Sharing an email from Daughter from India (DFI).
I have been an avid follower of your blog since 2008. Off-late I saw many readers seeking advises on this forum and even I am in need of some advise at this juncture of my life and hence I am writing at length to you.
We had a love marriage, both in same undergrad college and did our MS from same US university. We both are gujjus though from different communities. I thought of my hubby to be a very forward looking, self reliant individual (especially after I saw him manage well with “homely” duties in US). We didn’t have a long courtship period since we told families about us being in love and our intention of getting married too early in the stage (as soon as we finished MS and before started working full time) – both families agreed and we married in a month! Looking back we think we should have spent more time discussing our priorities and preferences in life (where to settle (US vs. india), joint family vs. nuclear, openness to me having his community’s style of foods (I am an ardent fan of my kind of food vs. his family is strict about their preferences), thoughts on kids’ religion, my last name etc.
I am an only child and have been brought up with no “restrictions”/unequal treatment whatsoever. I have grown up to be an independent, confident woman with a good career and understanding of responsibility towards my parents, in-laws etc. Being a fair and rational thinker, I assumed I will be “allowed” to eat what I like, raise children as “our” children imbibing values from both families, treating both sets of parents with equal responsibility etc.
One day we were discussing how do we manage funds etc. and my assumption of priority was “hubby and I make core family which is most important, both set of parents make up the second tier of circle and then his sister, her family, my cousins etc come in the third tier”. However, his opinion was that after marriage, our first tier is “his family – including his parents and both of us”, and in second tier it will be my parents and his sister. I didn’t like the idea of giving this biased importance to his parents and we had some argument over it but I gave up. Looking back I think I should have stood my ground firm and strong. In that dilemma I googled on what do other “modern indian daughters in law” go through, do they face similar questions like I did? And I found your blog on, Joint Families and Indian Daughters.
Coming back to present sitaution – We are in US, drawing good salary, good savings, blessed with a little princess and overall leading a very content happy married life. Our parents are back in India. My husband’s family wanted us to move to India and live with them since sometime, but somehow we kept delaying the decision. My husband is totally in favor of going back – my hunch is its mainly because his parents have never given him any other choice! They always say “Come this year, wrap up things” etc. and never said that “What you both think? Decide what you think makes more sense to you”. Me, on the other hand feel suffocated by the fact that we are not given the freedom to choose and sanely make a decision of where we would like “our family” to be.
In addition, I have concern about returning back to India and living with in-laws – over the last 6 years, my experience of living with them has only worsened. Already leaving US is a tough decision for me and on top of it, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me time and over again. Please note that my intention here is not to run away from responsibilities, I know I will be there and try my best to help in times of need for anyone, be it my parents or be it in-laws. Also note that his parents are comparatively young in early 50s and mine are in early 60s. Touch wood, all are doing good healthwise and well-being-wise. Both have good homes to live in, a very happy social life and we support both set monetarily (it’s another long story on how we decided to manage our funds and whose parents get what.)
When my in-laws tell my hubby “We miss you, come back soon” etc, he goes in a frenzy and wants us to move back asap. I have managed to control that by saying we will decide once we get “greencard”. Now that our greencard is very close to processing and we have a baby, we want to finally “settle down”. I think we have three roads,
1. Buying a home in US and settling here atleast for some more years or
2. Going back, living with in-laws and investing elsewhere or
3. Going back, buying home in india and living nuclear.
I am personally ok with either option 1 or 3. But am very uncomfy with option 2 – I don’t need explain details here since many of your blogs have covered pretty much what goes in my mind.
To summarize – I won’t be allowed to cook what I like , my MIL doesn’t like that I try to imbibe mine as well as their culture in my baby. The expectation is that I will convert to their beliefs, my parents will be a second priority in life, I won’t be able to visit them or viceversa as much as we would like to and the list continues.
In order to simplify things and put a case for my preferences, hubby and I decided to give a “trial” period in India where we plan to go there for 2 months, live and work from there, experience life and daily chores, decide what we want – muster courage to discuss our preferences openly with in-laws/parents and then come to a final conclusion. Please note that I had a very tough time convincing my hubby for this “trial” period too, he was all set to go back as soon as greencard is in our hands.
With all this in mind, I would like to ask readers and your advise…
Am I doing anything wrong by not simply agreeing to settle back in India with in-laws? Since I am not comfortable with that idea, how do I go about “evaluating our trial period in india”?
After 2 months, if I still feel I don’t want to live with in-laws or rather settle in US, how do I convey it to my hubby and In-laws? My hubby said he will never be able to tell his parents that he wants to live nuclear. Also, I have told my thoughts and opinion to my parents and they are ready to support me in either situation/decision I make, whichever makes me happy eventually.
Looking forward to your thoughts…I just cannot thank you enough for your blog, for the inspiration it has been to me over all these years. You are one of the big reasons I am able to survive emotionally; not feeling “guilty” of not being a “traditional” Indian bahu”.
Apologies for the long email and if you decide to post it on your blog, then once again many thanks!
– Daughter from India (DFI)