Sharing an email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law.
Since you have written often about living with parents after marriage, I thought I should tell you about my experience.
Ours was not an arranged marriage, and my husband and I had a good idea of what both of us wanted in our lives. Though initially I was hesitant about moving with him into his parental home, I agreed after getting to know his parents. Also, by then I knew that this guy is someone who is going to stay by me no matter what happens.
I had absolutely no problems at my in-laws’ place. Though they are very traditional, they were open-minded about everything. No restriction in what I wore, whom I met, where I went… they didn’t even protest when I refused to wear a bindi or a mangalsutra or toe-rings. They were not comfortable with it, but they didn’t insist that I wear it. My parents-in-law managed the house… my MIL was in complete charge of the kitchen. I used to go out to work, and then come back and help MIL cut vegetables, knead the dough, grate coconut… you know, the assistant in the kitchen. Even if I had not done anything in the kitchen, I doubt they would have said anything to me, but of course, one cannot just sit around when someone else (anyone, not only MIL) is working.
But. The fact was that whatever it is, I felt like a guest. It is not that they made me feel like one, I just felt like a guest. I never felt like it was my own home. I always had the feeling that I was living in someone else’s home and so couldn’t be totally comfortable. I knew I was bringing this upon myself, but I guess some people are just that way. I wasn’t shy, but just uncomfortable. So my entire stay there, for almost three years, was like that of a guest.
Besides, there were little things like, in summer, I would be itching to wear an itsy-bitsy t-shirt and just lie around, which I couldn’t. And i am the kind who likes doing work only when the mood gets to me. So sometimes, during the weekends, when I would rather be lazing around, my MIL would start preparations for lunch, and I would feel terrible if I didn’t go help her. I would sometimes invite friends over, but we would end up going out for lunch or for a walk, because we couldn’t talk freely inside the house. Little things like that, but when put into a context of living your own life, it was like I was always living an incomplete life.
I would come alive only in my room, behind closed doors – where it was my kingdom. The sheets I had chosen, the curtains of my choice, the music system that played the music I liked, my books in the bookcase, sprawled on the bed.
We moved out a few months after my daughter turned one. The move was due to a number of reasons (none of which was friction with the in-laws) and was initiated by my husband.
In a home of my own, it was an entirely new world. On one hand, I was swamped with work. Managing a whole house, cooking entire meals all the time (something I’d never done) looking after a small child… it was work, work and more work whereas in my in-laws’ house, it had been a bed of roses.
BUT. The freedom was unparalleled. I did what I wanted when I liked. I cooked varieties of food, and sometimes I didn’t cook at all. I wore what I liked whenever I felt like. I could bathe in the night if that was what i wanted. I could sit in the middle of the drawing room with my legs up. I could and did call lots of friends and their families over, and entertained a lot. Most of all, I felt like I was living my own life in my own home.
And most of all I discovered that my husband was very very different from what I thought. (some lovely surprises, a few nasty shocks.) It was in a sense, after three years of marriage and one child, that I actually discovered my husband (whom I had fallen in love with and married, remember.) And it was then, after moving into our own home, that we had terrible adjustment problems, but we worked around them, and we are now much closer and love each other even more.
We now visit my in-laws frequently (they live close to us) and my relationship with my MIL is much better now (not that it was bad in the first place) We are on an equal footing in my mind, and besides, all the minor irritations and annoyances that are inevitable when we live together with someone – they are not there any longer. My MIL and I are better friends now than we were when we lived together.
Living by ourselves is the best thing we can do for ourselves, for us to grow and love and live.
I thought you might find that my story validates some of your views about living with parents, so I wanted to share it with you.
I love your blog, and can’t thank you enough for opening my mind about so many things on so many levels.
To an Anonymous Daughter in law.
An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”
Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.
I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…
The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…
An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.