Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.
I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced.
I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.
Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?
I’m 30 yrs old working as a Software Engineer in USA. I’m an only child and my parents have gone out of their way for my education and dreams. They raised me with great pride. Growing up I figured I wouldn’t get married because most guys only want to look after their own parents. And if I did get married, I wouldn’t live with my in-laws. I got married about 5 months ago to someone from different cultural background and broke all my rules. And I had never dreamt in my life that that would be the undoing of my life.
My husband is born and raised in USA. When I met him he came across like a level headed, calm, liberal, and progressive. What I did not realize or chose to ignore until I couldn’t anymore that he is a complete mama’s boy. His dad is a recovering alcoholic and growing up his family was dysfunctional. He had told me that we would be living with his family from the beginning, and even though I didn’t want to, I agreed thinking that’s what you do for people you love. His father is sick and they need financial support. I did tell him that that’s not what I want long term, so maybe few years down the line we should get our own place. He agreed at that time. This is before marriage. Initially, everything was great. I used to think that I lucked out with the in-laws if I marry this guy. Things changed quickly.
His parents, as I’m realizing since the wedding, are the typical patriarchal type. Neither completed school. MIL won’t live in jamai‘s house; a bahu is solely responsible for the entire family’s happiness; bahu is also at the bottom of the ladder in the family and has to prove herself; bahu has to respect no matter what; after marriage sasural is where the bahu belongs etc. etc. My MIL made sure to tell me that she’s not like typical Indian MIL because she doesn’t expect me to cook for the whole family or give her foot massage (what decade is she from?!)
There was a LOT of drama from his mother, sister, brother-in-law even before our engagement. This led to huge fights with by husband (boyfriend at the time) because he saw just their point of view. Fights that involved name-calling, yelling and basically making me feel like I’m a horrible person. His family never tried to even ask what the matter was, nothing. Assumption and judgment. And everything was my fault.
I tried to break up, but I was weak to not stand by that decision when he begged me to not break up. Red flag ignored.
Anyway, we ended up getting through and getting engaged. I had already started resenting his family but kept thinking that if he stands by me, then I’ll be ok. I need my partner to be my rock.
The drama didn’t end there. Things like my MIL getting angry that I texted her about my mum’s birthday outing just a day before (and she couldn’t make it. Her opinion is that if I respected her then I would have let her know a week ahead on the phone) leading her to yell at my mom (who was visiting at that time for our Roka ceremony) on the phone, and us having a show down at my place. My husband supported me during that time, somewhat. He still validated his mom’s opinion and actions, which is where it started to go downhill. I agree that I should have been more mindful, maybe I should have called her as soon as the plan was made. I apologized for it. But how is it ok for a MIL to yell over the phone at my mother and tell her that she hadn’t taught her daughter anything? Who gave her the right to yell? And she left telling my mom that I had “issues” and that she has none. So, her actions were justified and it was because of my behavior that she acted that way. See the trend here?
You must be thinking why I didn’t break it up? Indecision. Thinking it would get better after marriage. The many stories from my mother about how much crap she had to deal with. I just figured I could deal with it and I’m strong. My parents basically left it to me. I wish they had put their feet down, but they didn’t. I try not to put any blame on them. Ultimately, it was my decision making or lack thereof.
My husband isn’t a bad person. He helps around the house, kitchen, around the home. He is supportive of my career up to a point, he doesn’t think I should move away if I got a good job offer because he might not be able to shift (because of his family) and he should be my first priority always. I found this out post-marriage. Different things were assured before. Name calling and yelling has always been an issue with him during arguments. I have given him many chances thinking don’t abandon the ship just because there is choppy water. But I think I’ve had enough.
Fast forward to wedding planning, his mother hardly contacted my parents for any wedding discussion. Even getting back on dates was an issue, and my husband would just let it be saying “My mom is like that only”. Red flag ignored.
They wanted us to show them “respect” by giving the close relatives tokens of welcome. And, I’m sad to say my parents did. Even when I tried my best to stop them. In return, there was no show of respect for us. We don’t expect gifts, but my MIL’s behavior throughout the wedding was that of her attending the destruction of her world (son). No appreciation for the effort my parents put in to find a place for them to live in, checking in on them when we could, sending them homecooked food etc. etc. All we heard all the time were complaints. They didn’t show much respect for our culture but expected 110% so that they wouldn’t have to hear anything from their relatives! They expected the ladki wale to be at their feet, serving them because they are ladkewale?
On the day of the wedding, immediately after the pheras, my MIL forced me to put on the lehenga she had picked out for me (mind you, didn’t even pack the chunni). When my mom asked her if it was necessary since she had bought my benarasi with great love and would like me to keep it on, she snapped at my mom in front of her relatives saying “Do what you want! No respect for us”. Everyone in the hall noticed it. She made my mom cry, on my wedding day for a stupid lehenga. Rest of the night my MIL acted as if it was the saddest day of her life. My parents had also bought our traditional groom wear for my husband, but his mom didn’t let him wear all of it. Just the kurta under the “designer” sherwani they had got made. So is that not disrespectful towards us? My mom then has full rights to create a scene too like my MIL? But she didn’t. Were my parents sad about it, yes; did they lash out? No.
And what I’m about to write about is probably the day it solidified in my mind that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My parents, husband and I had gone to visit my dadi since she could not attend the wedding. My dad developed a fever on the way back, so we dropped off my husband at his maasi’s house (he didn’t even want to come to his “sasural” because his parents weren’t with him) and we came back to my house. My dad went to the doctor to get medicine. Within the hour, my MIL calls yelling at my mom that I had disrespected her, I had hurt her by not stopping by (ok, I agree maybe I could have taken 2 minutes to do that and that’s my mistake), how embarrassing it was to find her “married” son come home without bahu, that people have been talking about how I’m not very bahu like, my mom had not taught me anything, and on and on she went. And then she also dared to ask my mom why she was so attached to me especially since I had been living abroad for the last 12 years. What mother asks that of another mother?? Do you love your child less because she lives somewhere else? Or is my mother to prepare mentally that I’m to go away and serve another’s family so she shouldn’t be attached to her child?
I called my husband and demanded to know why his mother thought she could yell at my mother, and he simply defended her.
Later I came to find out he was there the entire time that his mother was yelling at my mother and he lied to me saying he wasn’t there. He justified her behavior, he defended her act. They both blamed it on me and my parents.
No apologies, nothing. And, now I’m living with them. To see them every day is a reminder of everything my parents and I have tolerated. My parents don’t even want to come visit anymore because of my MIL’s actions. I have been called names during fights with my husband, labeled as “selfish”, that I don’t like his family etc. etc.
I have tried to forgive and forget, but I have been unable to. I’m still hurt and my parents are too. I keep thinking that something is wrong with me that I can’t forgive yet. I have been made to feel bad that I can’t forgive, by my husband, who says it’s a mental choice, if one really wants to forgive then they can in a snap. I don’t think so, but I have no one to back me up.
My parents still try to maintain good relations with my husband, and he thinks it’s because he is a great son-in-law. In his family, I have realized that they believe they are wonderful people with perfect manners, and if they act rudely then it’s another’s fault. His mother and sister make decisions for him and don’t even communicate with me. He lets them and if I protest, then he doesn’t understand why it’s wrong because it’s his family. I literally feel like he’s married to his family.
I have ruined my life. The person I thought I was marrying turned out be another family puppet. He has no backbone to call out the wrong when his family does wrong. He will defend them for everything. And sadly I got to see the worst after the wedding not before.
Now I’m at a point where I want to take the control of my life back. I want live by myself, with or without the husband, I don’t want to serve his family or even call them my family. I used to take pride in being a feminist, always fighting for equal treatment. I’m not sure who I am anymore. Every point I feel selfish because it’s not aligned with what my husband/in-laws might want.
Mentally I have decided to separate in a year’s time (my parents are supportive of this decision) and do my best until then. I don’t see myself ever fitting into their mentality, lifestyle etc. I don’t want to have kids and have them grow around my husband’s family. And I don’t want to stay in this family because of kids.
I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced. I simply ask for support. I don’t think it’s right for my parents and me to have to tolerate and put up this kind of family for the rest of my life. There is no point in counseling because (1) I don’t want to waste my energy and time and time (2) he had made it clear, it’s him and his family together or nothing.
I think I have chosen, but not acted upon it yet.
Like I’ve said, I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.
Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?
Just wanted to clarify/add some things.
– I wasn’t fully aware of the extents of the traditional mentality my in-laws have until and after the wedding. I’m sure I must have had seen signs that I ignored, but it didn’t hit home until those words were spoken.
– After coming from the wedding, I had told my husband that I could not live with in-laws who disrespected my family. It really upset him and he called me “selfish” and walked out of the apartment where we were living (moved in with my in-laws after a few months). We had a huge fight where he involved his family and threatened me that if I did not come and settle the matter with his family, then we will end it. I regret not having the guts to end it then. I regret that I let him treat me like that and I went to apologize. I regret sitting and listening to their patriarchal view. I have so many regrets and I feel helpless.
They complained about my parents not being attentive to them post the pheras (even though it’s not true and I have witnesses), about the bloody lehenga, how in general we didn’t show them sufficient respect etc. etc. I just sat there listening like a coward and did not do anything. I did not stand up for myself or my family. I am so ashamed of myself. All through this my husband just sat there. In his silence, he showed whose side he was on. I did not tell my parents about this until months later after keeping it to myself. I blamed myself for all of it and still do.
– I wonder if I’m in an abusive marriage. It’s not explicit with physical/verbal abuse so it’s so hard to gauge for me. But there is always an undercurrent of tension I feel at all times. Fights almost always involve name calling and yelling especially if it’s about his family. I don’t respond well to yelling at all, so I shut down which makes him further angry. I’m not an angel, I have yelled back too when I reached my limits. Almost anything I say where I don’t want to do something with his family, results in “you just don’t like my family”, “you never want to do… for my family”, “are you telling your mother how depressed you are here?” “if you love me unconditionally, then you should do/accept/act…” “you’re selfish” etc.
And, then comes a honeymoon phase, where I have given into his/their thoughts/opinions, and he showers me with hugs, kisses, and care.
Is it somewhat bipolar in nature?
He doesn’t expect me to cook, clean or wash for him. I can dress as I want, go where I want, meet whoever I want. Yet I have to conform to how he and his family wants to live.
– Even though I said I will wait for a year. I’m not sure why I would do that. I tend to dilly dally a lot. Sometimes I think this year, before the 1 yr anniversary. This is significant because it will bring me no joy. I don’t even want to look at my wedding photos/videos. They only bring back bad memories. Why would I celebrate, esp with his family, 1 yr of the day I wish never took place
Am I beyond help? I’m scared of what his family will do… make me pay for things/rent (since we are renting a house right now) / insult my family and me some more.
Your blog is my support group.
Sharing this post from the child loss support group, In our hearts forever.
How far have I come? Sharing some lessons learnt.
Did I expect this six years ago? 6th July it had rained for the first time. Tejaswee had declared she loved the Delhi monsoons. A month later I was willing the universe to conspire to save her life.
Six years later now, in many ways, I live a ‘normal’ life, at least outwardly. When one has been where I have been, every achievement is a milestone; and things like laughter and joy are achievements beyond all expectations.
Three things that keep me going:
1. In our hearts forever : The Support Group for mothers coping with child loss.
The current mental peace and stability would not have been possible without the support from the moms in this group. We know what we are for each other. Nobody and nothing else can do what this group can, and does – for those who need such support.
2. Brat Three – Brat Three is twelve, and my height now; and regularly raids my wardrobe. 🙂 Her confidence and happiness are our pride, hope, and delight; and she knows it: This sentence in her school notebook had me tearing up: “I am the apple of my parents’ eyes.”
And I am still marveling at this love, and at the joy and the healing that this love has brought into our lives.
I am grateful. Grateful that all four of us wanted the same thing (this adoption).
Immensely grateful that we listened to the voice inside us.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
3. The Saturday hiking group I joined two years ago:
Every Saturday I wake up at 3 30 am to reach the starting point for the hike on the outskirts of the city; because the hike must end before the day gets too hot, we must start before sunrise.
What drags some of us out of our beds at such hours, while the rest of the world sleeps?
For me, the group was at first just a safe space for getting out of the house and experiencing nature. I would have been content to just walk in the wilderness; that was an achievement in itself; but the walks surprised me with unexpected bonuses: Laughter and Joy. (Also, new friends; and improved health).
This was like rediscovering oneself. It’s a passion I did not even know existed within me. The walks changed almost everything else.
Passions tend to engulf us (along with our pain) and I allowed myself to be totally taken over by the experience: I have run through the wild grass into the sunrise, climbed trees with ants crawling on them, splashed in pools, and felt the rain on my face.
Why have these walks been so life altering, …so healing? I guess what’s healing is the letting go, and the following of one’s spirit.
As we trekked each weekend braving the thorny branches of vilayati keekar, I learnt that there are many kinds of griefs, each very painful to the person experiencing it.
Over a period of time, I met other survivors.
Some of them casually mention the challenges they are coping with and in the beginning, I compared their pain to mine, but now I see that their pain is the worst they have known.
I have found empathy in unexpected places. I have learnt that I connect with, amongst other survivors: single mothers. Divorce is said to be comparable to death and is a traumatic experience, including blatant judgment from random people. The trauma remains unacknowledged: and then there is judgment instead of support. Having experienced it occasionally, and having been outraged by it, I can relate to this.
One walker I met (age, personal life no idea, no need to know) wanted to ‘experience life’ because he has been through hell and survived. And what has he survived? Believe it or not: Alcoholism. His struggle against something he doesn’t have control over, I would probably not have understood in my earlier life.
With this group, I feel I have come a long, long way. Shared passions build strong bonds. And yet. One casual question or remark can still become a trigger for me.
Recently the group celebrated their sixth anniversary. I had attended the celebration last year, so I knew that I would be able to attend this year too. And all was fine and fun until I heard the DJ ask – “Hey people the next one for the person you love the most!” No idea what the context was. Maybe he was just talking too much. Maybe I was overwhelmed anyway, just waiting for a trigger. But suddenly I became an outsider. Wished there was one person I could have looked at and seen them understand.
(This morning I am wondering if I was really the only one. How do I know nobody else struggled in their own way like I did? )
But here’s the thing. I could, with some effort, put the thought away and continue to act like I was not screaming inside; like I was not dying to join the one person who meant everything to me. And after some pretense, it became a fact. I started enjoying again. I could feel Tejaswee with me – with all her protective love, warmth, and positivity. And I was wearing a neckpiece that was hers. (Like some other moms in In Our Hearts Forever, I too always have something of hers with me).
I couldn’t have imagined this six years ago, or even two years ago. This mind-control is what coping with grief is all about, I feel. It’s an unimaginably painful journey, but know that there is hope – it does get better. You emerge so much stronger that you look at your own self in awe. I accept this with gratitude – maybe no power could prevent this pain – but if one is given so much pain then one should also be given the strength to deal with that pain. I am grateful to have reached this point.
Sharing this here to record my journey and to give those newer in this journey an idea of what they might expect in the coming years.
Some more thoughts from someone who has walked through grief and come out stronger –
1. Value your health. Everything else becomes tougher to cope with if health is also an issue.
2. If something gives you a moment of peace – don’t care what anybody says; listen to this guiding voice inside. Moments of joy lead to healing. Grab every bit of healing.
3. Avoid people or situations that trigger pain. Again, listen to this guiding voice inside. You won’t walk into a fire, think before you walk into pain.
4. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, be guided by yourself. I have been advised social work and shopping as alternatives to hiking – both are fine, but are not for me. There is no way I would have benefitted from these, the way I have from hiking, Brat Three, the Support Group, and this blog.
Note: Please email me if you know of someone who might want to join ‘In Our Hearts Forever’.
Sharing an anonymous email.
“I even asked my husband if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it…”
I’m in a very unhappy state and so confused with what to do..
I have been married for 7 years (known my husband 2 years before that when we “dated”)… while we were dating, nothing sexual happened between us (not even a kiss, no heart racing stuff)… while I didn’t give it much thought then, now I feel I should have!
Even after marriage, he shows absolutely zero interest in me. It’s been SEVEN years and through these years, I have fought, cried, reasoned out, explained myself, allowed him to be the way he wants… basically everything that I could do.
I have told him openly I miss the “sex”, not as a physical activity but more as an emotional one.
I have told him I’m okay with doing anything and that he needs to feel comfortable and rest assured I won’t judge him incase he has weird tastes (I was thinking “fetish” or “role play”).
I even asked him if he was maybe gay, in which case I just won’t tell anyone about it, we would work on the pregnancy thing through alternatives.
But he just doesn’t give me the input I need. There is zero cooperation from his side.
He keeps saying there is no problem (evidently there is!)… and he says “we will do this week”, “we will have sex next week” etc
And SEVEN years have passed already.
I’m am at an extremely depressed stage. I do not know what to do.
I cry randomly, I feel sad… and I’m crying as I type this.
I’m scared that I’m getting into depression without me even realising it!
And I feel so worthless through it all. I feel like there is no one really for me (my parents are no more) and many a times I have thought about divorce.
1. 98% he’s not gay (saw some porn details on his mobile history. Regular porn, no fetish types or gay types)
2. I’m extremely hygienic and smell good
3. Our environment is sex friendly
4. I’m a good looker and quite attractive (not to sound vain, but wanted to clear certain basic questions that might pop up)
Can you PLEASE do a topic on this, I feel like I need to see things from a fresher perspective..
Thanks a ton!
Gird Your Loins – Aarti Sethi, Kafila
Sharing an anonymous comment.
This victim of domestic violence wants to to stay married to the violent husband because she fears (amongst other things) that their child, a girl child being raised without her father would have ‘no values’.
This desire to stay married and make it work is extremely common – and is easy to understand. Starting afresh would involve going to the court for divorce, custody and maintenance/alimony/child support. It would involve struggling for financial support and income. (How much support can she expect from a society that views the crime as a family matter?)
It would involve coping everyday with blame from family and society, for not ‘reforming’ the abuser and saving her marriage.
It can’t be easy. One shouldn’t have to make such decisions. It’s unfair. But is living with a violent man easier?
Once the mind is made up, once the idea of divorce and single parenting begins to be accepted, once some financial stability is achieved, once the emotional abuse is recognised and confidence found again (very slowly) – maybe then the survivor would be able to see that there was no choice – on one side there was a life with hope and possibilities, on the other side – never ending and escalating violence, emotional abuse and resulting destruction of confidence and self worth.
What makes women so willing to go back to where there is certainty of misery, violence, fear and pain? Why is the alternative found so much worse than all of the above?
Below is the comment. What advice would you give to the email writer?
My sister’s marriage is 12 year old and she has a daughter 11 years old. One day they (25 people) came to our house and started shouting outside our home insulting my parents and my sister and they said “Your daughter is lying on the road, bring her back.” And we reached there but she was not there, then we reached to her home it was locked from outside. I saw my sister was on the first floor and she was locked and she was crying badly with her daughter. We understood that she had been beaten very badly, but since this was a family matter I didn’t do anything like calling the police. As I was afraid of their attitude to hurt my sister, so I brought my sister and her daughter to our home.
One day after that her daughter started crying that she wanted to see her father and my father took her to my sister’s in laws’ home. They refused to keep her and they threw her with her luggage like we throw garbage in the bin… speaking very rudely to the girl child.
They are so bad. Her husband has refused to pay her daughter’s school fees, now it is more than six month that we are taking care of both my sister and my niece but he never came to take them. Whenever we tried to contact him he says he is out of station, he refused to speak to us.
Please advice. My sister doesn’t want to break her marriage. She has a thinking that a daughter without a father has no value and her father has misused my sister for 12 years.
We are also planning to file a police complaint against him but before that I want to know the pros and cons of taking a legal steps and want to know my sister’s rights as a wife for 12 years. Please advice what we can do and what we should do to resolve this issue as he is not willing to listen to us…
Anyone please suggest what to do. This is real life matter and everyone’s attention is a must as what is my sister’s life at the age of 40 + with a daughter old 11 years and her husband is very rude abusive and beat her and doesn’t even pay her daughter’s school fees.
Recognizing Emotional Abuse – Priya
Changing Someone (or oneself) – Priya
Closing that chapter – just as if nothing happened – Careless Chronicles
Domestic Violence – Tears and Dreams “She was offering me advice on relationships. You can offer to help rescue a victim. She did not consider herself one. She is happy in her marriage.”
Click on TAGGED below the post for more related posts
“Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap.”
Sharing an email and a link by Aditi Madan.
…my sons needed our help while they took care of their young children and their jobs. But then my husband said the most important thing: “Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap. We did it. Our children will, too.”
When I told Sanket that we would not be coming, he was furious. He demanded to know why we could not help him after helping his brother. I explained gently that we would visit occasionally, but only for a few days. Staying at their homes, with nothing to do apart from taking care of the baby, came with its own problems: we did not have a car at our disposal, so we had to wait for our sons to come home and take us out. There was ample free time but nothing to do.
This decision is great. Do you think it would have been a different case though if the children were not sons but daughters? That help in babysitting might be assumed to be a help or favour for their daughter in law more than for their son (because it is the woman’s job isn’t it), may have made the decision more obvious and easy to make. If it was their daughter and son in law in place of son and daughter in law, things might have been different or at least making this very good decision might have been more difficult… more guilt to overcome. There’s a possibility that the father’s ‘discomfort’ about babysitting duties that triggered the decision might not have even come up in the first place. Because while for parents of sons in India, after a certain age parents are not expected to look after son but the other way round but for parents of daughters… it’s a lifetime of looking after (and serving) not only daughter but her husband and inlaws as well.
IHM: It seems the grandparents here do view parenting as the mother’s job (i.e. the daughter in law’s job here), the grandfather is quoted to have said: “Whom did we call when we had our sons? You were managing our business with young sons in your lap.”
Another thought – How would you view the same decision where the parents in law have pressurised the daughter in law ‘to have a baby because they want a grand kid’? Like in this case, An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet? Or in this case, An email: “She is considering having an abortion without telling her husband about it.”
A gender neutral law that requires all children to ‘maintain’ the parents would be accepted, even welcomed by many today. It could change the way Indian parents (and society) love, view and raise their children.
The primary reason for male child preference in Indian families is that only a male child is viewed as budhape ka sahara (provider of elder care), a duty that he is expected to perform by providing an obedient and/or dependent daughter in law as a caregiver for his parents.
The daughter in law may or may not be earning (or allowed to earn), whatever she earns or owns is generally not in her control; in traditional patriarchal families everything that is hers – her time, money, energy, children, name, social life, sleep, what she eats or wears etc may be controlled by her spouse and in laws. Then how is a married daughter expected to provide elder care to her parents? With permission and gratitude?
Story of a daughter trying to take care of her parents : An anonymous email. [link]
This would change only if parents of Indian daughters stop seeing their daughters as future daughters in law. A gender neutral law can enable and accelerate such a change.
Today there are many Indian families, where there are no male children. The daughters in many such families are raised, at the very least, as equals amongst some more equals – or equals who must compromise because there is no option, or even as budhape ka sahara. So, it is becoming – very slowly – the progressive, generous and the right thing for in laws to permit the daughter in law to support her parents. It’s often done unhappily, because it is difficult to give up unearned entitlements. Some parents in law might feel victimised and resentful, like in this case: “My parents are not allowed to visit me at my place. None of my relatives are welcome either.- An anonymous email.”
I think this is just the time for such a gender neutral law. It would also be a step towards putting an end to the legal system treating girl children (and women) as liabilities and paraya dhan for the parents and the society to protect (etc).
Normally one would say, that justice and fair laws need not wait for society’s acceptance – in this case the social changes seem to be waiting for a legal stamp of approval. The law would simply smoothen the path of the much needed changes that are sure to follow.
“It was contended that the married daughter is not liable to maintain her parents since after marriage she has gone to live in her matrimonial house in the other family i.e. of her husband. Married daughter has an obligation towards her matrimonial house, husband, father-in-law and her children and therefore she cannot be held liable to maintain her parents. Further contended that, it is the choice of the parents to seek remedy against one of the children and, in the instant case, the parents had filed the application only against their eldest son.
High Court rejecting the aforementioned contention held that, “in the instant case, married daughter proved to have been working as a Software Engineer in USA and having sufficient means, is under an obligation to maintain her parents.” [https://indianlawyersforum.com/news/?show=171]”
But what if the married daughter has no income of her own? Would she still be obligated to maintain her parents?
If yes, then this would convey that whatever a married couple earns during the period they were married is being considered Joint Matrimonial Property.
This would also convey that marriage need not make an Indian woman dependent and hence incapable of being a budhape ka sahara to her parents.
But what if only those married daughters who are
working earning are obligated to maintain their parents? What does this signify?
That they do not have an equal share in what the couple is making during the period they are married? That they remain dependents unless they are earning? No equal rights in Marital property?
Then why mustn’t earning be a top priority for a married Indian daughter?
If marriage and parenthood makes some Indian children (daughters) less capable of
working earning and providing maintenance for their parents – why wouldn’t the parents (in need of elder care) prefer single daughters, earning daughters or male children?
I have come to understand that I like to read about other people’s journeys from trauma (of any kind) towards some amount of healing or acceptance. Recommendations requested and welcome.
The first such book I read was The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood [link], which was comforting at a time when nothing could comfort. Now I offer it to anybody coping with child loss. The second survivor story I bought but did not start reading for almost two years, (because it seemed too popular and I thought it was about praying) – then I saw the movie on the TV and finally picked the book. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – still surprises me with the impact it has on me (and on atleast one other mother who loves the book as much) – I am reading it for the second time, reading it slowly, savouring every word. The comfort this book brings is specially unexpected because the book is not about child loss, I was surprised that divorce and heartbreak could hurt this much. How the book ends or the story doesn’t matter – what I love is reading about Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences as she struggles to find some moments of peace. This struggle to help herself was (is) immensely relatable.
Then a friend recommended Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, and now I have just finished reading and am still feeling overwhelmed with the Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis.
Aspen Matis is a rape survivor. She decides to hike the same Pacific Crest Trail that the Cheryl Strayed does (in Wild: From Lost to Found).
Each of these books has been an eye opener. I have come to see that loss and trauma affects many of us in nearly the same way. No matter what causes it, atleast for a while, the trauma changes the way the survivors view life and everything else.
Aspen Matis felt nobody ‘gets’ what she was going through, including her mother, “I hated her consistent need to know the list of different foods I’d eaten that day. I remembered how she’d asked me if I’d had a good dinner in the same phone call when I’d told her I’d been raped.”
For a long time after the rape, she doesn’t know what she wants… because what she wanted was not possible. The book made me want to reach out to her, to hug her nineteen year old self and to thank her for her courage in sharing her experience. I was saddened but still thankful to be reading how she felt. When have we ever heard a rape survivor’s side of the story? Such first person accounts should be shared.
I had not thought of what a sexual assault could do to every part of the survivor’s life. Consider what it could do to her self confidence: Did she really ask for it? Could she have prevented it? Did she experience rape or was it not really rape? Was she capable of taking care of herself? Could/should she trust men ever again? Was she safe from further assaults? Would she ever be able to have a normal relationship? All her relationships change forever, including her relationship with herself. Then there was the humiliation, the ‘shame’, the anger and the helplessness. I strongly recommend the book for anybody who would like to understand what a sexual assault can do to a victim. Also, what lack of clarity about one’s rights can do. Why having a voice and knowing one’s rights is more empowering than all the safety alarms and pepper sprays in the world. And how terrifyingly disempowering lack of confidence is. I loved the author’s honesty.
In a society like ours that does not even acknowledge that rape is ‘sex without consent’ – this book could be a beginning. Do read and share.
But why was this book healing for me? It made me see I was not the only one coping with what I couldn’t change. AND it made me want to go for a long, long hike.
And I agree with her when she says, “To victims of sexual assault or any trauma, tell your story. Only then will you find someone who had similar experiences, with whom you can connect and move forward...” [from here – What Girl in the Woods Author Aspen Matis Found on the Trail to Independence:]
A Hiker’s Guide to Healing – Aspen Matis
When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her. —ADRIENNE RICH
Sharing a comment (and my response) asking some commonly asked questions about Marital Rape and how disallowing it might destabilise the society.
GS: I have a question that I have in my mind which I wish to openly discuss. The urban Indian woman has equally progressed in today’s society and doesn’t live in any kind of a subjection like before, things have gone normal which is the greatest achievement of our times,
IHM : Not true.
Amongst other things, if urban Indian women did not live in any kind of subjection then the society (atleast in urban India) would not continue to prefer male children.
And women and society would find it normal to live, work and travel alone, dressed in clothes they prefer … as easily as the rest of the society does.
GS: what I’d like to enlighten here are more gender biased laws that our Indian Institutions have already passed in favour of women and what aches me more is the way “SOME WOMEN” use the same laws to harass their husband and his family.
IHM : I wish we had reliable statistics of alleged ‘misuse’ of gender biased laws by women.
Also, which specific laws do you think should be changed and how would you change them – ensuring there is no misuse and no justice denied?
Do you think these laws are not required at all? Should domestic violence continue to be permitted just like marital rape is? Have we succeeded in creating healthy society by allowing crimes against some of the members? (No, we have reached a point where most parents do not want to have or to raise girl children, everybody prays, fasts and blesses for sons)
GS: Coming back to this article consent is a sensitive issue that cannot be proved in the Court of law.
IHM : Should a heinous crime be permitted because it is difficult to prove? Acquaintance rape or date rape or rape in live in relationships is also difficult to prove (and 98% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim) [link] – but the law still does not permit rapes in these relationships.
As of now – marital rape is not a crime, even if it can be proven, where there are injuries and where violence is involved.
Do you think marital rape (- whether easy to prove or not) is less traumatic than rape outside of marriage?
Why do you think is rape traumatic for the victim?
Many Indians (who think marital rape should not become a crime) seem to believe the victim of rape becomes a zinda laash (a living corpse) – implying (amongst many other things) – physical and emotional trauma, caused by violence, violation, fear, physical injuries, stigma (if the crime is reported and becomes public) and more.
Now, which of these would not be experienced in case of marital rape, but is experienced in rapes outside marriage? Stigma? Because it’s perfectly honorable for a victim to be raped by her spouse? So long as the rapist is a spouse or becomes one after the rape – there is no stigma.
One thing that would change with a law criminalising marital rape is that the society would begin to view rape as an assault and not as a shameful thing.
What does the legal right to rape an equal partner mean? How do you think does it affect a relationship? Amongst other things it creates a sense of entitlement. It also implies that forced sex is wrong only when the victim is being ‘dishonored’ and that there is no dishonor in sexually assaulting someone one is married to. Are honor, respect and equality possible in such a relationship?
How is marital rape less serious than domestic violence? Should any civilised society legally allow such crimes to be committed?
Legalising a crime is not a solution, because it changes the way the crime is viewed by the criminal, the victim and the entire society.
There is a general lack of healthy sex education or even communication about sex, and the law permits rape of a spouse, so for many Indians marital rape, or forced sex with spouse is not just perfectly acceptable – but actually quite normal. Seems disgusting and unbelievable? Take a look at the reactions to this groom raping a wedding guest: ‘Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires without problems which he has got into.‘
The general tone of the comments is – “Fool did not wait for few hours to legality(sic) enjoy”. One comment suggests the groom was ‘practising’. There is a general sense that marriage entitles a man to unlimited power over the wife, and rape and sex are seen as the same thing. Can forced sex and respect coexist? Do these men [Or these, these, these, these, these and these] understand that sex can and should always be a mutually desirable act?[unimaginable!] Without understanding that and with so much ignorance – how can they be expected to view women as equal citizens and people with feelings?
There seems to be no question of what the woman thinks or feels. How can such relationships create happy and well adjusted families? What kind of society do such millions of such families create? We already know that –
GS: and some women can make a good misandry out of the same just like they did with Sec 498A.
IHM: Responded above. Need reliable statistics on misuse of 498A. What options do you suggest?
GS: Consent is not always given by women.
IHM: I didn’t understand this. Do you mean consent should always be given by women? Meaning women should not have the right to deny consent? Do you mean women should be forced to consent? How does the society benefit from this forcing?
Both men and women should have the right to give or to withhold consent. Sex without consent is called rape.
One way this would change relationships (and hence the society) is that even married men would make the effort to be nice to the wife (or vice versa) if they want sex, they would not feel entitled to sex.
For them, marriage is just a license to have socially accepted sex. Allowing women to say “no” takes that away from them. In the future, they might *gasp* actually have to try and be nice to the woman, make her feel wanted, and be romantic. You can’t treat her like dirt and still exercise a god given right to use her body when you want. More here – “Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”
GS: Despite making the laws just in favour of women without any proof why can’t our government take active measures to create gender neutral laws instead of laws for protecting just women.
IHM: Gender Neutral laws are fair. Marital Rape and domestic violence should not be permitted to women either.
We also need more gender neutral laws to ensure women and men inherit equally, are provided equal opportunities for self reliance, are entitled to equal pay for equal work. Both men and women should feel safe – while travelling (especially after dark), or in public spaces or when under the influence of alcohol; marriage and parenting should not make men or women economically (or otherwise) dependent etc..Reservation by custom and tradition. Neither should be expected to forget their families and friends once they get married
GS: If the same situation continues time isn’t far when even Indian men will quit their faith from women and the Institution of marriage which would damage the family structure of a civilized society badly.
I need open minds to discuss this issue.
IHM: Do you mean that Indian men would not want to get married because they would fear being accused of raping their wives? These challenges should not deter the government from making laws that do not permit anybody to rape anybody. The law must acknowledge marital rape as a crime – just like we acknowledge other crimes like murder or acid attacks.