To an Anonymous DIL

DIL = Daughter in Law, MIL = Mother in Law

Dear Anonymous DIL,

Your comment in response to this post was heart breaking. There’s no telepathy needed, you get close to ANY Indian DIL living in a Joint Family, and she is dying to confide in someone about how unhappy she is, how she is frustrated with the way her husband behaves, how oppressive it is to be totally dominated by her in laws and her husband. It makes me both, angry and sad.

Many women say he changes when his parents are around. He becomes stiff, as if he feels guilty he is close to his wife! He can go out alone, no problem, but if he has to go with his wife, he must take permission.

It can be a stressful life for an average girl who wants an ordinary life – and things so many of us – and all Indian men, take for granted – some free time, a satisfying job, some friends, some recreation and most of all, some FREEDOM. Instead a lot the time and energy is spent in fuming over real and imagined insults, there are misunderstandings and resentments, competition, rivalry, jealousy, backbiting…and terrible frustration. All avoidable! Men cannot even imagine it because they never have to go through it. And their wives need not either, if they understand and support them.

What aggravates the trauma is that the girl has no scope to grow, to be creative or original because newer and better ways are totally condemned, anything can only be good if the elders have been doing it. Not a very healthy atmosphere, but we try to pass all this off as ‘inculcating of family values’ and ‘samskars’.

Many daughters in this country are raised to be just good daughters in law, they grow up prepared for a tough life in a joint family, still it is unbearable for them!

When my daughter was born I was advised to drink FIFTEEN Kg of DESI GHEE! Thankfully I had the common sense (and good luck) to smile the advice away. I was also advised not to drink water to avoid gaining weight. I had faith in PREGNANCY by GORDON BOURNE which protected me from all such advice. Just a normal healthy diet was what I followed. In a joint family, this, which affected no one as much as me, would have offended many!

What does one do if one is trapped in such a situation?
Why not create an id and/or start a blog your husband does not know of? Yes, I am suggesting traditional Indian style deception, you know Krishna, Drona and Yudhishthir have used it. You DEFINITELY need a space of your own, if nothing else then just to rant. If you had an email address I could have emailed this reply! No body’s family name and honor will come to any harm if you don’t use you own name. And you will get to speak to like minded people! And frankly if a DIL speaks about her in laws, in India, it is nothing new or scandalous, I am yet to meet a girl who lives with her in laws and does not complain about it. WHY don’t we see girls more than willing to live in joint families? Don’t we care how they feel at all? Why are so many of them complaining? There has to be something wrong with this system? When I was younger I thought they were being unaccommodating, selfish etc but over the years I realised that this system is totally wrong and it gives too much power to some humans over the lives of some other humans. And what kind of power! It is so outrageously unjust and the worst part is, this control is couched in ‘sanskar’.

For those who disagree with me, try and imagine a boy doing what a girl is expected to do…obedience, sacrifice, going nowhere without permission, living under supervision and control, expected to forget your own parents, no independence – everything. Boys, can you live like that? I know I won’t wish it on an enemy.

Imagine, an adult is required to take permission to go and shop, to watch a movie, to cook a favourite dish, and WORST to meet her own parents/friends! A friend of mine, who is a doctor lived in a joint family for a while. She said everybody was nice, there was no criticism or nitpicking, “but when I go home after a tiring day, sometimes I just want to pick a Pizza on my way home, take a shower, wear a long, loose T shirt and flop on my bedroom floor, watching TV and eating Pizza.” But this LUXURY she could not afford. Her husband who came back home with her everyday could though. She had to politely supervise the dinner, when he could say he did not want to be disturbed because he was tired. Doesn’t it sound more a case of if it’s MY child he is tired, if it’s SOMEBODY ELSE’S child she is cranky! Her husband sometimes went out alone with friends, when she wanted to do that there was the same taking permission protocol. When she was offered a job in another city it was understood that she would refuse. She was needed at home, why else did the guy get married? But let’s ask, WHY did this girl get married?

Why shouldn’t all young couples live in their own houses? I know many couples who are taking good care of the parents on both the sides, but they live in their own house with their young children.

Anonymous DIL, it is not right that he supervises your blogging. If he was fair about it, you could let him read it, maybe advice (not command) like an equal or a friend, but no more. This is just not right because you are not a child, you are an adult, and you have a need and a right to interact with the world. This supervision is control of the worst kind, because it is done so self righteously, using excuses like family honor, values and tradition. In India family values value everybody except the DIL. I am rambling because I feel so helpless! Why can’t the rest of us see how wrong it is!

Anonymous DIL, have you tried talking about this to your husband? Your in laws are not alone, so actually whether you stay with them or not, will not really affect them, unless it becomes an ego issue. (Don’t let it become that!). And it will mean so much to you! After enjoying living alone here with you, is it not possible that your husband will realise that it’s nice to have a home of your own? Do you show him how much you love living life like this? Maybe seeing how happy you are will make him see it isn’t such a bad idea to live on your own? Convey this to him; let him know you do not want to live in a joint family again. Do you fear his reaction? Still do it.

If nothing else works TAKE UP A JOB. Getting out of the house for a few hours every day can be a huge break. You are qualified; don’t waste your education over so called ‘petty issues‘ which can actually cause a lot of pain. But what if the family does not allow you to work? I think this is one thing you will have to fight for. Put your foot down, find a job. And keep what you earn. Buy gifts, smile, be pleasant BUT keep your job and your money. I believe they will get used to it.

I hope you wipe your tears and realise that there is nothing wrong with your wanting some space, And decide to fight, I feel you can and will find positive solutions.


Also read No Jeans for an Indian Daughter in Law.


96 thoughts on “To an Anonymous DIL

  1. Dear IHM,

    I understand your frustration and your anger. I feel the same.

    BUT I also feel each of us is responsible for her own life. I can imagine (barely) an ignorant, helpless woman not having any control over her life. But this DIL says she is a software engineer and had got admission in a top business school, that her family is liberal and educated and “brought her up with all freedom.” YET she met her husband and was married off to him in 2-3 weeks. In my view, liberal families don’t do that. Intelligent women don’t do that. And after doing something that dumb – marrying a guy you hardly know – you’re surprised it doesn’t turn out well? We put in so much thought into the kind of education we want, the school we want to get into, the kind of job we want to do. Yet marriage is a decision that gets taken in a few days.

    After ceding control of your life like that, why be surprised when it’s completely taken over, when you have nothing to call your own?

    I am not disagreeing with your post. I agree the joint family setup is outdated and usually unfair. But our lives are our own. If we don’t take care of ourselves, why should someone else? Why don’t we take our lives into our own hands, and decide what we want to do?

    In this case, more than the in-laws, I would blame the parents. What kind of parents would be outwardly “liberal” and marry their daughter off to a virtual stranger, in a household where she wouldn’t be allowed to study or work? And have they expressed any concern about their daughter’s unhappiness after her marriage?

    Thanks for reading through the long comment. I’m not sure how coherent I have been, as I’m rather sleepy right now. But I wanted to put in my thoughts right away.


    • Let me tell you what happens to women who stand up to their parents’ wishes when it comes to marriage, in case you didn’t know already: MAHABHARAT erupts in their houses. Day in and day out the mothers and fathers scold and cajole and pressure the woman to get married, there are all kinds of threats and emotional blackmail and subtle as well as not-so-subtle hints that the woman is a burden to her parents. To stick to your stand in spite of all this takes a great deal of assertiveness, bullheaded obstinacy, not to mention a willingness to hurt the people you love and feel obligated to.

      You think Indian girls are brought up to be assertive about their needs and wants? No. Boys are. From a ridiculously young age, girls are taught to give in and sacrifice and “adjust” to others and not be “so selfish”.

      Which movie should we go to? The one that your father wants to see! What’s for dinner? The son’s! Who helps mom in the kitchen? The daughter! Who gets to play outside? The son! Who is in charge of taking care of younger cousins when they visit? The daughter! Who gets to goof off playing video games, never being held responsible for caregiving? The son!

      These girls and women can’t even imagine standing up for their movie choices, food choices or free time, and suddenly you expect them to start saying no when it comes to marriage? HOW?

      (BTW: I speak from experience for a lot of this. My parents are extremely liberal. We actually lived overseas in Singapore since I was 14. But when I acquired a boyfriend, they simply could not deal with it. At first they threatened to call the police. I laughed in their faces! Then they threatened to throw me out of the house if I didn’t stop seeing him. So I lied and said I’d broken up. A few years later they found out I was still seeing him and then they DID throw me out… so during the final year of college I worked and paid my fees as well as room and board myself while studying.

      We have since “reconciled” especially after I’ve had a son, but things will never be the same between us: they still feel I betrayed them, I still can’t forgive them for disowning me. I know I lost my parents for good that first time they realised I had dared to fall inlove with a boy. So that is the price I’ve had to pay for saying NO to my parents. You cannot expect everyone to be willing to do the same. It’s too much. It’s too unfair.

      Interestingly, if you asked my parents whether they wanted their daughter to be independent, assertive, brave and a “go-getter” they will tell you YES.

      But when I am actually that way in real life… that’s another matter altogether.)


  2. @Unmana I agree with every word you’ve written. I asked myself the same questions…specially about the parents…I think we are just so conditioned that we accept this as our (un)written destiny. I think they feel a need to confirm, and maybe they are just glad she is married, like I always say, we Indians are so obsessed with our daughters getting married:( Must marry, no matter how unsuited, how not-ready, how stifling an existence that marriage might make for her…marry not because it makes you happier, but because you simply must marry.


  3. I ;love this post and I agree with every word. My advice is the same,

    Deal DIL, I hope u find strength and faith and are able to stand up for urself.

    That’s one thing about beign eomen, if u don’t take care of urself, no one else will.


  4. I agree with you every bit. And also with Unmana: you have to stand up for yourself. Nobody else is going to do that. I also want to add the one dilemma I experience as a DIL. I have freedom and fun, I work and take most of my own decisions but I wish I could do all of that without guilt of breaking the convention.


  5. Thank you all for being compassionate..I really feel at ease when talking with similar minded people..

    I totally agree with Unaman,unless we stand for and respect ourselves,nobody else is going to do that…I had been a great friend and motivator to the whole of my college,but somehow I can’t aplly my philosophies in own life..

    Its not easy as you guys say it.It is not easy for me go for work,when people around are co operative.Even if i do that,I’ld have to see so many bumby faces,and I hate that.Please don’t blame my parents..They wish good for me.but it all happened so..

    I am not in very bad state as some girls out there are..But I just wanted to stress that being educated is not a way out,as i thought of it all my life..

    lol..and its not easy to have a personal virtual space,when you have a partner who was offeneded for months ,simply bcoz i refused to give password of I said it..He says,you can ask mine too,I replied,”for what”??Maybe such things will seem to makeup that Im hiding something..I dn’t want to live that way..sorry..Its very disturbing ..

    Things are not as ‘independent’ as Unmama would say it..I appreciate her concern,but things are not as easy as she says,atleast it is not around me..Utmost,I can move out and live as I wish..But then again,I may have to forgo amny many things in life..So basically,it is a simple choice..a choice I myself is not sure of…

    Thank you all again,for your love and compassion..I hope to see things changed..Lol..when I showed your post to my husband,obviously before my comment appeared,after some silence he asked,”so you want boy’s parents to suffer so that girl can look after her parents”..uh!!!


  6. @IHM: I totally agree with your views here… I think the Indian society just needs a BIGGGGG change!!! But who will bring about that change? People like u and me!! I, as an MIL will not be oppressive on my DIL and thats a vow if all of us take, then problems will all be resorted!! Problem is that women suffer and then in turn make their DILs suffer!!! Where is justice here???

    @Unmana: I do not think time has anything to do here and even then, I believe u marry not the guy but his family as well…The guy mayb a sweetheart but what if his family doesnt think so… What then?? For some … ooopsss…. sorry… for most people, samaj is more important than the family… And their own son is their SON!!!! While DIL can never be a daughter!!!!! It is easy said than done… There are so many factors and parameters involved that u cant call ur life, ur own!!


  7. Dear Anonymous DIL, It’s much better to see some grumpy faces and work then leave your husband. Why? Because I do feel he will accept your decision after some days of feeling offended. If he cares for you. And if he doesn’t then you will know he doesn’t care at all- then you decide what to do. You will know you really tried to make it work and it just didn’t.
    Do you know I don’t even have my kids’s passwords anymore! And they are not even adults! I talk to them, warn them about dangers on the net and then accept that they are individuals! Everybody needs personal space, and if somebody doesn’t understand then you can always have another id…yes it feels terrible to have to do something like this…but a smart woman will know when it’s time to fight openly and when some privacy has to be stolen. I hope he does not read this, but if he does then he should know we, women on this blog, disapprove of this controlling.


  8. D How about feeling PROUD not guilty because it takes courage to break conventions…feel guilty if you follow the beaten path 🙂


    • you know IHM reading your comment gave me enough strength to tackle a tricky yet silly situation that i have found myself in..well it is like this..we belong to sikh religion so keeping hair is something that we are expected to do even if we don’t feel like and don’t feel that connection with such husband is cut surd and he too made me cut my hair(i also love trying out new hair styles)..this was before now after marriage when again i did it my in laws specially father in law stopped talking to me and then later when i talked to them that i wish to do so and asked them for permission they simply refused and in fact threatened that i can go to my own home (maika) if i wish to do husband kept quiet all through this and told me that wait for a while..i have waited for 2 looooonnng years, worked for them, made them feel good, never said a word to them even if i felt offended by some of the things they a recent event my MIL created a scene for no reason or rather silly issue just because i told her that its not possible for me to do some thing..well it was after that i decided that its enough and i got myself a cut with due permission from my husband as he has no problem with it but he said you will have to face the situation your self..
      The thing is my hubby himself cut hairs and they are ok with it as in-laws cant make him not do that so they force that on me as i cant refuse the way he does..and i have taken my time to analyze the reasons as well and its only because my FIL thinks what the ‘zamana’ will say and not because of any religious concern..
      honestly i am feeling a bit scared too as i have nobody with me..husband takes a side corner in such situations..but i couldn’t have kept like this for whole of my one day or the other i had to do this..
      The worst part is they mix these things with that we don’t respect or love them enough this in spite of being there for them whenever there was a need even i had to live with them without my husband after marriage..but i think it was of no use 😦


      • Hey sufferer! Wow, someone like me! My husband is not a cut-surd BUT, I have always loved trying new haristyles. I have very heavy hair (and I mean it, it’s thick and feels like a huge weight has lifted off my head when I cut it) and always told him that I will keep it long but well groomed (get a regular trim – I hate the idea of jhadoo style ends to the hair). After our wedding, he claimed he did not remember this and that I promised I will not cut my hair (not the same thing as keeping it long) and MIL claimed I did not respect them, told me several times, “ek baar rakh ke to dekh” even though my hair reached the middle of my back and was longest ever in my life, totally unmanageable. The husband threatened that no one in his family would accept me because of my hair (as if dead cells on my head are more important than a living, breathing person), told me that I would be thrown out by his family for these reasons and taunted for years over the hair. I didn’t bend, I got it cut shorter so I could manage it but kept it long enough for a long time. And then, one day, I walked into the house and noticed my husband was looking different. I couldn’t understand why that was until I finally realized that he had taken a pair of scissors and trimmed his mustache and beard. Funny, that all those years he behaved extremely hurtfully towards me for not following his religion (I told him once that if God was going to love me, it would happen whether or not I had 2 inches more or less of hair on my head and that his parents feeling respected or not was more about them as people than about me or any love for God, society or religion and therefore, a moot point).

        I asked him after this, what happened to his religion? Did he suddenly stop being a Sikh guy because they’re not permitted to ever cut hair? It’s been 2 years, I’ve had plenty of hairstyle changes in this time, but he’s never answered my question. He hasn’t told his Mom about his tryst with the scissors either. I wonder why he needed to tell her when it was me? MIL has also never brought up the length of my hair. I don’t think she has the right to. It’s on my head and I get to decide what to do with it…if her respect is attached to my hair…err…too bad.


      • I m from jain family,,, in my maiyka no system,,, but here is a silly system is not to wash hairs for 9 months during pregnancy. How can modern girl do this?


  9. soon to be dil – Only one thing works. Courage. Don’t be too humble. Our grandmothers taught us wrong…being assertive works, I don’t mean pick unnecessary arguments, but look confident, don’t be self effacing. Think Draupadi, not Sita. Both went through tough situations, but Draupadi is always associated with power, Sita with suffering. Please read SISTER OF MY HEART by Chitra Banerji Divakaruni…just to see how attitudes make and break us.
    About the vow, I don’t even give myself the authority or power to think that I can take such a vow. But just so you know, “I do vow to do my every bit in every relationship with women, to support and to help empower other women. I will never misuse any authority(?) to bully another woman. Nor will I ever allow anyone to bully me or any other woman I know. As an MIL, SIL, as just another woman in the society I will do every bit to see women are treated with equality and justice.” 🙂


  10. IHM makes a great poin,don’t be polite,yet assertive..In the beginning,i wanted to win all hearts,so i agreed and played violin to all things and now i am in a stage not able to say anything about it ..

    I think women,like to pass on this studd of DIL-MIL game..As soon-to-be -dil said,this is a chain.The one who breaks the chain is seen outlawed,wrrogant and like..The question is who will do it?

    Yes,it is changing and people are doing well..Just a few yrs ago,my cousin sister’s MIL took all her gold and money(dowry) the very next day after wedding and made her do all mopping and cleaning is no wrong in doig..But imposing it to new bride is cruel..again,my cousing was a lawyer..

    I wonder why they shitty world i see around me of eductae dwomen is chains and not the other way round..I wish i had not been so enlightened ,so that i’ld not be frustrated this much:)


  11. I too believe that one should fight it out. But at the same time it could mean breaking up of the marriage so it is not an easy decision. Many women prefer to do it gradually. They gradually take control, but unfortunately what happens is that by that time they have often become bitter. Like someone suggested here, one should be careful before getting married. Best not to marry a man who is living with his parents as a DIL can be expected to become a slave and is often treated worse than a servant. Freedom, forget it! Support from hubby, forget it!
    Not in all homes ofcourse, but then in an arranged marriage how is one to know?
    What I cannot stand are those who give sanctimonious advise on “how to handle” in-laws, as if the responsibility is with the DIL! And none at all on the other side.


  12. @nita I think doing it gradually is a good advise. That is why I thought if she could at least get out of her house everyday to work…but I guess that too must come gradually. And do you know under the new Domestic Violence Act it is against the law to stop the girl from meeting her parents, confining a girl is also not permitted…


  13. Anonymous: your cousin was a lawyer and she didn’t do anything about it? I’m sure what her MIL did was illegal.

    Education does NOT make you less powerful or frustrated. If it does it means you are not using it well. I believe I owe my independence to my education and my upbringing. I have wonderful sweet in-laws who would not dream of interfering in my life, and a husband who would stand up for me if they did. (The in-laws don’t live with us, but still…)

    Again, no one is going to give freedom and independence to you as a gift, you have to claim it for yourself.


  14. hey IHM
    An absolutely lovely post.. could relate to a lot of what you’ve written cos i have friends going thru something similar to what the Anonymous DIl has written about!!!

    Shall do a post on this soon…too much to write here…:)


  15. IHM, do you think Son and DIL living in a separate house would solve the problems? It will, but temporarily. Life’s all a circle. What if the same DIL grew up and her son and daughter left her house, and leave her all alone? Sacrifices, expected from the members of a joint family, comes with certain advantages – but not immediately. Of course, people can enjoy their freedom now but suffer later in life – after they become OLD. Practically, though the sons and daughters keep visiting their mothers and MIL’s once in a while, they do feel alone and uncared for. I am not talking about finances.

    I am not saying that joint families are good. But I am saying that nuclear families aren’t any better. It is like instant relief but their long term consequences are unaccounted.


  16. You have a great blog, especially this fabulous post.
    I am in the exact same situation as Anon here. I am a software engineer who was doing her MBA and now is a stay at home wife.
    I hate it and tried for one year to get my inlaws to allow me to go to Bangalore in order to work again. I have succeeded in it and now am going back to work again.
    It is not an easy task and there were many obstacles in my path.
    My one advice to Anon would be to hint at the money that you could bring in. Whenever there is a situation where money is tight, casually remark to your husband how your income would have helped. Do it slowly over a period of a month till he is comfortable with the idea. Then mention it in the family setting. Don’t be angry or defensive in your statements. Just mention it as if you wish you could help.
    This worked for me. All the best to you, dear.


  17. Here is my two cents worth.
    No one, I repeat no one , can make you feel lesser of a human being than you are, without your complicit help. That is where it begins.
    And the help is not a sign on you that says “Treat me like a doormat” but that dirty word compromise. The “it is not as bad as with other girls”. Let me ask you, when does it get bad? When they beat you? But then it is not as bad as if they were doing it every day. When they engage in fearsome abuse? Well it is not as bad as killing you. There is ALWAYS someone who has it worse. So you are always relatively better off. Be content if that is what you want.
    The other way in complying with your own degradation is the bearing of all sorts of nonsense just because of not being able to give up life as you know it. Well, that too, very simply is a matter of comfort. So it would seem the degradation, the irritation etal are minor in comparison to the material and social comforts the relationship provides. Either way there is plenty of sympathy all for really doing nothing much. But preserving a non-relationship as a relationship.

    I sympathize, to an extent, even empathize, but like everyone else, not for too long( and by the way, this is not directed only to the Anonymous DIL, but to everyone else also who has faced this situation). Because then it becomes venting without any direction, in which case it is best to just grin and bear it.

    Look the world is a very nasty place- it truly is- it should not be, but is. One HAS to stand up for one’s rights, or they get taken away.And this is a very very sad fact. Only the individual can determine where to draw the line and take what is acceptable- or not take it. Either way, it is the individual’s decision. After all when it comes to justification, everyone else has a perfect answer for behaving the way they do- parents, spouses and in-laws alike. Also, there are never any brownie points available for living the quiet life of a doormat, only more abuse.
    Of course change is very difficult to institute, be it denying a password or behaving like an adult in your own home. But it is a step one needs to take- for sob stories, – I know I am being harsh- really are a dime a dozen. And friends, no matter how well meaning can only do so much.

    Sorry for being so harsh, but I felt it needed to be said.


  18. Oh an to the soon to be dil, I thought i needed to say this- its only the guy you marry- never the family. The vows are taken with one person only, not the clan. And if they cannot respect their son’s spouse, they just show how little they care for he son. “Samaj” or no, it is a matter of how completely messed up their clan is. And remember about the marriage only to the son, for you can be sure that “samaj” caring people are fully aware that you are the outsider- besides the son should know whom he has married and is quite literally in a legal contract with.


  19. ugh people like this exist? Thanks for taking this up IHM cuz only you could manage it so well!!!

    have something for you on me blog. pliss to come by when u can.


  20. Wow…u’ve given such sound advice! I can only imagine what DIL’s in a joint family go through. Having a very supportive husband goes a long way but many time doesnt happen.


  21. first time here and what a post.

    i am particularly tickled by what destination infinity had to say. yes, fact is our kids will also laeve us and stay on their own. but the fact is we would have spent at least 30 years of life with ecah other in peave. and that hardly qualifies as short-term in my dictionary.

    the relation of ILs and DIL doesnt have to be this complicated, but it ends up being so. and i really dont know if “sacrifice” in that sense gives any longterm benefifts either!

    whats the point of making each other unhappy under the guise of “being adjusting”?!

    i can say for sure that if we had stayed with my ILs our married life wouldnt have been half as good as it is now. and frankly at this point of time i have no idea how good a ma-in-law i will make iether when my time comes.

    i would rather live seperately and in peace rather than get frustarted everyday.

    i have tried being the “nice” bahu and frankly it comes faily easy to me because i dont have hang ups. but inspite of that if people keep finding faults for things you wont even give a second glance too, i just dont think its worth it!!

    today when my MILs comes and stays with us, its almost cool. i am out most of the day at work and she is free to run the house the way she wants to! i dont question it! i KNOW the day she leaves, i am free to dmy own thing again!! hehe!!

    sorry for the rambling post length comment!! i guess its a topic close to every woman’s heart! :p






  23. We give up control because there is underlying threat of emotional distancing.
    If we give up control, we are honoured & welcomed to the fold.

    But we are humans. Our innate abilities are bound to surface.
    And so we are constantly reminded of the threat of, "Thik hain, tum nahin chahti, toh hum kuch nahin kahenge." Then it becomes a Bagban or Avtaar kindof story.

    Am ok DIL. Coz I am slightly 'moti chamdi ki'. Kuch asar hi nahin hota 🙂
    And I have got more strengten after I delivered my daughter.
    Now I dont care about anyones approval. Not my hubby, not in-laws, not friends, not bloggers, not collegues. Absolutely nobody.
    I know I have gotto to get some balance. Am working on that.


  24. Am here again.

    Ppl atleast Northen, take the Kanya-daan really seriously.
    I cant tell you how these statements are used in the normal course of the day. Its in the language itself – Beti chaligayi, Beti thi, Beti toh apke ghar ki nahin hain.

    I guess most parents also let go, worrying, if they are possesive of their daughter, she might face rough at in-laws. After all she is living with them.

    And gwad, how worried Hubby & FIL & DIL are that the new DIL will create Bagban or Avtaar like scenario, that maintain a tough rein over her.


  25. @ “Ramblings of a Feminazi Christian non Indian homebreaker pretending to be homemaker.” I have been ignoring your comments. I would really appreciate it if you make comments based on some logic. It will be even better if you had an Id or email address.
    About my religion: Although I was born in a Hindu family and went through a Hindu wedding ceremony (including kanya daan, much to my displeasure) and although I celebrate Raksha Bandhan with both my kids promising to stand by each; although I rarely, if ever, go to any Temple and to a teerath sthan only as a tourist, (because I believe that God is every where, I guess a Christian belief???)- although my husband goes to temples, Gurudwaras and an occasional Church, …and once to some Islamic place of worship…in a small town we were driving past(not clear what it was, I was stopped from going inside and my liberal mind still rankles, I was expressing my good will by visiting the place, and was rudely made to realise that ALL religions support Patriarchy… I am still a Hindu because I support Human Values, freedom, democracy, compassion, justice…I am pro choice and my Christian friends are against abortion. But I am also against the shocking inequality (caste and gender based)that Hinduism propagates. Do I wish to convert to Christianity? If I was born in an economically backward, scheduled caste tribe I would DEFINITELY have considered the option and I support anybody’s right to follow whichever religion they wish to follow. But I am fine being a liberal, SECULAR, questioning, thinking HINDU woman. Would I mind if my children or any dear relations marry out of religion? If it’s a girl marrying a Muslim guy I would like her to ensure her safety with a well considered, fair and just Nikahnama (but I would still be very worried, I think Muslim girls do have a tough life)…with Christianity I have no problems, Christians in India are by and large liberal and open minded. They have strong family values… and they are a peace loving community. But I am fine with being a Hindu, because despite MODI,VHP, Bajrang Dal and Sangh Parivar, Hinduism is still a liberal, tolerant, ever evolving religion. My being a Hindu is MY BUSINESS and it does not make me against any other religion. And it does not make me blind to the gross injustice and new fundamentalism fermenting in my religion.
    I do not have to be an orphan to speak for adoption, I do not have to be a Muslim woman to speak for them, I do not have to be a Christian to speak against Orissa violence. That’s what makes me a good human..and being fair and just is what all religions teach, including Christianity and Hinduism. We Indians had no problems with Christians until VHP etc started making us feel like victims, to get our votes… Violence with any excuse should be sternly discouraged. I will never support any instigation by any gangs in the name of religion.
    And would you call Modi, Togadia, Advani and Dara Singh Hindus? Yeah sure if Ravan and Kans were Hindus.


  26. @Destination Infinity “What if the same DIL grew up and her son and daughter left her house, and leave her all alone?”
    …son and DAUGHTER left her house and leave her alone? Aren’t daughters expected to leave their parents’ home anyway? Whenever we talk about senior citizens and ageing parents, DO WE EVER talk about a GIRL’s parents Destination Infinity? Think seriously about the consequences of this thinking.


  27. @Aaarti We all see so many such women that we have stopped listening…or we never listened, we think they just crib because they don’t like to adjust and they are selfish, and poor husband (if only he could trade places with the lucky DIL!)is being made a scapegoat in this ‘trivial women’s quarrel/issue/non-issue’…
    And then there are those who are lucky and live in nuclear families, have cool in laws (or distance and space makes them easier to get along with), everybody (not just the DIL) respects and cares for everybody, no one person is supposed to make sacrifices for the rest of the family’s happiness.
    Why don’t the parents make sure their daughters get married not to sacrifice but to SHARE joys, ups and downs, tribulations and jubilation?
    Thankfully for girls’ in this generation this is easily possible..


  28. @homecooked A truly supporting husband should at least get the girl ‘permission’ to work ! Half the problems are solved if you get out for plenty of hours and if you have a source of income.


  29. @Mama Mia Welcome to my Blog, I hope you visit many, many times 🙂
    I agree with you because I have NEVER met anyone who chooses, freely to live with her in laws.
    And ‘sacrifices’ are very good, they are great for all but the person who is made to feel she can only please if she suffers!I once met a woman who claimed she never bought anything for herself, she only shopped for her husband and children…obviously she was made to feel that was the right thing to do. Why not shop for everyone, herself included?
    I have known women who say they don’t care what sacrifices they make, so long as they get to live with their husband and children-without the in laws. We have made it seem like a crime for a girl to want his most basic life…And it’s only men and the son’s parents who want the system to survive. It’s so convenient for them!


  30. @Another DIL, but am ok I am glad you have stopped caring about general opinion, this inner strength is what will makes us the happiest :)I agree with all that you have said, but it’s sad to think you need a ‘moti chamdi’, but there is no doubt that works the best. Nothing can beat standing up for your convictions. Keep it up….even though you won’t care (much) I am truly proud of you:) Love to your lucky daughter too. Strong mothers make strong daughters 🙂
    The last line about maintaining tough reins over a DIL, so she doesn’t forget her duty to sacrifice for her in laws…is a sad fact. Loved your comments.


  31. as always ,IH, u do a wonderful job of writing..
    cant believe they actually advised u to drink 15 kgs of ghee!!

    i think it totally makes sense for young couples to buy there own house… its not as if living apart means that u wont or cant tk care of your parents( and i mean both sets of parents here).. i think independence and space is essential for all….


  32. Hmm,
    This is amazing and ridiculous, both at once. I am a big FEMINIST. And I feel so much for all the DIL’s that go through what they go through. I was born and brought up in India. But currently live in the US.

    I have just one advice to anyone and everyone (especially DIL’s)
    U have Frigging ONE LIFE ONLY. LIVE IT…please. You do not have the chance for a redo.

    I am not a blogger. I don’t read blogs. This is just my 2 cents.


  33. An adult having to take permission! Just the thought makes me suffocate. I was advised to take the permission of my MIL to wear a sleeveless sari blouse back in the 80s. I preferred switching it to one with sleeves rather than stoop to the indignity of asking permission.
    At the risk of sounding repetitive let me say it nevertheless, ‘Kudos!’ for the post.


  34. @Mandira – Yeah space and some time for yourself is essential for women too. I did I miss your comment?! I should have responded earlier:(

    @Sharada Guru – Absolutely, we have no time to redo it.

    @Sakhi Thanks 🙂


  35. This is a really discerning post! Most often, as you mention, there is this finger of accusation pointing towards the young bride/homemaker; and this is a growing tendency.

    Hopefully there will come a time when the twain shall meet; and the young ones will take courage in their hands to make difference to their lives, assertively and equally pleasantly, for all!

    As a would-be MIL someday, I know that I should want to let my DIL be who she would like to be!

    May more of this tribe increase!


  36. my parents-in-law have denied that they have a daughter-in-law even when they have one. And all because i do not follow – “none of the so called ..we have been doing it this way or that way.even when our friends ask me – “is this how it is done in your house, my husband and i say, ” we are doing it our way”. that’s what we tell the in-laws too. ridiculously the parents also want their daughters to behave sacrificied and living under the permission protocol. i just said one word “butt out” literally and everything is taken care of. The parents and the parent’s in-law were open mouthed that i had the audacity to tell them (in the first 3 months of marriage) but no other way worked with them and being assertive was the best thing could i get it “our” way.everybody knows to draw their own lines now. only i wish there were many daughter-in-laws and daughters like me. so that there would be many examples.


  37. @Usha Pisharody It felt good to read your comment. We can make so much difference, in literally changing this society’s attitude towards women. May OUR tribe increase 🙂


  38. @Anrosh So many young women would rather die (with parents looking on approvingly) than do what you did. Yes you are a good, much needed example. So many young women ruin the best years of their lives, giving in to the social and family’s pressure to live this way, seek permission, serve, obey, deny themselves. They need to read about girls, who, if required, do take a stand.
    Proud of you 🙂


  39. आपकी पोस्ट संयत है और एक ज़रूरी पोस्ट है। मै सहमत हूँ आपके विचारों से ।


  40. यहाँ आई टिप्पणियों को पढना और भी रोचक है । एक अच्छी बहस !


  41. Loved reading your post….i have learnt from my MIL what not to do to my DIL.I just hope when the time so comes i put it to practice.A modern woman, i still have not found my voice with my MIL, more so becaz that doesnot fit into my husbands ideology….Yet lifecontinues, and i have made my peace within me.


  42. Poonam J Make your peace but don’t stop trying to let your mother in law and husband see how unfair the system is.

    All Indian Sons are raised with loving taunts like, “He will take his wife’s side when he’s married!” Like that’s the biggest crime he could commit!

    A girl must never put her own parents before her husband’s parents, but her husband, in return must not ever stop this family from being disrespectful, inconsiderate, downright rude, cruel etc to her. Or he will be called joru ka ghulam ! All this in the name of Indian values and culture.

    Let’s make sure our children are not raised like this.

    The root of this whole cruel, stifling system is we have different rules for sons and daughters, and no system based on injustice can lead to any good, we can see it is now making us kill our unborn baby girls.


  43. This is something that has been from the prespective of a saas bahu serial. i am sure that such may be the case in join families but there are joint families which might be happier.

    if you say there is prob with joint family, what is your suggestion how the joint families can be made to work in a better way. after all joint familiy is similar to a society


  44. @Maya IS it possible to have a happy joint family?
    Maybe if the boys family is actually willing to let the girl be, ‘let her’ go spend weekends with their son at her parents place, or if he girls parents can walk in and out of her sasural, if this house cna really, in every sense be her home… if they will accept that he can make tea for her while she just sits and read a book, without worrying about his being dominated by her, if she can quarrel with him without them taking sides, if she can wear whatever she likes, if she can sit while they stand, if she can sleep till she likes and wake up at her own time, if she can call her friends home and go meet her friends whenever she likes, including, if she so chooses, late evenings … basically if they stop thinking that she is must stop living to prove to them she respects them, and secondly if they stop thinking that they must control her life, so that she does not dare to take their son away or stop showing respect to them…
    Lots more, and it is not impossible.


  45. Sujata Thank You! Mein yadi samay par uttar na bhi doon to bhi apka comment padh kar mujhe bahut protsahan milta hai 🙂


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  60. There’s an incident that comes to mind after reading a comment above IHM, on how aunts make loving taunts etc., to the guy.

    A couple of months into our wedding, my H’s aunt called us (we were visiting his parents) and the said lady after a few minutes of pleasantries says to me “I know my nephew is a great husband!!!” It made me go “What?” So I asked her politely but simply, “How would you know, he’s not married to you,” I wasn’t being bitchy, but rather felt that older or not, she didn’t have the right to go about making generalized and sweeping statements about him. Maybe she wanted me to validate that statement, but again, WHY did SHE NEED validation of her opinion when it held no bearing on her life?

    I’ve had the same experiences with other members of his family as well. One cousin called up on our anniversary and asked me literally to stop having fun and get around to having kids saying, “kaafi aish kar li, ab bacche karo,” and I bluntly told her “abhi dil nahin bhara aish kar ke.”

    I find this entire lack of boundaries and useless advising and interference in a couple’s married life very ridiculous.


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  62. nice post!….you have painted the real picture and agonies of DIL in an Indian joint family…..I often think if there is any remedy….I think elders in boys family are difficult to change….better girls become more strong and better not marry under such circumstances…make clear before marriage that she is not going to abide by such unsaid rules and that she needs space and be treated as a human….better live alone than to undergo such hell…already there is scarcity of girls…let them starve of girls unless they mend their ways…


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  68. Hello out there to all the computer typists and screen readers!
    “An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…” dated May 25th, 2012 and “to-an-anonymous-dil/” dated August 30th, 2008 wonderful articles. I must say that I was so relieved to read what I experience everyday as an individual. single soldier fighting on my own. It is so, so lonely to be all on your own with these in-laws. Even a stranger who talks to you with kindness, becomes a soother, a friend, rather than your everyday life in your home. I cannot thank the people who wrote these articles enough.


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