Let me try to respond to a comment on the previous post: You’re going to be with your in-laws for only a few days in a year so why can’t you live the way they want and keep every one happy?
Updated to add: Published in a hurry, have a busy day ahead, will proof read in a while,
The comment is in block quotes.
I feel really sorry when I read some comments here. Some people come across as so adamant that they see any change in a negative light. So much so, that I feel this stubbornness at not changing their own ‘perfect selves’ for anything or anyone actually makes them more orthodox in their mindset while showing off a ‘modern outlook’.
IHM: Are there Indian daughters in law who expect the in laws to change the way they dress or to wake up before everybody else or to change their names or eating habits and praying habits? If they do then their expectations make no sense. How can the way the in laws dress, modern or traditional affect the daughters in law’s happiness? If not then, who in Indian culture is generally expected to adapt to change? Everybody who gets married? No? Only the population that comes lowest in the family and social hierarchy.
It’s not the change, but the idea that some family members have the right to expect some other family members to change to make them (somehow) ‘happy’.
It’s about power and control, as in – ‘If we can’t control our male child’s spouse ‘everybody’ (like neighbours’ third cousin’s uncle’s best friend etc) would point a finger at us and say our bahu is not sanskaari”. Or they would say (and what they say is important) – the son is a Joru ka Ghulaam.
There are so many prejudices that are openly stated as if they are ‘unwritten rules’…in-laws are portrayed as villains,
IHM: Prejudices? Indian Paraya Dhan are raised to fit into [link] the expectations of their future in laws, their disapproval they are told can mar their chances of fulfilling their only goal in life – to Get Married and Stay Married. The in laws frequently control how the bahu dresses, what she eats, who she meets, when she has children, how many if any girl children she is allowed. The expectations are so inhuman that while many Indians want a sanskaari bahu, most Indians don’t wants to give birth to and raise a paraya dhan. Indians need ‘reasons’ to have daughters. A facebook post pointed out that if there were no frilly frocks, pretty dolls and raksha bandhan, many more Indians would not want daughters. Raising a girl child is seen as a noble thing to do – a favour to the society, to ensure everybody has daughters in law to take care of them, but having a son, it seems, is what every Indian wants. Why is that?
only the daughter in laws have to ‘adjust’,
IHM: It’s true that daughters in law are the only ones who are expected to adjust to please others. Everybody’s happiness depends on the time an Indian daughter in law wakes up, the length of her ghoonghat [link], or her willingness to spend her leisure hours (if any) in praying. [link] There is pressure, culture, tradition of expectations and even training institutes that teach Indian Paraya Dhan to become an obedient sanskaari bahu.
The responsibility of giving birth, educate and love (but not get too attached, because she is somebody else’s property) a child to train her and ‘give her away’ (in kanyadaan) to serve as an obedient care giver (with no feelings, happiness, aspirations, desires, whims, faults, values, principles etc of her own) for her spouse’s parents and extended family, is the biggest reason why Indian parents do not want daughters [link]. If daughters were allowed to be humans and not future ideal Indian daughters in law, then their rights, and crimes against them would be taken seriously, and once they stop being seen as a ‘challenge to raise and keep safe’ – then Indian parents would not see them as liabilities. There is no other way for Indian families to stop dreading the birth of girl children. [So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?]
traditional ways are oppressing,
IHM: Oppressing for those who they oppress and for those who benefit from the oppression. Those who depend on oppression for their happiness never learn the joys of Living and letting live.
Lack of freedom and choice is oppressive.
How can Indian families be happy when the task of making everybody happy is given to the one who the rest strive to keep ‘in control’, powerless, not allowed opinion, voice and freedom?
doing as one pleases without taking into consideration the effects of your actions on those around you is being ‘independent’,
IHM: Being independent is being able to refuse to do something you are being forced to do in the name of culture, tradition, ‘in law’s happiness’ or family values, whether it is ghoonghat, sari, male child within nine months of being married, visiting friends and parents or sleeping and eating after every body else has eaten and slept [link].
being ‘highly educated’ means by default that some portion of your brain and personality is set in stone.
IHM: Being highly educated here means, even the much valued education does not free an Indian woman from the expectations that culture, custom and tradition has on her life.
‘Do not change for anything and anyone’ is highly preached but isn’t change the only constant thing in life, don’t we all (men and women) have to adapt in all aspects of our lives for our education, jobs, families… for life. Don’t we all seek change in the world around us.
IHM: The problem is not change – but the expectation that a girl should be raised to prepare for fitting into the expectations of her in laws, no matter what her own personality or preferences are, she must wake up before others, love to cook, clean and serve etc. She belongs nowhere, not to her parents (Please read: paraya dhan) and not to her in laws. (link)
Sometimes I feel we have been so alienated because of our busy lives that interpersonal relationships seem as complicated as ‘rocket science’. It’s natural to feel some amount of anxiety for new people and for a life that is not familiar to you but if you approach it with a huge list of ‘do’s and do not’s’ based upon all the negative experiences others have had in their lives it’s not going to help you in any way either.
IHM: Since women had to please everybody, the relationships concerns are a part of Indian folklore and tradition. Earlier the advice was standard, ‘Please adjust’, ‘Go in doli, come out in arthi’, win them over with sacrifice and obedience. And all the while this advice was being given, Indians were fasting, praying, (asking for blessings, wearing tabeez, remarrying, wife beating, doing yagna and sacrifice, killing new born babies, abandoning their children) – to have male children. If instead all the people were seen as human, it would not have been seen as so frightening and shameful to have and to raise daughters, that they had to be killed at birth.
Please try to keep an open outlook. Don’t reject every new thing that comes your way just because you’ve not done it before.
IHM: The new thing here is that a young woman is able to discuss it, knowing she risks being judged for being independent or having feelings.
What has not been done before is listening and analyzing as to why nearly all Indian women are not happy to be controlled by in laws – 20% of all suicides are committed young married women. Many divorces happen because women can’t bear the oppression by in laws.
If it bothers you too much then try to talk it out. Try to explain your point of view, listen to theirs, don’t reject theirs because it is not same as yours.
Try to seek a middle way, isnt that what education instills into us – analylitical thinking, problem solving and tackling the causes rather than pondering on the effects.
IHM: I think sometimes actions speak better than words. It’s okay to expect respect and freedom.To remain polite and respectful (and to expect the same) but to not do what doesn’t make sense to oneself.
Frequently when husbands convey that they totally respect the wife’s freedom to use her own mind, others (grudgingly or with some envy sometimes) accept it. [Read more]
Discussion might require diplomacy, because there is also the Indian culture of not ‘arguing with the elders’. Many Indian in laws might surprise themselves with their own tolerance to modern human values, and might begin to enjoy having another, equal family member (instead of a glorified slave). Some might just accept that times are changing, some others might see a happy son and realise that his happiness matters enough to them to not interfere.
Not sure if discussions before getting married can achieve this – Imagine having to tactfully explain and justify why you would like to be able to rest when you come home tired after work – Instead why not just request to be excused while you take a nap? (just wondering, this may not always work of course, the husband has to be supportive…)
Lastly, attempt to see the positive sides of people. We all are good and bad.
IHM: It might become easier to deal with people/situations if one sees what is really there to see instead of trying to ignore the negative side of people/situations.
Each one of us have some scope for improvement. Take life with a stride, be willing to ‘give it a try’ and offer your best to the world.
IHM: ‘Each one of us have some scope for improvement’ – I wish those who seek to improve others were reminded of this – for themselves. Because, who should decide who needs to improve in what ways?
Invariably the ‘improver’ is someone higher in the family hierarchy.
Btw, your in-laws are a part of this world too. They might be equally anxious about your visit. And with time, people evolve because of the experiences they have to face. From my own experience, I see my in-laws have changed their outlook in the past few years about several things in life and honestly, so have I.🙂 So if you want to prepare yourself for something, prepare yourself for some change. Try not to be too critical of every action, don’t see every request as a ‘demand’ and don’t be hasty in saying ‘no’ before giving it a thought, just take it as another experience life has to offer you. Make the most of it!
IHM: Sounds fair. Edited to add: Sounds fair only if the same standards of maturity are expected from all adults/in laws involved.
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