An email: My brother leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match.

How would you respond to this email?

My parents, or rather, my mother, is on the lookout for a match for my elder brother who is about 27. He has met several girls but is finally starting to like one now. He had a serious girlfriend of 4 years in college but they broke up. When he meets girls now, he tries to figure out if they would be a good match, but in the end he leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match, and whether they are of similar thinking as our family.I am confused at this situation. Shouldn’t my brother at 27 be able to form his own decision about which girl he wants to marry? But if I mention this to my mother, the response I get is that she can understand people better since she is more experienced. This makes sense to me as well. Is this the right approach though?If she were to not play a part, and something goes wrong in the future, she may be blamed for not taking the initiative to get to know the other family. I feel like her decision is a security as well as a hindrance. What do you think is the right approach? I don’t think that she will be ‘marrying’ our family because my mother doesn’t want them to stay as a joint family for more than a couple of years.

My mother wants them to stay with the family for the first couple of years because she wants the new daughter in law to learn how to handle a house. It sounds logical at first but also old fashioned.

Thanks for your time.

Related posts:

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

An email from an Indian Husband… and a Good Indian Son.

An Email: “I really like this guy, but I’m not sure I can handle his parents’ hatred or begrudging approval.”

81 thoughts on “An email: My brother leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match.

  1. First thought that comes to my head…. what makes your mother think that the daughter-in-law would not know how to handle a house herself? Why does she need to be ‘taught’? Can’t the DIL learn through trial-and-error, in case she hasn’t lived by herself and taken responsibilities before? Or does she feel that only she herself (mother) knows the best way to handle a house?

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    • The way I see this…. I am only getting the feeling that your mother is doing the thinking AND decision making for your brother. At 27 if he cannot make his own decisions, then God help him (and the girl he marries).

      I’m not saying he has to choose a girl who will road-rage your mother out of the house. Can’t he talk to the girl himself and be able to ascertain who will be best suited for him, and will also be sensitive to his family?

      If she were to not play a part, and something goes wrong in the future, she may be blamed for not taking the initiative to get to know the other family.
      So fundamentally your brother is not confident enough to rely on his decision…and wants a scapegoat “in case” something goes wrong later on.

      Remember, marriage is first between the two individuals. All the other family members come into play later…and in the background. The moment others come into the foreground is when the equation changes and pain in the neck begins.

      I’m also curious…. I do not see a mention of your father. Is it that your brother is closer to your mother hence her decision matters, or that your mother is the primary decision maker in the house?

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      • I think it’s because my mother too believes in patriarchy, and that’s why she wants the new DIL to learn how to handle the house the way she learned from her MIL. We are a modern family but at times like these, the old beliefs rear their heads.
        And no, my father is not really involved in these decisions. He puts in his opinion on the different girls and their families, but at the end of the day leaves it to my mother to decide what would be best.
        However, my mother always says that she wants my brother to decide who he likes. Then she will have nothing to object in his choice. But then there are also these conditions of staying as a joint family in the beginning. So it’s all very confusing as to what she really believes in. I know that if I were the girl to be getting married, then I would not like my MIL to dictate terms to me like this. I try to make my mother see these things from my point of view as well.

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  2. End of the day its the Brothers WISH .. what he wants and if he is happy and trusts his mothers choice then why not , No harm .. and as written the 4 years of relation well that did not work either did it , so probably doesnot trust his own choice anymore, (has anyone thought of that)..

    and being 27 doesnot mean he had to form his own decision age is nothing …

    THe idea of two years and then move on , I like that and just maybe MAYBE the mother has good at heart and indeed wants the new DIL to lean how to handle a house , I dont see any problem .. OLD fashioned but then Old fashion is better then the new fashion which might bring problems as such toooo .. we have heard a lot of those toooo ..

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    • That thought did strike my mind that the relationship of 4 yrs which did not work maybe one of the reasons why he is not trusting his own decision.

      But Bik….the idea of the mother calling the shots on how many years it should be joint family, how many years after that they can live on their own…..should it not be the couple first thinking it out?

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      • if she is FORCING then yes , but the email says she wants them to be for two year and then go on their own, if we think not a bad thing , I think in todays day and age we take everything in the wrong way that they are forcing ..

        I looked at it differently that she said the couple will go on their own which is a good sign as mostly mothers want to live with the couple all the time ..

        english is a PHUNNY language🙂 we cant express properly but I am sure you know what i mean …

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      • It is in the initial period that couple get to know each other. It is then that they have to be separate from other family members and find their equations, especially in arranged marriages. So this ‘staying as joint family for two years’ is a very bad decision.
        And like Ashwathy asks, isn’t that for the couple to decide? How can the boy’s mother decide that in advance? For example, the girl might already know to run the house, or she might be a quick learner and be ready to run a house in 6 months (if at all she agrees). No future MIL can fix dates on behalf of her son and DIL. It is simply not done. This type of thinking itself shows that interference is in the air.
        I can tell you that my MIL wanted to come and set up house for me in the army station where I had to go after marriage. But (fortunately) we got only a bachelor’s accommodation and she reluctantly ‘let’ me go. So what happened to me without her housekeeping classes? I learnt on my own though she felt the world would come to an end because she wouldn’t be there. I even brought up my children single-handedly. And to tell you the truth, they are better off for it.
        Some mothers feel their importance waning when children grow up. This is the only way they can re-instate themselves for some more time. After the two years she will find something else. a child might be born and then she will say, ‘Till the child goes to nursery’. Ask me. I am a PhD in this.
        As for me, I have made it known to my children that they finish education and move out. There is no question of staying with me after marriage. You manage on your own. That is what brings a couple closer. Later on parents can go and relax in that very same house which they “did not help setup”
        Well, if I were a woman I would NEVER want to marry a man who wants his Momma dear to pick a girl for him. Hell, he has to show some character, take important decisions pertaining to his life on his own. His Momma can make suggestions.. but isn’t it his decision? If he cannot do that I pity the girl who marries him. I really do.

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      • Well put Shail!
        I agree entirely.
        I am also amused at the tacit assumption that the daughter-in-law needs lessons from her mother-in-law on housekeeping.

        My wife never needed it when I got married 36 years ago.
        In fact she could have told my mother a thing or two about housekeeping.
        I came from a family of 4 male members (My Dad, my two brothers and myself) and a single female member (my Mom)
        My wife came from a family of 5 female members (Mil, wife and her 3 sisters) and a lone male member (Fil)

        Their house was better maintained than ours!
        My wife would have rebelled if she had been asked to stay with my parents for two years to “undergo training” in housekeeping.

        Regards
        GV

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  3. “the response I get is that she can understand people better since she is more experienced.”

    Experience with what? Life? Career choices? Writing essays? I think the blind obedience with which one looks at their parents has being ‘more experienced’ is really flawed—unless of course, your mother is a psychologist who has studied human behaviour and culture well and/or someone who works in family therapy, she can’t have ‘more experience’ in telling how your brother’s future wife will turn out.

    About ‘how to handle a house’—living alone will teach someone how to handle a house than living with an old relative. For me, it was quite easy, moving away to university taught me how to handle a house far quicker than living with my parents (only child, stay at home mom—kinda put me in a really bad position when I moved out because I had no survival skills what-so-ever. In fact, my husband compared me to a spoiled Indian mommy’s boy when he met me–I didn’t even know how to turn on a stove).

    It is also quite interesting that your mother wants your brother’s future wife to learn how to run a house but is completely okay with your brother being ignorant of the same thing. This isn’t just old-fashioned, it’s traditional patriarchal sexism at play.

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    • even if the mother has done her PhD in human behaviour, it still doesn’t make it right for her to choose her son’s spouse. Cos the son is a whole person on his own. He’s had experiences in HIS life that his mother hasn’t. And the girl he’s going to be marrying is going to have to deal with that (and vice versa), so he is the one who needs to decide who that person needs to be.

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      • @Kay: I agree that it definitely sounds sexist. My brother knows zilch about how to run a house and refuses to learn too. I think that his wife will revolt sooner or later upon knowing this. Maybe then he’ll finally learn..

        @sanjana: That’s true but like I said earlier, my mother doesn’t want to dictate who he should pick, but she does give her opinion which carries a lot of weight..

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    • My thoughts exactly.

      Why must we always assume that older women have more experience in “family matters”?

      My ex-husband also turned to his mother for marital advice and it had disastrous consequences.

      Most women find the “mama’s boy” syndrome a bit of a turn-off.

      I think that a man who relies on his mother’s judgment in matrimonial matters is not ready for marriage at all.

      Taking parental advice is one thing, but relying excessively on their “superior judgment” is a big, big red flag.

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  4. I definitely think it’s your brother who should be making the decision, not your mother. Because he is the one who has to live with her for (possibly) the rest of his life and he knows best the kind of person most compatible for him. However close we are to our parents, our parents DO NOT know us better than we know ourselves. So while your parents are certainly welcome to give their opinion on this matter, it is best for your brother to take charge of his life and make his decisions (especially such important ones) for himself.

    Also, your mother being more experienced doesn’t really matter, does it? Because there is no ‘right kind’ of girl that your mother can identify that your brother can’t. There is only the kind of girl who is best suited for your brother – and that, your brother is best equipped to identify.That said and done, arranged marriages by their very nature involve a lot of parental involvement, even interference. How much you want them to be involved depends on you – should they just help to introduce you to women they think are suitable and leave you to make the decision, or should they go the whole hog and make the decision completely for you?

    I think you should just sit down with your brother and talk to him about these issues and help him decide what is best for him. But at the end of the day, even the level of involvement he wants from his parents is his decision (even if you/I feel this is not a good decision).

    P.S: IHM, you may want to correct ‘bother’ to ‘brother’ in the title :p

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  5. Dear Email Writer,

    I guess your brother is just finding an excuse to run away from his responsibilities. I do not doubt that your mother is experienced but it will in no way help the new DIL. It is just not old fashioned but a disaster. And she will end up marrying your family as this intial few years makes no sense. She will be forced to be tamed and trained as per your family and hell what i’m sure she is old enough to handle her own family and even if not she will learn her own way. She needs no training.you and your mother can always help her if she askes for it.I think if you are in good terms with your brother, it makes sense if you can talk to him directly and not to your mother. Talk to him like an adult and I’m sure he will understand your point. I’m sure he will open up and give you the right reasons why is he taking such steps. If possible help to bridge the gap between him and your parents. I can see that you do not agree to what is happening but feel helpless as your opinions may not be valued in your family.It happens…happened with me too. I was the youngest and my parents often thought that i was not matured enough to give any valuable inputs. But trust me if you see red flags now…they are worth taking serious actions. It may be too late later.
    I could not save my brother’s marriage…..though it was his own decision to live with my parents and infact my mother never wanted them to stay with her as she valued her own independence and did not want to be a free cook and nanny for his kids. And we ended up with a bitter MIL and bitter SIL. Act now…or it may be too late

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    • I agree with Neha. Besides, I feel the joint family system should work the other way around. When someone’s newly married, they need more time as a couple. Once older people need more constant care, that’s when a joint family might make more sense. Once the pecking order gets established, why would anyone want to disturb it? Best let the new wife (whoever she happens to be) have her own home and own rules.

      Besides, what’s there to train? In India at least, all I do is cook and buy groceries. My maid cleans the house, does the dishes, the laundry, the dusting, and chops the veggies for me. In return, I pay her well, consider her to be a friend, and make sure I make extra for her son when I cook something nice. What do I need training for, to load the washing machine? To write a shopping list? (I just copied my mom-in-law’s master list and scaled it down to suit our needs. Copy paste taken a step further). Unless the mother of this email writer wants the dil to learn how to cook the things that please her son the most, there’s not much left to train, is there?

      Me – Simbly Bored, I don’t think even a shopping list needs to be borrowed, one buys what one needs and if something is missing, it’s okay to go and get it later or manage without it for a while.

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    • @Neha: I agree. My opinions are not really valued. We are usually told: since you are a child (not in age though) then you should stay that way. Don’t try to dictate what the parents should do. There have been times when they listened to us and things went wrong, so now they are quite against listening to us, unless it’s about something that they don’t know much about, like technology, etc.
      My brother is as stubborn as a mule but I will try to help him see a different point of view.

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      • I think you should, in all fairness tell your brother’s prospective bride about your family’s dynamics.

        I think your future SIL should be fully informed about your mother’s expectations and your brother’s temperament.

        If she walks into this arrangement with her eyes open, she will be better prepared to deal with the challenges that await her.

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  6. When he has already left it on his mother to decide then what can anyone say or do? It doesn’t make a difference if you think it’s not a good decision of him. The best you can do is to talk to him how you feel, but it’s entirely on him to decide. Though technically he should be the one on whose desk the buck stops, not your mother.

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    • Today was the shagun of my cousin. Her parents along with extended family went to boy’s family with shagun ka saamaan, that included gold chain and ring for groom, clothes for him. Clothes for his parents, his uncles, aunts, their kids. Money that will be given along with clothes to every relative of the groom. And then there was a huge LCD TV. I don’t support it, and so I put my opinion. It was laughed away(I knew this would happpen, but still I put it), I told my cousin(who is getting married) to talk to her man about it(It’s a love marriage btw). I don’t know if she talked on not. But they went on shagun with all the above mentioned things. The groom’s village is not very near, our family started at 6 AM today morning and reached there 11:30 AM, and they haven’t been back yet, interesting thing is that they won’t eat anything at groom’s house because they are ‘ladki wale’ and groom’s family follows these ‘traditions’.

      Doesn’t matter how much I hate all this, I couldn’t do anything about it. I did what I was able to do, that is, to talk to my cousin. Similarly, only thing you can do is to talk to your brother.

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      • Dear God.

        Your cousin’s inlaws will not serve your family food for 12+ hours because they are ladkiwale?

        What about “atithi devo bhava”
        and all that?

        Our great traditions don’t consider ladkiwale to be honored guests, more like inferior sub-humans.😦

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  7. It reminds me of a particular part of an article I read by Ashley Ambirge:

    “Despite what they tell you, in general, people don’t want control.
    They don’t want control, because they don’t want the responsibility of control.

    More choice = more control = more responsibility.

    We let society choose for us.
    We let our family choose for us.
    We let our spouse choose for us.
    We let our circumstances choose for us.
    We let our beliefs choose for us.
    We let our faith choose for us.
    We let our past experiences choose for us.
    We let the present moment choose for us.
    Hell, we even let the bald guy selling us a pizza and a Mountain Dew choose for us.

    We let anyone and everyone choose for us–so long as that person isn’t actually US.
    We put our destiny in the hands of anyone who’ll take it.”

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      • Just now noticed this comment!
        Excellent observations.
        May I add?
        Even in the matter of choosing our elected representatives, we avoid voting and let others choose for us.
        Should we be complaining later ?
        Regards
        GV

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    • At the same time, there are some set of people who will want control on everything.. and mostly of someone else ..

      But, best said is : It is difficult for any human to own responsibility for his present moment and much easier to blame on someone else, society, parents, siblings, education, etc.. just everything except oneself.

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      • All over the world is same rule: Much easy to look in the neighbour yard, to judge, to give advices. We are all experts like we all are toppers of some important university ” Judge and give advise”. When is comeing to look in our yard and to see the problems that are there and to fix them, becoming suddenly the worst students. To make choices and to live with them is a very hard task and like everybody said here you need to be a very responsable person for this.

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  8. He had a serious girlfriend of 4 years in college but they broke up
    – Break ups happen to everyone. That doesn’t mean you give up on life. Then be single till you feel ready.

    When he meets girls now, he tries to figure out if they would be a good match, but in the end he leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match, and whether they are of similar thinking as our family.
    -He may feel incapable of judging women/ insecure after his previous relationship did not work out but is your mother gonna be the girl’s husband? Doesn’t he know his own family? How can the girl trust him to stand up for her or support her mentally/ emotionally if he runs to his mom for everything

    I am confused at this situation. Shouldn’t my brother at 27 be able to form his own decision about which girl he wants to marry?
    – yes

    But if I mention this to my mother, the response I get is that she can understand people better since she is more experienced.
    – Yes, maybe , our society associates age with wisdom but it is not true always. There are so many old people who behave in an immature fashion. It is a fallacy to think she can know younger people especially if she is from another generation and girls will always pretend before potential MIL’s. I know so many people who have good girl/boy tags among adults but only their friends know what all they are upto.

    This makes sense to me as well. Is this the right approach though?If she were to not play a part, and something goes wrong in the future, she may be blamed for not taking the initiative to get to know the other family.
    – Exactly. I know many people of my age who want to marry whomever their parents tell them and they cite parental support as their main reason. Someone blatantly put it as ” At least i can call my parents and scold them and blame them coz I married whom they told me to. If I married against their wishes, if I have disagreements, who will I turn to?” What she discovered and learnt (I only hope) later on is a different story.

    Our society and parents do not want us to make our own decisions and not have minds of our own and the younger people also do not want to take responsiblity for their lives.

    What do you think is the right approach? I don’t think that she will be ‘marrying’ our family because my mother doesn’t want them to stay as a joint family for more than a couple of years.
    – The DIL has no choice if she wants to stay with her MIL or on her own when she feels like?

    My mother wants them to stay with the family for the first couple of years because she wants the new daughter in law to learn how to handle a house.
    – Is the new DIL going to 8 years old?

    It sounds logical at first but also old fashioned.
    – Ask a foreigner and they will not call it logical at all. Due to our social conditioning these things seem logical to us.

    I feel sad for the girl marrying your brother but then it may turn out to be a dominant girl who pretended tobe docile in front of yourmother.

    Wrong as it is, it is your brother’s life, if he leavesthings to your mom on his own will, who are we to judge or interfere? It’s another story if he is emotionally blackmailed into it or something like that. The girl must be made aware, if she were to marry your bro and if she is okay nothing much to do here.
    If it bothers you, have you talked to your bro about all this and asked him why and how he feels?

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  9. If a person does not think he is wise enough or old enough to take solid decisions,that person is not ready enough to enter a bond like marriage. Your brother should wait a little while.

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  10. When I got married, my in-laws had this similar mindset, they wanted a young DIL that they could easily mold to satisfy their thoughts and needs. They wanted to ‘train’ me well to become a responsible wife, a dutiful DIL & a sacrificing SIL, and they praised themselves for being such ”good’ in-laws, and the world praised them too for ‘accepting and helping’ DIL so wholeheartedly.

    Thinking back now, I feel that mentality of in-laws in India is similar to someone adopting and training an untrained dog.

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  11. There could be several reasons why your brother is behaving so:

    1. Making a decision on an arranged marriage based on a few meetings is difficult. I think your brother is aware of that. That’s why he wants somebody to support him about his choice.

    2. He must have seen real life saas-bahu dramas and wants to make sure that it doesn’t happen with his mom and wife.

    3. He wants to show he’s cultured.

    4. He himself believes in patriarchy, meaning, his wife would not be part of her parental family but he would be part of his parental family post marriage. So, he wants to see a perfect-fit for the parental family. (Your mom’s insistance on passing on the family traditions of running a household in the first 2 years supports this fact.)

    5. His ex’s family was the reason of their break-up, so he believes not only the girl but also her family matters.

    I would just add that having controlling parents from either side is a no-no. If the parents are controlling, then it’s almost like marrying a family.

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    • You are quite close to the truth. That’s why my brother is placing importance on the girl’s family as well, and so is my mother. And he is quite sexist in his views (which I struggle to change) but I don’t think that any wife should have to deal with that kind of ancient world-view.

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  12. Remind your brother that he is getting married and not his mother.
    Any level headed woman who gets married to your brother may feel ashamed if she knew that he entrusted his life in his mother’s hands completely.
    And it just does not end here.. These people, I bet, will run to their mothers for everything which will eventually crumble the relationship.
    If there are two words that I can choose to define your brother’s current state, they are “irresponsible” and “immature”.
    I can only pity the girl who will marry your bro if he does not change.

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  13. My sincere opinion ,is to Leave the decision to your brother. let him decide who is going to be his bride..Though you are all his well wishers, it is he who has to lead his whole life with her.After selecting her , he will let you know the reason why he has selected her, and also, he is a matured person ,and , he knows that all of you will be satisfied with his selection,But before that with open heart and mind he must discuss with that girl,about his the family matters of both,and his intention to marry,and if she agrees then proceed further.Make sure that both of them like each other. This is my personal experience.

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  14. I feel your brother must tell his future wife, in all fairness to her, that he is marrying her only because his mother decided it.

    The girl must then take a call on whether she wants to marry him or not.

    I hope she will be aware that if her husband allowed his mother to decide this marriage now, tomorrow, his mother too will decide when they are to have their first baby, whether it is to be a boy or girl, when the son must change jobs, when he must invest in a new house when they will move out of the house if at all (I don’t believe such a woman will let go of a pliant son and daughter in law after two years)

    The same reason, viz experience in life that the seniors have, will be used to justify all this.
    This son will never gain any experience of his own.

    I see plenty of red flags that should alert any girl with some intelligence of the kind of marriage she is getting into.

    The 27 year old must behave like a 27 year old or else wait for a few more years till he becomes 27 mentally and emotionally and not merely biologically. I feel he is not ready for marriage as yet.

    Regards
    GV

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    • That’s not how it is. It’s not her decision completely. If he likes a girl then he will go ahead with it, but my mother’s opinion also carries weight.
      However, I don’t think the part about them living as a joint family in the beginning is negotiable, and I can’t stand that. Tomorrow if my in-laws ask me to stay as a joint family, and I’ll most likely refuse, then this will act against me. My own mother might have to say that I have unnecessary hang-ups about not staying with my in-laws. I am going to try to make her see these things from my point of view. I’m sure she would not be happy to be in that position.

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      • Like Aditi has mentioned below, the first two years are probably when they need to live separately and get used to each others’ likes and dislikes, and simply get used to just having each other in their life.

        This was one of the primary conditions I told my in-laws before marriage. That I wanted to live a year with my husband – just the two of us, before the in-laws stay with us. My husband supports his parents financially and they are likely to move in with us at a later point, although not full-time with us since they will also be visiting his sister in the USA for 6 months every year.

        Point being, in spite of the fact that they won’t be moving full-time with us, they were fine with the fact that I’d like my space to establish a relationship with my husband…before I learn to live with my in-laws on a longer basis. I may have a different approach on how and WHEN to cook (only weekends since the maid does the weekday cooking since I m working), what to cook (I want a balance between my husband’s favourite foods and mine, whether I want only certain foods cooked in my kitchen), how to manage the maid and the rest of the house, and also how to divide responsibility since my husband also does his share in the house.

        I’d like to see what your mother reacts if a prospective DIL puts a condition like that across to them. 🙂

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  15. A lot of Indian men believe that they need to let the family decide. I think this is so that they do not take the responsibility themselves and have to stand up to it. If something goes wrong in the end, they can always blame the family and will have the entire family support to back them up irrespective of who is at fault.

    A guy I knew, decided he would marry someone his parents chose, coz his sister married a guy of her choice. So he did not want to disappoint his parents by doing the same. After there were just two of them !

    Living in the same house as parents? I think the first few years are the most crucial where they need to live by themselves. This is the time they get to know each, get to know each other the best and figure how best to work their differences. Handling a house is done by both the spouses , not just the girl. I “handle” my house in a way different way from my parents. I clean once in a while, I cook only when I feel like it , we both work it out and we manage.

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  16. uh…your mom had 27 years with your brother to teach him how to run a household!!! And again, expectations that the DIL will run the household to your mom’s satisfaction will definitely cause some issues…just because people are different and may not agree to approaching everything the same way or even just being the person expected to handle those things.

    As far as experience, ofcourse your mom may be more experienced and perceptive, but your brother can defer to her for advice and make the actual decision himself? That way, he is getting the advantage of his mom’s experience but still taking control of his decisions and life since he is the one to live with it?

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  17. “If she were to not play a part, and something goes wrong in the future, she may be blamed for not taking the initiative to get to know the other family”
    How ? Why?

    If your brother tomorrow loses his job or does not manage to do well as a professional will your mother also be blamed?

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  18. I think getting to know the other family is one thing and the MIL making the final decision is altogether another. I feel, both families should talk, get to know one another, address whatever issues they have, and leave the final decision to the guy and the girl. And, especially, it is more beneficial that in the start of marriage the guy and girl live alone, away from both the families. In these few years alone, they can understand each other better, know how each partner lives, make adjustment from both side to come up with an arrangement that suits both. The initial years of marriage are particularly important in building a strong foundation for a partnership. If the initial years are gone learning the ropes of a new family, “learning” from the MIL, then at what point do the husband and wife actually bond? And the very fact that the MIL wants to teach the DIL the ropes means it is the DIL that will have to do all the adjustments. What is there the need to teach anything to an adult if there is going to be adjustments from both sides?!

    I think parents seem to think that if they do all the major decisions in the children’s lives then they are more involved and more responsible! Something similar happened during our marriage. The husband and I were batchmates and dated for 3 years before we told our families that we were getting married. My FIL was initially opposed to the marriage. I later found out, that he was angry not because I am from a non-bengali family (hubby is a bengali) and from a different community etc., but because his son did not ask for their permission to marry me. He just told them that he was marrying me. This was the reason he was initially opposed. FIL was later talking to my mom on how he was not happy that his son did not care for his opinion, and whether my mom thought it was right or not. My mom told him that we both were adults and were fit for making our choices and our mistakes. All parents can do is be by their side and support them. And at the most, advise them. I only found out about this conversation later, and was so proud of my mom for telling him this!😀 Even now, I do sense that hubby’s family would prefer if we ran everything by them, but they have kind of accepted that we dont. And I think they have made peace with it.

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  19. Is your brother actually interested in getting married? Or ready after the break up? It seems a bit off that someone who was in a relationship of choice before is not interested in making a critical life decision. If it were me in this situation, I would definitely talk to my brother in private and ask him what’s up. I would hate to be the girl who walks into this arrangement if things were turned around.

    Like

    • You’re right. It’s a little out of character. Is he on the rebound?

      To be honest, I too got into an arranged marriage after a five-year relationship ended (again because of family interference from both sides).

      I was told by family that this would never have happened in an arranged marriage.

      I bought into the whole “arranged marriages enjoy family support” myth and ended up in a bigger mess than before.

      I do hope that this young man does not end up from the frying pan into the fire like I did.🙂

      Like

  20. As a mother of the boy of almost similar age I feel…….
    1.If your brother does not have any particular girl in his mind and wants your parents to initiate the process,it’s fine.But the decision to decide must rest on the boy and that too based on girl.Rest of the things can be taken care of in that light.

    2.Marriage is primarily a bond between the two but families play a great role in strengthening or breaking it.

    3.I certainly believe that during the initial years the couple should be given much space.They need to get adjusted to themselves first.Once that is done none of them feel bad about making certain adjustments for families of either side.

    4.More over I feel each and every relation has it’s own destiny and course.We as a family are there to support them if they need but only they have to walk the way.It’s better to let them set the course.They might falter,fall, get injured but then that’s part of life.As parents we can tell them these things happened to us as well but sanctity of the bond demands that you must try to work on that till the situations are not on extreme sides.
    5.As far as family tradition and customs are concern ….let the girl imbibe these gradually. If forced there are more chances that she might push them way.not that the girl really wants to do it but this very humane.Girl when enters a new family is always on her guards.so it’s better to let her take her own time.However mothers on their part are also cautious as we come across the examples where the initial freedom results in complete negligence of other relations but then we can’t control life.If that has to happen it will even if living in joint family.
    wish you all the best, girl.
    namita

    Like

    • I think the to-be husband should also make an effort to “learn and imbibe” the traditions of the wife’s family.

      It is ironic that DILs are expected to uphold culture and customs but are not allowed to shape and influence them.

      IMO, every couple must jointly decide what they will pass on to their children as “culture and tradition”.

      Why do we assume that only parents of sons have the right to pass on customs and tradtions to the DIL and to grandkids?

      Like

      • BIW…….You are right dear.he definitely should .As in the concerned mail only Mil’s expectations from Dil were referred I talked from that angle.diverse cultural inputs enrich one’s being ,broaden the perspective.

        The concept of passing on” culture and tradition” even to kids I am not the one to advocate pushing down . They should be told about practices /customs of both the sides or whatever parents decide and let them decide as per their judgement.

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  21. I actually know someone like this, and it ended up in a bitter divorce. The man’s family kept blaming the woman, but the fact was that she simply was not cut out to be part of a joint family or to follow patriarchal rules. The man basically married someone he did not know from Eve because his dying father decided it. Best not go down that path. If the woman your brother marries has a bit of spunk in her, the marriage will go down the drain in 6 months. After that, no matter how much satisfaction your brother would derive from blaming your mother for this, it is his life and his problem. He would be the one hurt, not your mother. He has to live with the divorce or separation, not your mother. Even if they don’t separate, don’t see the recipe for a happy marriage here.

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  22. This is an interesting case. since it is not your life but your brother’s, apart from expressing what you really feel about it, there is nothing you can do. You cannot and indeed should not try to change anyone’s mindset. You really should not bother yourself too much about what they are doing- unless they begin pressuring you to behave in a way you don’t want to. You do not need to support their behavior if you do not approve of it, but apart from expressing your views, in a logical fashion, you cannot do anything else. So detach yourself emotionally from this- it is your brother but he is a whole different human being and no, neither he nor your mother will see the light. People do not change unless they want to.

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    • Allytude this it’s going to be quoted as good example for her to follow. Marry and live with the husband’s parents, learn their way to make shopping lists and hold the spoon while stirring curries, so that they don’t find her joining them in any way inconvenient.

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      • She needs to distance herself from this as much as possible- she cannot work on changing them, but she should not take them making decisions for her. And the fight she needs to fight here is for the right to live her life as she wants, not to argue nor make the rest of her family see things her way. there are battles we can pick in families, and then there are battles which are not really worth the effort, she needs to conserve her energy for things that impact her directly, decisions that help her get away from this kind of toxicity.

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  23. Errr…so at 27 if he cant decide, may be he should wait till 30!

    This reminds me of the project updates that we have you know….I am the analyst, my manager is the first approver, and the project head is the final approver…..so after all approvals, my project gets passed…if its a bad decision, dont blame me…I didnt give the final approval right?

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  24. Dear E-mail writer..
    As much as its traditional on part of your mother to ask for DIL to take up the house-hold work and culture, there is little chance that she is going to change her stance unless your brother speaks up. It is easy/convenient for a guy to stick with your mother’s rules mainly because it promote him as the ‘BOY’ and gives importance to only him. Tradition hides the sexist part.

    When your mother says she wants the DIL to run the household it might mean that she wants her to know how certain things happen at your place – how are festivals celebrated, what sweets, what prayers etc. which is nothing wrong. Of course your bro could have learnt all this by now. But there is nothing wrong in your SIL getting exposed to certain ways.. its upto her to adopt if she wants.. But it needs to be 2-way.. your parents might have to adopt certain things too. But the problem here is insistence on this 2-year period – it should be the couple’s choice.

    You need to talk your bro. Is he ready to do this? At last he should not end up with a girl who will act just to keep things calm for sometime but is actually getting frustrated. This will lead to unnecessary problems in the family.

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  25. Staying in a joint family must really be a ‘joint’ decision (made by the newly weds and the set of parents with which they are going to live) and such a decision is made for some reason.. Perhaps economic? Convenience? Care-giving for elders? Mutual-reliance? Even in these cases, there are good, workable alternatives.. It is not for ‘internship’ of the DIL to ‘learn’ the household chores and excel in the art of adding the right amount of salt to a dish or the exact measure of washing powder in the washing machine.

    Like

    • Of course the new DIL has to be trained!

      Washing machines are highly complicated devices, especially the front-loading, fully-automatic ones.

      Only older auntyji-turned-MILs possess the scientific training and skills required to operate such machines.

      What do you know, you slip of a girl? This is how things have been for centuries!🙂

      Like

      • Well after speaking to my mother, I think that they will have to stay with us in the beginning because my brother cannot afford a new house just yet. So in this case it’s going to not just be a ‘training’ reason but also an economic reason.

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      • This is a reply to PGW.. If your brother is unable to even rent a house, is there a guarantee that he will be able to do it couple of years later? And if what your mom quotes is really true, I think he should first become independent and then think about getting married.
        I feel that your mother may still quote economy as a serious factor and not let the couples stay on their own even 2 years down the lane. And if the couple choose to have a baby, I think living by themselves will just be a statement that your mother wrote in water.

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  26. Typical disturbing logic of a random Indian family.

    1)

    I doubt people in India will ever understand that experience which comes with age can in NO WAY guarantee a successful partner selection. Your mother is not you, your father is not you – and it won’t be them who are gonna face the problems/issues in marriage at any point of time.

    They can be 101 years old and still they won’t know who is gonna match you! Period.

    Parents will not have a clue about personality preferences, intimate compatibility and other issues which are just too personal and too individual to be “guessed” by anyone apart from the person who is about to choose a life partner.

    2)

    A guy aged 27, who leaves the decision up to his mommy – pathetic – I have only this to say. Maybe he should come back to diapers and a pacifier.

    3)

    A poor girl will need to spend a few years learning how to “handle the house”. I really pity her already, whoever that’s gonna be. Living in a prison of your all-knowing MIL is the worst nightmare possible. Probably the family in general assumes that the girl is gonna be as clueless and as indecisive like the pathetic groom.

    You really lose hope for the society when you come across such cases.

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    • Absolutely true. Even the slightest hope that keeps flapping around from that little corner of the heart also gets completely washed away after hearing such stories and that too in educated families.

      Like

  27. If the girl comes from a family where she is raised to be an independent, self-taught individual, it will be a rude shock if she enters a household where everything is ‘taught’, ‘trained’ , where it is assumed that whatever she knows since birth would be of no significance or better be left behind in her parents house.

    This ‘free advise’ ( which is total and complete interference) will always be defended with taglines ‘for your good only’, ‘we are elders and so more experienced’, ‘you need to respect us’ ….and this will continue as long as they are alive, starting with what you eat to what you wear to when you will have your babies.

    In these households, everything is done with the tacit ‘approval’ of the son, as that power was given to them the minute he let them choose his life partner. Most sons will not say a word because they do not want to be considered ‘changed’ after marriage or be called ‘joru ka ghulam’, which is the ultimate insult for most ‘Indian’ men.

    The girl your mother picks hopefully is of the mindset where she is brainwashed to do her ‘duties’ towards her new house without complaining. But I bet regardless of who she is, the complaints and the problems will start much before she moves out with ‘that 2 yrs of training.’

    It is nice to see you being concerned about the future of your brother and SIL, I am sure you will be one of her best friends, but be aware this kind of ‘progressive’ thinking is not appreciated in daughters, and more so in daughter-in-laws.
    Stick to your guns, and speak out clearly what you have in mind regardless. I pray they understand what you are saying for the future of all you. Good luck.

    Like

    • Yes I won’t back down. It is up to them whether they want to accept it or not. I don’t think it’s a hopeless situation yet and it can be improved upon.🙂

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  28. I think what he is doing is perfectly O.K. for himself. I would look at that person and shake my head in wonder, because a 27 yr old is basically leaving crucial decision making to his mother, and does not seem to have grown up. But freedom means freedom to be old fashioned and conventional. He is not imposing his wishes on others. As long as the girl who marries him agrees with the situation it is perfectly fine. And kudos to the mother for at least thinking that a young couple needs freedom and their own lives. There is no one path to happiness. The only one who seems to be having the problem is the letter writer, but it might be easier to just let it go as all parties seem to be willing participants.

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      • Yes certainly there are enough women who will, although not many will agree if you frame the question the way you have. When I got married 20 yrs ago, I, and all my friends had nothing but contempt for men like this and the women who married them. But many yrs of observations and experience has shown me that there are many ways of getting married and a lot of such marriages result in happy contented lives. I know a Malyalee couple who had their horoscopes matched as a number one priority, met each other only once for a few hrs and are totally blissfully happily married. People talked to each other on the phone, got married (and I went WTF) and are happy.There are women who will look upon this man and consider what I will call dependency and immaturity, as love and respect for his mom (and therefore a positive trait). Some women may like the idea of staying with a family for a while before moving into their own house.
        So many arranged marriages in India start with horoscope matching (which I consider to be beyond stupid!). Yet at the end of the day if it works out well for the couple I don’t see the problem. Humanity is a complex mixed bag and there is no one “one size fits all”. The letter writer is confused because this scenario is not playing into her notions of how things should be or how this will lead to a positive result.

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  29. The issue of leaving crucial decisions like these to others (including parents) is, other factors (that the brother may not expect) come into play. They may look at how much dowry is given, if the girl has any brothers, if the girl has a job (and therefore is independent), family wealth estimations, wealth staying within the family, and other such stupid factors into consideration while getting the boy married. Their fear is not totally unjustified, but they cannot take important decisions like this, based on fear alone.

    Destination Infinity

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    • There is no dowry system in our community so that is not an issue. Neither is the money in her family. I think docility is the only factor that is being given importance; both in the girl as well as in her family…

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      • What is the need for being docile? Well i forgot it: more docile will be, more easy will be the process of training.
        So what wants your family and your brother i suppose is a docile girl ( and to don’t forget with a docile family). Then is simple my dear! Just put an advertisement that will sound like this: We are looking for a docile girl with a docile family, to marry our son. The only condition that we have is to be docile and to stay with us to learn how to run the house for at least 2 years. And then wait for an answer. One that will answer to you will be your perfect choice! Good luck to all ! You really needing!

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  30. Pingback: An email: If I am wrong in any way, please advise me a suitable course of action as I feel miserable.. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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