Sharing an email.
I wonder if this daughter in law would be seen as ‘playing a bad girl’ because she doesn’t seem to be succeeding in becoming a ‘ideal bahu’.
Here’s another story of a DIL who understands her angry MIL but not vice versa.
I married the man I was seeing for five years last year without objection from either families and since then my relationship with my widowed MIL has been going downhill. He is her only child & is 28 yrs of age. I am 26 and she is 76 yrs old. After I married, my husband got a job in his hometown & we decided to move back.
It was then that I realized my MIL throws tantrums like a child. I understand her age but imagine living with constant complaints about my hair/bindi free forehead/no bangles etc. Just to keep peace at home I decided to wear bindi/bangles knowing fully well why I was doing it. You can imagine when a rich household like her’s with zilch financial problem invests all of their time performing pooja at any given time of the day. So it was quite a shock for an Athiest me to visit their pooja room once before marriage to witness gold & silver pooja items & millions of God photos.
Although I had prepared myself for what lay ahead, I hope one understands that it takes time to understand what is expected (of me) in the pooja room when I have absolutely no exposure to ultra orthodox lifestyle. Out of genuine respect for their beliefs I took extra care to finish my chores before time to witness what happens in the pooja room and to my own surprise/first-time-fear I helped around with whatever was needed of me even though I was absolutely clueless. Then started harassed cry from my MIL about how wrong I was doing it all. It seems I have no respect towards her pandit/pujari visiting home-how I was bound to bring shame to the respect the home had earned by what I wore (while her son wore shorts & I was in kurta) etc. At that time, I gave her the benefit of doubt that she must have also been shocked/scared by how the other part of population lives. I kept quiet thinking this could be sorted once we could have a dialogue after she calms down. But alas, it was not meant to be. She seems to be extremely disappointed by the DIL she has been given.
The last straw was her expecting me to practise 4 day period sit-out thingy [More about period-sit-out]. Horrified I was and so was my husband. He told her bluntly that he would not allow it and we moved out after much drama.
All this happened within a month of us coming back. I got myself a job & things got hectic. Regardless, I told myself that my orthodox MIL must have been in shock that a woman in her household dared defy traditions just like how I was shocked at the repressiveness at her household.
Each time we visited her home, she would fawn over her son and pointedly ignore me or make small talk if I initiated it. At times when I ponder over why she’s doing this I feel bad for her. At an age when family matters, she seems to be rejecting us over issues like period sit-out or pooja. Some months ago, my hubby office timings changed due to a new project and he was asked to come at three different time schedules each month. This threw our routine into a mess, he’s putting on weight, no time to cook lunch and dinner because by then both are at work. We were completely stressed out and sleeping all the time. Our energy level dipped and my period skipped.
On check up, I was told I would not be able to conceive and something had to be done. Unfortunately, two income are necessary but I had decided to quit my job for our health. Its been a month. In all this I am trying to think positive and have brought about many changes in every day chores. I have already noticed a huge improvement in my hubby and the Doctor is very happy with my progress.
We decided not to confide in my MIL not knowing how she would react.
I have not included how my hubby is because I write this as a part of a team. We are on the same side and he is a feminist by definition. By that I also mean the one to never raise his voice against his mother but trying to sort this mess in a polite manner.
Unfortunately, MIL has started getting joint knee problem and is dependent on someone to cook her lunch or dinner and buy medicines or stuff for home. Each time we are there we stock up that might last for two months and the process repeats. Her SIL stays on the first floor and at 65 is super active. It has fallen upon her to take care of MIL’s food needs although it bothers us that we are unable to do it. We have offered her many times but she is adamant that for us to move back I *have* to practice this period thingy. It is frustrating because she is unwilling to come to our home for a couple of days. In the past one year, she been here only once. I have never had a decent conversation without her criticizing me for more than 10 min. I try not to let my ego break the stance of ‘words through action’ that I have maintained since the day it became clear where I stand in her books. I am also not the one to give back when she is criticizing me because I know where her words are coming from. In all this her SIL is now treating me as if I am her DIL and she owns that house. I normally ignore her but my hubby is scared that she might be putting in ideas into MIL’s head. I don’t know what to make of it bcz MIL has also started criticizing me in front of her. I think it was this that I have seen my husband angry. He told her to stop & we left. It stands there today and I haven’t spoken to her since then. Next week, is my FIL’s death anniversary and we are going there. I am dreading it.
I am writing this letter to you just to tell that there are DILs’ who are trying to understand the place bitter MILs’ come from but it seems like a tiring process. I am losing interest in that part of my life as days progress because there seems to be no improvement regardless of our attempts. Now my hubby is seen as Joru ka Ghulam and is constantly pressurized not only by her but now the SIL above as well. I am obviously concerned of our mental & physical health. This situation is doing nothing to help us.
When I hear of things like independent woman-career oriented-living alone etc, what do they mean in the context of a DIL?
I gave up my job for health reasons/family/out of choice – does this make me dependent? What about the health improvement I am seeing in my hubby that I have taken responsibility over?
I am also young and sometimes wistfully think of life single ‘independent’ women lead.
The funny thing is I have all the support from my husband but my MIL’s tantrums and age is stopping us from being impulsive. I do not type this with regret but merely commenting on situation.
Yet another exploited-for-being-an-Indian-DIL.
Related post – recommended by the email writer.