Loving husbands who devote their days and nights to maintain peace in the family.

Anju wonders if this man fits into the label of a ‘Maa Ka Ladla’ or  a ‘Joru Ka Gulam’. ‘Few days back I visited a patient and I was amused at the way the patient was being pampered alternatively by the wife and the mother. It was like who will take more care of the man.’

Anju feels for this man, ‘how tiresome it must be for him to pamper both the egos, to make both of them feel important and let both feel that he cannot do without either of them’

***

I wonder if women face this problem.

Are women able to take better care of  themselves on their own? We know they don’t. They need as much care as everybody else does.

So why don’t women have their mothers (or fathers) and their spouse competing to take care of them? He is supposed to be ‘Budhape ka sahara‘ of one and ‘Pati Parmeshwar‘ of the other.

What makes two family members almost fight to take care of this adult, male member? Is it because they each feel they must win a closeness to him? Are they insecure? If yes, then what makes them so insecure? Does this insecurity benefit the man in some way? (I don’t think so.)

Has tradition taught women that their lives must revolve around their husbands/husband’s family? Is the rest of the population given the same values?

Has the same tradition made mothers feel that while some of their children learn to take care of themselves (female children), some of them (male children) need to mothered all their lives?

Married daughters are encouraged to develop a healthy relationship with their husbands, but married sons in India are expected to ‘balance‘, which includes things like making sure their wives are respectful, subservient, obedient to their family etc.

Do I sympathize with this man? I feel I sympathize with the situation and with the families involved.

Indian mothers still look for and ‘bring’ obedient and pliant daughters in law for themselves when they arrange marriages for their sons. Often compatibility and companionship between the couple are not considered as important, as the wife being obedient and respectful to the in laws. Sons who feel this is unfair are labeled Joru Ka Gulaam.

Traditionally the society is fine with sons spending most of their time with their friends, but traditionally the same sons are not encouraged to see their wives as their best friends. Some sons have no real relationship with their wives for many years (often never). The mother remains the friend and companion (or male friends do). This would still be fine, if the daughter in law also had the option of maintaining a relationship with her own parents and old friends – this generally does not happen. She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.

Double standards don’t make for happy families or a just and fair society.

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53 thoughts on “Loving husbands who devote their days and nights to maintain peace in the family.

  1. A good question indeed…”What makes two family members almost fight to take care of this adult, male member? Is it because they each feel they must win a closeness to him? Are they insecure?”
    A woman’s life is centered around her husband and later son(s). It decides her position in family and society. I guess she is also afraid of being shunned by her own husband/son in case she fails in her duties. And that would mean facing emotional/physical/financial deprivation. To ensure she stays in a ‘happy’ life (the way world has told it is), she goes out of her way to please the man who decides that for her.

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  2. “She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.” That is the sad situation. Men don’t realize the kind of bitterness that arises from such turf wars. They only maintain this situation because they love the extra attention and pampering they get thanks to the turf wars between wives and mother in laws.

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  3. A woman is the caregiver for everyone else. She cares first for her brothers and parents, yes, even in the most ‘modern’ families, this is practised subtly. Then she gets married and takes care of her husband. She has kids and the major portion of their upbringing and care falls on her again. Barely is she done and tries to relax in the empty nest, than she has to care for the elders, usually in-laws, sometimes her own parents. I’ve seen enough of the unfair burden where a woman is left to deal with her cantankerous and often abusive old in-laws while her husband gets all the credit for being a ‘dutiful’ son 👿

    And yet, women are dispensable and have to earn their keep, by competing to take care of the pati parmeswar.

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  4. IHM, as you mentioned,I think they are insecure or its ingrained too much in them that the male members are Gods and so must be treated like one.
    In my family,whenever me or SIL fall sick we are fauned over much more than male members are when they are unwell 🙂 A case of Maa ki ladlis 🙂

    Me – That’s really nice Ruchira. Every family member deserves to be cared for when they need caring.

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  5. As parents, we need to instill values of equality and cherishing others in our children, through our own examples and concern. I’m happy to say that both my husband and I have easily made friends with each other’s friends and their spouses, enriching our lives in the process.
    And if my mother-in-law stayed with us in her final years, so did both my parents.
    For the handful of people who live equitably, there is, unfortunately, still a majority wherein gender roles are strictly and traditionally followed😦

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  6. A post full of insights as usual. Your empathy and understanding are remarkable. I’m wondering if you have training in psychology or counselling, or are just exceptionally good at understanding human relationships and society.

    The thing that encourages me is that girls today are not as (some not at all) subservient as my generation was conditioned to be. My daughters and their friends don’t seem to even consider the idea of looking up to men and in-laws. When one of their friends got married, she was highly amused that her in-laws expected her to get up early in the morning and make tea for them. She wondered where they had got this weird notion.

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  7. Loved your post 🙂

    I read a contradictory view somewhere recently. It said as opposed to what we think, it is the woman who dominates the household. Right from the time a woman bears a child, she unconsciously [or in some cases consciously] makes sure that she is the most important person in the child’s life. This continues through all stages and a man is actually, in a way, bound by all the woman in his life. Interesting 🙂

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  8. Amazing insight IHM. As always 🙂 It is true, the son is usually a Priority 1 family member, followed by his children, followed by his parents. The wife is always the last. If she has a loving husband, probably he is the only person who truly cares for her (and maybe the kids will once they grow up.) But for the son, kids, his parents – they are all there to care for each other. Its like a bond of blood. The wife remains an outsider. The difference can be very subtle, but it always exists.

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  9. Couldn’t agree more, IHM!!! So perfectly articulated. Especially this line ‘She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.’ We talk so much of women being independent and liberated, blah blah blah, but the fact remains that women are almost ALWAYS treated like a piece of sh!t in the in-law’s place, and the son chickens out the moment he hear’s his mother’s laments!! Such a shame, really. And terribly depressing!

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  10. I think it is high time women break the “sole caregiver” image/role. And I think women need to take initiative in this. Wives and mothers of a male member should realise that getting “approval” from that male member is not their aim in life. Their existence and happiness should not be tied to his approval. It is time we (both men and women) stop looking for approval from each other and from the society. We seek outside assurance when we ourself are not confident of our abilities. We must first try and build our confidence and capabilities and not waste time on thinking “what will xyz think about me if i act in a particular manner”!

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  11. Been there, endured that. Then they blame the DIL for encouraging their son to move out. They would rather break their relationship with their son and blame the DIL their whole life for it, rather than treat the DIL with some respect or if she is lucky, with some love too.

    I am glad that today you could blog about one of the topics you are passionate about. Keep going IHM, one day at a time…. We are all with you. Hugs.

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  12. I don’t know about this one. I think women take care of themselves better and with way less fuss. Because for a lot of us, it is not about the attention but about being able to do what needs to be done. For our peace of mind. My kids do a lot by themselves and my husband cooks about as much as I do – he was not brought up that way nor did I ‘make’ him cook. It does not have to be this way or that – we also need to ask what makes the woman not push back?

    Now, in most modern households, it’s the same generation that felt cornered by their in-laws that is doing the cornering. I used to think that it makes a difference to how the DIL is treated if the MIL had borne and brought up a girl child. But I don’t think so anymore.

    We can’t just let the woman off the hook too. If people push back and make you do something and you did buckle then for several reasons, then when you can and are the MIL, what’s a position you take? Do unto others as was done to you or break that cycle?

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    • The expectation that all female citizens will live and care for their spouse’s families is unfair. It makes female children less valued (and in eventually leads to female infanticide/neglect/foeticide/dowry and related problems etc. And like Bhagwad pointed out finances play a big part too.

      Ever wonder why a woman’s parents and spouse don’t compete to care for her?

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      • Excellent post IHM! I often ponder about this. This used to come in the form of a poignant reminder everytime my mom visited us or we visited her. She’d side with my husband NO MATTER WHAT. She’d take his side and make fun of me for losing in silly games. She once said “he is right” even though she didn’t know what we were arguing over. She’d make my favorite dishes the way HE liked them (mild and without some key ingredients that he doesn’t like). This is not to say that she doesn’t love me – she loves me to bits and pampers me too. But when it came to me and J, she always gravitated towards him.

        Then, last year, I wrote a short, sarcastic post about it. I removed the post later but it said this:

        Mother of an unmarried son is proud of him and supports him in everything he says or does.
        Mother of an unmarried daughter is proud of her and supports her in everything she says or does.
        Mother of a married son is proud of him and supports him in everything he says or does.
        Mother of a married daughter is proud of her son-in-law and supports him in everything he says or does.

        This created a huge scene between me and mom (and that is why I removed it later) but after that she realized why it bothered me so much. J had his mom to pamper him and fawn over him. I had no one. My own mom fawned over HIM. Her explanation was that she did this because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings (read – alienate him and, maybe, get him mad at me)

        Long story short, I told her how it made me feel, she understood and now takes care to pamper and support me equally. But I think she is in the minority to accept this truth and work on rectifying it.

        Sorry for the rambling comment, but I think it is mostly a cultural thing and partly an instinct, maybe. I do agree with Roop above that this kind of behavior is present in the west too. But there women usually aren’t as oppressed as the women in Indian families are. Which gives them SOME control/recourse.

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        • I have seen this happen too, yes it very common. I think the son in law is pampered to make sure he treats the daughter well. A daughter in law need not be pampered, since she is easier to ‘control’ with threats, isolation and tradition/custom, and since the son is often living with the parents and when not, he never becomes a ‘paraya dhan’ like the daughter does.

          Patriarchy is a biased against women, in India or in the West. When we hear someone say, “It’s a man’s world” – they are actually saying, “Patriarchy has made it a biased society/world.”

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      • I think we are getting away from that now (slowly), at least in some educated middle class nuclear families. And I know of so many people who have made it clear that they will be taking care of their parents jointly when needed.

        Patriarchy is breaking down in little bits every day. My point is that women are often the brainwashed enough to also be the brainwashers. There’s enough exposure out there right now for us to start doing something to change our own beliefs so that we don’t follow along like sheep. Patriarchy is a convenient way for ‘man’kind. It is not going to change without enough men and women standing up and just saying no.

        If I am going to give back to my dil what my mil did to me, I am as much part of the patriarchal system. Ceekay talks of her mother and other mothers and how her standing up made her mom atleast understand what was bothering her. One step at a time with enough people making a fuss is what it takes.

        Me – I agree. Men and women need to stand up against it and everybody stands to benefit from an unbiased, fair system.

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  13. Great post… Love this line: “She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.” Definitely see the truth of that in India, as there is such a double standard even to this day in the ways people pick their son’s wives based on how obedient they are..

    I also wonder if there is a class divide? I know that my family (middle class in India) most of my cousins (girls) have gotten an education, are working, and they are not so subservient. But I know that poorer women do not have an education and are forced to serve their in-laws and husbands in the way you describe.

    It seems education can be the most empowering thing of all.

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  14. I think we need to factor finances into it as well. When the man is the primary breadwinner and property owner of the family, I would assume that other family members would flock to them to get into his good graces.

    Suppose the woman earned most of the money and owned most of the property, would the roles have reversed then? I don’t know the answer to this question – they may or may not. Either way, we would get an insight into whether it’s just a gender thing or are there other factors at work?

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    • Dont think so Bhagwad. A lot of women I know, work and earn as much as the husbands do.. But inspite of their education,qualification,job or salary, women are treated as mere women. There is a chance (for the lucky few) that the husband might give them equal rights, but his family will still have all the rules in place for a daughter-in-law

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    • There is no single factor at work here, I think. Yes, financial aspect maybe a factor. Maybe it was a bigger factor in the older days (and so was the “budhape ka sahara” factor) but slowly it just got ingrained in our culture so deeply that now it has become almost a second nature for us to do such things.

      Me – I agree, it has just become our second nature… a habit or a social conditioning. We have just got used to a way of living and even though we can see it doesn’t work, we are afraid to change it.

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  15. I think this kind of behavior is more about expressing “ownership” than getting approval. Another blogger I read, analyzed this much accurately (I think):

    “The mothers usually have unfulfilled relationships with their husbands. As a result, they direct all the love and care that would usually be in a marriage towards their sons. The sons have always seen their mothers as the most important person in their lives, nurturing them and taking care of all their needs. They continue to rely on their mothers, and don’t want to hurt them. In these circumstances, where there is such a well established bond, the new addition of a wife will always take second place.”

    Her entire post is here: http://www.whiteindianhousewife.com/2010/11/mother-and-son-relationships-in-india

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    • “There is a chance (for the lucky few) that the husband might give them equal rights…..Rskef comment above ” – There in lies the PROBLEM.

      Women wait for rights to be given to them. Let’s take the sample of the educated , middle class woman – Why do they choose to be subservient, a virtue upheld as the perfect daughter in-law – may be to bring respect to her own family – so that she will not have to hear that her parents did not raise her “properly”. – So far this is the most common reason that woman do not open their mouths and those that don’t face the music – even after XX years of marriage i hear the music on both sides

      1. because i am not a “perfect” daughter in law. eg: Treat me as an outsider and you will get treated as one.
      2. because i do not bring “respect” to my mothers family because I choose to exercise my values as a human being. eg: I am not going to lay low and obey my demanding parents in law because they are downright emotional abusers and I choose to stand up for myself.

      If the husband does not like me standing up for myself, then he can pick and choose, because I picked to assert my rights as a human being – WELL That is not INDIAN behavior – isn’t it ?- standing up for oneself and this behavior can trickled down at work and other social situations and this is the image that indians have created for oneself.

      STAND FOR ONESELF – THE world is a much better place because you start seeing yourself !

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  16. You hit the nail right on the head, as always. I always wondered why this is a vicious cycle in most cases. Mil-s ill not respected by their in-laws pass out the same treatment to their daughter – in-laws. If only everyone could let others have their space and life, it would be so much simpler

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  17. IHM, another fact that shows women are dispensable and uncared for. A gynec was counseling my friend who was asking for a tubal ligation, and upset that her husband wouldn’t have a vasectomy. She said that the vast majority of sterilisations in India are tubal ligations, very very few men opt for a vasectomy, first because of ‘performance’ misconceptions associated with vasectomy, but primarily because nothing must happen to the man. He’s the breadwinner and the person who has the privilege and the power. If ‘anything happens to him, then the whole family suffers’. Not the case for the woman, apparently, who after having had C-sections or episiotomies, then goes again for a major procedure to tie her tubes. Check out the inherent bias in that. 😦

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    • a women like me would have clearly said …u use protection or we r not doing it …but sadly even in this era one of my friend told me she was adviced by her mom ” dont deny sex to ur man , that will make him get it from somewhere else ” … so whats an option …if u dont want to have babies / abortions / live in tension all month through …go to gynea , get ur self fixed ..so that ur men can enjoy…

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  18. Awesome post IHM….would not have thought of this side of the coin(unequal treatment of DIL as compared to SIL) …I have been reading your blog for a long time, though don’t really comment…I like your posts …they make me THINK about the things in our society which I would not have questioned earlier (due to social conditioning, lack of awareness..)…I see some of these things happening in my family too ( I find some of ur posts particularly helpful since I am in the eligible marriageable category 😉 ) …I really admire you..please keep writing 🙂

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  19. Well not at all amused to read coz everyone knows it, but prefers to shut on that.
    I hav seen it all the way, in all most all the families without much exceptions, and though everyone talks abt eqality and other things i really doubt whether this is going to change ever…

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  20. It is hard to understand how parents try to find an “obedient” daughter in law instead giving more importance to the “compatibility” factor of the couple. So aren’t they being selfish once again ? Also, I doubt how many of those so called obedient daughter in laws are really so obedient ! I think it is all a part of a diplomacy….

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  21. IHM, You have said it all. We are so conditioned by society that people will not even bat an eye at the way daughter-in-laws are treated. The moment they enter the house after the wedding, she is treated as the unpaid maid who has to have complete loyalty to the household while expecting nothing in return.

    And the sad thing is that it still happens in all strata of society – irrespective of education/background or even if she is earning. Last time in India, I met a family, where the husband proudly declared that he ‘allowed’ his wife to work only on the grounds that house and family(read his parents) are not neglected. And his wife, smiled, and said, yes, she will never go to work(she is a teacher), unless the family is taken care of. So not only is she workng, she also has to do everything else she was doing. I suppose she is the only person in the family who nobody bothers to check if she needs any ‘looking after’!

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  22. “She must make her husband and in laws her world, but she must accept that she is not their world.
    Double standards don’t make for happy families or a just and fair society.”

    These words say it all.

    Guess “looking after” is the duty of the ladies…that’s what’s been ingrained in the minds of all girls. I always get into trouble with my mom when ever i choose to argue on this matter. Well, that’s about the ONLY thing where we both face the ‘generation gap”, if i may call it that!

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  23. I honestly believe that this is caused by women being integrated into the man’s family, rather than the man and the woman setting up home on their own.

    Many parents of male children use the twin weapons of gratitude and tradition to control their son’s lifestyle, choices and income. Parents of most female children on the other hand, don’t expect to be paid for parenting duties performed.

    The only way people are able to establish this kind of continued control over a male child is by diverting his attentions from his wife. The couple is encouraged often have a relationship only through the saas-sasur. The more they conform to this, the better children they are considered to be.

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    • Me – I agree… the last bit is very true. I watched with my mom, a TV serial where the son hates the wife, but the mother in law loves her, and even in a serial the incompatibility is obvious. So is the ridiculousness of the direction, like once, she is shown washing his laptop and hanging it to dry.

      When the husband insults her, she is not annoyed (zero self respect or self worth), she doesn’t think the situation is unfair to the husband (he never wanted to marry her_ and to her, instead she hopes her mother in law would occasionally intervene and make him be polite to her. And may be one day she would win his love.
      The mother in law seems fine with the situation.
      Their lives revolve around providing no opportunity to the more powerful (male and senior females) family members, to complain or find faults with their cooking and cleaning.

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  24. Well actually, they do. Which is why you are writing such a post and why we are reading it and commenting on it. And this is how the situation is going to change, no matter how long it takes. 🙂

    Me – That’s a positive attitude and you are so right!

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