And answers by Anonymous Confused Wife.
1) So what’s new here? It’s an age old issue.
Once upon a time that’s exactly what people said about child-marriage or widow burning.
This is important to me because it’s an issue to ME. NOW.
It’s an age-old issue and yet the only solutions anyone can come up with are “slog it out” or “leave, he’ll never change” or “Please adjust”. Doesn’t that say something about how great a job we’ve done by pushing all such issues under the rug?
2) The husband seems to be a nice chap in every other respect. Only his being a “mama’s boy” seems to be the irritant.
That’s not the same as saying he doesn’t drink tea instead of coffee. “Every other respect” gets affected by his being a mama’s boy.
[IHM: A ‘mama’s boy‘ may be defined as a husband who expects his wife to see him and his family as her world, but who does not think she should expect to be his first priority. He might also expects her to be an obedient and dutiful ‘elder-caregiver’ to his parents but again he may not feel the need to reciprocate.]
3) He risks being called “Joru ka ghulaam” or ‘Mama’s boy’. Neither is pleasant to hear.
I’d like to believe it IS possible for a grown adult to just be HIMSELF without being either a Joru ka Ghulam or a mama’s boy.
[Indian women continue to be seen as ‘Paraya dhan‘ (property of their in laws) and Indian sons as providers of elder care through their wives. The system has resulted in a male child’s parents expecting special privileges.]
4) We have heard only the wife’s version. We have not had an opportunity to hear the husband’s version and that of the mother-in-law.
If this were a court of law, you would have.
It saddens me that a woman is not taken seriously when she says she’s miserable enough in a relationship that she’s willing to be single again, willing to go through a breakup and a divorce, willing to face social stigma and whatever other consequences, because she does not see herself being happy with him.
It saddens me that unless I choose to sacrifice my happiness, my commitment to my marriage is questioned.
My expression of my experience in this marriage are taken as an attack against which my husband and In-Laws need to present their defense. And what then, will someone rule that I can’t leave? That I have to stay here and remain unhappy?
[And yet it is not uncommon for the in-laws to complain to her parents about a daughter in law’s incompetence, disobedience or lack of respect. One doesn’t generally hear demands for her version. This could be because in the past the wives were much younger than the husbands and were treated like their wards.]
5) If the husband or mother-in-law reads this, we would hear a version of the entire story as viewed from the other side.
Of course they’ll have their own take on the situation. Of course they have every right to be vocal about it. And of course it won’t be identical to mine. That doesn’t discount the fact that my experience so far makes me unhappy and hopeless enough to make me want to leave.
Is my happiness not necessary for their happiness? Is it fair to expect me to ensure their good at the cost of my own happiness?
6) I am sure a joint counseling session moderated by a respected family elder, or a professional counselor in which the mother-in-law, son and wife thrash out all issues, would ease tensions.
IHM: Family elders tend to ask all the same FAQs that have been asked here. Age does not automatically mean better ability to be unbiased.
The Counselors, the Lawyers, the parents, and the Police are the products of the same society. Bias is a way of life in a Patriarchal society. Hearing different points of views is fine but an individual must trust her own judgment in the end.
6-b) Did you notice that the father-in-law never figures in issues like this? What is it about women ? (Aurat hee aurat ki dushman? A woman is a woman’s worst enemy?)
To an extent it’s BECAUSE the F-I-L wasn’t a prominent figure in his wife’s or his child’s life that the onus of fulfilling his wife’s emotional needs falls on his son.
7) You do not have enough valid reasons to walk out of this marriage. You have been more fortunate than most Indian women whose problems are far worse than yours.
Yes, a lot of Indian women have it worse. To me this doesn’t justify any of their behavior either.
Also, a lot of PEOPLE – including Indian men – do have it better. I know *I* had it much better before I got married. So regardless of whether or not others think I have “enough valid reasons” I do believe I have a right to my happiness.
8 ) Your ONLY grievance seems to be that your husband is a “Mama’s boy”. But this term is frequently abused and misused. It’s sometimes relative. What is “mama’s boy” to some might be seen as “filial respect and regard from an ideal son” to others.
At no point have I mentioned that his respect or regard for his parents bothers me. His OBEDIENCE to them and their wishes, however unreasonable, however unfair to me, definitely does.
We don’t see parents of married daughters having similar expectations of ‘filial respect’ from them because daughters in India are expected to put their spouse and their marriage before their own parents. How can a marriage be truly happy if one partner is being reminded that the other must not be his priority (but she must still see him as her priority)?
9) Cheerfully put up with 10 days of possible tension and live the other 355 days happily. Remember that these 10 days cause tension to the Mother-in-law too! Married life is not always a bed of roses. You have been married for only two years. More serious problems are yet to come. Children, their upbringing, health problems as one grows old, career ups downs etc are all yet to be experienced.
If only! In those 10 days, I am constantly insulted and deprived of basic rights. My family is insulted and called names. It’s not like I can turn off a switch on the 11th day and be happy for the next 355. And what about the days I lose because of the weekly phone calls?
I’m CERTAIN I didn’t have that many unhappy days a year when I was single. And if more serious problems are on their way, I’d rather not stick around until then.
10) Walking out of this marriage is no guarantee that you will find happiness in some other marriage or in remaining single. Instead of “Mama’s boy” you may end up with something far worse.
Yes, there’s that risk. I might choose it over guaranteed unhappiness.
11) I am not convinced that you have a winnable case.
So I lose and my “punishment” is staying in a marriage that makes me unhappy? Out of curiosity, why do you not consider being a divorcee a “worthy” punishment for me?