Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

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?

81 thoughts on “Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

  1. Quite obviously, Anon Confused Wife is in a really bad relationship. The in-laws humiliate her, and the husband does nothing. Why is she still in the relationship at all? Like I mentioned in the other post, a woman must do all she can – ONLY for a guy who is WORTH it!!


    • Well you are a confused wife isn’t it. From the post it is clear that you are not even living with your in laws. your MIL visit only for fortnight a year. If you can’t bear it then you are expecting too much from your marriage. There is always a adjustment problem in initial days for brides. And more they struggle it more complicated it gets. And look around yourself, you’ll find that after 5-10 years women who have never uttered a word of disrespect to their elders are ruling the roast in the family not the ones who try to put their happiness first.

      And now the MIL-Husband equation. There are only two types of guys in the world, who respect their women or those who give it shit. If your husband listen to your MIL then obviously he falls in first category. Give him time and he will listen to youAnd never try to get in-between your husband and MIL, because even if you manage to drive your husband away, he is not likely to be happy

      And last thing Marriages in India is not one of deal You marry in Family and if you are indoctrinated into IT’S MY LIFE philosophy and can’t change now, then better divorce but you should have thought about that, before marriage, before ruining somebody’s else life because you can’t handle it.


  2. Im wondering why the Numero One “deal breaker” is not mentioned here. Beta, he doesnt beat you does he? Doesnt gamble, no ‘parayee aurat”. Then why the long face. Na shukri beta, God doesnt like ingratitude!!


    • Perhaps because the men don’t usually go crying to family elders – or others – when things go wrong. They often try to control the situation, not always well, and then end up having heart attacks and strokes from the stress.


    • Because the elders do not want to have a “confrontation” with men.
      Traditional respect means

      1. You will not disagree with your elders.
      2. The word of the elders is the law, how ever wrong they are.
      3. You owe your existence to the people who raised you. you are obliged to them.
      4. You DO NOT question them . Disagreeing is a sign of DIS RESPECT.
      5. women are objects of possession. women are pets. Keep them in a cage and give them instructions. They are not legal adults who can take decisions. Honor killing takes place to protect their posession and status quo and not out of compassion or good will.


      • Confronting your sons means you risk of being turned against.

        Now which father/mother wants their son to be against them? Haven’t the sons been raised to be keepers.

        In reality parents are scared of their sons. They are careful with the choice of words, even if they say anything at all.

        They want a happy son at all times. So they throw the ball of guilt at him. The son catches the ball and tries to make it look right by being the mama’s boy. Gratitude and Guilt all gets mixed up – starts looking like black ice now.


  3. Wow great post! Makes a lot of sense to me sinse I’m not completely familier with Indian culture but is in touch with Indian people. Thank you!


  4. She needs to get out of the relation or at least confront them..

    I do think that a man and woman shud know what they want and if its not working then get out of it , why hurt each other and live miserabley…

    Why we still live in the old age rules when it comes to matrimony but otherwise we want the latest , thats hyporcracy in my eyes .. I dont meean a the first sign of problem leave and get out, NO try working it out .. but soon we can find out that its just not going to work and thats when polite good byes shud be done..

    Why we still involve parents in all our decision WHEN 80% of the time we dont like there idea, then why do we take it … AGAIN not being rude but one can always tell the parents what and how it is nocely tooo , i am sure parents will listen to that …

    Some of the points mentioned effect both men and women…


    • Dear Shail,

      That last answer was an answer to an imaginary and unasked question.

      The questioner had merely suggested that “confused wife” did not have winnable case.
      It was just an opinion.
      No suggestion for any “worthy” punishment was made.
      No suggestion that “confused wife” is a defaulter was made.
      There was, if anything, sympathy, not an attempt at judgment.
      This would be clear from a revisit to the original post and comment that has resulted in this blog post.

      G Vishwanath


      • Hello G. Viswanath, you have not understood MY comment. I am perfectly aware in what way the question was asked and has been replied, thank you.
        I am a regular reader of this blog and am quite familiar with the post this blog refers to. Lol.


  5. Awesome post IHM. 🙂
    I’m going to make my mom and dad, and most certainly my grandmother read it. 🙂
    I so want to see the look on my grandmother’s face.. 😛

    Hugs.. 🙂


  6. I like the term “Right to one’s happiness” which in our society we lack to grant to other people. It is worse for women than men but in all cases it is expected for every one to sacrifice their happiness so the society at large is happy. Manusmiriti and all such scriptures talk about a person’t duty at every stage of the life (including duty to marry and reproduce) but never about their individual choice or happiness.

    I don’t understand why we as a society deny individual right to happiness (these includes right for love marriages, gay marriages/unions, divorce from an unhappy marriage, simply one’s decision to remain single, choosing your own career paths etc)? Why does society become such an imposing factor in our individual happiness each and every time?

    I am with Anonymous Confused Wife on this one. She has a right to choose her happiness and its entirely her decision. None of us are in her position to make that decision or judge her for making whatever decision she makes. She alone knows how much all those things hurt her and she alone has a right to decide when enough is enough and she can and won’t take it any longer.

    The only thing I am concerned about is that she is obviously in love with her husband and it will be very hard for her to break that bond. Heartbreaks are never good. Hope her husband comes to his senses and see how much his behavior hurts her. He doesn’t seem to be a bad person, just a bit spineless. He needs to grow a backbone and stand up for her or he is going to loose love of his life…


    • @Richa
      Firstly, stop thinking that scripts like Manusmriti or any other so called “sacred” documents are actually sacred. They are just some paras written by somebody thousands of years ago to earn some quick buck.

      Do you really think that to this day, these documents would represent the original copy? I don’t think so.

      Secondly, “Right to one’s Happiness” is denied because it is in our basic gene to expand our race.

      Hence, all the “laws” of our society try to attain the ultimate goal of procreation.

      E. g. Getting married early (You get lot of time to have children), getting married to a younger girl (She will be fertile for a longer period of time. Check out DG’s post about this here), etc.

      All this is WRONG at our society level. But at the gene level, this is what works.

      Every one is happy is not really what a race thinks of. It only wants to make sure that everyone is procreating.



      • @vivek,
        Now we are little off the track here, DG did not mean that evolutionary theories of human procreation are valid. Even if she were to then she would have said the female is looking for a potent/fertile young partner. Not the other way round that happens in patriarchies where older men look for younger female partners to use has baby making machines (remember what Hitler said). 🙂 Now the science is proving even the sperm quality deteriorate with age. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(00)01679-4/abstract

        Race is a social construct not corporeal in nature thus a fallacy. We human’s are a species.

        …Secondly, “Right to one’s Happiness” is denied because it is in our basic gene to expand our race…

        Can’t humans be happy and procreate? If they were to only procreate then why did they need in-laws to interfere? And why did they need to be monogamous, if a man is not good provider and father then the woman should have been able to leave him. But that is not the case. It was more for the sake of care of older members in the species. Human’s are the only species that cares for its old, others abandon them to die alone.

        …It only wants to make sure that everyone is procreating.

        No, it wants to make sure only a selective few get to procreate, or else it would let the widows remarry.

        Now about Manusmriti,
        Nobody even care for this text until the colonizer asked what book do the natives follow. The white man had a bible, the arab had koran and the jew had tohra so what did a Hindu have? Not one but thousands of written text and many more unwritten (oral). Whiteman had one color and desis came in all colors and shapes. Desi talked about caste hierarchy but could move up and down within the caste depending on the economic/conspicuous consumption. Very hard for whiteman to administer his law and taxes.

        Refer: Veena T. Oldenburg, Dowry murder : the imperial origins of a cultural crime : Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002.

        White man get really confused. He had heard the Brahmin is the top guy in the caste hierarchy and is the only one who can read and write. So he bring in few pro ruler guys telling them tell me what is one book all Hindus follow that has rules for living. That is where some so called Mahapundit (read moron) brought about manusmriti and said this is what all Hindus follow. Hindus were never monothestic nor uniform followers of any life style, there is huge diversity, be it regional, linguistic or social -cultural. The whole premise of whiteman was to be able to manage such a diverse group centrally so he needed a code book. That is how manusmriti and many more texts like it came into light. Did people actually follow it, no not really; the lower castes women always had more mobility and freedom in their daily lives than the upper caste women. To be able to be called upper castes it became important for caste groups and families to swear allegiance to the colonizer and he said you follow manusmriti… everybody lives happily ever after. Some cussing the manusmriti and forgetting the moron who brought it forward. Yet again forgetting this all is coming from that utterly confusing oral tradition that talks about
        Yatra naariyastu pujayate… (Gods dwell where women are worshiped). How could to exact opposites be true in the same period? It happens only in India…
        Madhu Kishwar, Zealous Reformers Deadly Laws, 2008

        Now about personal happiness and Indian thought:
        Desis became so occupied with controlling one another that they totally forgot if happiness was even possible. From the beginning the upper castes wanted to control the lower castes from polluting them and control their own bodies from being polluted thus everything was about control. Elders controlling the young and dead ancestors controlling the living, men controlling women and women controlling other women and children; every body controlling and mortgaging their happiness to the other. If you do X that will make me happy. If you do X it will make me unhappy. No personal responsibility for personal emotions. Dump everything on the other’s shoulders. This is desi idea of personal happiness.

        Desi Girl


    • Every man for himself and let the devil take the hindmost. That’s why. Both men and women grumble, but they don’t have the balls or ovaries to become the Lone Ranger. So long as people have the guts to live through with their decision that’s fine. Do whatever you want, but accept the results, good or bad, with your head held high. No rushing back into the arms of big government or daddy then. Make you bed and lie in it. cheers.


    • @Richa,
      …He doesn’t seem to be a bad person, just a bit spineless. He needs to grow a backbone and stand up for her or he is going to loose love of his life…

      Bit spineless= slip disc or paraplegia or quadraplegia

      He really needs intensive surgery rather gene replacement to grow a back bone. Sadly, what he learned in 30 years will not be fixed in few hour long counseling sessions.
      This is rather a congenital disorder in desi men. Diagnosis is correct but cure is yet to be found. Need to apply for some grants to find a cure. Wish the Pfizer could find a cure by diverting some funds from their “little blue pill.”
      Desi Girl


  7. Dear Anonymous Confused Wife,

    I understand your problem. It is appalling that your MIL verbally abuses you and your family. That itself tells what your MIL is like. It is just not acceptable. ( you’ve got to firmly ask the MIL to stop doing that, the next time she does it. It may be hard for you to utter back to her but you are not helping yourself by keeping quiet and putting up with it. You’ve got to stand up for your self. Once you ask her to STOP, firmly, she will think twice before abusing you and your family thereafter).

    Good understanding between the spouses forms the pillars of a happy marriage. This is where the pillar of your marriage appears a bit shaky to me in that your husband fails to understand your point of view. Inspite of this, your idea to walk out of the marriage is not a wise decision, I think. You’ve got to allow your marriage to stand the test of time. Divorce is an impulsive decision. Certainly, your happiness MATTERS but divorce is no solution. Your association with your husband and your love for each other, I am sure, is much beyond all these family issues. Don’t lose this wonderful sanctity of marriage to ‘saas- bahu jhameley’. Why do you think, you will be happy if you are single again? I dont see this decision (of backing out of the marriage) as a sensible one . It also, suggests to me that you are insecure ( no offence please. I do respect you and your view point and can completely understand that your confidence and faith in marriage must have had a blow due to things that your MIL says/does). Just want to tell you that Believe in yourself. You were born no different to other women who are in a happy relationship/marriage. You have all that it takes to make a marriage work. You just need to protect your vulnerable mind from getting affected by anything the MIL says or does. She probably derives pleasure in seeing you crumble and that is where you have got to prove her wrong.

    Momentarily, stepping into your husband’s shoes, I see, that it is hard for him to say something to his Mother ( coz defintely, she will not like it if he said something in your favour). It is easier for him to face your wrath and frustrations than that of his mother.

    I do not know, how long you guys have been together for? If you guys love each other then with time your relation will get better. Trust me. It will. At the moment it may look impossible but actually it is not. Tell me, if you guys love each other, is it worth getting a divorce because of what his parents say or do?

    Ok, hubby has failed in meeting your expectations. Why dont you be the one, sacrificing your happiness ( i know this is a strong sentence and is going towards ‘aurat ko hi sacrifice karna padtha hai, mard ko nahi’..) but by doing this, gradually you will win his love and eventually his parent’s love too. It is very easy for me to type these things but may be difficult for you to do it practically- but not impossible. Time and again, woman is the only one sacrificing in a marriage (it annoys me) but if thats the way our society has always been and still is – Tho kya hua? arent the women doing it for the happiness of their loved ones? There is no harm in doing it, is there? if thats what it takes to be with the person whom you love? if thats what it takes to make your other half happy? Woman’s ultimate happiness lies in seeing her family happy.

    Mann udaas hota hai tho honey do, aankhon se aansoo behtey hain tho behney do, ghutan sa mahsoos hota hai tho honey do but don’t loose the person who you once loved and remember, You will only come out of this difficult experience as a better person. These things ( external pressures, saas-bahu nok jhok) will change with time. Look forward to the time when you guys will start a family. You will be a loving mother to your children and your man will by then ‘grow up’ and will learn to respect you and love you even more. Stay strong and prod along these difficult days . For one day (when you will have grown wiser/stronger with the life experiences) you are only going to look back at these ‘jhameley’ and laugh. Afterall, what is life , if not a series of UPs and DOWNs?

    With Warm regards & bestest wishes
    Always Happy


    • “arent the women doing it for the happiness of their loved ones? There is no harm in doing it, is there? if thats what it takes to be with the person whom you love? if thats what it takes to make your other half happy? Woman’s ultimate happiness lies in seeing her family happy.”

      But always happy isn’t that woman a part of the family too? For a family to be happy should not all of it members be respected and happy?Who will think about what makes her happy? After all she is also just another individual who has feelings, self-respect and deserves happiness…


    • Why should she ‘sacrifice’ her happiness, like you ask her to, in order to ‘win’ his love, like it is some bumper prize? Why can she not ‘expect’ the same love, without all the sacrifice? This is where I lose the plot IHM. Doesn’t the man want to have a happy married life? And the wife being constantly abused my the MIL is not going to make her happy!


    • Two long posts and 126 + 15 comments later here we are. All the labor of love flushed downed the drain. Marriage is just another social contract but it has been made sure it is not easy to break (only be women, men can just walk away or get a new wife) so the corporate sanctions of religion and society are put on it.

      Why are people hell bent on saving a dysfunctional marriage? What do they (ousiders) gain from keeping someone in a miserable union? What is their motive?

      My only blind shot is they want to keep a person in a miserable marriage coz’ if she walks out she will be on their face. They will have to change their ways and make space for her. They’ll have to stop gossiping about her, they’ll have to provide her with job and place to live. It will be too much work for them, so it pays to keep her where she is.

      She will give similar ideas to other women who may follow her suit. If the bahu(DIL) walked out who who is going to fight with saas (MIL)? Then even the MIL will have to look out for more productive ways probably outside home to remain occupied. This will deprive families of efficient mechanical workers and in return society will have to deal with women demanding jobs, residences, share in political decision making. It will be too much for a society that can hardly manage to oppress half its population directly, other half gets it in bits and pieces.

      Scratching my head if this is how social change is brought about these roman typing internet savvy brethren.

      Always Happy be happy to read where it all began

      Desi Girl


      • @girlsguidetosurvival

        All is good in this cooment. I just wanted to tell you that this is how you can create a hyperlink while writing a comment:


        Just remove the “~” and voila! you have created a link using HTML.


  8. Pingback: Please adjust. « Just Speaking My Mind

  9. carmen bin laden writes a memoir of her life in the book – Inside the kingdom , my life in saudi arabia. her book focuses on how patriarchy governs the kingdom, from the family to the clan and everything in between.


  10. 1. I propose a simple test for detecting both “mamma’s sons” and *your selection criteria* for mate.

    Can you think of an example before marriage or early in marriage (before any strains due to MIL, FIL whoever has set in) where your mate disagreed with you on something, some plan, and convinced you to his side of things?
    …. and you didnt feel blackmailed or browbeaten abt it?
    …. and you werent too hopelessly in love that you just agreed anyways?

    Then congratulations! Most likely you didnt marry a mamma’s son.
    And even more congratulations! You werent looking for a “wife’s husband*” either.

    If you cant think of even one example in the above category, you may have been looking for a guy who’d go along with all your whims, and mamma’s sons can fit that role quite well actually. They’re looking for a mamma-replacement telling them what to do for the rest of their lives. Your problems only start when mamma comes back into the picture.

    2. Questions 4 & 5 seemed reasonable to me the first time I read them. They continue to seem reasonable to me now. They are exactly the same questions I would have for a confused husband. I wouldnt change any part of my advice to CW for a CH.

    I hope your husbands’ friends ask them the same questions when and where they go to vent or rant. I wouldnt like friends who build up his anger/ frust continuously taking his side.

    * i dont know if “wife’s husband” is the right term to be the opposite of “mamma’s son”.


    • Corollary: Finding if the mother sees her son as the surrogate husband:

      1) See if the mother and the father(her husband) actually have a relationship. If they share something more than children and a house, chances are quite less that she ever needed a surrogate husband.

      2) If the mother has a daughter, see if she was raised as an equal to the son, ie, if the daughter has her own opinions and if she can form her own conclusions etc. A woman who had high hopes for her daughter(not love. not pampering. im talking abt. a mother who has high aspirations for the daughter and did not raise her to be a woman whose sole purpose in life is to be a wife/DIL) is more likely to respect a daughter-in-law as a person and not just as someone who was fulfilling the purpose of her life.

      Litmus test : Observe family conversations. If the opinion of the son is respected and often called for, I think it’s okay. What’s not okay is if the father’s opinion is not asked/listened to or if the father’s position in the house is something like Somalia’s position in the UN 🙂


  11. CW’s answers make a lot of sense. This sense of, ‘what is this woman complaining about, this is something most women live with’ is so annoying. Women being told that just because there are others in far worse situations, they should just grin and bear it.

    I hope everything works out for her. Clearly, she has given it a lot of thought and whatever decision she takes, is not going to be an impulsive one, by any standards.


  12. Confused Wife, if i had ur email id, i would email you now.. but since that is not the case, guess the public forum will have to be bored.

    When you are going through abuse in a marriage, here is my answer to the people who tell us that “its not so bad that you have to walk out. A lot of women go through this and emerge stronger, with a successful marriage. You are exaggerating your misery to break the family.”

    Here is my answer:
    I dont give a damn if 50,000 other women can live with it. I can’t, and thats what decides for ME. I dont even give a damn if you can live with it or not. You may be my mother, my sister, or my best friend. But you are not me. I have to live with my tolerance levels, and will not impose your tolerance levels on me. if its not working for me, its not working. i do not need anyone’s permission to say “Enough.” And when to say Enough. is my decision. not yours. Coming to you for advice does not give you ownership of my decision. Remember that.
    The idea of a “successful” marriage is defined by ME. not by you. the state of being married is NOT success in itself. at least, not to me. And this is my life we are talking about.

    I understand ,and am old enough to understand, that when one walks out of a relationship, one carries along, not a medal or trophy, but a lot of guilt, a lot of pain, a BIG heartbreak, a complete lack of faith in oneself and one’s ability to judge a person, and possibly, a lifetime of lonelieness. A lifetime of spending nights alone. a lifetime of no one to go to the movies with. A lifetime of no biological child (at least in the indian scenario). THAT is the price of “freedom” and i have not even counted the social shame yet. If, knowing all this, the pain of being lonely for the rest of my life, appears less compared to the pain of the current circumstances, then imagine, in pure terms, the amount of pain that one has had to go through.

    The women who decide to walk out are not stupid. they are also not unaware of what happens after a divorce.
    The women who stay are not stupid either. they all do a cost benefit analysis(consciously or subconsciusly) and choose the better of the multiple options.
    BUT, under no circumstances, should a woman (or a person) be judged because their life choices were different from your expert opinion. EVEN IF (and especially if) you are their mother, best friend, sister, or any other confidante. its sad that people have to face 2 foes – the in laws, and their own support system.

    But wait, m rambling.. my comment ended some time ago. No moral of the story. Just pure opinion.


    • [CW to commenter asking her to stick]
      “…. Coming to you for advice does not give you ownership of my decision. ….”

      1. Far, far, far from it, infinitely opposite to it!

      I didnt get the sense that any of the ppl who asked CW to stick it thru or talk to hubby or whatever, wanted to *own* her decision. I explicitly disowned it. I think most of the others dont have a sense of owning it either.

      2. To be fair to the “…dump it…” group on these threads, they dont seem to want to “own” CW’s decision either. At least that is the sense I got. If anybody in that camp wants to own CW’s decisions, let them speak up now 🙂

      3. CW has also very clearly stated that she owns her decision! and is just looking for inputs.



  13. I think one thing we all fail to remember is that the biggest loss of confidence for a woman is lack of education. A woman who must depend on a man to support her is not as likely to walk out of an abusive marriage as a woman who knows that she can support herself. A woman with less education may not even realize what abuse is! Would we? If we had not been exposed to the world outside?

    Indian society (or as you mentioned earlier, patriarchal societies) first refuse education to women. “Ladki hai, padh kar kya karegi” or more recently, “We have to pay for a big, fat wedding so we can’t afford to educate you”. A woman who knows that she can at least earn enough from a simple job will feel more confident and secure than a young girl sold in marriage before she even completes her graduation. And she will be less likely to marry a loser.

    I completely agree with everything written in this post. Just adding my two paisas.


  14. Confused wife seems to have left behind the confusion. She sounds very convinced about the choice she will make/has made, not at all clouded with self doubt. Congratulations CW!

    But I also did wonder why you even HAD to answer those questions. Your life is about your choices, you don’t need to offer explanations to anybody. Least of all to people who have such a skewed view of society.


    • Thanks! Practice for the questions coming my way from family – both sides of it! Seriously, though, this problem had so CONSUMED me I couldn’t help saying EVERYTHING that I felt needed to be said to EVERYONE who was contributing to the problem – in “society” – with their attitude. I mean come on people, be FAIR!!! Don’t tell me that just because I’m a woman, this is “good enough.”


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  16. This entire discussion inspired me to post on the whole in-law issue. Ever since my own disastrous visit this Diwali, I’ve been wanting to write this and this post pushed me to it. http://carelesschronicles.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-women-in-old-marriages.html

    It is eerie how much we women echo each other and it is upsetting that change is so slow in coming. Don’t you think that the isolation plays an important role. Perhaps some sort of support group would help?


  17. You know, IHM, though this looks like a (very crowded) counseling session for Confused Wife….it’s actually amazing how it’s made us all aware of our attitudes towards issues like this. God knows someone dear to us, even our kids one day, may be faced with this…and I appreciate the clarity I am getting reading everyone’s comments.

    @ Confused Wife: You sound like a spirited, intelligent, balanced kind of person…and it’s not fair for your spirit to be crushed. The world is full of women who’ve buried their spirit…and we don’t realise the magnitude of our loss, we’re so used to it, we think it’s okay…these women could’ve contributed so much more were they not trapped in abusive, unhappy marriages and relationships. It drains you, it sucks you dry to be dealing with people who won’t change; to stay loyal and committed will probably cut you in half.

    Put your foot down and try very hard to get your husband to see your point of view, and give him some time to change and try supporting him through it, it’s not easy for him either. If enough time has passed and you don’t see any proof of his committment to you and your happiness…cut your losses and run!


  18. Oh, and another thing, Confused Wife 🙂 I don’t agree with the commenters who’ve said things like “the world is filled with harder people to cope up with”…I strongly disagree. There are wonderful people in the world. Or statements like “love which is lifelong, which possibly no other relationship is capable of providing.”…there are many ways to find love…getting the toxicity from certain people out of our life makes space for love…

    I don’t agree with others who think you are looking for perfection. There is certainly no Mr. Right…but there are Mr. Wrongs, right 😀 There are plenty of women who chose to leave…and found or created themselves a second chance…and by that I don’t mean only another man/husband, they’ve adopted or birthed a child, set up NGOs or companies, created support groups and organisations…divorce is not the end of everything, it could actually be the beginning of everything 🙂

    I’d suggest reading Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes…it always gives me a lot of insight on matters of the female heart and spirit.


  19. Looks like we (wives) are still forced to live our lives based on stone age rules. Wake up people. We have our lives too. Gender inequality is still so much present. Paraya dhan my foot! My parents would be so hurt by that misconception.


  20. At times i am amazed at how much men are willing to put under the carpet just so not to upset people, but what they fail to realise is that what is under will someday come out and become ugly. I have often seen women unknowingly being suppressed because men under the guise of respect refuse to open their mouth when necessary.
    It is often one women unwillingly to give off control of her household to an alien of sorts new bahu that causes all the rift, it more of a who is your momma game, and worst part is when the rest of the family join in and automatically 2 sides are formed. this could be worst place to be as a son/husband as you have to choose. At times i do empathise with them husbands but what i hate more are wives/mothers who are control freaks. parents cant always be right just because they are elders, and i hope someday the men in our lives get this without tasting bitter medicine.


  21. This post again brings into my mind the one big unanswered question in my life – who is society ? why is it so important to live in accordance with the society ?? what does the society do for us that makes it so important in our lives ???

    I lived by the rules – believed in family and society – dressed in sacks when I attained puberty – my biggest hobby was reading and all I did was study – got a job when I was 21 and then a year later got married to a man from my caste whose grandparents were my parent’s neighbours.

    I lived in an abusive marriage – my husband first hit me a day after our marriage (that was his sister’s wedding and I expressed my shock over his family boasting about how much dowry they are giving their daughter – he loved his family and how can he tolerate to hear such a statement !!) and with time it became more and more frequent. I made 3 attempts to leave him each time to be convinced to give it a try …..another story the result was always the same.

    My mother told me he hits me when he gets angry so I should not make him angry.

    Then my parents realised that he dislikes them (like any man who loves his own parents should dislike his wife’s parents) so their solution was to stay away from me- FOR THE SAKE OF MY HAPPINESS.

    The elders in his family, especially the women wanted me to learn the ways of his family – understand their culture and respect them. I was reminded – how I insulted his grandmom by not covering my head – how I am lucky that my MIL accepted that a cook cooks for them when they visited me, etc and etc. I was told about my duties too.
    I told his mother – your son hits me. Her answer:Maybe God wants you to suffer in this birth. I will pray you find happiness in your next birth.
    I told his chacha and chachi – Their answer:His parents are our elders we cannot talk to them about something that hurts them – that would be dissrespectful.
    I told his father – His answer: I am an old retired man – what can I do ?
    The rest of the extended family who were always quick to point out my never-ending faults chose to be silent- his grandparents who laid so much stress on tradition and culture turned a blind’s eye

    At times I was told to take courage from his aunt whose husband had deserted her. She stayed back taking care of a cranky MIL and a bed-ridden FIL. She was praised for this. Her husband had numerous affairs. Did the family break off relation with him – No!!! He was just as accepted and his wife was only doing her duty of taking care of the in-laws (to earn a ticket to heaven).

    Family-friends-neighbours just who is this society ????
    Sadly traditions and culture means only to control the women – respect is more about covering the head with a pallu. The patriarch and matraich of the family are not shamed when a DIL is abused.

    During this phase of indecisiveness as to what to do my cousin asked me to think what would I like to do when I did not have to think of the consequences. That answer will tell you what you want. If you want to continue in this marriage because your heart tells you to – then you should give your best. If you want to stay only because you are scared of the X-factor as to what comes in your life later then you need to think harder if this is worth it!!!!

    It took me 3 years to get the courage to walk out. The ultimate decision was made when one day after a fight I realised I just don’t want his children- then why am I in this marriage.

    Looking back the only regret I have is that I should have walked out much before.

    Very sad to say that this trend continues till today. A close friend of mine has an unhappy marriage – they are just 2 different people. No she will not walk out because her husband is not bad right !!!!. When she was pregnant she used to dream about having a son who would love her the most and take care of her. Another story she got a daughter- but at times I wonder what would have happened years later if she had a son………….

    Me – Thanks for sharing Divya.


      • Research has shown this so called society is basically relatives of the family who object to women’s efforts to break away from dysfunctional or violent marriages. Gone are the days when neigbourhoods were invested in families and they practiced social bycott to build social pressure. No one else cares or has time in the town what happens in your house.


      • I applaud your courage and clarity Divya. Your story is so close to the story of my own mother. She was expected to, and tried her best to please EVERYBODY. She had an arranged marriage with a man she had never met, but that her parents said came from a GOOD family. Every day of her life after that – including her wedding day and my birth day was a day of fear and sadness. My father never hurt us physically, but the emotional intimidation and fear were palpable throughout my life, until I left home. My mother could do NOTHING right with her in laws. My father hated his parents and siblings, but if my mother said the smallest word against them, he lost all reason and our house became an emotional hell. As a child I remember very little other than feeling fearful. My mother tried ways to escape – even sattempting suicide it did not work. There was no escape.
        She did finally get the courage up to leave him and return to her parents with me in tow when I was 5 and she was just 23. It was in the guise of visiting her parents in another city, but her secret plan was to not return.
        Although my mother’s father was very loving, he was extremely oppressive and she felt almost suffocated. In this day and age, I can theorise endlessly about why didn’t she just get a job and stand on her own two feet…but I understand now that my mother was the ‘good’ girl who always tried to do right by everyone else, to not make her parents lose face in front of SOCIETY – while she was separated from my father, she used to pretend in front of SOCIETY that she had a wonderful, loving marriage, but had moved back with her parents only because her husband was overseas, and wouldn’t be right for a woman to live on her own – especially with a young daughter (me) to care for. Everyone sat around and nodded wisely and sipped their tea delicately when she spoke this story. Then they turned their attention to some other poor lost female who had left her husband and shamed her family and questioned in their enlightened way, “why didn’t women who shamed their families just have the good grace and manners to kill themselves?” It seemed SO reasonable.

        Why am I telling this story? Something in Divya’s post touched something in me. It reminded me of my mother who was a good girl and returned to her husband. And she is still with him today. I sort of helped to rid my mother of my father’s family when I got married to a man of my own choice (the FAMILY disapproved and said very bizarre things like, all my dead relatives would go to hell because I was marrying a man outside our culture and religion. I challenged my father to stand up with me – and to his credit, he did – at which point the FAMILY disowned me and my father stopped any further contact with them…but that’s another story). But after the years of emotional abuse and fear, my mother still tiptoes around my father and when she is having a very bad day, wishes for a peaceful end to her life. She will never leave him while she is alive because ‘what would PEOPLE think?’ I have stopped asking, “Who gives a damn?” because it matters to her.
        Me on the other hand – retaliating after years of fear under my father’s roof, I fought with with my poor husband about EVERYTHING. And I didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. Looking back, I overdid it for the first 2-3 years of my marriage – I made EVERYTHING an issue and decided that I would not back down on anything with my husband. Too much anger. I didn’t know how to feel anything other than anger. And I didn’t know what to do with all the anger. So I actually repeated the patterns of my father, rather than my mother. I am fortunate that I was able to see a counsellor and relearn many normal emotions. I learned to be sad – previously I would turn my sadness, fear or anxiety into rage and attack everything and everyone around me. And if SOCIETY or OTHER PEOPLE were watching, I behaved even more irrationally. I wanted to give them something to think and talk about! Young and crazed!
        But I was fortunate that my husband is kind and caring and he helped me to find my way through so after I had children, I was able to turn things around, with his support. I feel he paid the price for all the years of fear and intimidation I experienced in my father’s house – it was never ‘home’ to me.

        Now, I teach my daughters that I will always support them and stand with them, no matter what. I don’t care if they don’t fit anyone elses’ ideals or expectations of womanhood. I want them to be brave and bold and able to experience life joyfully with all its ups and downs, without being fearful or debilitated by the expectations of SOCIETY and OTHER PEOPLE. We each have one life and we have the right to choose joy on our own terms.


    • This so closely reflects my own experience that I had to go back and confirm that I had not posted this ain a fit of forgetfulness. After pestering us to get married, if the marriage goes wrong, everyone says “This is your fate/testing time/God’s wish/God’s punishment” whatever…. After changing the course of my life by working en masse to get me married, I can’t see how easily they blame everything but themselves for the situation.

      I, of course, rescued my brain from atrophy rather late and at the advice of his parents and my own relatives who had arranged the marriage went ahead and had a band-aid baby of sorts, who was supposed to magically transform the abusive ex. Only after I realised that I had dragged a baby into an abusive situation did I wake up and walk out.

      I think the support that I got was so conditional, that I burnt all my bridges and moved cities, jobs etc with my son. Anyways, this comment looks like another blog post, so perhaps I will stop now.


  22. I believe that a person has the right to do what they feel like doing if they do not hurt anyone. And if that extends to walking out of a marriage- no matter how impulsive it may seem, they should go by that instinct. A relationship is over if you start thinking of an out to it. Maintaining it to be mature/ adult/ values-based or whatever other crap, is a very stupid thing to do. Society, parents, family, friends, no one matters more than ones own self. Do what you feel right. if you are too shallow to take a “deep” decision( and I do not agree to it) maybe you are too shallow to be in a relationship too(just arguing) and the relationship is not the place to “grow”. As for someone being changed by the “light of your love” or whatever nonsense that is, that does not happen. No one “realizes” and “changes” after causing irreconcilable hurt.
    Relationships are like fine china- if it breaks, no matter how well mended, the crack shows. Do you want to carry around a tackily put together vase for the rest of your days?


    • … the relationship is not the place to “grow”. ..

      But then what is relationship all about? Eat, sleep together, pay bills and procreate??

      Yes, it is true cracks will show but if both people work hard to polish the crack they can turn the broken vase into a valuable antique.

      Each one of us have to take responsibility of our emotions and safety it is not responsibility of others but we all can work together to ensure each one is safe and happy at the same time. Why does it have to mean my happiness has to be your unhappiness? or vise versa.

      Desi Girl


  23. I am amazed to read that such things happen in our country even in the 21st century. How can anyone tolerate abuse(physical or otherwise?) Of course, you need to walk out. There are 195 countries in the world, and 3 billion people of the opposite gender. Surely, you will find someone suitable. The pursuit of happiness should be the only aim, and not following some tradition as defined by those with power(also with no work to do and with enough time to think about how to satisfy their fragile ego). After all, if tradition can’t give happiness, what’s the use?


  24. Pingback: Why do women get abused? | Je Suis Blogging

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  28. Ugh. These kind of men make me so mad. And elders need not always be right.

    What is there to do in such cases, but to leave? I know someone who married your typical mama’s boy without a spine, and when she walked out in sheer frustration, the man had the audacity to say “why are you unhappy, we are not beating or taunting you.”



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