An email: My problem is quite common, but that does not make it any easier to handle.

Sharing an email.
Hi IHM,

My problem is quite common, but that does not make it any easier to handle.

 My  in-laws have constantly been finding faults with me all through my married life. We live abroad now but that does not stop them. After we had a baby things have gotten worse. The worst thing is my husband now believes that i am rude to his parents [which is not true by any stretch of imagination] and blames me for his bad relationship with them. I am highly stressed due to these fights with my husband. Divorce is not an option at all, I do not want to go through it for many reasons. But I feel all the love is lost between me and my husband and we are merely living together for the sake of it. I really wish we could sit and resolve it. but every time we sit and talk, he starts shouting about my faults and the discussion goes nowhere. I am not a saint, but in the recent times, I have been trying hard to keep peace at home. Can you please suggest a solution to this?
Thanks
Frustrated.
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94 thoughts on “An email: My problem is quite common, but that does not make it any easier to handle.

  1. Been there, done that. It wont work, since he sees you as an interloper, who has driven a wedge between his parents and him. He has a lot of growing up to do. And you need to grow a back bone and fight for your self esteem. Only then can this relationship work

  2. It is a very valid problem, common or not. I respect your decision to keep the marriage and desire to keep it healthy. I just have a lot of questions for you.
    Do you think he also wants it?? Or has he always expected you to bend down to his will??
    Is the parents only issue or does he get irrational in other things too??

    Does he understand that your decision not to divorce him is not out of compulsion but out of your wish? Is he taking you for granted?? In which case- where is the relationship going??

    I think you need to put your points forward to your husband ( I know you have, but persistence will make him see the light? )

    Have you asked him to judge it as a third person, not as their son. How would he react to similar situations? Would he be comfortable taking criticism from your parents or anyone who is not close to him? Will he confess that he expects it from you only becauae you are a bahu?? If he does, then he would expect parents to have a right over you.

    Your child will be in middle of conflict because of people who are not ultimately responsible for him/ her . Who is the primary caretaker? You. You need to be happy if your familyis to be happy. Does he see that??

    Ibthink if you want this, then he may have to be firmly made aware that hysterics are not going to shut you up.

  3. “I really wish we could sit and resolve it. but every time we sit and talk, he starts shouting about my faults and the discussion goes nowhere.”
    I’m curious as to a solution to this also.
    When someone is this unreasonable, emotional & unwilling to discuss an important issue in a rational, adult manner – I usually just clam up & or leave.
    I’ve been accused of being ‘passive aggressive’ & giving the ‘silent treatment’ – But what else can you do when someone is behaving in such an irrational manner? Clearly they have some agenda aren’t interested in finding a solution to an issue?

    • There is a difference between being the classic passive aggressive stealth saboteur and what you seem to be doing. It is one thing to prolong conflict using passive aggressive means; it is quite another to disengage when a confrontation turns nasty.

      The best thing to do would be to lay down some ground rules for arguments — no namecalling, no raising old, resolved issues etc etc, calling for timeouts etc.

  4. I have faced this, fought, cried, …., and finally resolved it. Looks like your husband is trying his best to blame you and not his parents… But you love him still and want to continue your relationship. Very much understandable.
    You will only make your married life worse by making your husband understand something that he does not want to. I would say, the best you can do to yourself is stop treating this as a problem. The next time your in-laws find a fault with you… either ignore it , or laugh it off or give a short sweet reply that makes them stop making it a problem. Your in-laws seem to be less mature… or sensible. But you need to deal with them, yet retain your peace of mind.
    So, don’t take their remarks seriously. Involve yourself in other interests, hobbies, activities that you enjoy. Do all that it takes to prevent yourself from thinking about your problems. Be determined that you will not let your in-laws spoil your married life, neither will you compromise on your self esteem. Involve yourself in all activities that boost your self confidence. Good luck :)

    As for your husband, many men realise the truth only when they see it’s effects in action. Words fall on deaf ears. Chances are that as he sees you take genuine efforts to stay away from problems, he will get the message that you are not interested in dividing him from his parents.

    • “The next time your in-laws find a fault with you… either ignore it , or laugh it off or give a short sweet reply that makes them stop making it a problem.”

      Maybe the problem here is not so much what the in-laws say or do. Rather it is that, in many families, if the husband and wife are not seen as a strong unit, as 2 people that deeply care for each other, it paves the way for in-laws and relatives to make hurtful remarks, meddle, etc.

      If a husband is demonstrative of his affection and respect for his wife, I find that very few in-laws and relatives treat her unkindly. If he is indifferent to her feelings, she is left to fight her own battles. If (on the other extreme), he treats his parents as the main family and her as a later addition, then conflicts can get pretty nasty.

      A husband and wife need to understand that they are the primary family unit, and parents on both sides need to be supportive of this idea. You can still love your parents and help them but this is not the same as an unhealthy dependence and an inability to grow up and out of one’s childhood home.

  5. I agree with Iniyaal.
    You can try 2 approaches and see what works for you. Observation is the key.
    - Let criticisms from in-laws fall on your deaf ears. Don’t react. Don’t give them the “pleasure” of your reaction. I am talking about Gandhi philosophy…but in a different way. Behave like nothing happened and just brush it off your shoulders (and mind). It’s very hard. But it works for me. If it messes with your mind, talk to them as less possible as you can. Make sure you are always extremely sweet to them. It works like a charm.
    - Second approach is actually agreeing with them. Whatever they say, just agree (and do nothing about it because you know you dont need to!) and close the topic. Again, dont forget to be sweet to them and don’t plunge into depths of why you agree with them! If your husband criticizes, do the same. See if it works.
    Never criticize his parents in front of him. At least not right now. It will take a while but let him start seeing who is at fault here…all by himself.
    All in all, believe in yourself. Dont let any of the criticisms affect you.
    Hope this helps. Good luck and God bless.

    • Not giving them the pleasure of getting a reaction from you has a price and it is very detrimental to the incumbent bottled up emotions leading to nervous breakdown. Dealing with two such women right this month, one made a trip to hospital and other is in shock.
      SPEAK UP, self righteousness is not going to get you medals.
      Peace,
      DG

      • DG, speaking up doesn’t work unless you are willing to risk marital breakdown and are willing to defend your position unequivocally.

        I have come to realise that many Indian in-laws make concerted attempts initially, to “tame” the new bride. They go into overdrive, criticising every aspect of her personality and her life. Why this behavior is so widespread is beyond me, given the long-lasting damage it wreaks.

        Perhaps it stems from the desire to exert power over somebody who is vulnerable and a soft target.

        Most of my female friends believe that it is best to dissemble and take the path of least resistance. Appear to agree but do exactly as you please. It doesn’t challenge the in-laws’ fragile ego and gives you time to build your marital relationship.

        Not many women are willing to risk a protracted battle of wills, especially because it drives a rift between the husband and wife, which is exactly the point of it all.

        Given your own experiences, won’t you agree that it helps to pick one’s battles and an open defiance of the in-laws is interpreted in the worst way possible?
        Is it at all possible to stand up for yourself if you have the stereotypical Indian husband and in-laws? It’s not as if these people don’t understand the psychological harm their behavior causes in the wife/DIL. They do, and most times. they’re quite ok with it.

  6. I have no suggestion for this by experience at all, never lived with inlaws or parents and hence no fault finding.
    I wonder what gives Indians parents the right to criticize another human being, a person who has no blood ties to you and whom you didn’t feed, clothe, give brith or help raise. we have such an entitled mentality. maybe they think till adults dont mature till their parents die. i don’t know.

    But my suggestion that has worked for friends is ignore them, you do NOT have to engage them , talk to them and if you are forced to talk to them , just ignore and carry on as you do. I had a friend whose MIL called her up from the village and dictated exactly how many sweets and savories she had to prepare for every festival and what puja to perform at what time. ( mostly unearthly in he morning) of course said stuff never applied to her son, My friend listened to her , ignored her did what she pleased and the next day gave her a report adding 2 extra items and advancing the time by 20 min .. initially i was shocked at the deception. and didn’t think it was right i prefer to be truthful and say ‘ no thanks you do your way I’ll do mine’ but i realised i was this way because i didnt have to deal witht he MIL/husband politics. her husband didnt care and just said everything was fine to his mom, the mom was happy thinking she could boss the DIl around and my friend didnt give 2 hoots. her husband infact later started telling everyone that inspite of his moms’s nagging, she managed his mom well and made her so happy!!!!!
    well some people prefer to live in a make believe world and are happy with fake respect, give it to them, what else can you do. if you dont agree to feed that snake then be prepared to put your foot down and state that youa re an adult and do NOT need advise and criticisms and fight it out with your husband..

    • This is the third post I’ve disagreed with (at least partially) in a row, so I’m posting a comment in order to stop speculation about the serial thumbs-downers.

      I have a question for everyone who recommends just nodding and letting things go along. I guess it might work if there is a safe geographic distance between the two parties but how would it work otherwise? I really don’t understand how it can be a healthy relationship where one side is constantly trying to assert power and nothing is really done about it. Can this “do my own thing without their knowledge” strategy work indefinitely? I personally cannot imagine following such an approach for extended periods of time or as a permanent solution. It would mess me up too much psychologically.

      • well in some cases what else can you do. I’m all for fighting it out. luckily I have no one to question me and either ways i say what i please, but there are women who want to be in a relationship and yet have some semblance of a normal life without fights, especially if they stay far away from in-laws. just nod and do as you please works for them.
        its another suggestion, one of many :-)
        that’s life in the indian families.. yep juvenile and yep political and Nope no adults just immature kids…

      • I agree @SB. It would mess me up too if I had to con someone into thinking I was following their instructions.
        In my case, after being the docile bahu for long and not getting anywhere, I had to decide to stand up for myself. When my MIL tried dictating things over the phone to me,I ignored it, but made sure she knew I was ignoring it.
        Once she told me at what time I should go to the railway station to pick up my husband, ostensibly her suggestion was for my own safety. I was not even staying with her at the time. I told her firmly that the train was at such and such a time and I would be going at such and such a time. She tried to get other relatives to get me to change my mind and follow her advice. Luckily they knew better than to intervene,

      • Actually SB, sometimes it does work. People who are trying to assert power do realize sooner or later that you are not following what they say. But since you have never disagreed with them, they cannot argue with you. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager :) I lived in a big joint family in a small town. You can only imagine the patriarchy running there. I would listen to the elders, never confront them (because they always made it an ego issue when I did). But I would just do what I wanted to. They would shout at me, and again I would just hear them out without reaction and do the same thing all over again.

        You have to choose your battles as battles cause stress and if there is a way around without getting into the battle, it’s worth exploring. That’s my philosophy!

  7. After I read such posts, for once I actually feel grateful for my single life rather than being stuck in such dead Indian marriages. Sure I never had a fancy honeymoon trip, gorgeous wedding dresses or the congratulations/well wishes from all. But I cannot imagine myself in this LW’s position and having to take all these endless insults and lack of respect from one who is supposedly my life partner. Sorry I don’t have much advice for her but just shocked at how much women take in and suffer in silence just to keep their marriages intact. I personally would walk out of such a marriage but I understand the LW might have other constraints. Respect is a mutual two way street for me, it cannot be coerced by emotional blackmailing. In-laws who constantly criticize me are toxic for my mental health and happiness, I can never ever have any good will towards such horrendous people. If I was in her shoes, I would wish and pray every day that such in-laws die as soon as possible and leave me alone in peace since the husband would obviously never grow up and think with a logical piece of brain. All the advice above asking this woman to keep quiet, forget her self-respect and dignity and suck it up just to keep the in-laws happy just sounds so painful to actually do, worse than getting a wisdom tooth out. Obviously this is a damn Indian marriage so nobody in their wildest dreams would ever expect the in-laws or husband to mend their ways. They can create all this drama and the poor woman has to invest all her mental energy to deal with it, wtf ! Next time I feel lonely on a weekend, I will grab a bottle of wine and remind myself at least I am better off than such marriages.

    • Don’t worry you didn’t miss anything neither honeymoon nor wedding dresses :) DG was married but had no honeymoon coz’ he wanted to take mommy along as a favor she would have slept in the other room. All those wedding outfit her parents gave her were still gift wrapped when she was unceremoniously left out in the hospital high and dry.
      Peace,
      DG

    • AnnonDiva, don’t take it so hard on yourself :) This isn’t entirely the truth, and not all Indian marriages are like this, although I’d presume a majority are.

      In my case, dad finds it very bothersome that folks are letting their parents run too much of their lives. He was shielding his wife from his parents very well, something that mom really admires. His siblings did the same. He doesn’t even comment about my relationships or about my girlfriend. He just lets me live life as I like, and gives me all the space and respect I need.

      There are good people in the world. You just need to find them.

  8. If your husband starts to shout whenever you try to resolve the issue, the best thing is to write him a letter… covering all the issues that IMH’s questions have referred to. That way, you’ll get rid of a major part of your frustration that must surely arise from the fact that you are not getting to say what you wish said.

    Try it, you have nothing to lose.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. I was in the very same shoes. Husband was not mature enough to face his parent’s wrath. He took it all on me instead. Only when I told him I had enuff of him n his psycho family n that I’m leaving, did he wake up from his manic behaviour. Things has changed though we are still working on certain things relating to his parents. I refuse to have any ties with them.

  10. Ah ha, we have another DG here, you are right it is not or rarest of the rare it is as common has salt on the table, remote controlling from 11,000 miles. Thanks to Skype and VIOP it is more efficient now.
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/desi-parenting-raising-devoted-sons/

    So wise readers will give you all support and encouragement along with suggestions here are DG’s two cents:

    You have rightfully observed your attempts to communicate are going no where, it is called communication dead lock and off off the tablitis.
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/lets-talk-communication-deadlock/

    When this is the norm it is like dog catch the tail two people go round and round and reach no where it is time to seek external support. That you have just done but more professional one locally accessible is
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/couples-counseling-faq/

    The party with unreasonable expectations in the relationship always refuses to go and also the burden of being male is a big one to carry even if it is a choice of dying of ball cancer or going to the doctor the big pride comes in between, Go girl. Go for your sake and your sanity.

    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/feeling-and-expressing-your-emotions/

    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/emotional-abuse/
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/cycle-of-violence/
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/dealing-with-in-laws/

    Stay strong and you’ll find your way sooner or later that is your choice.
    Peace,
    Desi Girl

  11. Dear email writer,

    The first thing you should do is some introspection. Write down a few specific things you want from your relationship. Things like – “I want to feel loved.” or “I want to feel respected.” or “I want to have a say in decisions that affect my family.” Now think – are your needs being met? What is getting in the way? What does your husband need to know from you? How can you communicate it to him?

    Second step – sit down and have a heart to heart talk with your husband. I know you said you already tried that – but I don’t know how it was initiated. Was it right in the middle of a fight? Was it right after some conflict with the in-laws? Then both sides are upset and have very little empathy for each other. Pick a time when things are reasonably peaceful and cooperative. Write down a couple of specific things (don’t discuss everything under the sun). Tell him you need to talk about this, it’s important, and it’s jeopardizing your relationship.

    If the talk does not go well (he’s unwilling to listen, is back to accusing, negativity), then you need to consider counseling. A third party may help him see the situation more clearly.

    If he’s unwilling to go through counseling, and you continue to feel frustrated, you could take an extended break. You could take your baby and ‘visit’ your parents for an extended time. This will give you a chance to sort things out your own fears and obstacles to getting your needs met. You are also sending him a message – “I don’t want to live in this unhappy relationship. I’m seriously considering getting out of it. I’m willing to work on it, but you are not giving ‘us’ a chance, so this may be the only recourse.”

    If you have done everything in your power to change things in a positive way but he does not listen, communicate, or try to understand, you may need to think about divorce. I know you said you can’t consider it and I don’t know the reasons. But divorce is not the end of life. It can be a new beginning. Every individual has the right to happiness. Our culture tends to look at happiness as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. It’s not. You make your own happiness. Take charge of your life.

    Hugs and all the best,
    priya

  12. I am assuming that when you say “abroad” it is a developed nation with access to counselors. From the sound of it, this seems to be a very hard topic to discuss objectively for your husband, hence the shouting, denial. It would probably help to engage a marriage counselor to help you both work this out. It has the added benefit of advise from a third party which may sound more fair as your husband might be thinking you do not have a fair perspective in the problem.

    Hope this helps.

  13. “The worst thing is my husband NOW believes…”
    What do you mean by “now”, was he good to you before? Has he been supportive of you all this while and all of a sudden started accusing you? If that’s the case ask him what changed, why he’s stopped trusting you, ask him if you hurt him in some way unintentionally. You list all the ways in which you might have hurt him intentionally or unintentionally. That will give you a clear picture as well.

    “But I feel all the love is lost between me and my husband and we are merely living together for the sake of it”
    Love, mutual respect and trust are what keep the relationship going. Even one is lost the rest go away very quickly. Find out what happened and where and what point you both changed. It could be that your focus is all on the baby and he feels alone or wishes he could at least earn the good will of his parents. Talk to him.

    “…but every time we sit and talk, he starts shouting about my faults and the discussion goes nowhere”
    Have control over when you’ll have a discussion. Set some ground rules. The moment he raises his voice remind him of the rule, keep calm yourself and keep repeating the rule until he calms down.

    Ideally a well-intentioned, educated mediator should help with the problem. In the absence of it, one of the mature spouses have to take that responsibility.

    Ideally he should also be thinking of these issues and investing his energy on how to work things out or at least participate in a healthy discussion. In the absence of it, there is no solution.

  14. Sweetheart I too suffer from the same problem. In fact worse because we live under the same roof. I too figured out that it is futile to have a discussion with husband because according to him ‘I am rebellious’, ‘I do not consider it my home’, ‘ problem is in my mind’, ‘ she is my MIL after all’,’ when all women adjust why should be an exception, I can confirm from other women too’. We even took professional help. it did not help at all. I don’t know if all counselors in India are culturally conditioned but she was. She told me he will not change so I have to accept that he will never understand or support me. She also told me leaving him wont help either because I will have to bear a lot as a divorced woman in India.

    Yes our relationship is very downhill too. I do feel lack of respect and space. I have intimacy issues. I tried working on them but I no longer want to because it takes two people to make a relationship work. I am tired and drained out and longer care to save the relationship. I am yet not ready to leave the marriage however I don’t care if it breaks.

    There are few things I have planned for myself. Yes now I work only on myself and not on my marriage(because I refuse to be the only person trying with no effort or understanding from him). If saving marriage is not his priority it will not me mine too at the cost of my mental health and self esteem. Here are the things I remind myself:

    1. Not to have children. I don’t want to bring a child to this toxic mix
    2. Keep working towards being financially independent. I had left my job to move to his city.
    3. Keep working on hobbies. that’s the best part of my day
    4. Building a support system of friends in the new city
    5. I work out and it is a stress buster.
    6. I do not change my dressing sense to suit MIL even if she grumbles.
    7. I tell myself everyday that I have done no harm to anyone so nobody can guilt trip me.
    8. I visit my folks often and for weeks.
    9. I spend more time on activities/hobbies outside home than at home with MIL
    10. I try not to be too hard on myself and don’t have a plan ready to address MIL’s complains. At times I ignore, sometimes I disagree openly and at times I remove myself from her periphery. It depends on her demands/complains and my mood. I don’t care if husband has a problem with it. I only care about my peace of mind.

    Inspite of all this I still have days when I just cry. There are times I am not strong enough. I don’t beat myself for it. I cry and I am not ashamed of it. I am planning to go for some therapy like reiki to heal myself of all the hurt this marriage has brought in my life. I hope I will then have clarity of mind to know what I want to do and courage to follow it.

    So from my experience I would suggest don’t believe anybody who tells you you are not good enough. Nobody has a right to judge you. Don’t ever be too hard on yourself.

    • Glad to meet another DG in making. Thanks for mentioning the word “intimacy,” it is a big taboo people think in this cycle of love, silence, hate, love silence, hate… in honeymoon phase women should go back to love making as if nothing happened because man can get it up without a second thought. It is cruel and it is only faking coz’ she has already left the physical body and standing outside and watching what is taking place.
      And then there comes a time you just don’t want to do anything about it than just wait for that marriage to die its own death.
      Stay strong, you’ll reach there exactly when you set a date.
      Sending you more power and kind thoughts.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      • Thanks so much DG for sending kind thoughts. I absolutely need them. You are so right about intimacy. Sometimes when our mind is confused and we cant make sense of anything it is our body that tells us the truth. How can we ignore it?

        The counselor told me my intimacy problems are because of my FOO issues and am scared of abandonment. haha…cant she figure out thats exactly what i want now. Can I get in touch with you DG?

        Sorry IHM for hijacking this space.

  15. Also, here are some pointers that I have found useful on how to take control and have a calm discussion:
    1. Decide to leave emotions aside at least for a little while.
    2. When someone starts listing out your faults or say anything negative for that matter our first instinct is to get defensive. Don’t. Consider the accusation as a neutral statement. “Rose is blue”. If a rose is blue it is blue, if it isn’t it is not. A rose knows that and a keen observer will but a blind person may not. So think about what someone’s faulting you of and question yourself if it is true. If it is true and it cannot be changed, state that and your reasons. If it is true and you never realized it, apologize and tell them you’ll correct it. If it isn’t true, first apologize for coming across that way and that you didn’t intend for it. Ask them why they perceive you that way and how that can change.
    3. Keeping calm during a fight takes immense focus and organization. Two people cannot go on pointing fingers at each other. You have to take turns and resolve each others issues one after another. Usually the person being accused should let the person accusing go first or whoever is the least frustrated.
    4. Avoid bringing up past mistakes. Always focus on the future and ask yourself and the other person what needs to be done to set things right. And then, don’t just walk away. Mentally erase all past mistakes they might have done assuming they have already aware and apologized for that.
    5. Say something nice and how you miss that. It is extremely hard to say nice things about someone when they are throwing flame darts at you but it is good to remind yourself of the good things they’ve done and telling them that particularly.

    All these are based on the assumption that both parties have equal benefit in the outcome. If that’s not the case all the points above are null and void.

    Hope that helps.

  16. There is a difference between pretending you don’t care and actually not caring. The first one is honestly going to give you more stress because you are holding in all your feelings, and bullies can sense when their words are hurting someone so they will just continue. But if you really make peace with the ‘faults’ your in-laws are finding with you, and find they are not things you consider ‘faults’, then their words will be like water off a ducks back and you can safely ignore or lie to them with no harm to you. Eventually the in-laws will figure out that their dil actually doesn’t give a damn what they think so nothing they say will make a difference. Or you could go the full-frontal route and just tell them that what they’re saying is rude and you don’t want to hear it – might not change anything but you will feel a lot better for getting it off your chest. Give them a taste of their own medicine and start pointing out their faults to them haha.

    As for your husband it is tough to hear and believe that loved ones can do bad things – maybe relay the ‘faults’ the in-laws are finding with you and ask him whether he thinks they are being reasonable. Put the in-laws on speakerphone so hubby can hear for himself what his parents are saying to you. Confronted with direct evidence he might change his mind. I am curious though as to what ‘faults’ you are being accused of, something serious like alcoholism or stupid like no ‘fresh’ food everyday?

  17. Dear Letter Writer, You are not the only one in this boat. I am, and I am sure that many other women are. Somebody already suggested that you should introspect about your relationship. I would qualify that you try to introspect about yourself, your life and your marriage as a part of your life. We can find happiness in a relationship only when the other party also cooperates. From what you say, it sounds as if he does not want to cooperate. For me also, it is the same.
    At first, I was miserable, angry and resentful for the initial years. Like you, divorce is not an option for many reasons. I introspected quite a bit, and I have come to the realization that I can and must be happy within the marriage with or without my husband’s cooperation. My mind is my own and I can be peaceful and harmonious in any situation. This does NOT mean that I have to take anything lying down. It just means that his/his family’s words and actions should create as little grief as possible.
    For example, he does not like to hear me calling and talking to my family. He even used to check my emails to read anything from/to my family. I used to feel anger, grief, stress, frustration etc. Now I am learning to be objective about him and not emotionally affected. I am kind and gentle to him, but firmly continue to do exactly what I feel I should do. For example, I call my mother and talk to her. Then, when he comes and stands in front of me, looks angry and demands something at that time, I will smile at him and say something like,”Don’t worry, I’ll give you your lassi. I am talking to my mother. I will join you soon.” And just go away from there. Keep doing it, he’ll soon learn.
    It is not as easy as it sounds. But I am learning to be very happy in myself, to enjoy my life. I meditate for 15 minutes to half an hour every day. Please try to do that. It really helps. I don’t have any guru or mantra or anything. I just started by sitting quietly by myself and objectively analysing what is going on in my mind. And then after a while, I find a place within away from everything, even away from the agitations of my own mind. It helped so much. I really encourage you to try it. Be very honest with yourself. Don’t judge or hate yourself or anyone else, or feel guilty or anything. Just be curious and try to understand what’s going on in your mind, that’s all. Just do it regularly everyday. I do it at 6:00 every morning when nobody is awake. (I have 2 small kids). My very best wishes. And treat your husband kindly, but firmly and sternly if he is misbehaving and find your own place and strength. You might even find that your husband gets a little better. It is hard to be mean to a happy, kind and content person. Actually my situation has improved quite a bit. I don’t know if it is me or him.:)

    • “Then, when he comes and stands in front of me, looks angry and demands something at that time”

      And treat your husband kindly, but firmly and sternly if he is misbehaving

      Sounds like you are the single mom of three small kids. Can’t be easy.

        • Well, I find it difficult to write about all that in a public forum. But in short, here it is: At the time (immediately after my delivery), my health was compromised, mostly because of stress and lack of care. All my family are in India, he would not let me go to India (would not sign the papers for the baby’s passport) or let anyone come from there to take care of me. And then I became pregnant again, did not realize it till almost 2 1/2 months into the pregnancy. Was travelling to India and by the time I returned, it was too late for an abortion. Sounds crazy and irresponsible? You have no idea what stress, grief, ill-health, a small baby and frustration can do to you. I was so weak and depressed that I could not interact properly with my baby or even bring myself to smile at him much. His family (mother and brother) is settled here in the US. His mother lives 5 min from home. Interestingly, his brother’s wife went through almost exactly the same experience when her baby was born. I talked to my doctor after the baby was born, was referred to a counselor. Found some relief, she did suggest divorce, but I was too weak and ill to consider it, especially with no resources or support in this country. This is when I started to meditate. I am not a religious person or anything, can’t stand the Ramayana and other patriarchal stuff. I do pray to Durga though :), I just consider Her as Nature and its laws, that’s all. Anyway, as I said, I was so distressed and disheartened. I like the early morning. So I used to go down to the basement in the early morning, sit down cross-legged, close my eyes, think and cry. I just faced my grief and my situation, that’s all. After some time, I think, when the emotions subside, we will start applying our intelligence to it. And the emotions get kind of resolved and we also start to think more clearly. My son was getting affected by my stress. He was having speech problems, head banging issues and would not potty train. As I became happier and more peaceful, I cannot tell you the tears of joy I shed when I saw him grow happier and his problems go away. That’s when I really understood how much a woman’s health and happiness matters for her children. Anyway, my health is almost back to normal now.
          About your question, my co-sister also consulted a lawyer about divorce and I discussed this with her. You know, for all the woman-friendly laws in the US, divorce with small kids can get pretty messy. Unless we can prove actual physical abuse, a resourceful and vindictive husband can make life hell till the children grow up with expensive legal fees and custody battles. By that time, as I said, I was feeling mentally stronger and decided to just deal with the situation. There is, of course, a whole bunch of other stuff that happened, both to me and my co-sister, but it will be too long if I go into it. Anyway, I thought that the writer’s situation sounded similar. And decided to tell her what helped me. Even though I was worried that it would sound too pacifist.:) The point is that the hurt anger and sense of betrayal can be mind numbing. And it keeps us weak, not able to think clearly. And this helps the aggressors. That is why I suggested meditation. It helps us deal with our grief, think clearly and feel mentally stronger.

        • I didn’t know about the complications with getting divorced in the US.

          I’m glad you are on your way back to good health, and that your children are happier.

          I don’t know how small your children are, but do try to get away for a 10 day vipassana camp (http://www.dhamma.org/en/bycountry/na/) I’ve been wanting to do this for over a year now (anger/stress issues)

          That said, I do hope that you’ll find an opportunity/strength eventually to get rid of the dead weight in your life, and have a chance for a happy,equal relationship. You should not have to put up with all this shit for the sake of logistics.

          Hugs.

    • What is a marriage? It is a partnership between 2 people. If the other person is not interested, why stick along in that partnership? You sound like you are using spirituality to cloak the lack of marital partnership. Sounds noble but in reality you are deluding yourself

      • Like it or not, bad marriages happen. And in India, there are too many molly coddled men and insecure mothers-in-law. So they make these kinds of marriages more common. Unfortunately, leaving these marriages may not always be feasible especially after children are born. And I don’t plan on sitting around, fighting and being miserable while waiting for my husband to become sweet and loving.
        Bad treatment by husband and in-laws is very traumatic and the grief and anger are real and make us very weak, frustrated, angry and confused.
        All I did was get up every morning, go down to the basement, faced my grief and other emotions, faced my situation and tried to use my intelligence to deal with them. And find a peaceful place within. And I do this every morning. If I wake up late, I do this later during the day. But I try not to miss. It is my time for loving, helping, comforting and guiding myself. For me, I find it to be very effective and somehow or other, it has helped my situation, gives me clarity and a sense of purpose.
        All I am telling this writer is to face her emotions and situation with honesty and without judgement and spend some exclusive time with herself everyday? How can this cloak anything? And how can honesty, and intelligent analysis be delusional? I said be kind to him for her own sake. So that she is comfortable with herself and does not feel bad. And I am not saying, “Don’t fight with your husband”. I am saying. “Don’t fight with him and be miserable.” Fight if necessary, but with a sense of purpose and don’t end up feeling bad. That is why I am saying spend some time figuring out your thoughts, feelings and situations everyday.

        • Using children as an excuse to stay in a bad marriage is the most inhumane, cruel thing one can do. More so as a parent. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh, but the truth is, just as you saw yourself with your son, a hostile environment is no environment for anyone to thrive, let alone a child!
          And as you yourself said, aggressor, why should anyone live with an abusive, aggressive partner? And why should little children be put through that? Children don’t just need one healthy, sane parent, if the environment is hostile, they invariably are affected by it and no amount of shielding (however effective one may believe it is) helps. I know, I grew up in a dysfunctional family.
          I’m really sorry to hear about your difficult times with your children. Post-partum depression and general lack of support can be and is crippling to new mothers. I’m also glad you have found ways to be at peace, even if others may not agree with it. But please do not advocate staying in bad, abusive, love-less destructive marriages for the sake of children.
          Successful marriages are happy marriages, where 2 people love,respect and support each other, Children aren’t the be all and end all of marriages. The day we stop associating successful marriages with just duration and longevity will we be able to be objective about the evils and destruction that an abusive relationship causes.

        • Replying to Shruthi. I agree with what you are saying. However, the commenter has two small children, is financially dependent on her husband and has no other sources of support, financially or otherwise.

          Honestly, my heart broke when I read MoI’s comments. I am divorced myself. I also left a mama’s boy and in-laws who didn’t know the difference between a DIL and a slave. I know exactly how it feels to be treated like somebody’s personal property just because they tied a mangalsutra around your neck.

          Such marriages are not a rarity in our wonderful, oh-so-perfect society.

          However, divorce is only an option if the woman is financially independent, and is able to survive outside the marriage. How does a stay-at-home mother support herself after divorce? Yes, many states in the US have alimony, child support and community property laws, but they only apply to long term marriages. Life is tough as a single mother even in the US, even with regular child support payments.

          Instead of criticising MoI for her seeming cop-out, I applaud her for making the best of a very bad situation. Let’s encourage women trapped in bad marriages, not criticise them for making choices we don’t agree with.

      • That is what women have done for centuries. Go in the sanctuary of religion and spirituality to avoid unwanted sex and other times to escape assaults and it worked most of the time; abusers left them alone and bystanders praised their virtuosity thus reprimanding the abuser to leave the woman alone.
        Female monks were essentially escaping marriage and hetrosexuality.
        Peace,
        Desi Girl

        .

        • Actually, I am not religious. No bindi, no traditional clothes, occassional visit to some temple for a festival in jeans and t-shirt. If hubby asks me to wear salwar kameez, i immediately ask him to learn to go to work in a dhothi if he is so hung up on Indian culture.
          Ok, the fact is that even if this letter writer chooses to go ahead with a divorce, it is going to be a long stressful haul especially with a small kid. I would still recommend meditation to deal with the emotional baggage of the bad marriage. It is 200% more effective than any counselor, and I have been to a good and helpful counselor, so I know.
          Honestly, meditation does not make you into some kind of spiritual saint, just cleans up your mind and refreshes it. It is a pity it has such a spiritual halo around it. It is like exercise or a bath. But inside our mind, that’s all. I just think of it as time spent just for myself, to give time and attention to my feelings and thoughts.
          And I didn’t get into it through any religious stuff. I read a couple of books (way too spiritual for me), caught the gist of it, googled it, watched some youtube videos and then just sat down by myself and experimented. I recommend it for every woman in a bad marriage whether she decides to divorce or not, especially if she decides not to divorce (for practical reasons or fear etc.) Because she really needs to take care of herself in that kind of stressful environment.

        • Shruti, tell me what one does when one knows the spouse would fight tooth and nail for custody of the child. It is going to be such a horrible period for the child. I went through it myself and am paranoid about my child not going through it as well.

        • Dear Letter Writer,
          Replying here since I cannot seem to reply to your query.
          I understand that the process may be daunting, and sounds like you might have some experience with something similar. But that is not to say the same thing would happen to your child. Even if it is stressful a period, children are remarkably resilient and with your support and love, he/ she will bounce back. Since you say you experienced something like this, you probably know what to anticipate and I think therefore focus on how to resolve, answer, explain situations or fears. Honest communication is the way to go.
          Even as crippling and emotionally draining and exhaustive divorce proceedings maybe (I’m assuming since it was mentioned here earlier) the impact of living under a roof where there is hostility, violence, aggression and abuse does way more damage!
          Would you rather go through a tough phase with the support of your mother and get through to the other side, slightly hurt that your world may change, but knowing that it would change for the better, since your mother assured you so OR
          Would you rather that a child grows into a emotionally defunct, psychologically wounded adult who might not have any inter-personal relationship skills, not knowing how to resolve conflicts, or even the know-how of sustaining and nurturing a relationship. With oneself or with others. Social handicap aside, children from dysfunctional homes have a tough time understanding their own feelings, can grow up feeling responsible for situations that aren’t their fault. And a tonne of guilt if they ever want to break the cycle!
          Children learn by example, from the day they are born. And if we don’t teach them to love, care and share, they will learn exactly what they see around them. And even if one wants to change those patterns later, it takes an enormous amount of strength and will power and infinite patience with oneself, not to mention the constant weighing question, why would any parent put their child through a bad marriage?
          Please do think about it – a tough phase for a while, where you can be there for your child unconditionally and be an assertive mother who did do right by herself and her child or the gamble of hoping for change while not just you, but a little person also endures the same hell, in a far worse way, simply because he/she happens to be there?

        • Dear Letter writer, Sorry if you are in a similar predicament. I am afraid that my comment sounded too submissive, but I feel that it is hard to deal with the situation until we get past the anger, confusion, fear etc. I know the initial blinding rage that I felt, just wanted to kick him out of my life. Frustration because I couldn’t. I was a bit of an emotional mess.
          My advice: Stay strong. His job as a husband is to support you and make you happy and secure so you can raise the child in a healthy environment. If he fails in this, it is HIS failure. Only cowards and bullies take advantage of a woman’s vulnerability and uses the child to make her afraid of leaving. HIS behaviour is weak, cowardly and shameless, not yours. Please understand this very clearly and tell him so, if necessary. Show by your attitude that you think that he is weak and cowardly.
          Secondly, does he really respect you? It is useless asking for love and support from a man who does not respect you. Don’t engage much with him unless he learns to respect you. There is no need to expose yourself to disrespect. Ditto his parents. Don’t engage and make it clear what a low opinion you have. Don’t act weak.
          If your child is in school, please try to at least volunteer somewhere for a few hours a week if possible and build up a network of friends/support system. If he is not in school, arrange to take him to play dates to parks or other people’s homes. Make sure you bring your friends home also.
          Make sure that you are in a good place financially even if you are not earning. You have every right to any income you make as a couple.
          Do all this slowly. Don’t stress yourself or blame yourself .If you feel angry or upset, allow yourself to feel that way. Spend some time everyday just allowing yourself the luxury to feel whatever you feel and then make your decisions. You have to move past your emotions until you can move on. Whether you choose to stay in the marriage or leave, you must move on and put yourself in a strong position emotionally, financially, socially and logistically. Pray, meditate, guide yourself or do whatever you need to do to put yourself in that position. In the meanwhile, keep yourself happy and cheerful, spend lots of quality time with your child and don’t let your husband frighten you. Wish you the very best.

        • Shruthi, It is not just about the emotionally draining divorce proceedings. If it were just that I would have left long ago because as you said, you can get to the other side eventually and live in peace.
          First of all, it is very hard to prove emotional abuse in court. Second, legal expenses and day care expenses are very high in the US. If you are just standing up on your own feet, a husband can make life very difficult financially.
          Thirdly, if a father wants joint custody, courts will rarely deny him. He can have upto 30 to 40% physical custody if he really wants it. If he and his family are well established in the area, your child will be under their sole influence for considerable periods of time regardless of whether you think that their influence is harmful or not. They may not take as good care of the children as you do and a mother can find it very hard to live with that. Custody battles are pretty toxic and in my opinion, worse than a bad marriage with the child shuttling between parents. And emotionally destabilizing for both mother and child.
          And any decisions regarding the child (even a trip to India to visit your family) will have to be with his consent and he can easily refuse it or dictate for how long etc. and generally stress you out.
          If you have been a stay-at-home mom, your child will experience tremendous upheaval in his life, with his mom no longer there for him all the time. Instead he will be spending a lot of time at the day care. And suddenly he will be alone with his father for long periods of time without his mother around. All this can be very confusing for a child.
          Yes, children are resilient, but they are very innocent and they are easily influenced also. I can understand why the letter writer is hesitant about divorce. I have been to a counselor and my co-sister has been to a lawyer, so I have some idea.
          That said, if you have the slightest evidence of any actual physical abuse, I would say, call the police, go to a doctor, get a lawyer and file for a separation immediately. But even then, he will still get visitation rights, if he says that he went to counseling or something. Just what the lawyer said.
          It is easy to feel vulnerable and weak when we are in this position. That is why we have remind ourselves that HE is the one whose behaviour is weak. As a husband and father, it is his job to make the mother and child feel secure, not to destabilize them.
          And the best buffer for a child is a strong, intelligent, happy mother. Shruthi, changing society is a long process and best way is for women to become strong and intelligent in any situation, even if it is a bad marriage.

        • Mol,
          I understand from what you’ve outlined, its a very tedious process to prove emotional abuse and therefore divorce granted on those lines. I do not know about divorce or custody proceedings or the US laws on this, so I will not comment on that. Just hope that the letter writer does get reliable, supportive legal and emotional aid.
          As for equating a mother as a buffer between the child and the abuser, I’m sorry to say, that isn’t often the case. And research has proved time and again that children from happy homes make for better, happier adults, than those from dysfunctional homes. And this includes both single parent as well as other families.
          Having been in a really abusive home myself, I can vouch for the very flimsy buffer, despite the parent’s best efforts and intentions. Besides, should anyone grow up seeing 2 people interact barely? Or unlovingly exist?
          I do understand what your concerns are and appreciate you making the effort to make things a little clearer for me, but I firmly believe that a broken home is no place for a child. Ever.
          And if not the legal divorce proceedings, is there a possibility child services would be called in eventually? Just wondering..

        • Shruthi, Child Protective services can be called in only if your spouse (or anybody else) is abusing the child. And you had better have proof, otherwise it could go against you during the divorce. It could be made to look like you are making false claims to keep the child from the father. And it could affect your chances of getting custody. You could even lose custody if it looks like you are coming in the way of your child’s relationship with the father. Mothers do end up getting custody a lot of the time, but very often, that’s because the fathers usually want to move on with their lives, other relationships and women are the ones who end up taking care of the kids. But as I said, if the father is particular to share custody, even if it is to harass the woman, the courts cannot really deny him unless you can prove neglect or abuse.
          Even American women who are familiar with the system find it stressful, but Indian women can find it nearly impossible in a foreign land in an unfamiliar system with no family support here. The US courts are also not familiar with the Indian daughter-in-law abuse mechanics. A lot of Indian men and their families who are settled here look for daughters-in-law from India who are “docile” and “adjusting”.
          Of course a happy home is necessary for a child, but how can you be sure of providing a happy home after divorce if you are worried about custody?
          But really, why be so negative? Divorce is a personal decision. Every situation is unique and we have to look at all the factors and decide what is the best option for us and the children. Even if a woman decides not to divorce, that does not mean that she is destroying her life and the child’s life. Relationships are organic. Good relationships can go bad, bad relationships can get much better.
          If you think that a strong mother cannot make a difference and create a healthy environment for a child even when divorce is not feasible, then you underestimate a woman’s strength. The problem is that Indian women are conditioned to “please” husbands/in-laws, otherwise we cannot be happy. If the Letter writer can change this mindset, the chances are that she will not be so frustrated, especially since since she is living the US.. She needs to forget her fears (of custody,etc.) and focus on her rights. She has the right to be happy and independent (physically and financially). Legally, if he has the right to custody, she has the right to home and finances. Chances are that he will soon respect her, too. It is not easy to intimidate a woman who is happy and independent. I have some experience with that. I simply refuse to acknowledge disrespectful behaviour. And most of my problems were because my children were born in this country and I was alone here and could not go home when I was being harassed and needed care etc. Once I recovered from my emotional reactions, I insisted on a car and my financial rights. My co-sister and I supported each other. During my second delivery, I brought my mother here and asked her to stay with me for 6 months. I merely informed him of it, did not care whether he was pleased or not. Both my children and I have a good network of friends, I teach music lessons from home, send money/things to my family, remain in close touch with my family irrespective of what my husband/mother-in-law think or say. We have lots of fun and my husband often joins us now. If he starts to listen to his mother and harass me, I don’t acknowledge it, treat it as immature behaviour and go my way without being bothered by it.
          All I am saying is that you don’t have to please people with unreasonable expectations in order to be happy. We can be happy without pleasing them whether we divorce or not. Once we learn this and to focus on our strengths, and remain compassionate, it will make a big difference, even to a bad marriage and the children in it. As I said, relationships change as we change and it will definitely improve when we are happy and insist on respect.
          (Physical abuse is a different cup of tea altogether.)

    • I wanted to give thumbs up for all the times you mentioned meditation (which DOES NOT mean being religious or riutalistic in any manner whatsoever) and how it helps strenghten the mind. In an emotionally and physically abusive marriage of 7.5 years, divorce was not an option for about 6 years. It is now 5 years since I decided to file for divorce and 3 years since the divorce came through. All through these years and to this date, meditation helped me (a) realise that the fault is not always mine (b) realise that having a calm mind helps me make the right choice, no matter what Life throws at me (c) rediscover the strength to stand up for my self respect and dignity (d) deal with the unbelievable amount of s***t through the process of actually getting the divorce (d) provide assertive responses to close family /friends distant relatives / acquaintences / random persons in the world who questioned or did not see any reason why divorce is not a bad word and why divorce is never an easy choice even after exploring all other options to save the marriage.

  18. You need to regain yourself first. Take a breather. Think about the worst case scenario. Give your husband a jolt. Otherwise, no matter what you say, how you say will not hold water. As Ritu said, you are seen as the interloper. My inlaws think I’m a b**** who took away their happiness. You know what, I am happy to be known as that then to live a hell as thier DIL.

    Please don’t bottle up and/or put up with their behavior. It will drive you crazy. They will never stop treating you well. In fact, knowing that you are not capable of standing up to them gives all the more encouragement to treat you like dirt. Just get away as far as possible (in anyway) from them for the sake of your wellbeing and child’s.

  19. You need to regain yourself first. Take a breather. Think about the worst case scenario. Give your husband a jolt. Otherwise, no matter what you say, how you say will not hold water. As Ritu said, you are seen as the interloper. My inlaws think I’m a b**** who took away their happiness. You know what, I am happy to be known as that than to live a hell as thier DIL.

    Please don’t bottle up and/or put up with their behavior. It will drive you crazy. They will never stop treating you well. In fact, knowing that you are not capable of standing up to them gives all the more encouragement to treat you like dirt. Just get away as far as possible (in anyway) from them for the sake of your wellbeing and child’s.

  20. Dear Letter Writer,
    Have you noticed that you are already emotionally divorced? Usually in Agony Aunts column in western countries, these letters end with a “But I do still love him, I genuinely want our marriage to work”. Indian Letters seem to have a lot of “Divorce is not an option. So.” I take it that there is no occational show of affection between the couple anymore.

    Fine. I do quite understand. Divorce is not an option. We will try something else.
    What are the faults you have? Not the cleanest house in the locality and Chappati’s are not that round? Ok. From today the house will be cleaner. Buy a better mop. The Chappati’s will be rounder. Use a round vessel to cut corners. But inform that fault finding stops with immediate effect. No. You will not ignore slurs. Put your foot down. Your dignity should not be tampered with. End of story.

    Please do not consider yourself a victim. You are a survivor with a temporary problem. You will be fine. Somebody is going to knock some sense into him soon enough.

  21. Hi dear!
    Even if someone is gnawing away at your self esteem keep reminding yourself, “I am fabulous”. Secondly, if you don’t want to get a divorce and really want to make your marriage work, go for couples counseling. The counsellor will use his/ her skills to improve communication between you and your spouse so that he sees that he is buying into his family’s critical stance and echoing their words.
    The trouble is that guys and in-laws think that the only person who needs to make adjustments is the wife. Therefore if there are any difficulties it must be her fault. Actually the truth is somewhat different. It takes a wife AND and a husband to make a good relationship. It takes a daughter-in-law AND a mother-in-law together to ensure harmony amongst them.
    Good luck and I hope you have the strength to take your husband to therapy with you.

  22. Initially my husband supported me. After a point wen I started answering his parents back his attitude towards me changed a bit. Later he requested me to not address issues directly with them and come to him instead. Wen I started doing that, he felt I was constantly complaining. He was a very sensible person and has become totally irrational now. This is one of the reasons I feel I can work it out. Affection blinds his eyes. however, affection towards me is no match for his affection towards his parents.

    As for the complaints, they are the usual. traditional attire, rituals, respect etc..

    And my reasons for not opting for a divorce are many. All I can say is, it is not heart influenced.

    • // Later he requested me to not address issues directly with them and come to him instead.//
      Well in that case he should also tell his parents to not to address their issues with you directly.

      He is not letting you make boundaries. The only hope I can see is in couple counseling.

    • Either he needs to let you sort it out with them and not interfere, or he needs to tell his parents to stop complaining to you and to go through him as well. He can’t let them nag you and stop you from responding. Tell him that’s beyond illogical and it doesn’t matter if other women ‘just do it’. That doesn’t make it right. They are making demands on your personal choices and he’s asking you to simply shut up and put up. Their demands are not meant for him so it’s not his place to tell you how to respond.

      My advice would be that you tell him to stay out of it and respond to them yourself.. calmly but firmly and making your ownership on your own life clear. Don’t let them drag you into a competition for control on your own life or into emotional fighting matches.

      If all your efforts at talking turn into him shouting you down, then he is as bad as them, trying to control you and shut you down. He needs to be willing to work it out as well.. unfortunately I don’t think anything will work if he doesn’t want to do his bit. Perhaps you could try professional counselling but he needs to be willing to participate even for that.

      What is this ‘don’t talk back’ business anyway? You are an adult and an individual. If someone speaks to you, you will talk back, it’s not a bad thing.. it’s a very natural reaction. If they don’t want to hear a response from you, they should avoid talking to you altogether.

    • Hi, I wrote a little earlier recommending meditation for dealing with your emotions and for clarity, peace, etc. It really helped me, that’s why I wrote it, but apparently people don’t like the idea. :) So many thumbs down!
      My co-sister and I practice SILENCE around our mother-in-law after some years of her harassment directly as well as through her sons.
      I faced the same problem, my husband said that I should deal with her through him, but he is terribly protective and defensive where she is concerned. So I stopped talking to him about her. In fact, I stopped talking to him much at all. I spoke very little, always smiled sweetly and went my own sweet way. I also spoke almost nothing to my mother-in-law though I see her every week as well as phone calls. If she asks me to do something, I either say, “No” or “I’ll think about it.”. That’s all. Then silence. I just talk to the children, laugh and play with them. She started getting angry in the beginning and saying things. I just smiled, cut her short by saying, “It’s getting late. I have work to do. Bye. Come on, kids.” etc. and simply left. If I can’t leave immediately, then I just hover over the children or become absorbed in something else and refuse to listen or talk to her. If it is on the phone, just say, Sorry, Ma, Got to go. Talk later. Bye”.
      My co-sister also does the exact same thing.
      For this, you have to put yourself in a position so that you can leave any time you want. I stopped going to my mother-in-law’s house with my husband. I said that I prefer to go alone. He was very angry, but I simply did it and continued to smile at him, cook for him, take care of the house and otherwise generally pleasantly ignore him. If he asked me why I am ignoring him, I would say, “Sorry, my love, I am tired. I really don’t want conflict and tension. It’s nothing against you.” Then again silence. Initially it was very difficult, i would get drawn into arguments, but as quick as possible, I would get out of it and leave. Now I have mastered the technique! :) And now he is also used to it. I must say that he treats me much more respectfully now.
      When my mother-in-law complained to him and he was angry with me for disrespecting her, I told him truthfully that I never talk back to her. That I feel bad when he is upset with me about his mother, so I don’t really want to talk about it. I continued to cook for him, smile at him, very little talk, and very soon he started to get irritated with his mother for going on complaining about me. Now both he and his brother realize that their mother is a difficult person.
      Only you know your exact situation and the characters involved, you will have to figure out for yourself your own best approach. But, believe me, SILENCE is a very loud statement. And honestly, you will have to be peaceful and clear-minded to work out your solution because bad relationships mean toxic environments and events day after day. I still suggest you regularly spend some time finding peace within yourself even if a lot of people seem to disagree.

      • Wow, next time someone sings praises of India’s low divorce rate, they should be made to read this comment. And see for themselves just how incredibly abused and silenced women have to be to maintain such an honorable less than 1% divorce rate. Keeping a marriage such as this intact makes no sense to me (though I understand she has her reasons for it). Life is too short to waste constantly managing such MILs, there are better things to do. Abuse isn’t only beating someone black and blue, what this horrible MIL is doing is very much emotional abuse in my book and good enough reason for divorce (regardless of kids). Indian women are so well conditioned to not see this as abuse but a way of life and tolerating it as their righteous and noble duty in life. Sickening, wish for the day when Indian also has a 50% divorce rate and it becomes a normal part of life and not a shameful stigma. Definitely much better than the suffering in silence, meditating and what not keep peace. No stigma/no fault divorce is the only way this culturally sanctioned MIL abuse will ever end.

        • Hey, wait a minute. I said, “Silence”. I didn’t say, “Suffer in silence”. When a man is stubborn always blaming you, listening to his parents, it may be best not to engage or keep interaction to a minimum. Otherwise we will end up emotionally and uselessly fighting and defending ourselves and we will be weak and exhausted.
          I have no problems with divorce if it is practical. But it is a difficult decision especially for stay-at-home or part-time working mothers with kids. They usually end up staying for quite a long time before they finally make the call, if they ever do that. Even if they divorce it can be a long and stressful process. They have to deal with the legal/financial stress and may still have to continue to deal with husband/in-laws if he wants to share custody of the children (in the US,after talking to the counselor). Not easy. That is why it is important to protect herself and stay mentally strong.
          I recommend meditation, but apparently it is considered religious and spiritual. I just started to do it by googling about it and watching a couple of youtube videos. Just gave attention to my feelings and thoughts for some time everyday, that’s all. Really, really helped me strengthen my mind. I don’t consider it spiritual, I don’t wear traditional clothes, no lamp, no bindi. Just go straight down to the basement in my nightgown and sit there for half an hour. May sound crazy, but it works.
          Again, did not say “Keep the peace in the house”, I said, “Keep YOUR mind peaceful”. Big difference. Also most harassing husbands and in-laws are basically bullies. Bullies are really cowards. They’ll back down in the face of strength and purpose.

  23. As a man who has been there done that …. get your Husband to see, you have to get your Husband on your side. Once that is done in law problem will automatically settle down. Its between you and your Husband always, if there is good understanding a third person cannot create a problem. This basic must be clear to you.

    Unfortunately for many men, they are very fond of their mother (nothing wrong in that) but cannot see her wrong (unfortunate!). So you have to get your Husband TO SEE ! How ?

    Maybe you need to use a little bit of knack. Dont tackle it head on. Ask how his mother felt about her mother in law … get him to probe if she really like her MIL and listened to her (at least this was the eye opener for me and realised mothers are also human beings). If she found her MIL tough, you say you are just like his mother :)

    Tell him other stories and discuss about that … say how your freinds MIL has been with your freind … slowly you have to get him to open his eyes. It can be done … the key is he has to see his mother in completeness (as the divine and human being :).

    Get him to talk to his freinds where wifes refuse to share space with their MIL …. he needs to understand this is THE common issue, not his WIFEs issue.

    Between you and your MIL have cordial relations but draw boundaries. She will otherwise want to get into ALL aspects of life. Dont go to either extreme.

    • Why is the husband such a baby and need all this “tactful” management? Too much work, waste of time and energy, damn. Better way, kick him out of the bedroom if he is such a mamma’s boy, that is the only solution for Indian guys who can never grow up to be real men and still hold on to their mommy’s pallu. I would rather be a hated bitch who is feared and not to be messed with than a nice, polite well trained Indian bahu who can be treated as a doormat and walked all over.

    • No one can make anyone see anything least they decide to see for themselves.
      You are in a relationship as an adult not into teaching a juvenile to look out for good and bad people around you. Why do one person has to be the parent in the relationship- if it is an abuser he/she takes the parent figure route and if it is victim he/she has to act both as cheerleader and minor in the relationship.
      Guess desis can not be equal partners in a relationship.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

      • Its not as black and white as you make it out to be.

        There are instances when a guy can be supportive and be the ‘parent’ in a relationship, and at times a girl. In the above particular its probably the girl who has to do the extra groundwork.

        At the end of the day, none of us are perfect and we all have to do whatever we can to make things better. Usually that attitude works in the long run, rather than I will kick him/her out if it does not suit me, which invariably leads to somebody kicking the other out.

        If Mother in Law was the only problem, why do relations only between guy and girl also break up ? So many couples have problems even when no mother in law is around .. each feels the other is hurting the self respect …

        LM: If you think putting energy into a relationship is a “waste” what according to you are good uses or your energy ?

        • In my experience, most Indian men do not regard their wife’s emotional well-being in the same way as they regard their parents’.

          Most Indian men are very zealous about safeguarding their parents’ happiness but think their wives’ concerns are overblown and unfounded. It’s an unfair expectation. Given our social structures, most women enter marriage knowing that they will have to make the bulk of compromises. Not having an empathic and supportive husband makes marriage a very hard journey because they are denied the respect and validation that is theirs by rights.

          Why don’t men face in-law issues? Not because they’re champions at relationship building, but because a woman’s parents don’t expect much from a son-in-law to begin with.

          It is important to remember that cultural norms affect how men and women view marriage. Women enter marriages expecting to be subordinated, given the short shrift and generally taken for granted.

          Men enter marriages with a lot of expectations from their wives, but have no understanding of how to be emotionally supportive and respectful in return. If men expect wives to be loving, understanding and supportive, its only fair that they offer these in return to their wife.

    • Its NOT a wife’s job to train her mother-in-law and husband to respect her rights and treat her like a human being.

      If a man and his mother don’t understand this, then PLEASE, do not marry and cause grief and suffering to another human being. Wives and DILs deserve respect just like MILs and sons-in-law.

  24. Be loving to husband but communicative politely yet firmly, don’t be guilty. Noresponsive to in-laws but again polite and not letting them a chance to find fault. Still they may, be on the look out to safeguard your interests. Divorce may not be the choice and avoid as far as possible.

      • I gave it a thumbs down

        // not letting them a chance to find fault. //
        She is a a human and every human has faults. She cant be walking on eggshells all the time so that her oh so respected in laws dont find a single fault in her.

        //Still they may, be on the look out to safeguard your interests.//
        If they have her interest in mind why are the nagging her all the time? Is it helping their marriage?

        //Divorce may not be the choice and avoid as far as possible.//
        Very patronizing and offensive for people who are divorced and going through it

      • i will tell you why i down voted it.
        “Not giving them a chance to find fault” -well i think the letter writer need not take any responsibility here , its the MIL who finds faults-hence MIL should do something abt it not DIL.
        “Don’t be guilty”- Guilt is such a wasteful yet unavoidable emotion(whole traditional indian parenting is based on instilling guilt/fear!!) , you need take steps, stand up for yourself to not feel guilty. all Tejpal is saying is don’t really stand up for yourself but tell yourself not to feel the guilt. Is that really Organic??
        “avoid divorce as far as possible” – i m just sick of this contrived idea. as far as i see divorce is An ‘Enabler’ it enables people to get out of bad marriages and claim their right tobe happy. Why ? why exactly should it be avoided like plague???

      • Wow, this is “perfectly” sensible for you?

        “Be loving to husband but communicative politely yet firmly”

        A woman only has to do everything, make all the effort, why? What is the husband doing? Nothing, he is a totally innocent kid caught in the middle with zero responsibility? I can smell Indian male entitlement dripping all over. Please stop asking women to be polite, polite, polite, DAMN. If she is angry at being disrespected and insulted, she has every god given right to express it however she feels. Let her yell and scream and get it off her chest, stop controlling how she should talk and communicate.

        “not letting them a chance to find fault”

        Look a woman has better things to do with her life than to constantly worry about whether her in-laws are finding some fault. Why don’t the in-laws just suck it up and not interfere in another adult’s life? Are these so called “faults” harming another human physically/mentally (e.g drunk driving, beating a maid?) If not, then in-laws should shut up. Not a woman’s purpose in life to keep in-laws happy.

        “Divorce may not be the choice and avoid as far as possible.”
        Divorce is a perfectly legitimate choice if it was not so demonized in Indian society. Personal happiness, dignity and self respect is much more important than keeping a marriage going at all cost

    • Wao, you think she hasn’t tried all this politeness you are suggesting as rocket science. Please know when a woman comes to a public forum with her problem she has tried everything in her power to change her situation. She comes out in open to scrutiny by strangers to seek some kind of validation, in her heart she knows it ain’t working anymore and it ain’t gonna work unless the other person/party wants to make it work.

      http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/how-to-help-an-abused-2/

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

    • here is why i gave it a thumbs down. in this comment, everything is the girl’s fault again. dont give ppl a chance to find fault. lookout to safeguard ur interests.
      i use one line with my child. its one of the tenets of life for me. ” DON’T ACCEPT UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR.”

      i think we should teach all human beings this. if we were not so tolerant of bad behavior, we wldnt see so much bad behavior. maybe.

  25. Ha ha ha …now a reply with ha ha ha may be offensive….Na…I have been thru this and worse..but now I managed to take out the shit from them including husband…Bahut zyada pareshan kardiya tha….Meine Naani Yaad diladi…
    Things are better but intimacy is affected heavily .it was missing due to this since since starting and killed it in me. So the Respect and Other state is better.No nonsense Attitude helps and no more nonsense.if it happens..you know they always tried to a comeback including husband but I take care that I will not keep quiet even once if that done then things will escalate again.Hopefully intimacy also returns back but Self respect gives a better high ;-)

    • Not only that I have already told one more nonsense and I will go for sueing them for Maan Hani…And Harassment.They have attacked my respect and simultaneously harrassed me and spoiled my marriage .And i have beeb very serious on that.My parents have been my lame and useless supporter but I alone handled nonsense.I am sure even u can

      • ok i have been the laloo-est person on this earth..So I am sure u can also do the best for your respect.Staying married is another thing that your husband also has too , what has he married for.. for fights and mom or does he has his life too or just his mamas been married to you

  26. having faced the EXACT same proble myself- i know ONLY ONE SOLUTION to such a complex problem- and the answer is “marriage counselling”. ps- choose a very good counsellor, not someone who is average at what they do .

  27. Hi all,

    It really feels bad to find so many of us going through this issue. Why are all efforts and adjustments required from a girls end. I have asked this questions so many times to my husband : “You are getting a person to do all things for you and your home due to this marriage, but why exactly did I get married? All that I am getting from this marriage is extra work and responsibility.” and he always dismisses this question by some joke.
    I am not saying that he doesn’t love me and he doesn’t care for me. But in spite of all this, these 4 years have been mentally and physically very taxing for me. I am tired of all these responsibilities. I wanted a companion, thats why I got married but ended up with a husband!!!
    And I might have still been better off even with all these extra things, if my husband didn’t mention in our every argument that his parents are more important to him and he’ll choose them over me anytime and that its my job to make them like me and thus please them and behave as they want me to.
    Don’t know what will I do. There have been times when I am on verge of running far far away where no one knows me but still need to gather some more courage.

    Dear mail writer, hope you find your way soon. All the best.

  28. …blames me for his bad relationship with them.

    Is Hubbiji incapable of having his own independent relationship with his parents? Do him a favor and butt out of his relationship with his parents. He has to handle it on his own. In my experience, Indian men outsource their nuts and bolts relationship maintenance to their wives. If your husband starts complaining about them, shut him down. After all, he’s not listening to you, so don’t give him any of your attention on that matter. If your in-laws start complaining about your husband, shut them down. Parents decide to do a last minute visit without warning or just consulting him? It’s on him to scramble, not you. Basically anything that’s “my son does this” but translates into “my daughter in law runs around like a headless chicken so my son can look like he does this” you drop out of. Most Indian men are so damn lazy that their relationships with their parents evaporate without their wives doing the work. I’ve only met maybe one or two that do that maintenance on their own.

    I’m so disengaged from people I might as well be from space. My mother tells me I’d make a terrible member of a joint family, since I don’t do the “oh my brother needs to say happy birthday to my cousin so I’ll buy a card so he can say it’s from him” nonsense.

  29. Dear Female species
    I can so very feel ur pain, when u donot want to fight over these issues but they keep on coming up and up.
    It is really weird that though u guys stay abroad and must be visiting home like once right!
    Still these things happen
    First of all don’t ever settle with your in laws as it would make the situation worse .
    You are absolutely right that divorce is not an option because when things are broken u can always mend it plus that involves lot of pain for you leave others….
    you can always talk about it…..

    Nobody else knows better than you about your husband… so may be you can always manipulate things ( no offence here).

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