are you so desperate to please? You seem to be taking this – the clothes on your body – as a negotiation/begging thing, rather than a right for you to live your life the way you want to and for you to have ownership of your body the way you want to. If this is just a negotiation thing for you then I’d recommend just giving in – it’s just for two weeks “yaar” after all, and then you can go do whatever you want in the US. On the other hand if you believe you are an autonomous individual capable of making your life choices, you should not be okay with people telling you what to wear. In any case, asking random strangers on the internet for emotional support in this case rather than turning inwards or to the most obvious support – your husband – betrays your deep mistrust of him and yourself. Are you sure about the marriage? The wedding? Is this concern about the 2-week stay an indication of something deeper – you need to ask yourself some hard questions NOW.

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  5. Its quite natural for anyone to have these feelings and fears…. At this point in time I would say what you are facing is just fear of change.. a change in environment you are used to, fear of everything being new-people, place.. everything that you had been aware of, been comfortable with is just not going to be around you for some time.. dont worry… just pull yourself together…. everything being new…thats the whole excitement in itself… you are just being let into a new world where you need to discover everything on your own… Just like how you are worried,for all you know maybe your fiance’ and his family will also be apprehensive,for eg: the parents might be worried what if she doesnt like how we cook, the elder bahu might be worried what if she finds me too simple, the husband might be worried what if she thinks we cant have the same lifestyle which she is used to…the fears are innumerable and all these are little fears that are bound to be there in each and everyone. if such a fear is not in you then that may probably be a sign that you are not equipped to embrace the change.. just being yourself will be a good start to welcome the change… just keep going by being yourself..coz if you are not being yourself in these crucial days it will be become difficult later to stay in the image which you built to impress others.and just enjoy the whole process of knowing and having them know you….it sure is going to be fun once you just thinking of it as a whole new experience.
    So wishing you the best…!! have fun and enjoy!

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  6. I agree with Anonymous and Chevalier. The letter writer is very apprehensive about spending 2 weeks with her in-laws, though she seems to be prepared for it. If her bhabhi is very conservative, so be it. Why should she be apprehensive about it? She mentions her parents find the in-laws to be nice, decent and soft-spoken. All the more, she should do away with her apprehensions. Actually, I do not see any pressing problem in her letter. She can go there with an open mind, try to make friends if she can and go to US as planned. She mentions she is working so she must have gained at least some experience in interacting with people. So, I guess if she can make up her mind to remain herself and just be cordial, she will be fine.

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  7. I think it is very important to please ourselves first. Like someone has already mentioned, there is no way we can please everyone. There is no need to. Just relax and enjoy your wedding as you have decided to go ahead with it. Am surprised the discussion about staying together or going nuclear never surfaced in the last few months.. There is no good/bad time to discuss something as important. Its best to discuss and make your stance clear now than having to listen to ‘you never told me this before wedding’ scene or ‘it is the normal thing‘ to do talks later. Not that you cannot put your foot down later. Just that you can make yourself clear. Be bold, be clear. Courage and clear head is what we need as women. In some cases, we must decide to ignore or smile and let go. Specially in situations where confrontations will be futile, where people don’t want to see a point, or are desperate to make their point. You need not oblige here. Just ignore. For some others, we must confront, specially if people get in our way or enforce rules down our throat.

    You are the bride and 2 weeks will be a good time to feel pampered. Let the others fuss over you. Such opportunities will be rare. Wish you a very enjoyable wedding and a happy married life:-)

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  8. I am the LW for whom you all have responded above. Many thanks to each one of you for making me understand. : )
    @The Bride: Being a married girl, ofcourse you hav understood my fears beter than everyone. even if most may be invalid/ baseless. thanks for that. Few points which I think you are very correct in saying:
    1. “I am completely against option 3 because it is unsustainable and it sets up expectations that you will find yourself struggling to meet.

    I myself experimented with option 1 but it was a failure. The “real me” was too much for my in-laws and while I could have disregarded their feelings, I didn’t want to deal with the unpleasantness. So I now do option 2, which is try to do some things that would please them but which don’t make me feel like I’m playing some tiresome bahu role. This seems to work and relations between my in-laws and I are cordial if not massively affectionate” you are right here. option 3 will be very dangerous for a long term basis.
    2. “I have come to believe that as long as people are civil to each other, that’s good enough. Genuine affection may grow, you may find you really like them and they you, or not. As long as you can co-exist for that period without being nasty to each other, that’s fine no?” this point again helped me a lot thanks!!! thats so true. in todays world if we are not nasty to each other that shuould be more than enuff

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  9. I am the LW who has written above email
    @anonymous: you are very right. i shouldnt assume things before even knowing people. my assumptions r becoming fear. let me meet them n then judge.
    guys wish me luck. getting engaged tmrw. will keep sharing mt experiences here

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  10. i was in a similar situtation. had to stay with my inlaws for 5 days after marriage before coming to US. I was scared just like you. I can’t cook either. I was worried about not getting enough privacy and I even fought with my husband because i wanted us to get the room upstairs and they had prepared the room right in front of the living room. anyways,, i was very surprised when I went to his house after marriage. No one expected me to cook or do anything. The room was very private as no one came in without knocking. all i had to do was, dress up every morning and greet anyone who came to give me shagun. thats it. :) so whiile u r worried, i am sure they won’t be hard on ur the first 2 weeks. usually the first month, the new bahu is treated like a guest and no one expects her to do much. you might feel different because they won’t like if u go out by urself or if u run around but, just think that its only for 2 weeks. just do the act of a good bahu and be nice to everyone. one more thing someone told me was, that don’t argue with plp in his family in the first week that u r there. If you dont agree with something, dicuss it with ur husband but don’t yell at anyone. u can do that when u go visit them after years but don’t do it right after u get married. The reason is, right now they dont know u. they will form opinion of u based on how u behave. so a good impression now will be good, later after few years they will start loving u awnyways so they wont mind if u argue with them or say anything. but in the begining u have to adjust.

    It is very importatnt to discuss these concerns with ur husband though. i think he is the only one can make u comfortable about this because he knows his family and his household. It is very important to always have clear communication between husband and wife, never hind anything from him and also tell him to never hide anything from u. if u have this, then u have nothign to be worried about because u will always have a partner who will help u get through anything.

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  13. Why should women be the only ones who have to adjust to their husband’s family after marriage? How many Indian men are worried about being liked or treated nicely by their wives family? Why can’t the couple and families act like mature adults and live independently and do what feels good to them?

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