An email: “My in laws want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.”

Sharing an email.

Hello

I have been a lurker at your blog and find the discussions useful. I hope you will also put my case on your blog.
Background
I had an arranged marriage around 4 years ago. Within a year after that I had a daughter. Both myself and my husband are doctors. My husband used to live with his parents. After 3 – 4 months my husband had to move to another place for his super specialization. As a result I had to stay with his parents for this duration of three years as I was also working temporarily in a government university. My father in law dominates his family and his sons are unable to stand against him.
Even though my parents are living in the same town at a distance of 4 km away from my husband’s  house I am unable to meet them. I come to meet my parents in daytime taking time out of work. So its been more than six months that my parents have not seen their grand daughter.
What I find the most frustrating  and painful is that at my work place I  make decisions that could result in the life or death of a patient but in my personal life  has little control over my own self and hence little autonomy of my own. I am psychologically under pressure
My husband is otherwise ok to me but does not respect my family. So far the past 3 years there has been zero interaction between my in laws and my family.
All decisions affecting me and my child are taken by my father in law. My family has not been invited to be the part of any celebration – like my child’s birthday or my husband’s completion of super specialization. My in laws do not want me to go and live with my husband. They want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.
Should I continue to compromise hoping things get better in the future or go for some other mode of action? I fear they will take my child away from me if i go for some legal action. His family is financially much more powerful and has political connections also.
Regards
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89 thoughts on “An email: “My in laws want me to stay here with them while my husband works in another city.”

  1. Powerful, political connections…I hear these words repeatedly in situations like this. What is it about the threatened use of power and pressure that gives people such pleasure? She should work this out with her husband, talk to him about her own needs and aspirations and prepare her own family to support her in case she needs to walk out with her daughter. I stifled life is not worth it, but this can only be her call and no one else’s.

    • He can use his political connections as well as wealth to make life difficult for me as well as for my old retired parents who are not financially or in terms of personality and nature non confrontanist by nature.

      • I can only imagine how fearsome that can be. I hope you find the courage to stand up for yourself and the strength to see this situation through. Wishing you good luck. I hope that a few confrontations and discussions will suffice and it doesn’t get messy. It can be rather difficult on the child too… I hope it all ends well!

      • I can understand. Most of us bear all the pain without getting back not for fear of harm to ourselves, but to avoid our loved ones getting harmed, mentally or physically. But I sincerely wish you are out of this situation n get to see the happy side of life as soon as possible.

        But, pls do try n make ur husband understand u n ur situation…as u can bear a hundred thousand pain if u truly have his support. My best wishes n prayers for u.

  2. This indeed is a shocker for me. I thought educated professionals like doctors, lawyers, police-women etc., are self-sufficient and courageous enough to handle such situations. This really comes as a big set-back for me.

    If I were to give my view in this situation, she must first talk her heart out to her husband. The first person to respect one’s parents in a married life is you yourself. In my case, if I would allow my husband and in-laws to mistreat or side-line my parents completely, I do not think I have a right to complain. The choice was mine. I should have been firm enough with my “Life Partner” about my priorities, my relations (while fulfilling all my responsibilities as a daughter-in-law) and make him understand that I would not “really respect” his parents if he had no respect for my parents. People out in India feel touching elder’s feet everyday or rather at every sight is a sign of respect. Bullshit! I don’t feel any worth in such superficial respect. As my Dad has always taught me, “Respect should be commanded, not demanded, through your deeds. ”

    First and foremost, sort it out with your husband and I’m sure things will fall in place, one by one.

  3. What exactly does “otherwise okay” mean? Is the fact that your husband doesn’t respect your parents acceptable to you? Is it okay that your parents do not get to see their granddaughter even once in over six months? Are you fine with your father in law dictating every aspect of your personal life? Just ruminate over these questions.
    You seem to be an educated and intelligent woman amply capable of looking after yourself and your kid. High time your husband takes cognizance of that.
    Your world, your life, your kid, your call!
    All the best!

    • @Swarup
      Ofcourse it is not acceptable to me but what should I do? In fact he publically humiliated my mother. I am not happy but I am not good at confronting people and niether is my family.

      • You will have to take a stand, sooner or later. The sooner you’ll accept that something is wrong and try to make an effort towards correcting it, the better. You husband is clearly not bothered about the situation. but maybe, he isn’t really aware of how much a trouble it is causing you. TALK to him.

        Doesn’t your daughter also need to be with her father as well?

      • This is not a direct solution/answer to your question ‘ofcourse it is not acceptable to me but what should i do…..’ but i had a thought as soon as i read that line.Let me put it to you in the form of a question-
        Soon, your daughter will notice the way things are and will question you.What will you tell her?That since her dadaji is dominating in nature and is politically powerful you had to toe the line? Won’t she grow up thinking it is ok to abuse power?Or she may live life being the victim,the way she sees you live currently,if she faces similar situations in future(god forbid) wondering ‘but what should/can i do….’
        Do you see where i am going with this? Pls think over it.Ofcourse it is not just your responsibility alone,so discuss with your husband that it is also his responsibility to raise a daughter with the right values.By the way I am glad to hear you not complaining about your husband because it means he might just hear you out and support you.

        In one word,please empower yourself.Dont put up with things hoping they will improve with time.What if they don’t? How much longer do you want to wait refusing to take action?

  4. Have you not discussed your concerns with your husband? Or told your in-laws nicely that you’d like to invite your parents? Have they overtly said they don’t want your folks around? Or is it just an attitude that you’ve acquiesced to without attempts at discussion?

    • @AS. My parents once went to talk with them about thiis stuff. But my in-laws refused to acknowledge that there were any issues at all. Instead they blamed my parents for not giving ‘due respect’ to thier son. Thus my parents and in my laws are not on speaking terms at all. I also do not want any member of my family to be disrespected and humiliated again. Thus I do want them to come to my current home.

      • I meant “Thus I do’nt want my parents to come where my I live with my in-laws.
        My father in law has forbidden my husband to visit my maternal home until
        my mother apologises to them. My mother is also angry with my husband because he publicly humiliated her (my mother). As a consequence my husband has also not been to my maternal home for the past three years.
        With my husband I never talk of my family and when I meet my family I never talk of my husband.

        • Ever considered effecting a reconciliation in aadarsh bahu style? A loving, emotional speech to both sides about khushi-khushi jeeainge etc? A few mentions of god and peace and harmony and being the bigger person thrown in? Sometimes when all else fails, the right kind of melodrama helps. At least practically. As far as principle goes, though, you really do need to stand up for yourself somehow. The fact that you have a great career empowers you a lot. Are your parents supportive?

        • Ah lady, you are in a terrible bind, aren’t you?

          I don’t know if any of my suggestions would help, but barring something quite as drastic as a meticulously planned relocation for you and your parents, perhaps the best first step might be to simply talk to your husband.

          I wouldn’t even say mention everything – if matters has reached the point they have, I am not sure how much the entire picture would matter to him. You’re the best judge of that.

          But perhaps you can mention that you’d like to live with him. Find a job in a city where he works. That your daughter needs to be with her father. That you have waited so long to have a ‘normal’ married life.

          If that works and he agrees, then the distance might help. In forging a closer bond with your husband. Once that happens, he might [and I'm afraid it is still a might] be more open to looking at the situation with your parents from a different perspective.

          That is the most non-confrontational route I can think of and there is no guarantee that it’d work.

          If it doesn’t work, then you will need to explore other options. Moving out, perhaps even to a different city. Perhaps alone, perhaps with your parents.

          About the only thing I can say for sure is that given the kind of controlling environment you describe above, things won’t sort themselves out by themselves.

        • That’s really sad! But then you have to do what you have to do. How long will you suffer silently? Is there someone who can help? Another elderly relative or someone with a social status that your in-laws can’t ignore?

        • You didn’t want anyone of your family to go where they were disrespected and humiliated. Do you not consider yourself a part of your family. Give yourself the same respect that you give to the others of your family. Why be in a place where you are not respected?

      • HOME ? Think about it – Is it a HOUSE for you ?
        if it was your home, you would have not felt the pressure or the stuffiness that you are feeling or to play the “bahu ” role or to do anything to please the parents-n-law.

        You are right – you take life worthy decisions for your patient, but the medicene that you would need is to have the courage to DO what is necessary to feel home and you definitely know that what to do. it is human to have fears and doubts to DO, but you can – Dig deep and you will find the medicene

  5. I think you need to talk to your husband first – about everything – the fact that your parents are as important as his are and that you need your autonomy to make decisions. What kind of marriage is it if two people live in fear of some patriarch who cannot make or break the marriage? Why is everyone so scared of the father in law? What is he capable of doing – or is it a fear of consequences?
    If your husband does not react to this, then will you be able to take it up with your in-laws directly? Also I don’t know why I get the idea that your husband isn’t really supportive. What will happen if you try looking for jobs elsewhere? Not in the city you are in currently – but elsewhere? What is the worst thing your in-laws can do?
    Please do not expect to compromise on a matter if you know in your heart that it is wrong. Things will not get better automatically. You will have to take steps to improve the condition. Try first with discussion – and be firm. Just because you’re a woman does not mean you should be submissive – quite the contrary. Then if things get worse, prepare yourself for the exteme scenario and don’t be afraid to walk out of your marriage. What is being done here is quite abusive. You may not have been physically harassed, but mental harrassment is no less painful. Please understand that you are your own person and you cannot be ruled over. You’re well-educated and before this affects your life permanently, try and make a change.

    • Nothing will change unless you decide to take action. Your husband seems to be supporting his parents albeit silently, maybe out of fear. If he can’t stand up for himself, will he be able to stand up for you and later your child? Is this the environment you want to live in and bring up your child. Never allow anyone else to decide things for you. They do not want a companion for their son. They want a slave for themselves. Run as fast as you can before it is too late. It is just not worth trying to talk to such people. Their mindsets are clear. Anyway, the call is yours to make. All the best!

  6. Things will never get better, they will only get worse. I apologise for my harsh words but not the sentiment, the more you act like a doormat the more you will be treated like one. I know this from my own life. Your father in law sounds like a bully, and if bullies are not stood up to they simply carry on bullying. Obviously I am not in your situation, but muster up what support you can and find out about your rights. What exactly can they do to you? How can you resist them? These are things you need to know. I wish you good luck and hope you find the strength to do what is best for you and your daughter, whatever that may be.

  7. Wait, so you and your husband have voluntarily ‘separated’ for the last three years at the behest of the in-laws, and they want this arrangement to continue?
    The first thing would be to speak to your husband- is he genuinely okay with this set-up? Or is he as miserable as you are?
    The second thing would be to find out the reason why the in-laws want this- is about attachment to your daughter, or anxiety that the family will ‘break’?

    Once you have these answers, you and your husband should speak amicably with your in-laws and INFORM them that you are now going to move in with your husband. Assuage their apprehensions but for god’s sake DO NOT ask permission-you and your husband do not need anybody’s permission to live together!

    Also, I’d just like to add that keeping quiet never does any good. All too often , nothing is said out of ‘respect’ to elders, and they go on thinking that everything is fine and dandy, while you are seething with resentment inside. Tell them you are angry your daughter never sees the maternal grandparents- if they are reasonable , they will see you point. If not, too bad, take her for a visit anyway. The bottom line is- don’t wait for them to change, force them to change.

    • “keeping quiet never does any good” I fully second this.this silence we women are forced to adopt needs to break.An educated and empowered lady like you needs to take a firm stance and not be silent in the face of this’passive abuse” that you are being subjected to.

    • ‘All too often nothing is said out of respect for the elders…….’ so totally agree with this and the said consequential resentment. Why do we do this? Women and men too.Its disgusting.

  8. You’re an educated woman who takes decisions on matters like life and death. Have some confidence on yourself that you will take the right decision for you and your family as well. Given the situation described, I think the husband and you need to talk it out. Sort things yourself and arrive to a workable solution which can be implemented. Politically powerful in laws can’t force you to stay with them. Tell them it is none of their business and you are a free citizen of an independent nation who has the right to chose where she wants to work/live. Discuss the situation with the husband and together, I am sure you both can work it out.

  9. Seriously you need to fight back. You are an educated woman and you know what is good for you and whats not. Your father in law has NO RIGHT to control your life. You deserve to be free .You deserve to be with your husband.And your daughter needs see her Maternal grandparents once in a while. And don’t worry No one can take your child away from you .No matter how powerful they are or how corrupt this country’s politicians are.If an educated woman like you doesn’t fight back ,then what about other illiterate women of this country . “Its your life. Don’t let anyone else Ruin it” Best of luck :)

    • If you can confide in any of your husband’s friends and/or their wives, and ask them to talk to your husband, this might embarrass and shake him out of his sleep. Your talking to him might not bring in the results you want. Sometimes one has to bring things out in the open, to bring about facilitate change. I know it’s not easy. But that seems the only solution because your husband seems to accept the status quo without any question.

  10. The email leaves a lot of open questions.
    Why are the in-laws and the husband behaving is such offensive manner with the woman’s parents? There is no reason given for that.
    Secondly, has the lady’s parents never tried to break the ice? Never tried to contact her by coming to her home?
    Thirdly, has the lady never tried to talk to her in-laws about inviting her parents over?
    The letter gives a very one sided view of the events. There is no explaination about why are the people behaving in the way they are behaving.

    It seems that the lady has accepted the very situations which she should have fought. Is she ok with her husband not respecting her parents? Has she ever questioned him? It seems that she is all alone there. She is partially responsible for not taking a stand initially. Now things seem to have gone way out of hand.
    Dear email writer,
    Please talk to your husband. Tell him everything you have written in the email. And if he is not ready to support you, use your own spine.

    • Amit, I think, the fact that she wrote this email means she is unhappy and perhaps bewildered by the situation. Very often those who are in abusive situations see the situations as more ‘normal’ than those who see it from outside.

      • I agree IHM. But I cannot understand how everyone from the email writer’s parents to her husband to herself have just accepted everything and never questioned or talked about it. These are educated doctors we are talking about here.
        Anyways, I might be jumping to conclusions here. A small email cannot describe the whole trauma of the last four years.

      • I agree with Indian Homemaker. It is easy for others to judge and be harsh. Only the one wearing the shoes know where and how it pinches. One should not belittle others fears and anxieties. Even analyzing situations requires some time and peace, which I am sure the girl does not have. With bullies hanging around the house, how is she to have the peace to even sort things out in her own mind?

    • “Secondly, has the lady’s parents never tried to break the ice? Never tried to contact her by coming to her home?”

      I am in touch with my parents on phone and sometimes take time out from work to visit them. I go my parents on festivals along with my daughter.

      “Thirdly, has the lady never tried to talk to her in-laws about inviting her parents over?’
      No I cannot summon courage for that and thus talk to them about this.

      “It seems that the lady has accepted the very situations which she should have fought. Is she ok with her husband not respecting her parents? Has she ever questioned him? It seems that she is all alone there. She is partially responsible for not taking a stand initially. Now things seem to have gone way out of hand.”

      I am not happy with the status but cannot summon courage for any confrontation.
      My parents want to help me but dont know what to do about this. They are actually supportive if I break up.

      • A confrontation doesn’t have to be in a big way always. Sometimes all it takes is a calm assertion. In fact always stay calm, if you show anger or fear, it only escalates the situation. Why do you fear speaking with (I won’t say confronting) your in-laws? Is there a threat of violence or emotional blackmail? You need to figure out what is holding you back in order to move forward.

        You must find the courage to first try and address the situation with your husband and in-laws before you consider breaking up (because you should know that you broke up for the right reasons). Maybe they don’t actually realise how unhappy you are.. maybe they just push you because you let them (bullies only stop when you stand up to them).

        Otherwise you will be helpless to ever support anyone, yourself, your parents or your child. There is no other way but to find courage. Sometimes, when you finally take a stand (calmly and strongly), others give way to avoid confrontation too. Don’t just give in.

    • I second all of this. I don’t quite understand what’s going on. If the husband is really as absent and unsupportive and even insulted her mother in public, what does ‘he is ok otherwise’ mean? Also, even more than why her parents don’t visit her and her husband doesn’t visit them, why doesn’t she just pick up her daughter and go visit the parents? What would the FIL do?

      I agree that she has accepted situations where she should have put her foot down and would like to say that compromising will not make anything better. It will only make things worse. You only have to see what has happened so far to know that compromising is only making things worse.

      “Dear email writer,
      Please talk to your husband. Tell him everything you have written in the email. And if he is not ready to support you, use your own spine.”
      This.

    • ‘It seems that she is all alone there’.
      Isn’t it true of all married Indian women? They are always all alone.

      The isolation starts the minute the women becomes a bride. She is uprooted and relocated.Pressure to please new family.Pressure to ‘ adjust’. If she has difficulty adjusting, she can not discuss with hubby and/or in laws for obvious reasons.Nor can she discuss with parents because she does not want to upset them.What if they think she is not happy? Oh no she cant do that to them,can she now.

      Getting the picture?

  11. Well, you do seem to have landed in a bit of a tricky situation here. There aren’t really any easy solutions here, but that does not mean you have to put up with disrespect.

    The first thing you need to understand that the key player for you in this dynamic is not your FIL, but your husband. Your in-laws are obviously domineering to the core, and now that they have become used to stepping all over you, they are not very likely to be amenable to suggestions of change.
    Your husband is a different story, and his response will largely determine your own options.

    Considering that you are frustrated enough to seek external help for your issue, I’d say it is time for an ultimatum, or at least something very much like it. You said in a comment above that you are not the best at confrontation. I understand that. However, at this point, you do not have much choice. Confrontation is not always the best course of action, but sometimes, it is absolutely essential. Sometimes, you cannot do without it. This is one of those times.

    Please let your husband know that you are more or less at the end of your tether, and that the future of the relationship depends on the choices he makes now. If he is willing to support you and help you convince his parents that your current set up is making you (and perhaps him) miserable, that is well and good. If not, make him understand that it would become very difficult for you to continue with this marriage. It is as simple as that.

    Remember, neither he nor his parents have any right to hold you against your will. As an adult, you are free to live where you damned well please.

    Regarding the custody angle, each case is taken up on its own merits, but as a general rule in the Indian family court system, custody is almost always given to the mother, unless there is some larger overriding reason (usually financial, but sometimes related to substance abuse and such) to not do so. Considering that you are a medical doctor, and presumably make a fair living, you are very unlikely to lose custody of your child, although, of course, no guarantees can be made.

    In summary:

    1. Communicate with your husband. This does not mean merely telling him that you have a problem, but rather impressing upon him exactly how serious this problem is. Remember, you married him, not his parents, and regardless of what your in-laws or anyone else says, any obligations you have are towards him alone. It is his responsibility (not yours) to make sure you are not victimized by his parents.

    2. If your husband refuses to shoulder his responsibility, the ball lands in your court. You must decide whether it is worth hoping for a miraculous change, or if you want to cut your losses and leave the marriage. No one else can take this decision for you, but be advised that most people will never change a comfortable lifestyle unless they have a strong reason to. Take a good look at the pros and cons of both your options (staying and leaving), and make an informed choice.

    3. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Even if you have no immediate intention of obtaining legal recourse, begin preparing for a separation anyway. How do you do this? Stockpile resources. Start saving a small-to-moderate amount of money for any contingencies, and put it in a place where your husband and in-laws can’t reach it (perhaps an additional bank account, or with your parents/siblings etc.).
    Second, if you feel you are being subjected to any kind of mental harassment, please document this. Write down all incidences of any such abuse, along with dates, names and exact conversations, and store this in a safe place (this journal could be digital, if you prefer). Also, tell a few trusted friends and/or family members (preferably friends) about the situation, and any harassment/threats etc. You could also record conversations which you feel victimize you. With some luck, you will never have to use all of this, but it is better to be prepared and not have to use it, than the other way round. If you do have to use it, your stockpiled resources will be invaluable.

    4. Be proactive about your happiness. By not making a decision, you are making one. Don’t be a victim of fate; make an active, informed choice by weighing merits and demerits in your mind. Remember, you control your own destiny and you are your own biggest well-wisher in the world, even more so than your parents and other dear ones.

    Here’s wishing that all turns out well for you.

    I feel for you; you seem to be a remarkably sensible, centered person and you deserve better than this.

    I hope this helped, in whatever small way.

    Cheers.

  12. 1.None of us should be conditioned or limited because of other people’s expectations.
    2.None of us should conditon or limit other people because of our expectations.

    Do not put your life in the hands of somebody who does not value it. Don’t expect anything from anyone. Your in-laws will not change to your liking.

    If you expect them to change, you’re creating a dynamic where it is easy for them to hurt you.
    Pursue your own interests, your own happiness, your own life path.

    You have every right to want what’s best for you. You have no right to expect people to act in accordance with what is best for you.
    You know in your heart what you need to be happy. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut and be the happy person you were meant to be.

    I get the feeling that you hope that your inlaws will eventually change without you having to do much. That may not happen :)

  13. It’s difficult to stand up to an authority figure, especially if there are intimidating factors like political contacts etc, but there is really no other way to get control back on your own life.

    You’re going to have to find a way to express your needs and make your own decisions. Consistency is key. If they are reasonable at all, they will see that you will not accept being pushed around and leave you alone. Most of the times, this intimidation (of political contacts etc) is a mind game to scare you into submission. If they are really capable of criminal behaviour, you need to get out of their control, with or without your husband. Find out where he stands as well as what your legal options are. They can’t just take your child, you are a self sufficient doctor.

    Talk to your husband (first of all), in-laws as well as your parents. Tell them how you feel (as you have in this email) and tell them what you need from them to be happy. If you want to live with your husband, ask him if he feels the same way. Present a joint front to your in-laws and inform them of your joint decision (don’t ask them). If your husband is with you on this, I cannot imagine that they could justify separating a married couple.

    If you want to see your parents, just go see them. Tell your in-laws and your parents to keep you out of their issues. Your in-laws are separating you from your parents AND your husband. They cannot do this without your submission or compliance. Don’t give them that or you will be complicit in doing this to yourself.

  14. I don’t understand why you are acting so helpless. What exactly is stopping you from taking your child to meet her grandparents? What is stopping you from simply booking a ticket and visiting your husband with your daughter? What exactly do you think your in-laws can possibly do to you? You have to remember you are an adult and start acting like one. The longer you accept this behaviour, the more you will suffer. While I won’t go as far as saying this is your fault, I see no reason for a well-educated, well-established professional woman WITH her parent’s support to continue to accept treatment like this. Just yesterday, a friend linked me to this and I think it is an apt quote for your case.

    https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/c0.0.403.403/p403x403/574526_340423766075058_1635475378_n.jpg

    • Also, I want to say they can’t take your child away from you. They may be big political bigwigs but even politicians have had their knuckles rapped by the courts. So make a list of those cases and draw inspiration from them. You have many options, but the one option you don’t have is to sit still and wring your hands, doing nothing. Take the bull by the horns, and you are half way there already.

  15. Dear letter writer,

    when reading your email and your comments, I get the feeling what you are experiencing is more the fear of the fear than the fear of actual confrontation. As many people pointed out above, your FIL sounds like an outright bully. I know how scary it can be to stand up to such a person since I have had my own share of bullies in my family. However, bullies do have a weakness: they are insecure. Deep down they are terrified to lose control, which is why they are such control freaks. Your FIL’s actions, including his threats, show how much he needs to stay in control to feel secure. In other words, if you continue to submit to him, you are only feeding his self-righteousness. He won’t change just like that. People only change when circumstances force them to or when they decide they want a change. Why would he if everyone indulges him?

    I know it is fearsome to tell a bully off. When I eventually did it in my family, I was sure I was going to faint any second since I was so nauseous with fear. However, his reactions of completely helpless anger showed me I had tackled the issue at the root. Of course he tried threats and verbal abuse. So what? Nothing new there, he had done that before. I took courage from the fact that I could always walk out of the door and cut him out of my life. In the end, it was my day. Not that I felt like a big winner at this time. In fact I was glad to sit down so my legs could stop shaking. But it’s incredibly liberating to break the cycle of fear and take matters into your own hands. And guess what? Ever since then, he never tried again to bully me. A bully only responds to strength.

    Think about it. You are a grown woman and earn your own money. If you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to make your own choices as well. It is not just for your own sake that you should enforce a change. Think of your daughter. What will she learn from your example if you continue to just suffer in silence? She will learn that a FIL wields unlimited power over the DIL. She will learn that even a woman who is financially independent has no right to speak up for herself. She will learn that the wife’s feelings in a marriage are second to everybody else’s. She will learn to be mortally afraid and rather kill her own soul than standing up for her basic human rights. In other words, she might well end up in the same situation as you one day. Don’t do that to her. If you can’t find the courage to change things for yourself, do it for your daughter. She deserves better than that.

      • As everybody says above – Discuss the situation with your husband. He may wonder why is this coming out now after 3 years of seperation ? – STATE your difficulties . Your husband may be afraid of his father. If he cannot discuss with his own father and your husband is on your side – you summon your own courage to TALK to the family in your husband’s presence so that nothing is misquoted or misinterpreted.
        1. State what you want to do . .
        In order to win against a bully – you have to soft, but assertive. your legs may shake at the beginning , but slowly you will gain courage to SPEAK it out. Do NOT allow them to interrup when you speak – They have been doing that. Prepare Yourself before hand expecting the worst ( so put your financials in order ) and hope for the best.
        About Political connections , the politicians will do zot regarding this. if you have good friends , also garner social support .

        - P.S . MY FIL was and is a bully – but my deep conviction that my husband is mine and my FIL is not my husband or someone to take a decision stopped my legs from shaking. I was not ready to give up a husband, just because he was afraid of his father ! you read that right .

  16. Another girl suffering in the name of marriage. Will we ever learn.
    If i were in your position here’s what i would do.
    1. See if there are job oppurtunities in the city my spouse works?
    2. if there is i would sit down with my spouse and tell him we need to be together. the child needs a mother and father not mother and grandparents however much our culture claims . :-)
    3. If i cannot move there have him come to the same city as me , talk to him about the need to live as a family and let him know I married him and accepted his family not married every single member of his family .
    4. If he doesnt agree to both then , i guess i’m reconciled to the fact that my marriage is done. a man who does not want to live with his wife ( because of fear/ anger/job/money/daddy/ mummy whatever) is telling you non-verbally that he is done with you. — accept that and move on.
    5. If he feels the same way as me but is scared of daddy, then i would put up a united front and confront daddy and mummy about the need to live together ( just like FIl and MIL like to live together) would MIL like to live with her son forsaking her husband to cook and feed the poor ladla?? no?/ why?
    6. yes FIl has political connections, is rich and can make life miserable, but the fact that he’s a big shot makes his fall all the more harder ( atleast in theory) , i’m sure FIL doesn’t like you airing his dirty laundry in public…

    As for the child, if she is mine then unless in-laws kidnap her i doubt they can take her, of course in case i’m planning the divorce route ( where hubby doesn’t want to live together) then i must be prepared to share custody. afterall he did contribute to her creation.

    i would seriously leave my parents and his parents mess out of this, there is nothing wrong if my husband doesn’t like my mom, everyone cannot love everyone else and like khushi-khushi se.

    I thnk you need to work up a spine and get moving resolving your life. this is not war it’s just simple talking, explaining your love and desire to live a happily married life and stay int hat happily married life. — that state that most indian parents aspire for :-)

    • The best part of your comment and also one that made so much sense was ths – …nothing wrong if my husband doesn’t like my mom’.

  17. This seems somewhat like my sister’s story. My sis’s in-laws used to expect a lot of preferential treatment every time they visited us. My parents used to oblige too. My sister’s MIL used to instruct her to not close the door of their bedroom, as it would be rude (!) and disrespectful. Can you imagine how it was for a newly married bride?? Her husband (spineless *******), used to blindly oblige as well. Her MIL is so possessive of her son that, every time the husband wife had a fight, she would invite her 33 year old son to sleep next to her in her bedroom. Can you believe this??
    So, after a lot of thinking, my parents went to their house and mildly tried to give some feedback/inputs on my sister’s situation. They got really mad. They said that if my mother did not fall at their feet, they would throw my sister out.
    My parents visited their house and created such a ruckus (bless them), they even got a police van with them and said that their daughter was being abused by these animals.
    You should have seen their faces on that day. They live in a posh locality in Bangalore, the entire neighborhood was outside witnessing this.
    They don’t talk to my parents, but my sister’s husband accompanies my sister to my family functions/events etc. My sister’s in-laws asked her to break off all ties with my parents, she took a strong stand and absolutely refused to do so. That was all it took for her to make sure they didn’t walk all over her. She visits my parents whenever she wants, there is nobody to stop her. She has become a lioness :). If her husband or MIL says anything at all, she gives it back to them so bad that they just sit down and don’t utter a word.

    • THIS. Since you are afraid to stand up to your in-laws alone, thankfully your parents are supportive of you, so bring them along and try and work things out. Also tell as many people as possible of your situation and the restrictions of your in-laws – bullies thrive in their victim’s silence.

      I have a lot of questions though: why do your in-laws not want your daughter to visit your parents? and how do they enforce this if you guys are only living 4km apart? And what does your husband have to say about all this? He sounds like he is also firmly under your fil’s thumb – so maybe he too would like things to change.

  18. I can understand. Most of us bear all the pain without getting back not for fear of harm to ourselves, but to avoid our loved ones getting harmed, mentally or physically. But I sincerely wish you are out of this situation n get to see the happy side of life as soon as possible.

    But, pls do try n make ur husband understand u n ur situation…as u can bear a hundred thousand pain if u truly have his support. My best wishes n prayers for u.

    • Absolutely Anonymous. Without husband’s support a girl’s life after marriage can be a hell esp if the people there are animals.

  19. dear email writer : i know someone else who is a doc and went thru pretty much a similar situation. all i can say is, if u put up with abuse, it never ends well. if u dont put up with abuse, well or not, it ends. the issue is not just that ur in laws want them to stay with you. the issue is that they want to control your life in every which way.

    Follow Deepa’s advice please. and i use this line often: Pascal was a very wise man. he discovered the law that when you put too much pressure on something, it bursts. 9th class physics, thats all i learnt – dont put so much pressure on something that it bursts.

    use this line in your marital home a couple of times. see the effect. bullies are often like air balloons – they look big but are full of empty air. :) they deflate easily. one strong pin prick does it.

  20. Dear email writer,

    Like so many of us Indian women, you’ve been given a a formal education (which is good thing!) but haven’t been educated in ‘how to live’ (I blame our parents). However you are an adult now and you will need to start making different choices from the ones your parents taught you. The situation you’ve been in for the last 3 years is so wrong – they’re cutting you off from the very people who love and support you. You and your husband don’t live together. This is so wrong. I do see some positives here -
    (1) You are questioning the situation – that is the first step and (2) your responses to some of the further questions from people on this blog are very honest and sane – they clearly demonstrate that you understand the situation you are in and your fear of confronting it. So what next?

    - Please start thinking about how you are going to get out of this.
    - Talk to your husband. Where does he stand? Unfortunately, based on the way he’s behaved over the last 3 years, I don’t have much faith in him. But you never know. Maybe if you’re assertive and clearly state what you want, he might come around.
    - If your husband does come around, the rest is easy. You can tell your f-i-l to go to ****.
    - Establish supports. Do you a have a good friend that you can trust? A cousin or an aunt/uncle? (you said your parents are non-confrontational – so I’m assuming you can’t turn to them).
    - If you can’t find anyone to stand by you (including your husband, parents, or friend), you will need to fight this on your own. Which is not the worst thing in the world, considering you’re an educated, successful, professional.
    - As Praveen says, make financial plans first and foremost. Save money in your own account, look for a job in another city, start preparing for an independent life with your daughter.
    - As aurinia81 says, don’t do this to your daughter. Break the cycle.

    • It might help to hear of someone else’s similar situation. My s-i-l (husband’s sister) had an arranged marriage, lived in a joint family for the first 10 years of her marriage. Her in-laws were equally abusive. They routinely insulted her, extracted enormous amounts of work from her, yelled at her, forbid her from visiting her parents (who lived in a different neighborhood – same town) as and when she wanted to – she always had to ask permission and it was graciously granted on limited occasions. Her husband was completely spineless, a mama’s boy who never grew up. The sad thing is my s-i-l was raised very traditionally by my very traditional m-i-l. Many times, my m-i-l would cry at her daughter’s situation. If I even ventured to suggest the smallest thing about standing up for herself, my in-laws would stare me down (‘we don’t need your liberalism crap’ type of look).

      After 5 years of watching this, I noticed something different. My in-laws had just had it. They said to heck with impressing these mean, petty people (s-i-l’s in-laws). They told their daughter (my s-i-l) to come and see them whenever she wants to that they will fully support her even if she chooses to walk out. My s-i-l finally had the courage to tell her husband that they needed to get their own place to live, otherwise she was going to take her daughter and go and live with her parents. Mama’s boy relented – they moved into their own house and are happy now.

      My s-i-l is not a successful professional like you. She is ‘educated’ but has never worked in her life. She is meek by nature and was raised to never question anything. My in-laws are not mean people but they are very traditional. If they can do this, then so can you. I hope you win this battle and find the happiness that you’re entitled to.

  21. One thing life after marriage has taught me is – “I”, and only “I” am responsible for my happiness. There is no other person. Not your parents, not your husband, not even your children.

    If you are afraid to confront, don’t. You don’t have to put up a fight to show that you cannot tolerate it. Stand up in small ways. Stop caring from them. Focus on your career, focus on your daughter. Find few good friends at work and bash your in-laws left, right and center. You’ll get an outlet. Or start writing a diary if you are a private person. Don’t think yourself as a victim. Instead, think of your in-laws as abusers/bullys. Self-pity is a very vicious cycle.

    Your husband also seems to be a part of the reason for all this mess. May be he is “the” reason. The very fact that he humiliated your mother and then is expecting an apology from her shows how spineless and chauvinistic he is.

    Stop caring for everybody – that’s a start. Strength will follow.

    “Don’t worry, be happy” :)

  22. Be strong Lady: You are an educated woman. And it seems like your problem is that you cannot summon the courage to do so.

    Summon it: What’s the worst that could happen? You will get a divorce? Go for it. If you husband truly loves you he will come back to you and if he does not yes it will be a tremendous amount of pain. But it’s better to live a lonely life alone rather than be stuck in a loveless marriage.

    And I agree with all of the comments above. This issue can be sorted out amicably. It’s not the end of the world. If it cannot be sorted out amicably, well consider that this happened for the best.

    All the best. Be strong. You have a lot of new friends behind you.

  23. Sorry I might sound so impulsive!! But just take a gun and shoot them. That’s how angry I feel when I hear such stories. On a more serious note, you should not fear anyone or anything and take charge of your life. Freedom does not need to be handed to anyone in their hands, one needs to grab it for themselves. This world functions on the concept of ” survival of the fittest”. That does not mean you need to be a bad person, but you should not be weak or let anyone look at you as weak. You are well educated and have a job!! TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE!!

  24. You have to take charge of your own situation. Doesn’t matter if they have political connections. You can’t live your life in this trap. Speak to your husband, and if he doesn’t stand by you, please move out. You are an educated woman, and can fend for yourself. You deserve to live a life of dignity and respect, at the very least.

    That said, start planning your exit from this poisonous household:

    1. Firm up your resolve to sort things out for yourself and your daughter.
    2. Start saving. Open your own bank account and start transferring some of your salary there.
    3. Put together a journal of what you have gone through so far. Record incidents.
    3. Speak to your parents, close relatives and trusted friends about your plans to break this toxic cycle. Get them on your side. Don’t underestimate the power of a strong support group.
    4. Speak to your husband frankly and openly. On your own at first, and then with your folks, if he doesn’t come round. Give him an ultimatum. If he comes round, great, move immediately. Start searching for a job. Keep the in-laws firmly at bay. Focus on your marriage and your daughter.
    5. In case he doesn’t see sense, if I were you, I wouldn’t be able to spend my life with this man. You might be thinking that your daughter needs a father, but I really believe a child needs a positive environment (be it with one parent) rather than a toxic one with both parents not getting along and a bunch of extremely stupid in-laws to add to it all.
    6. Speak to a lawyer about your options. Approach women’s right organizations, NCW, whatever, and find out how you can be helped. Expose your in-laws dirty linen in public if they try to play dirty.

    You have no choice but to start fighting back. Escaping confrontation is being selfish, in my opinion – because it will be disastrous, not just for you, but for your daughter. You have a sworn duty towards your daughter. You owe her the chance to grow up in a normal and stress-free home environment. You’re lucky you have supportive parents, who don’t advise you to “please adjust”. Leverage this fact.

    Remember – you don’t have the choice to be complacent when someone else’s life depends on your actions. All the best. Be brave. Hugs xxx

    • Another thing… by being quiet and avoiding confrontation, you are setting the wrong example in front of your daughter, of how to handle abuse dished out by others. You are indirectly conveying it is acceptable to be treated like this.

      By taking a firm stand, you will be teaching her to reject abuse. By being complacent, you will do the opposite. She deserves the chance to grow up in an environment free of abuse, and to imbibe the concept of healthy self esteem from the one person who is most likely to influence/shape her personality – you, her mother. So please don’t sit in silence.

  25. 2 Inspiring Quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh that are relevant here (I know – not always easy to follow, but good to remind ourselves):

    “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… “

    “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

  26. You say that things are “otherwise good”, but reading your email, I have problems spotting any good parts to this marriage. Most of the time, he’s simply not there, and you instead live at the beck and call of his parents, who treat you in a downright abusive manner. You’re a grown woman, there’s absolutely no reason you should accept having to ask anyones permission for anything, least of all something as trivial as visiting your own parents in the same town.

  27. Reading this makes me very very sad and angry. As some have already said above, keeping silent is not going to improve the situation any. A man who allows his parents to dictate terms to him is NOT okay, NEVER okay.

  28. I agree with most commentators above. Sorry to say but this is a classic example of an educated professional woman with no independence and self esteem in reality.

    I shall refrain from comments on your past actions and at present your course of actions can be:

    1. Have a frank conversation wit your husband. Does he not want to be physically close to you? Your child?

    2. If he is okay, and is interested in saving the marriage, look for a job in your husbands city and move away asap. Why not move away now if he is committed to the marriage? Surely he can earn enough to support you for few months?

    3. Stop putting up with disrespectful behaviour from anyone, irrespective of age or position. When you stand up to people in a firm and nice manner more people are likely to treat you with respect instead of a like a doormat

    4. Days of avoiding confrontation are over.

    5. Go in and out of the house as you please. No need of asking permission.

    • 5) Is *very* good advice. It’s your home. Not your prison. You’re an adult.

      As to 4) you don’t need to actively confront anyone. But you do need to start doing what you actually want to do, without asking anyones permission. It’s possible that this will indirectly lead to confrontations, if someone challenges your right to live your own life as you see fit, but that’s their choice.

  29. Dear Lady please take charge. You are scared of confrontation. How to get over that fear? Before you start confronting prepare the ground for it first. Get yourself cushioned so that you get over the fear of hurting yourself by confrontation. Build a support network of your friends, parents, some human rights NGOs, lawyers(just consult them, no harm in being ready if the war breaks out). So once you are prepared you will find strength to stand up for yourself. Start confrontation on smaller things. This will give you confidence. Like someone said stop taking permission. In case it bothers them they will start a confrontation and you will be prepared to face it calmly. While you are at it have a talk with your husband.

  30. Dear email writer – I can’t help but ask – Is the husband having an affair that you do not know, but the parents know and is hiding it from you ? and so are trying to keep you away to save their face ?
    Have you been to your husbands house in the city ?
    ..It does not seem normal to me .

  31. Unfortunately or fortunately my husband has decided to come back and live with his parents.
    This means that I can stay with him but this means I will have to stay under his father’s thumb forever.
    I live in a small town where I am not sure if there are effective womens organizations .

    • I think all of the advice given here still stands irrespective of whether or not your husband has come back. You do not have to stay under your fil’s thumb forever! Mainly I think you need to get out of the mindset that you need to ask permission to do something. If you want to go to your parent’s house with your daughter just go. Don’t ask, just say I’m going and go. And if your parents and your side of the family want to come to birthday parties and functions just tell them to come. Yes your in-laws won’t be happy, but at least you will be. You have a supportive family, a paying job, please use these to your advantage. Best of luck.

      • BBD Lite – That’s the point .
        Such women dont’t get it that they do not need permission !
        They have to be told !
        Doctor or not – if her education cannot make her realize, and figure out that there are other alternatives and reach a decision, it is not pity.
        such women carry abuse for themselves and others too – this may sound rude , but the patients ( the email writer who is the doctor) will continue to be a patient and will raise more patients around her !

    • Why be the bad daughter in law, fight and insist on living separately. Therer may be a couple of fights, people may call you the evil DIL but at the end of the day, you can have a peaceful relationship.

      Sorry to say, men who have not grown up should not be getting married.

  32. For now I am living with my husband in Delhi – NCR away from the in-laws. However his ultimate aim is still to live with his parents in the town.
    My husband however does not still respect my folks and says that they interfere with our relationship when it is a fact it his father,mother and sister who interfere.
    They commented on my ‘inferior looks’ and my families inferior social status. Making fun of the dowry I got etc..
    Frankly if I had been alone I would have left this marriage. However the thought of losing my daughter and fighting a bruising custody battle with his rich and influential family often forces me to compromise. As I don’t know how I could I fight this battle alone on my comparative lmited finances and the Indian legal systems slow pace.

  33. The main culprit is the husband. He is unable to speak for his wife. I cant sympathize with a husband that cant stand up for his wife. No amount of “we have good relationship otherwise” cuts it for me. The equation in your case is quite tilted. He does not even talk to your parents but expects you to live with his parents. Maintaining good relations by “talking” to in laws and living peaceful life by “living” with in laws are two different beasts. Make sure that you DONT compromise to live with his parents as a bargain for his willingness to “talk” to your parents. That is a bad deal for you. My whole point is no one should force you to do some thing you don’t like. You can decide that you have 24 hours and you want to give it only to people that you like. Stand up for yourself. Don’t get sucked into this analysis which only causes deep internal chaos to a person.

  34. Pingback: ” My mom (a doctor) left her MD midway because my dad and his parents wanted her to ‘come and be their bahu’. “ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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