Some people come across as so adamant that they see any change in a negative light.

Let me try to respond to a comment on the previous post: You’re going to be with your in-laws for only a few days in a year so why can’t you live the way they want and keep every one happy?

Updated to add: Published in a hurry, have a busy day ahead, will proof read in a while,

The comment is in block quotes.

I feel really sorry when I read some comments here. Some people come across as so adamant that they see any change in a negative light. So much so, that I feel this stubbornness at not changing their own ‘perfect selves’ for anything or anyone actually makes them more orthodox in their mindset while showing off a ‘modern outlook’.

IHM: Are there Indian daughters in law who expect the in laws to change the way they dress or to wake up before everybody else or to change their names or eating habits and praying habits? If they do then their expectations make no sense. How can the way the in laws dress, modern or traditional affect the daughters in law’s happiness? If not then, who in Indian culture is generally expected to adapt to change? Everybody who gets married? No? Only the population that comes lowest in the family and social hierarchy. 

It’s not the change, but the idea that some family members have the right to expect some other family members to change to make them (somehow) ‘happy’.

It’s about power and control, as in – ‘If we can’t control our male child’s spouse ‘everybody’ (like neighbours’ third cousin’s uncle’s best friend etc) would point a finger at us and say our bahu is not sanskaari”. Or they would say (and what they say is important) – the son is a Joru ka Ghulaam.

There are so many prejudices that are openly stated as if they are ‘unwritten rules’…in-laws are portrayed as villains,

IHM: Prejudices? Indian Paraya Dhan are raised to fit into [link] the expectations of their future in laws, their disapproval they are told can mar their chances of fulfilling their only goal in life – to Get Married and Stay Married. The in laws frequently control how the bahu dresses, what she eats, who she meets, when she has children, how many if any girl children she is allowed. The expectations are so inhuman that while many Indians want a sanskaari bahu, most Indians don’t wants to give birth to and raise a paraya dhan. Indians need ‘reasons’ to have daughters. A facebook post pointed out that if there were no frilly frocks, pretty dolls and raksha bandhan, many more Indians would not want daughters. Raising a girl child is seen as a noble thing to do – a favour to the society, to ensure everybody has daughters in law to take care of them, but having a son, it seems, is what every Indian wants. Why is that?

only the daughter in laws have to ‘adjust’,

IHM: It’s true that daughters in law are the only ones who are expected to adjust to please others. Everybody’s happiness depends on the time an Indian daughter in law wakes up, the length of her ghoonghat [link], or her willingness to spend her leisure hours (if any) in praying. [link] There is pressure, culture, tradition of expectations and even training institutes that teach Indian Paraya Dhan to become an obedient sanskaari bahu.

The responsibility of giving birth, educate and love (but not get too attached, because she is somebody else’s property) a child to train her and ‘give her away’ (in kanyadaan) to serve as an obedient care giver (with no  feelings, happiness, aspirations, desires, whims, faults, values, principles etc of her own) for her spouse’s parents and extended family, is the biggest reason why Indian parents do not want daughters [link].  If daughters were allowed to be humans and not future ideal Indian daughters in law, then their rights, and crimes against them would be taken seriously, and once they stop being seen as a ‘challenge to raise and keep safe’ – then Indian parents would not see them as liabilities. There is no other way for Indian families to stop dreading the birth of girl children. [So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?]

traditional ways are oppressing,

IHM: Oppressing for those who they oppress and for those who benefit from the oppression. Those who depend on oppression for their happiness never learn the joys of Living and letting live.

Lack of freedom and choice is oppressive.

How can Indian families be happy when the task of making everybody happy is given to the one who the rest strive to keep ‘in control’, powerless, not allowed opinion, voice and freedom?

doing as one pleases without taking into consideration the effects of your actions on those around you is being ‘independent’,

IHM: Being independent is being able to refuse to do something you are being forced to do in the name of culture, tradition, ‘in law’s  happiness’ or family values, whether it is ghoonghat, sari, male child within nine months of being married, visiting friends and parents or sleeping and eating after every body else has eaten and slept [link].

being ‘highly educated’ means by default that some portion of your brain and personality is set in stone.

IHM: Being highly educated here means, even the much valued education does not free an Indian woman from the expectations that culture, custom and tradition has on her life.

‘Do not change for anything and anyone’ is highly preached but isn’t change the only constant thing in life, don’t we all (men and women) have to adapt in all aspects of our lives for our education, jobs, families… for life. Don’t we all seek change in the world around us.

IHM: The problem is not change – but the expectation that a girl should be raised to prepare for fitting into the expectations of her in laws, no matter what her own personality or preferences are, she must wake up before others, love to cook, clean and serve etc. She belongs nowhere, not to her parents (Please read: paraya dhan) and not to her in laws. (link)

Sometimes I feel we have been so alienated because of our busy lives that interpersonal relationships seem as complicated as ‘rocket science’. It’s natural to feel some amount of anxiety for new people and for a life that is not familiar to you but if you approach it with a huge list of ‘do’s and do not’s’ based upon all the negative experiences others have had in their lives it’s not going to help you in any way either.

IHM: Since women had to please everybody, the relationships concerns are a part of Indian folklore and tradition. Earlier the advice was standard, ‘Please adjust’, ‘Go in doli, come out in arthi’, win them over with sacrifice and obedience. And all the while this advice was being given, Indians were fasting, praying, (asking for blessings, wearing tabeez, remarrying, wife beating, doing yagna and sacrifice, killing new born babies, abandoning their children) – to have male children. If instead all the people were seen as human, it would not have been seen as so frightening and shameful to have and to raise daughters, that they had to be killed at birth.

Please try to keep an open outlook. Don’t reject every new thing that comes your way just because you’ve not done it before.

IHM: The new thing here is that a young woman is able to discuss it, knowing she risks being judged for being independent or having feelings.

What has not been done before is listening and analyzing as to why nearly all Indian women are not happy to be controlled by in laws – 20% of all suicides are committed young married women. Many divorces happen because women can’t bear the oppression by in laws.

If it bothers you too much then try to talk it out. Try to explain your point of view, listen to theirs, don’t reject theirs because it is not same as yours.

Try to seek a middle way, isnt that what education instills into us – analylitical thinking, problem solving and tackling the causes rather than pondering on the effects.

IHM: I think sometimes actions speak better than words. It’s okay to expect respect and freedom.To remain polite and respectful (and to expect the same) but to not do what doesn’t make sense to oneself.

Frequently when husbands convey that they totally respect the wife’s freedom to use her own mind, others (grudgingly or with some envy sometimes) accept it. [Read more]

Discussion might require diplomacy, because there is also the Indian culture of not ‘arguing with the elders’. Many Indian in laws might surprise themselves with their own tolerance to modern human values, and might begin to enjoy having another, equal family member (instead of a glorified slave). Some might just accept that times are changing, some others might see a happy son and realise that his happiness matters enough to them to not interfere.

Not sure if discussions before getting married can achieve this – Imagine having to tactfully explain and justify why you would like to be able to rest when you come home tired after work – Instead why not just request to be excused while you take a nap? (just wondering, this may not always work of course, the husband has to be supportive…)

Lastly, attempt to see the positive sides of people. We all are good and bad.

IHM: It might become easier to deal with people/situations if one sees what is really there to see instead of trying to ignore the negative side of people/situations.

Each one of us have some scope for improvement. Take life with a stride, be willing to ‘give it a try’ and offer your best to the world.

IHM: ‘Each one of us have some scope for improvement’ – I wish those who seek to improve others were reminded of this – for themselves. Because, who should decide who needs to improve in what ways?

Invariably the ‘improver’ is someone higher in the family hierarchy.

Btw, your in-laws are a part of this world too. They might be equally anxious about your visit. And with time, people evolve because of the experiences they have to face. From my own experience, I see my in-laws have changed their outlook in the past few years about several things in life and honestly, so have I. :-) So if you want to prepare yourself for something, prepare yourself for some change. Try not to be too critical of every action, don’t see every request as a ‘demand’ and don’t be hasty in saying ‘no’ before giving it a thought, just take it as another experience life has to offer you. Make the most of it!

IHM: Sounds fair. Edited to add: Sounds fair only if the same standards of maturity are expected from all adults/in laws involved.

Related Posts :

Dheeyan di maa ranee, budhape bharan paani.

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

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

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

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89 thoughts on “Some people come across as so adamant that they see any change in a negative light.

  1. Excellently put IHM! I completely agree and especially love this: “It’s not the change, but the idea that some family members have the right to expect some other family members to change to make them (somehow) ‘happy’.”.

    If there had been an email from an MIL or FIL saying that their DIL wants to change what time they wake up, whether they are religious or not, what they eat, who they meet etc etc, I really doubt that we would have seen these ‘just do it’ comments. The same irrational expectations seem ok to people when the roles are reversed.

    From the original comment: “being ‘highly educated’ means by default that some portion of your brain and personality is set in stone.”

    Well, being educated means that we learn (or should learn) how to think for ourselves and make our own choices in life. Not ‘obeying’ people is not the same as being set in stone, it simply means that you think for yourself.. and don’t just follow rules and traditions without questioning whether they make sense. I think if our schools and families encouraged children to think for themselves, we would be rid of a lot of social evils already.

  2. If a person doesn’t want to change certain habits and lifestyles to please others, what is the problem with that? As according to Indian law, every person has the right to lead their life as they choose to. So even if some ‘in-laws’ expect or even ask a DIL to make certain changes to her lifestyle, all she has to do is say a curt sorry and refuse. If the in-laws are unhappy, its their problem. But no law says that a DIL is duty-bound to make her in-laws happy. As long as a DIL is not tied, bound, gagged and physically hurt for refusing to change, no one is to blame to have expectations from her if she is able to make her own decisions. If still some DILs reluctantly accept such absurd demands from their in-laws, and then crib about it, they shouldn’t be expected to be called educated, independent or sensible.

    • “If still some DILs reluctantly accept such absurd demands from their in-laws, and then crib about it, they shouldn’t be expected to be called educated, independent or sensible.”
      That’s a bit harsh.
      But I see your point and agree with it.
      Any adult man or woman should equip themselves to resist emotional pressure and deal with unreasonable expectations. Within the context of families, women who make compromises against their wishes should realise that they will end up bitter one day.

      • Your affirmation ” Within the context of families, women who make compromises against their wishes should realise that they will end up bitter one day ” i think is answer to all the problems in indian families. In fact from centuries in the name of culture the DIL is forced to compromise and to loose herself. Let’s not forget that the MILs from today are DIls from past. Woman can be very generous creature if is treasured and loved but in the same time can became very dangerous if is forced to be someone else or nothing. Woman can be God or Devil. Now take a MIL that was treated like slave in her past and didn’t have the power to fight against it. What type of human can be today? For her any young woman that is having the power to think and to do the way she wants is a subject of envy and jealousy. How this young woman dare to have so much courage? The MIL was not able to have her own life, her own happiness like a DIL so now is time to take revenge. Now is her right to be in control. She waited and worked all her life for this. Now she can show what is her power. Such a good feeling for her. Instead to make good things with the control that having today she is doing what she is knowing the best: destroying somebody else happiness in the name of her own happiness. The poor lady is not knowing that what she is getting is so far from a real happiness feeling. How can somebody blame her? Is the only attitude that she is knowing. Nobody loved her, nobody teached her compassion, to be generous, to use the power that is having to do good things. All can change if women will stop to please others and will just fight for their happiness no matter what. When a woman is happy will not expect external things to happen or to change just to please her. She will know that happiness coming from inside, from a possitive attitude towards life, from her own actions. First we should know to live alone and to give us happiness and then we should start to live in relations. Our own hapiness will make others happy.

        • Also Indian women are conditioned yo have adversarial feelings towards other women. As primary caregivers, women channelise positive feelings towards men and children. Yet when it comes to expressing negative emotions, other women are the targets.
          I’ve never understod why many Indian eomen judge women more harshly than men. Maybe it is unconscious, internalised sexism

      • Desidaru. Women don’t agree to unfavourable compromises if better options are avaliable. In the context of marital compromises, women frequently fight a lonely battle against unreasonable demands and expectations. They become hostages in their own marriages because no support is available from any quarter, including parents.
        Moreover changes of food, attire, religious customs and lifestyle are seen to be insiginificant and harmless. The woman is expected to square her chin and somehow “adjust”.
        Its not easy to leave a marriage given the massive loss of face the woman’s parents face. The man’s parents get sympathy. The woman’s parents are ostracised for raising a homebreaker.
        Indian women are under tremendous pressure to Stay Married, even at the cost of their own well being

    • I agree with the first part of your comment, but the last part comes off as lacking compassion. Very ‘it is your own fault so don’t complain’. Emotional pressure/manipulation to conform is nothing to laugh at, even without physical abuse. And education, independence and common sense don’t make much of a difference if society as a whole comes down hard on DIL’s who refuse to conform to the ideal bahu role (eg. a DIL should win over her IL’s with her obedience).Yes, the power to change sometimes lies with the DIL’s but I think those who are pressured into meeting their IL’s expectations do at least deserve our sympathy.

      • “I think those who are pressured into meeting their IL’s expectations do at least deserve our sympathy.”
        If the pressure is through physical force, then they sure do. But if they allow themselves to be pressurized by emotional means, then it is only themselves to blame. Because then it will work both ways as the in-laws can complain of getting emotionally hurt by their ‘non-adjusting’/’non-conforming’ DILs.

        • //Because then it will work both ways as the in-laws can complain of getting emotionally hurt by their ‘non-adjusting’/’non-conforming’ DILs.//

          And I can complain of getting emotionally hurt because Roger Federer doesn’t love me. Because Karan Johar won’t have me playing the lead in his latest flick. Because it is always raining in Mumbai. What I am getting at is this– anybody complaining of getting emotionally hurt by an adult person not living his/her life in accordance with THEIR wishes is not behaving reasonably. There is no equivalence in their position and that of a DIL forced to live under a million restrictions because she is not assertive enough to stand up to emotional arm-twisting.

        • Men usually think Pressure can only be physical.Please note, it need not be always. Sometimes, it can be mental too.Look at it this way, it will be easy to understand – when a guy says he is under pressure to score well in his exams, or that he has lot ofwork pressure, does it mean his parents are thrashing him daily to study well, or that his boss is beating him daily with a broom to complete his work on time! No, right? So, pressure does not mean ONLY physical.
          So, it is incorrect to say, its the DIL’s choice when she does certain things in the absence of physical pressure.it is NOT!.

        • scribblehappy, maybe you didn’t understand the above comment. Of course those in-laws who complain of getting emotionally hurt by their ‘non-adjusting’/’non-conforming’ DILs are not behaving reasonably. But so are the DILs who allow themselves to be manipulated emotionally and then crib about it. One always has the option to say a ‘NO’. It cannot be sensible to let oneself be manipulated by emotional arm-twisting. It is not about equating both the positions but about the immaturity of either by complaining of being emotionally harmed/manipulated.

          aarti, a person is mentally stresses about scoring well in exams because his results and future life/career depends upon it. What part of a DIL’s life or future depends upon allowing herself to be manipulated emotionally? A person is mentally stressed at work because of the fear of being thrown out by the boss and losing the job. What fear does a DIL have if she refuses to ‘adjust’ according to the in-laws? IF they physically hurt her or throw her out of the house, it comes down to physical hurt which I mentioned earlier.

      • @ Sanjay,

        “What part of a DIL’s life or future depends upon allowing herself to be manipulated emotionally?”
        “What fear does a DIL have if she refuses to ‘adjust’ according to the in-laws?”

        Her marriage being at stake (because husbands will often not want to ‘hurt’ their family by supporting the new bride), social acceptance being at stake, her parents pressuring her to ‘make it work’, the stigma and practical difficulties of being a divorcee in a country with a 1-2% divorce rate.

        There are very real consequences that are built into the system to ensure that women and their parents take their place at the bottom of the totem pole. I personally wouldn’t give a damn about any of those but not everyone has the independence needed for that. There is pressure involved, even without physical abuse. I would say an exam is trivial compared to what’s at stake.

  3. The comment above was posted by me and since it has raised more questions in your mind here’s my humble attempt to answer those.

    1. ‘Who in Indian culture is generally expected to adapt to change? Everybody who gets married? No? Only the population that comes lowest in the family and social hierarchy. It’s not the change, but the idea that some family members have the right to expect some other family members to change to make them (somehow) ‘happy’.’

    A new member in a family is generally expected to adapt to the existing lifestyle of the family be it a daughter in law or a baby or a long term guest or even a pet (vegetarian dog). I really don’t think marriage has anything to do with it or the status of the person in the social hierarchy. I don’t see it as a way of control, I just see it as a way to ‘fit in’ in the families routine, culture, practices for the smooth execution of all activities. This delicate balance of a smooth sailing, cordial household makes everyone happy. This is not just limited to Indian families. New employees are expected to adapt to the work culture irrespective of their postion in the company. Even if they want to bring about change, they have to first understand their new environment, realise the flexible areas and non flexible ones, win the confidence of their colleagues and then attempt to suggest changes.

    2. ‘The expectations are so inhuman that while many Indians want a sanskaari bahu, most Indians don’t wants to give birth to and raise a paraya dhan. Indians need ‘reasons’ to have daughters. A facebook post pointed out that if there were no frilly frocks, pretty dolls and raksha bandhan, many more Indians would not want daughters. Raising a girl child is seen as a noble thing to do – a favour to the society, to ensure everybody has daughters in law to take care of them, but having a son, it seems, is what every Indian wants. Why is that?’

    This really depends from family to family. Honestly, I have seen this mostly in business families and in castes where dowry is still practiced. But I also have countless examples of people I personally know who wanted a baby girl and two even cried when they had boys! I also personally know woman my mothers and mil’s age that openly confessed missing having a daughter and looking forward to their son’s marriage to finally have a daughter in the house (they don’t even call them ‘bahu’, they are the ‘beti’s’ of the household). The reason for wanting daughters is more than frilly frocks, dolls and rituals, it is about the emotional attachment that girls grow up to have for their families. If a boy is too emotionally attached to his parents he is looked down upon but if a girl is a ‘daddy’s girl’ or a ‘mamma’s girl’ it is perfectly acceptable.

    3. ‘How can Indian families be happy when the task of making everybody happy is given to the one who the rest strive to keep ‘in control’, powerless, not allowed opinion, voice and freedom?’

    When you are living in a family, together, with people of different age groups just because of the close proximity of people for extended times everyone’s happiness is linked, co-related and close-knit. I agree that happiness comes from within but several factors affect it and the people around you and their behavior being one of them. If a family was always sad and disfunctional expecting the new daughter in law to set things straight is ridiculous but if she has been welcomed into a happy cordial family her creating a ruckus because she’s having trouble adjusting can affect the entire family and spoil their peace. With her presence and actions she can eventually ‘make or break’ the family, so its wrong to say she has no control since her family’s happiness depends on her actions.

    4. Your defination of being independant revolves around the power of ‘refusal’. I see it differently. I realise that with independence comes ‘responsibility’ for your actions, words and existence. As much as independence has benefited us so has inter-dependance and hence it is important to ‘choose your battles’ and not refuse things just because you have the right or at your own whim and fancy. Infact the very reason that you have a say should make you responsible enough for choosing what to say and when to say it. When it comes to dealing with people and their feelings it helps to be tactful and to weigh ‘how much it would affect me to do this?’ versus ‘how much it matters for the person I am doing it for?’

    5. ‘I think sometimes actions speak better than words. It’s okay to expect respect and freedom.To remain polite and respectful (and to expect the same) but to not do what doesn’t make sense to oneself.’

    I am sorry to say but you are belittling the power of communication. By continuing doing what seems right to us while it might bother others around us there would be multiple misunderstandings. Silence is golden, yes, but can be most misunderstood if used at the wrong time. If something does not make sense to me I would try to find out more about it and would see it from the point of view it is coming from, to know the emotional or logical reason behind it. I am not a ‘know-all’ and because of my age and experience I may lack in making sense of all the new things around me.

    • Dont you see it as unfair that the DIL is always the “new” family member? As in, the husband’s family is the primary family and it is the DIL who has to “fit in”?. It can also be seen as: the new husband and wife are starting their own new family and both the husband’s family and wife’s family are the supports to their new family. Also, why is the husband never expected to “fit in” and adjust as per the wife’s family?
      Also, I dont think most individuals choose their battles based on their whims and fancies and just because they can. They choose a particular battle because it is important enough to that particular person. May not be important enough for the rest of the world, but hey, that is how ground breaking revolutions and reforms came to being..when one person followed his/her heart and went against the tide. This does not mean we must go against the tide just for the heck of it, but calling it a whim/fancy is belittling the person’s thinking/decisions.

      • Whoever said DiL is always the “new” family member?In-laws who visit their son/daughter abroad have to adjust to the new ways just the same. Does DiL expect them to change? Hell ya! Does this expectation stem from her urge to control the in-laws? Of course not! Should the newcomer then feel s/he is lowest in social hierarchy? Are you kidding me! Who would think this way! Umm…

        • Does the dil expect the in laws to dress/eat/sleep/wake up to make her ‘happy’? Do the in laws need her permission to wear or not wear symbols of matrimony or religion/weather appropriate clothes? Does she claim that her ‘happiness’ and ‘culture’ depends on what time the in laws wake up/sleep? Do the in laws stand up when she enters the room, but not when the son enters the room – to save the dil’s traditions? Are the in laws asked to eat only after the dil eats? Do they start cooking & eating and combing their hair only the way she likes or else be seen as ruining her culture (which becomes their responsibility)? And do you really believe that indian daughters in law should all settle abroad to be treated humanely by the spouse’s family? Do they have a home of their own if they dont live abroad?

        • Adjusting to circumstances while visiting people is completely dependent on the common things like the common meals taken together, tv watching, etc. Why on earth should something like what I wear or how I choose to spend my free personal time be impacted while I am visiting someone? As far as I know, no ILs are asked to dress a particular way because they are visiting their kids abroad. Infact, they are not even expected to adjust to food as kids ensure that they are cooking Indian food so that their parents are not inconvenienced.

          It is a different issue that suggestions of warmer clothing in certain seasons are neglected and I have seen many a visiting parent freeze in her sari with the exposed midriff :)

        • “Does the dil expect the in laws to dress/eat/sleep/wake up to make her ‘happy’?”
          Yes, all of the above is true and it is not to make someone “happy”. It’s because it is required. When In-laws ask DiL to do something to make them ‘happy’ they are trying to avoid a futile argument on why doing so is important. It could be a cultural thing, it could be an expectation from the society they live in. They are just being wise in trying to avoid an altercation and you are just being horribly naive in taking their words literally.

          “Do the in laws need her permission to wear or not wear symbols of matrimony or religion/weather appropriate clothes?”
          Ya so you are going to mall with your FiL and your south indian FiL wants to wear a lungi which is most weather appropriate clothing in, say, Arizona. To make it even more weather appropriate he wants to pull his lungi above his knees and walk the mall. What are you going to do? Should your attempt of avoiding the embarrassment be seen as FiL requiring your permission to wear what he wants?

          Between, please understand that in most places in India, wearing skimpy ‘weather friendly’ clothes by women is considered as inappropriate as wearing lungi above knees while walking a mall in US.

          “Does she claim that her ‘happiness’ and ‘culture’ depends on what time the in laws wake up/sleep?”
          Yes it does! If in-laws don’t sleep on-time, they talk!! and then you can’t sleep. If they wake up at 5 AM per their schedule in India and play Ramdevbaba, your sleep is ruined too. So I fully support DiL’s claim here.

          ” Do the in laws stand up when she enters the room, but not when the son enters the room – to save the dil’s traditions? Are the in laws asked to eat only after the dil eats?”
          I haven’t seen the above requirements being put by either party. Haven’t seen it, haven’t known anyone who has experienced this.

          ” Do they start cooking & eating and combing their hair only the way she likes or else be seen as ruining her culture (which becomes their responsibility)?”

          I think this is covered by our famous lungi example. So either approve of walking the mall with FiL in his preferred attire or forever hold your peace!

          ” And do you really believe that indian daughters in law should all settle abroad to be treated humanely by the spouse’s family? Do they have a home of their own if they dont live abroad?”

          Not at all. In many cases husband n wife stay in Metros for their jobs while parents are staying in their native city/village. The women in such cases do have a home of their own. Such cases should be fairly sizable…actually most of my acquaintances in India are living like this. About humane treatment, I have seen more older people being abused and exploited by their DiLs than other way round. I have personally known cases of suicide by in-laws due to the horrible treatment they get in home. But you see theirs is an older generation.They are of-course under-represented on the blog-o-sphere to put their views effectively. The voice of the younger women would be obviously louder on this medium- but it does not make them right. One must never forget this.Truth can be easily lost between the blind thumbing downs and ups by the visitors who belong to a particular demographic.

        • You couldn’t have asked this question at a more appropriate time!! My in laws just went back to india after staying with us in the US and the only thing they had to adjust to was probably their sleep patterns according to the time difference. But, what they wore, when they woke up/slept, whether they wore marriage symbols or whether they dressed as per american culture or ate as per american culture was not even mentioned to them (let alone being forced upon them). They still ate indian food here most of the days. So, the point you are making does not really make sense.

        • Dear vaibhav, on my way back today, I saw an old uncle with his veshti ( slightly different from lungi) tied up at his knees with his old wife in a sari and I thought of your comment.

          Yes they are abroad. They are still wearing those lungis. Did they change for their children? Nope.

          You think the dil is allowed to wear short shorts like women here? Nope. She has to be covered. The guy can wear shorts though. Does she sport marriage symbols even if she does not like it? Yes.will she hold her husbands hands or hug him in front of his parents? Nope, not like ppl here coz she is an Indian dil.

        • In what way does the DIL expect them to change because the in-laws are in a new country? Does she force them to try the food of the new country? Does she force the MIL to don trousers and the FIL to drown a martini?
          Can you provide examples?

      • I feel its difficult in india to have the idea of entirely new nuclear families of couple’s…. simply because the parents need to be taken care of when they age ( something i feel strongly about ). From my own social interactions i feel it is a very widespread and common feeling ( correctly so, according to me ). So unless we start throwing our parents into old age homes/ leaving them alone in their old age , it’s just impractical for most of us to not have parents with us.
        Though i do agree that in an equivalent marriage its not just the husbands family that gets the privilege

        • Parents from both the sides can join the couple when needed – only if the couple lives in a nuclear set up. If the couple lives in the man’s parent’s house then the woman’s parents would be subjected to the same ‘fit in’ routine that the dil is. The system of the dil belonging to and living with the man’s parents has led to everybody wanting to have male children, because parents of indian daughters and daughters in law are not seen as senior citizens. They have no daughters in law to look after them, and their daughters are paraya dhan belonging to their in laws.

        • “start throwing our parents into old age homes/ leaving them alone in their old age , it’s just impractical for most of us to not have parents with us.”

          Most people in india get married really young. So if their parents got married and had them by 25 and they also get married by 25, that makes the parents 50. Really, so 50 years old living on their own is impractical?

          Most peple in India get married and have children young. So if their parents got married and had them by

        • @Shekhar Sharma
          Living with parents on it’s own is not the issue here. There are other societies around the world where adult children do live with their parents.
          The issue is the power dynamics that the system creates in India. The DIL in a joint family is often treated as ‘new’ and ‘junior’ till children come along. Her parents are usually discouraged from treating ‘her’ home as their home.
          In this system, one set of ‘elders’ is benefitted at the cost of the others.

          If your idea of a ‘solution’ is to continue living with parents after marriage, then in all fairness, it should mean both sets of parents. By that standard, every home should be large enough to accomodate 3 sets of adults plus kids. Can’t see that happening.

        • @ Shekhar, I agree with your concern and both parents should be taken care of in their time of need. However, making DILs move into the man’s family home post-marriage is not the best way to do that because it leaves her parents in the lurch and sets her up to have to ‘fit in’.

          As IHM says, that setup has led us to the point where people are willing to kill their own girl babies because they are ‘useless’ to them.. or worse if you have to pay dowry AND lose a child. So I think it’s better for a couple to be independent while the parents are healthy and then bring along either set of parents as and when they need to be taken care of.

        • In response to – ‘You couldn’t have asked this question at a more appropriate time!! My in laws just went back to india after staying with us in the US and the only thing they had to adjust to was probably their sleep patterns according to the time difference’

          LOL! You really think so? Perhaps they were kind enough to only mention this discomfort and adjusted to all these things below:

          1) Toilets: Unlike India a toilet is not a wet zone, one requires to ‘dry clean’ oneself…biggest stumbling block for parents.

          2) Milk in gallons: Fresh milk? milk is sold in huge jugs so parents have to ignore the fact that they are using ‘stale’ milk for more than 2 weeks atleast till its time to buy again. Same applies to vegetables that cannot be bought fresh daily.

          3) Frozen/stale: Those living abroad and also work/ study full time immensely value ‘leftovers’ as they are a blessing in times of rush. Parents find it odd when some curry is ‘thawed’ and reheated after 5 days since they are used to fresh food.

          4) People: One thing that they miss the most is interaction with those of their age, the friends they met or familair places they are used to on their walks. If they are not fluent in English they constantly feel lost without their children in public. The coffee ordering scene in ‘English Vinglish’ is not far from reality. Even if they speak english fluently understanding their accent can be difficult for the locals.

          5) Food while travelling around US

          6) The too-soft-for-comfort matresses and sofas that give many elders backache.

          7) Laundry: Clothes are not washed everyday. Enough said. :-)

          There are countless such things, hundreds of such adjustments that even the most liberal household requires. I can go on and on.

        • Do you really believe these ‘adjustments’ are made to make the daughter in law happy? Are these adjustments made only in the daughter in law’s house, or are they applicable if they visit anybody else in the US too?

        • Priti, do you honestly think that the only changes a DIL is expected to make is those things? Those are minor changes that anyone, anywhere would make irrespective of In-Law’s presence, if they are in a different setting. The changes are not made to make people happy, but they are made in the interest of getting on with things. Not washing clothes every day, gallons of milk, and fresh and frozen food–these are subconcious adjustments that people make and they are hardly things that change a person in the scale that a DIL is expected to change.

          At the end of the day, DIL are pressured to give up their careers. They are asked to put their education plans on hold, indefinitely, for the sake of their families. If they are atheist, or not religious in the scale that their In-Laws are religious, they are asked to change those fundamental beliefs (which is huge) to make other people happy. They are asked to discard their ideas on equality and produce sons, and are often abused when they don’t. They are asked to change things about themselves INVOLUNTARILY.

          The scale of adjustments that are made is not something you boil down to laundry. The DIL, by and large, is expected to sacrifice more than anyone else. That is objectionable.

      • @ Vaibhav:

        “They are just being wise in trying to avoid an altercation ”

        They can also avoid an altercation by not interfering in the DIL’s personal decisions, like what to wear, whether to be religious, whether to wear marriage symbols, when to have kids etc. The altercation is not inevitable.

        There is a difference in social niceties, like getting up when your hosts are up.. and in ‘bahu’ expectations being discussed here. The latter is more like being asked to wake up, pray and cook while everyone else is asleep. That is different to normal social etiquettes of respecting your host’s lifestyle. I think you are bing naive here.

        “I have seen more older people being abused and exploited by their DiLs than other way round.”

        So what you have personally seen is an objective universal truth, is it? Please look at india’s sex ratio and realise that there is a systematic problem with sexism in our country and your personal anecdotal evidence does not chant that.

        “please understand that in most places in India, wearing skimpy ‘weather friendly’ clothes by women is considered as inappropriate”

        Wow, I would like to inform you that women are adults who can decide for themselves what clothing seems appropriate to them. Women’s clothing is not subject to approval. The argument that you have to control what women wear or they will start going out in panties is patronising and daft. Jeans cover a LOT more than sarees, so this issue is not about ‘skimpiness’ of the clothes, it is about imposing your ‘culture’ on another person.

        “So either approve of walking the mall with FiL in his preferred attire or forever hold your peace!”

        If an adult chooses to wear a lungi there, I would NOT tell him to change. As long he is not going against any local laws or actually asking for my opinion, I have no say. My mum wore salwaar kameez when she visited me in the UK and I did NOT force her to wear dresses instead.

        • In response to IHM’s question- ‘Do you really believe these ‘adjustments’ are made to make the daughter in law happy? Are these adjustments made only in the daughter in law’s house, or are they applicable if they visit anybody else in the US too?’

          IHM, since the person I addressed this comment to mentioned that their in-laws only had to adjust their sleeping patterns, I had to point out the other adjustments that are completely overlooked. The answer to your question is in one line: If the adjustments I mentioned arn’t done it will surely make a daughter or daughter in law sad and frustrated. Now please don’t bite me back because I only mentioned women and not men in the house, this applies to all. I probably should put a line of disclaimer below each of my comment. :-)

          P.S. There’s a comment of mine waiting for your moderation in the last post since past 2 days. An answer to your questions of ‘why should we touch our elders feet?’, ‘what’s the big deal about sari?’ and ‘is the daughter in law who wakes up earliest, happy?’. Please allow my comment to show up, I am waiting to get a response on it. Thanks.

        • I am making a post from that comment.

          These adjustments cannot be compared to the kind of adjustments that a dil is expected to make – which are specifically created for an Indian dil, which also save the culture, happiness etc of other people who frequently have the power to enforce those ‘adjustments’ on her to make themselves ‘happy’ and ‘respected’.

        • My reply to IHM’s comment below – ‘I am making a post from that comment.’

          Oh Dear! Again? :-) :-P
          Bachaoooooooooo!!! :-)

        • @ Priti,

          The 7 points in your list are all things that the hosts (son, DIL etc) themselves have to live with as well… many of them are out of their control. This is not the type of ‘change’ expected from bahus that is being discussed here.

          Cooperating with the hosts in their home is general social etiquette. The changes and ‘adjustments’ expected from a bahu are not just what would be considered general social etiquete.

          Let me give you an example. My in-laws often (nicely) try to coax me into eating meat because I am vegetarian. I am vegetarian by choice and see no reason to change. They have vegetarian neighbours and relatives who are never asked to ‘try’ meat when they come over. Offering meat to a vegetarian neighbour would be blasphemy and yet pushing it on me as the ‘bahu’ of the house is ok, even expected. Do you see the difference between this and eating frozen curry like everyone else?

          My husband eats meat everyday but I don’t cook it, he happily does himself. People often ask me ‘so do you eat chicken now? you must atleast cook it!’. Why this expectation of fundamental change from me? No one asks him if he turned vegetarian. Do you see the difference in expectations?

          There is an extra expectation of ‘change’ from a wife/ DIL which does not exist from husbands/ SILs and this is unequal and, more importantly, unnecessary. We don’t all have to be clones or slaves of each other to happily coexist.

        • @Priti: Well the points you mentioned to my comment are not something I forced upon them. They are something which is generic to the country as such and not imposed by me or my husband. It is the same as I have to adjust to lack of public toilets in India. I have to adjust to people breaking traffic rules in India. That is something which is not imposed on me by my in laws. And is out of their control. Similary, the point you mentioned are not something that I have imposed on them. And moreover, Let me tell you, they could not deal with frozen curries (and moreover we ourselves dont eat frozen food here!), shower system and laundry system. They did not adjust to these but instead went about cooking fresh food everyday like they did in india, washed their clothes in a bucket every everyday and dried it in the patio in the sun and took baths using a bucket as well.

      • “Ya so you are going to mall with your FiL and your south indian FiL wants to wear a lungi which is most weather appropriate clothing in, say, Arizona. To make it even more weather appropriate he wants to pull his lungi above his knees and walk the mall. What are you going to do? Should your attempt of avoiding the embarrassment be seen as FiL requiring your permission to wear what he wants?”

        If you’re embarrassed to be seen with your FiL when he’s doing no harm to anyone aside from wearing clothes that are not the cultural norm, that’s a problem that resides with you and not with your FiL. Similarly, if in laws are embarrassed by their DIL wearing jeans in a place where it’s not the cultural norm, that’s a problem that resides with them and not with the DIL.

        Why would it be a problem for your FiL to wear a lungi? If a person is unashamed of expressing themselves in the way they choose (in a country that prides itself on its freedom, no less), then it is not something that others should concern themselves with, and if others feel embarrassed because of it, that is their problem.

        Case in point, my grandpa visited us once in Canada during the fall. He has a habit of taking walks in the morning, and didn’t want to wear pants. He wasn’t comfortable in them, so he wore his lungi. He wasn’t harming anyone. If we had insisted that he change his style, we would have been in the wrong and we would have made him unhappy. He didn’t give a damn what people thought of him, be it our family or strangers.

        My dad wears a lungi too, and he’s a citizen. He mows his lawn with one. It’s his right to self expression. My grandma wears her sari, and she won’t change for anyone. The important thing is that she holds that same standards for the people around her, and doesn’t make any clothing impositions on the rest of us. We all respect each others right to do and wear what makes us happy, be it a swimsuit, a sari, or a tent. That’s basic human kindness, what’s so wrong in expecting that?

    • “not refuse things just because you have the right or at your own whim and fancy”

      How I dress up inside my own home, when I eat, sleep or wake up, how much focus I put into my career, what I do with my leisure time after I am back from work is MY choice and most fundamental part of being an adult with control over my own life. These are not choices I would trivialize by calling them “whim” or “fancy”. These are non-negotiable choices that I would make based foremost on my own comfort and like/dislikes and not dependent solely on making a MIL happy or unhappy. Keeping in-laws happy and content with their demands for controlling MY lifestyle is at pit bottom of my priority list in life.
      Sure I am no sanskari Indian bahu and do not regret it one bit. I am not bending over backwards trying to keep everyone happy even at cost of my own discontent, life is too short for that and I am too selfish to compromise my own happiness for people who are only related to me by marriage. My MIL did not have sleepless night raising me or put huge investments into my education, I owe her nothing beyond common courtesy and politeness being my husband’s parents. I know I have shocking viewpoint and won’t qualify as a “good” Indian girl and I am okay with that.

    • I think the fundamental issue is: “A new member in a family is generally expected to adapt to the existing lifestyle of the family be it a daughter in law or a baby”. I disagree with this view of marriage. It is unequal and treats women as little more than a transferable asset/liability.

      New members of existing groups are generally subject to ragging or hazing, to make them fall in line. The traditional ‘marriage’ setup sets up DILs for this as well.

      Also this: “With her presence and actions she can eventually ‘make or break’ the family”. Would you say that it is up to the son-in-law to ‘make or break’ their in-laws’ family? The ‘she can make or break them’ line of thinking assumes the man’s family to be the primary family for his wife too. I fundamentally disagree.

      I have a great relationship with my in-laws but I view marriage much like mypunchingbag, i.e. “the new husband and wife are starting their own new family and both the husband’s family and wife’s family are the supports to their new family.”.. and not as primarily me joining his family. I choose to keep my name. I am not a transferable asset/liability. I think this is the essential difference of views here.

      Despite not seeing myself as ‘paraya dhan’, people around me get on just fine. I really don’t think you have to be subservient to keep them happy. Respecting others is important, respecting yourself is more important. The two are not incompatible, it’s about managing expectations and drawing boundaries.

    • “not refuse things just because you have the right or at your own whim and fancy”

      So one shouldn’t refuse based on your own whim and fancy but it’s ok to live as per someone else’s whim and fancy?

    • Ofcourse independence comes with responsibility. For my life. For my happiness. For care of people under my guardianship ( non-adult children). This does not mean I am responsible for happiness of everybody under the sun except myself.

      There is a fundamental thing I disagree on. That only the new member has to make changes. Thew new member is not a guest and here to stay. In that effect, everyone needs to shift around a bit and achieve a compromise if it has to have any chances of working. The whole issue being discussed in IHM’s blog is not willing compromises people make while living with one another but the forced changes push onto a single person. When they are forced, they are no longer called compromises.

      I would love to see the same points you iterated being told to the MILs and FILs whose entire happiness seems to cling to the pallu of their DILs sarees (literally!). If you have one set of rules for one person and another set of rules for others, it is called double standards.

    • “A new member in a family is generally expected to adapt to the existing lifestyle of the family be it a daughter in law or a baby or a long term guest or even a pet (vegetarian dog). I really don’t think marriage has anything to do with it or the status of the person in the social hierarchy. I don’t see it as a way of control, I just see it as a way to ‘fit in’ in the families routine, culture, practices for the smooth execution of all activities. ”

      comparing a daughter in law with a baby and a pet is really not a fair comparison – to say the least without being impolite. To continue with your unfair comparison, have you not seen unhappy pets who are forced to be vegetarian. my friend’s rescued dog like to wolf down any pieces of meat comes at her way from strangers and mostly refused to eat her food initially. Now my friend has started adding few pieces of meat to her food, although she is vegetarian. So do not take even pets for-granted that they will “fit in”.
      Again, another friend’s baby is born with many food allergies and now the whole family is mostly adhering to the strict dietary restrictions of the baby to make things simpler.
      If a dil is the new member in the family who should fit in within the existing family culture then when does she get to have her own culture or family? The only way it is possible is that she moves out and starts her own nuclear family. No wonder, joint family arrangement is almost dead. Its unfair and should not survive.

      ” New employees are expected to adapt to the work culture irrespective of their postion in the company. Even if they want to bring about change, they have to first understand their new environment, realise the flexible areas and non flexible ones, win the confidence of their colleagues and then attempt to suggest changes. ”

      Again, the above statement is also not true. I have seen new bosses come in and bring their new work culture. Lower rung employees are expected to change and fit in or they are pushed out. Its all about the power of your position. Have you not read all the press coverage Marissa Mayer got for her new directives in Yahoo!. She was hired to bring change, not to fit in.

      • I have not compared the daughter in law with a baby or a dog. The purpose of the statement was to give different examples of different kinds of individuals that join a family irrespective of marriage and eventually become one of them.

        About hiring of employees to bring change, I am sure Ms. Meyer had thoroughly studied and understood the situation and requirements of the company she was to join. She must have done her research, interacted with the decision makers of the company and gone through the history of how things worked around there and why things are the way they are….I doubt this is possible in case of families, for a girl or a guy to know the family they are marrying into so well unless they are know each other since childhood. Anyways, so when I gave the example of employees I was talking about a general set of people who join a new company and eventually become a part of it, I really felt that situation is more comparable to family situations.

        • Unlike marriage, employees can leave a company anytime they feel that they cannot fit into the work culture. They also do not live under the same roof as their tormentors.
          I used the word “tormentors” deliberately. Living 24/7 with somebody who disapproves of controls and criticises your every move IS torment

      • Very well written and I completely second your thoughts. I mean comparing a human being with a dog is just too inhuman and I have actually seen families where the entire family adjusts for the pet (dog)…
        Also, in my opinion if the adjustment starts then it becomes a never ending cycle and in the end the DIL will forget her own identity and become an emotional wreck who will need to see a shrink and then the MIL can happily talk about how her DIL has become a pain and is causing havoc….
        I say all this coz my friend was of the same opinion that its the DIL who has to adjust as she is entering a new house. So when she got married, she did everything that is expected of a “bahu” and ultimately in her attempt to please her entire family she has lost her own identity so much so that the last time I visited her I just could not identify her and had to leave within 10 mins as she had become a stranger to me.

        • ‘…ultimately in her attempt to please her entire family she has lost her own identity so much so that the last time I visited her I just could not identify her and had to leave within 10 mins as she had become a stranger to me’

          People evolve with time and experience. It doesnt mean they lose their identity, infact they gain other identities in life that enrich their outlook. I have seen most of my friends who have changed so much after having a child that they seem like completely different people to me. Their thinking process, priorities,worries, dreams and their goals all have changed – evolved. I havent left them, it’s interesting to know them in this phase of their life all over again.

        • “People evolve with time and experience. It doesnt mean they lose their identity, infact they gain other identities in life that enrich their outlook.”

          The key to this is that when people evolve, they should evolve of their own choosing. Your friend chose to have a baby, and thereby accepted the changes that would bring. It was entirely in her hands, and if she had not wanted to change, she would not have had a child. It was on her own terms that she evolved with time and experience.

          DILs don’t have that same luxury. Change is demanded from them, not something that they choose for themselves. The only choice they get is to either fulfill the expectations of her in-laws, no matter how unhappy it makes her, or don’t fulfill them and bring hell on your head for breaking apart the family.

        • @Priti: Like A said below, the decision to have a child is taken not due to force but purely based on the will of the DIL, and since the child never asked to be brought into the world, its the duty of the mother to take care of the child.
          So in the above case of my friend she had not evolved, in fact whatever little ambition she had before marriage had also been drained and what worries me most about women in such cases is that once they become old and their children leave them (for education, career or after marriage), they will have no life left out and will end up becoming lonely which is bad for them because the husband would have his job and his own schedule and its only the lady who would be left with nothing…..

    • “A new member in a family is generally expected to adapt to the existing lifestyle of the family be it a daughter in law or a baby or a long term guest or even a pet (vegetarian dog)….I don’t see it as a way of control, I just see it as a way to ‘fit in’ in the families routine, culture, practices for the smooth execution of all activities. This delicate balance of a smooth sailing, cordial household makes everyone happy. This is not just limited to Indian families. New employees are expected to adapt to the work culture irrespective of their postion in the company.”

      Why is only the DIL expected to fit in? Why are the in-laws themselves not expected to fit in? Why is the husband not expected to fit in? Why is it that only the DIL should enter a marriage with zero expectations, but everyone else around her can place a thousand expectations on her shoulders? And why is she always the one blamed when the house is not sailing smoothly, or cordial? Why is it that ONLY the DIL’s compliance is mandatory, but the compliance of others in working around her wishes is considered ground breaking?

      I am only one human being. I cannot comply to every single person’s wishes. Moreover, as a human being, I am afforded several human rights, the first of which being the right to personal liberty. As a human being, I am allowed to think of myself first, to put myself before others. There is nothing unselfish about refusing to sacrifice your beliefs, thoughts and personality for the sake of others. What is selfish is expecting clay that you can sculpt to your satisfaction in the place of a living, breathing human being who has a mind, thoughts, likes and dislikes all of her own.

      Ultimately, my rejection of my In-Laws demands is not a rejection of their happiness, but a refusal to allow them to view me as something they can change rather than someone who is a human being. I cannot make them happy unless they allow me to be happy.

      “but if she has been welcomed into a happy cordial family her creating a ruckus because she’s having trouble adjusting can affect the entire family and spoil their peace”

      Instead of blaming her for causing a ruckus, a novel idea would be to question why she is causing one to begin with. That gets to the root of the problem. In families that are truly happy and cordial, they work to fix the problem’s roots rather than snip off the bud.

      Again, the daughter-in-law is only a human being. She too has things that she wants and expects, and basic human decency is one of them. If the happiness of her in-laws families relies upon making her unhappy (whatever those actions may be), and blaming her for it, then this is fundamentally WRONG. You cannot gain happiness out of someone else’s misery. Such families are almost never happy or cordial to begin with, so the daughter-in-law is never “[spoiling] their peace” anyway. They had none to start with.

      Treating someone badly will incur consequences. It is like if you intentionally hurt someone, and then are angry because their standing up for themselves hurts your feelings. If you sow misery, misery is what you will reap.

      If happy families start with happy daughters-in-law, ask the DIL what makes them happy, and perhaps in turn the DIL will also “adjust”. Adjusting has to come from both ends. If in-laws only think about their happiness at the expense of their DIL’s, then THAT is what is selfish.

      • Also, I would advise you to rethink that statement you made about comparing DILs (who are adult human beings, capable of complex thought processes and decision making skills), to dogs (who are not human) and babies (who constantly need to be taken care of because they are not capable of doing it themselves just yet). See if you spot not only why this comparison is so ill-advised, but also incredibly toxic and detrimental.

        • I have not compared Daughter in laws to babies or dogs in any way nor am I indicating they are same. The very purpose of the statement was to give example of the different individuals irrespective of marriage or gender that are new entrants of the family that have to adjust in some way or the other. I also mentioned another example of a guests who could have moved in for a long term stay, how come you missed that? The only thing common in them is that they eventually become a part of the family and while they are getting used to this new environment the family also adapts (and adjusts itself) to them.

        • “I also mentioned another example of a guests who could have moved in for a long term stay, how come you missed that?”

          You would not try to change the personalities and attributes of the guests who come into your house. People still view guests as individuals, but they don’t afford their DIL the same respect. It’s not really the best comparison, mostly because it is expected that a guest will come with their own characteristics, and to try and change those characteristics is something that people will object to. Ultimately, if guests are unhappy with the demands placed on them, or if they place demands upon their hosts, then they are permitted to leave with no repercussions suffered.

          On the other hand, it is expected that a DIL change her characteristics and personality to suit the tastes of her family. If she is unhappy, she is completely disregarded and told to “adjust”. If she tries to take a way out, she is blamed for breaking apart the family. She is not being viewed as a human being, and that is what is wrong with the whole situation.

          Like I said before, adjusting is one thing. Expecting someone to change everything for the whims and fancies of someone else is different. When the task of adjusting falls solely on the shoulders of the DIL and no one else, that is also incredibly unfair. Much of the time, there is no equality in this situation. That is what people object to.

      • Loved, loved your comment. Especially the point that families that truly value happiness and well-being wouldn’t demand that the DIL scrape bare, the walls of her soul to keep her in laws happy.
        That poetic turn of phrase is not mine but Elizabeth Gilbert’s (from her book Committed).
        She discusses many of these same conflicts along with some heartwarming anecdotes from her family’s marital history. A Must Read IMO

    • @Priti:
      Sorry to say this but seems you used very poor analogies that do not hold and no matter how much effort you put in to create a facade of being a ‘sensible’ woman, fact remains that your views are highly lopsided and misogynistic.

      ALL the points that you have put forth are IMO baseless and at best immature.
      A married woman is NOT a new member to an existing family so the question of new members having to adjust all the ensuing BS does not even arise.

      I don’t really know which community you live in (would expect some remote north eastern matrilineal hill tribe) but in the rest of India MOST families DO NOT want female offspring and if I meet a woman ‘ that openly confessed missing having a daughter and looking forward to their son’s marriage’, I would be predisposed to thinking that what she needs is someone to help around the house and bring in some ‘griha shobha’.

      I don’t believe in generalizations as well but if you see the number of wife abuse cases and dowry deaths happening in India and do start considering in-laws as villainous in-general I would be forgiving. But being completely oblivious to such circumstances leaves you being one of two things: blind or plain dumb.

      And finally, I really do believe that even though your name is Priti you are in reality a guy masquerading as a woman, as a woman holding such infantile views qualifies as being SIMPLY MORONIC.

      • Your comment – ‘if I meet a woman ‘ that openly confessed missing having a daughter and looking forward to their son’s marriage’, I would be predisposed to thinking that what she needs is someone to help around the house and bring in some ‘griha shobha’.’

        Seriously? That is ridiculous! Is that what defines a daughter or daughter in law’s role in a family for you? Then I feel really sorry for you. Maybe IHM herself should answer this or make a post on it. (What say, IHM?)

        My comments and the experiences I have shared here seem so disturbing to you because maybe we really come from different worlds. We could be living in the same city but we are just living different realities of life. I am not denying what you come across in your life is not real, I am just presenting the other reality that also co-exists, maybe not in majority but it exists around us and there is hope. We can agree to disagree. But what is important is that we discuss all aspects to it. I am grateful to share a platform on IHM to discuss these things with people and learn about their side, their experiences and opinions, share some of my own. Many times our comments are answers to someone question. Most often they seem confused, looking for advice. I share with them what has worked for me, hoping it might give them some food for thought and might help them take their decisions.

        I can see that my comment above has highly upsetted you, you are free to skip it next time you see my name…which btw, is my real name. I am very much a woman and proud of it :-) .The owner of this blog has received an email from me previously and can see my email address everytime I post here both have my real name. I don’t need to pretend being someone else to present my opinions. I stand by what I say.

        • So when you were at your in-laws you got up early, cooked with your MIL and learned your hubby’s favorite dishes (again from MIL of course, because how on earth could dad-in-law know how to cook, let alone know his son’s favorite dishes), wore a saree and did all that is required to be a new member to your hubby’s family.

          When your hubby decided to ‘briefly visit’ your family (not mandated but oh so wonderful of him for suggesting that), he flipped though family albums, got up a bit earlier than usual and dressed smart. Wow, how convenient!

          Is he not supposed to learn how to prepare your favorite dishes, go desi in a dhoti and blend in so to say?

        • And you are damn right when you say your comments have ‘upsetted’ me, not because your’s is a Utopian marital existence (it is NOT) but because it is obvious that your story has all the usual ingredients of an unequal relationship.

          What angers me is that you chose to look the other way (which is okay) AND profess a false sense of equality that seems to have found too many takers for my comfort. Last I checked this was a blog that promoted feminism and feminist ideals but you seem to have sweet talked a lot of old timers into actually thinking on your lines and THIS is HIGHLY ‘upsetting’ for me!

          THAT is why I cannot ignore your comments (wish I could), I have too much to lose if I do. If you’re uncomfortable with my responses (this IS an open forum), you’re free to ask IHM to gag me.

      • Thanks for voicing that thought Swarup. However Priti may indeed be a woman.
        Plenty of young, educated Indian womem hold similar opinions about such issues. People like us, who regard marriage in egalitarian terms, are a tiny minority, unfortunately.

        Also, women like Priti who preach “assimilation” haven’t actually experienced things like name calling, hostility, isolation and disrespect.
        Priti please walk a mile in the shoes of someone who has.

    • I’ll give you the example of my aunt’s (bua) husband. For the past 35 years, for as long as they have been married, my uncle has had dinner at midnight with a few beers and some mutton and chicken on the side.
      This routine does not change no matter where he is or with whom.
      When he visits his wife’s family in India, the brothers (my dad and uncle who are strict vegetarians) stay up late in the night to keep him company. The women of the house stay up late to warm the meat even though most of the family is vegetarian.

      The entire family bends over backwards to accommodate my bua’s husband. Why? Because he is the mighty son-in-law even after 35 years of marriage.

      So entire families can and DO adjust to new members, especially if its the son-in-law. Growing up, and as an adult, I’ve seen men behave atrociously with their wives’ families.

      I’ve seen such behaviour tolerated because the son-in-law is a god-like creature in our culture. I’ve seen uncles whose drunken antics mortified those present; but who were nevertheless treated like they were blameless angels.

      Please dont argue that all new members are required to change when they enter a new families. That’s only true if the new member is a woman and is a DIL. Then the rules are very diferent

      • I still stand by my views that the new members of any group may it be a family or a company have to initially adjust irespective of their gender since that is what I’ve seen around me.

        In the example you’ve shared, I am sorry to say but it’s your own family’s fault to bend so much for your uncle. Your uncle too seems to be misusing his stay in the family and now over 35 years has gotten used to the ‘royal’ treatment that he doesnt see how it could be bothering others. I firmly believe that those who allowed this and continued to do this are at equal fault.

        • To each his own, eh Priti?

          You seem to be very comfortable (even appreciative) of your hubby lounging around your parent’s house in his ‘smart’ outfits, flipping through your family albums and being critical of certain family customs (in private, ooh so POLITE of him). You don’t seem to get that whiff of entitlement from his antics.

          So why blame Biwo’s family for bending over backwards for her ‘phupha’ (uncle) when you (and your family) seem to be doing the same for your hubby?

  4. ‘Each one of us have some scope for improvement’ – I wish those who seek to improve others were reminded of this – for themselves. Because, who should decide who needs to improve in what ways? – hear hear!!

  5. My mother was oppressed by my daadi and when I got married (it was an arranged marriage and my MIL didn’t allow her son to talk too much with me over the phone) my MIL quite cleverly oppressed me as well so much so that I started praying to God for a male child and not a girl child though I would have loved a girl child. My Logic was my Naani had to bear the brunt of her MIL, then it was my Mom and then Me, hence I didn’t want my daughter to suffer the same fate as ours.
    When I will be welcoming a DIL to my home I will ensure that she is neither harassed nor oppressed for anything.
    Amen

    • I am sorry about your situation but maybe you could also ensure that your daughter is brought up to be an independent woman and so end the cycle. Also you are young and you can still change things for yourself.

    • I feel the same way. I would love to have a daughter but I am terrified that her life would be a repeatition of mine. It would kill me to see her suffer, to endure insult and disrespect just because she demands fairness and parity.
      If I did have a daughter, I’d ask her to settle oversees, in a society where she could be herself and not have to fight a daily battle against gender prejudice

  6. The problem is not change. The problem is understanding where to draw the line. When the changes that are expected of me are things that fundamentally redefine who I am as a human being in order to fit someone else’s idea of an ideal daughter-in-law, I WILL object. When those changes are things that infringe upon my personal right to liberty, to decide how I will make myself happy, it is not “change” it is oppression. I refuse to betray myself and who I am in order for the sake of others happiness, because such happiness is rooted in selfishness. If you can only be happy by taking away the freedom of others for your own personal satisfaction, that is an inherently flawed set of values.

    I can only make the people around me happy if I myself am happy. If I am miserable, I will only make people around me more miserable. Attitudes are contagious.

    • “The problem is not change. The problem is understanding where to draw the line. ”
      Sums it up so neatly.

      @Priti, your ‘line’ is just at a very different distance to other people’s.You cannot tell them to re-draw theirs because they cannot. They are sentient beings who can’t flick a switch and suddenly change their primal responses to situations which make them unhappy/uncomfortable .
      Note I say primal, because it’s very possible to cover up their real reaction with the manufactured, society-approved one.

  7. The truth is we do adjust our clothing and life style according to places and people even if it is not the ILs in question. We do not wear a wedding party wear to office and we do not wear a formal skirt suit to a wedding party. Now note that both these pieces of clothing are not so comfortable but we still wear them when the situation demands. Sometimes, we work extra hours even if we do not feel like when the project in office demands it.

    My point is, that it is alright to let go of what you are comfortable with for small periods of time if you know it is temporary and you are more or less able to follow your own life style without interference.

    I could watch a movie till 4 am and wake up after 12 pm the following day in my own home on a weekend, but when I visit my parents, I wake up at 7 am and follow their time. In fact to tell you the truth a bachelor cousin of my (girl) who stayed with us for a few days would wake up at 12 pm every day. She was not really interfering in our life style, just slept in the guest room and when she woke up she would help herself with whatever was available in the kitchen, but I still found that irritating and expected her to follow the timings of my house when living with me.

    And the truth is that the older generation is changing and trying to adjust too. Be it accepting love marriages which was rare during their era, or women moving over to wearing salwar suits from wearing sarees for 20-30 years. In fact my own mother, MIL, aunts have donned on jeans when they visited US for the first time in their lives. So, it is unfair to say that the change is being demanded only from our generations and DILs in particular.

    Change is good and required but let us take it slow and give the older generation time and space to adjust to it. Always rebelling like a teenager is not a solution

    • Are you sure with time they will be more receptive to others? I doubt it. Yes we do adjust our clothing to situations. Nobody tells us to. We are all adults. Nobody would wear a tank top or hot shots to a traditional wedding. I think inlaws should treat DILs like an adult. Why do they have to dictate what to wear when? Are DILs small children who have to be dressed up by their mothers? Why do you think only in laws have awareness of dress codes?what about the instances where MILs insist DILs wear bangles, sindoor etc even to work where such things are hindrances and look awkward with formals?

      • I have a better question:why don’t the husband and wife find a small home of their own and move in together, in a nuclear set-up? That way the wife isn’t forced to change her routine according to the routine of the elders. I mean, no matter what we say, it is the wife who is moving into another family. She will always feel like it isn’t really her house…at least that’s what I think.

        • Yes, that seems like a workable solution. This entire discussion and the previous one is only about a daughter in law temporarily visiting her inlaws house. The entire discussion is about why even in that small visit should she have to ‘please’ her in laws while living in their house.

        • That is the right solution. However things are not that simple. Sometimes if a couple decides to live separately the woman is blamed for breaking up the family. Sometimes husbands blames their wives too. Sometimes they are living separately but inlaws decided to move in with their son without even informing them before. One of my friends sister and her husband lived and worked in a different city. One fine day the guy’s parents sold of their ancestral home without even discussing it with them. They just moved in with them in their city. The couple were already working full time and had issues in conceiving because of stress. The guys parents moving in without a notice didn’t help.

          In another case a couple and their two children live in different city from both their parents. Wife is the only child of her parents. Husband has a sister who lives in the same city as his parents. The guys parents are physically fit but have been constantly wanting to move in with their son and his parents. Even their daughter is pressurising the couple.

        • That is exactly right. If you read my comment I have clearly said
          “My point is, that it is alright to let go of what you are comfortable with for small periods of time if you know it is temporary and you are more or less able to follow your own life style without interference.”

          And the person is question ( the e mail writer of the previous post ) has to only conform to the IL lifestyle for a few days an year. There too, I think she can foot down if there is really something that makes her terribly uncomfortable, but yes adjusting a bit to their lifestyle is harmless.

  8. I really respect the sentiments of the person who wrote this as comment in your previous post. She is trying to give everyone a chance and at the same time try to confirm to their expectations. If she is able to do this to the satisfaction of her family, and in turn get happiness for herself, this suggestion really has worked out for her. But at the same time, not sure if it will work for all of us. Given that, I agree to almost everything that IHM has penned in this post!

    The thought of a DIL being the new member in a big family and changing her life to confirm to this new family is disturbing. I am finding it very difficult to confirm to our society’s perception of marriage. Marriage is the formation of a new family comprising of the newly wedded husband and wife. Once their children are born, they too become part of this small family till they are old enough to go out on their own.

    This is the way it happens in nature… not only for humans, but for all other species too. Cant we keep our life simple, happy and peaceful.. IHM’s comments make sense to me… I think it will also make sense to all those who retain their individual identities, pre and post marriage!

  9. @ anonymous – Parents wont be 50 forever they will age and they will become infirm, so saying that “parents are 50 at time of marriage” is just missing the point that its just an inevitability delayed.
    @ desidaaru & IHM – The last line of my earlier post meant exactly what u are saying , that both sets of in-laws should be able to stay with the couple, vice-versa i feel, the couple should be able to stay with both sets of parents ( LOL to all “Gharjamai” jokes )

    And as for the harassed DIL’s, I believe they deserve better and they should not be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.
    On the other hand i also believe that marriage in india , by its very nature requires some understanding and accommodation from both sides ( that is bride and in-laws , and though rarely a problem , the husband and bride’s parents ). After all as aishwarya rai so eloquently put it , we don’t live in a country where we have to take dinner appointments with our parents

    • Frankly I find nothing offensive about dinner appointments. That’s much better than breatthing down each others necks

    • But unfortunately, we also live in a country where we have to take appointments from our parents/ILs to meet our future / present spouses!

      And who ever said that people in western countries take appointments with their parents? All I have seen is kids just not making the assumption that parents will be eternally free with nothing else to do and checking that they will indeed be at home and not have any plans.

      Even in India, if you are not living in the same town / house as your parents, you will definitely make a call before dropping by just to make sure you are not knocking on an empty home. That is not called “taking appointments”.

      When I visit my parents, I know I will always be welcome, but I try and co-ordinate my visit such that my mom can get leave from her office, etc.

      • People like shekar like to make assumptions about the west to feel superior.

        its not booking appointments, its called making plans. I call my parents and ask them if they are free to have dinner on saturday because they are adults who have their own life, friends and schedule. I guess Shekar would look down on this and think that we are a less loving and warm family becuase we dont all live together but hate each other on the inside

    • Yes but you still ignore the fact thst most people stay healthy and active in old age thanks to modern medicine.

      Yes, there will come a time when there sick and need you to take care of them but that doesnt require 25 years of care.

      You have this preconcieved notion that in the big bad west we just throw away our parents like garbage. My mom works with seniors and yes they need to be taken care of near the end of their lives and many move in with their children. Usually they are very elderly 65+ and cant care for themselves anymore. Thy usually live a couple more years and pass away. One of my moms patients, when she got sick moved in with her daughter, she died two years later. She only needed to be taken care of for two years. Her daughter was able to live in a nuclear family up until that time. Most parents when they need to be talen care of are in their 60′s and 70′s by then your own children have grown and moved out. You have also been married for a good thirty years and it doesnt put the same strain on a marriage that living with parents does on newly weds.

      And next time before you talk trash about retirement homes you might want to actually visit one. They are not the horrible place you think they. I volunteered in one in highschool and they are great. You get to hang out with people your own age, they have activities, excercise classes, great facilities etc.

    • The no appointments rule only applies to parents of boys. We also live in a country where many daughter-in-laws have to get permission from their in-laws to visit their parents. And a daughter’s parents are not welcome in her house after marriage. I’m talking about educated women living in cities here. So much for feeling superior over the “west”

  10. I see what Priti is saying, that you should go into a relationship with your in-laws with a positive outlook, but in the Indian context it is understandable when a wife is apprehensive about what her in-laws might demand/expect of her. Not minor things like getting up/going to bed around the same time to not be disruptive but MAJOR lifestyle changes.

    Not stuff like :
    - Eating ‘stale’ food: this is a pet peeve of mine but back in the day before fridges yes food went rotten quickly, especially in the heat. For food safety reasons ‘fresh’ daily cooking was a good idea. But now what is this about ‘stale vs fresh’ food?? A cold fridge slows food (yes even milk) from going bad so it is about the same level of ‘fresh’ as when it was made.
    – Dry bathrooms: keep a mug in the bathroom, problem solved.
    – Laundry: Washing clothes when there’s enough for a full load (probably not everyday) is a sensible water and energy saving idea. Maybe explain why you’re not washing clothes daily and they will see your logic?
    - Clothing: So what if someone wears a lungi in a mall. People will think O.o is that guy wearing a skirt, but who cares.

    The other points you raised about bedding, not knowing the language, foreign food etc. are really traveller problems that anyone faces when travelling abroad, not something adjusted to to ‘please’ anyone. Also, I think dogs are better than humans so I didn’t find that comparison the least bit insulting :)

  11. i live in the US and here too they dont take dinner appts with parents . they however do agree to meet whenit’s convienient and in my v small circle of friends the american ones eat sunday dinner with their parents, meaning go their parents house in turn and eat food cooked by the moms ( of course they take a dish too) .
    there are very few families in india where the DIl is a revered guest :-)
    I agree that we do require quite a bit of accomodation in indian families and that’s ok but from where i stand the accomodation seems to be predominantly to be done by the bride. the groom rarely needs to accomodate to his in-laws lifestyle. in fact he’s treated as a king when we deings to visit.
    i wish we treated the DIl as we treat the SIL . when the DIL visits her in-laws or worse case is asked ot live there , she sould be treated as a revered guest ( !!!) isnt that what happens when SILS’s visit.
    I’m all for adjusting but not compromising. some things in life are sacrosant, even for marriage .

  12. I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.

    In india when a woman and man get married only the woman’s life changes. The man gets to continue living the way he always has.

    Marriage should be about comprising on both sides husband and wife.

    If I like to eat dinner at 9 and they all like to eat early who will have to change. The dil or 5 members of the family.

    In a nuclear set up both husband and wife will compromise and might eat at 7. A middle ground, a compromise for both.

    That was just an example but thats what marriage is supposed to be; give and take and compromises from both parties.

    In the joint system it doesn’t work that way. Women are expected to “adjust” while men continue living the way they always have. Indian men have such a sense of entitlement in this system.

    Its not about women being stubborn about change, its the fact that it is only expected of them.

    I know i will have to adjust to change, compromise and sacrifice when i get married but i also want my husband to do that for me. It has to be a two way street.

    IHM: Loved your comment, shared it here,
    http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/i-will-never-live-in-a-joint-family-it-has-its-roots-in-patriarchy-and-benefits-only-men/

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