“I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existent.”

Sharing an email.

“I am very frustrated and need some independence for my own. Be it financial or decision making. I don’t like anyone micro-managing my life at each stage.”


First of all, thanks for all the efforts that you do in your blog. At least, one solace that the likes of us find is that we are not alone. What we are going through is not completely unheard of. Would it be selfish of me to wish that others also go through this?? I don’t know. But as they say, a known devil is better and bla bla bla.
Before you draw any conclusions, I am not some abla bechari naari of yester years troubled by in-laws for either dowry or physical abuse. But does that mean my life is easy? No.
Adjusting in a new environment is always difficult. Given that, is why is that adjustment demanded like they have a birth-right over me coz they gave birth to a male off spring??
Ok. Without further confusion. I am a lawyer, married to a lawyer. Both working for reputed law firms. We love each other. But we are completely different in out thoughts, opinions and preferences, which I failed to evaluate before commiting a “yes” to his proposal. (Which, I later came to know, was only after approval from his mom. In my mind, that proposal lost some value after knowing that if his mom had denied, he would have gladly moved on)
I grew up in an atmosphere where my mom had the then-usual MIL troubles and since dad supported my mother big time, always being a shoulder for tears and a spokesperson for her benefits, I never understood a situation where a husband can be a mommas boy. My dad was opposite. He would support my mom always. Having a daughter made him so, I guess. Dad never interfered in household expenses. Mom had a free reign, except the big spendings, the decisions for which were taken jointly, by all of us. My opinion also mattered. Something that I took for granted until marriage happened. I had a say in what car to buy, what new property to invest in, what color should be the curtains and whether we need a new washing machine or not.
As I grew up, I was given some authority over my pocket money. I could spend as I want, as long as I reported what I spent for. Once I completed college and took up job, I was only advised. Never forced. I could spend however I want, without informing my parents, except for big expenses, which was still a joint decision.
My husband grew up in a atmosphere which was the same, except that he was taught to agree to what his parents decide. He could spend only after asking permission, whether eating out with friends or buying a shirt or going for a movie. If the answer is no, no further arguments. Somewhat (?!) autocratic, which continues till today. He doesnt eat out before calling his mommy and seeking her permission. Doesnt plan a outing with friends without seeking permission. If denied, no further arguments. He is proud of the fact that he does not have friends, or he does not need friends. That he is the shravan kumar of modern India.
I read a question put up by a MIL in your blog and the response she gave later [link], where they accepted that their DIL should have a choice on what to spend, on whom to spend. After all, its her salary. I must accept that I was green with envy that the MIL understood and accepted her DIL, and was in fact proud of her DIL.
In our case, we both surrender our full salaries to FIL. He takes care of them, invests them, gives to MIL for household expenses. And we are left with some “pocket money” to spend on fuel and stuff. I thought it was initial insecurity which will iron itself out with time, but I was wrong.
I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existant. The decision maker for the home is MIL. The decision maker for big spendings is FIL. I am a non-party to any discussions, only a spectator at times. I cannot buy one book for myself without going through the approval route. I have to “inform” them that I talk to my parents regularly because apparently, and to my surprise / shock, a good DIL gradually decreases her contact with her parents and considers them distant relatives. A good DIL knows how dangerous it is to be in constant touch with her mother, because girls mothers know very well how to fuel her brain and cause tensions in the house of in-laws. A good DIL does not spend on her parents / siblings.
In time, I am expected to be a clone of MIL. I should cook as she cooks, I should live as she lives, I should not spend on clothes / parlours / hobbies (hobbies for a girl is a taboo). I should not desire to eat at good restaurants. I should preserve the gifts that I get for my children to use. I should live on clothes gifted by others. And if my parents express a desire to give me something, I should consult MIL on what gift should I ask for. I should not buy anything for the house, without opinion of MIL, for she knows best.
Once we have kid, I should hand my kid over to MIL for upbringing because she has this complete flawless way of bringing up. Since I love my DH, it means I am fine with her uprbinging. My parents should not have any say in the upbringing of their grand-child. They should fall at the feet of my PIL for giving their daughter a good husband, good home, best PIL in the world.
No rights. No responsibilities. And be happy with it.
How is one supposed to deal with this autocratic, almost Hitlerish, behavior? Please help.
P.S. Oh did I mention that if I have a preference for girl child, I am a gender biased person. Whereas if my in-laws are planning a ceremony for birth of a grandson, they are just dreaming??? Or that any reference to yet unborn child is always made by the term “our grandson” or “your son”??? Or that my mother in law was very gracious on occasion of birth of a girl child to her SIL by telling her “its ok.” and supporting her???
* * *
Can you also add that I am damn scared. I dont know why that should be but I was brought up to be a non-confrontational, especially with elders. I hate conflicts and friction within families. But the fact that neither the MIL who was once a DIL (and who does not live with her aging MIL) does not understand the stupidity of heaving these so-called traditional values on another woman nor the fact that my husband is completely smitten by his mom’s sacrifices in bringing him up all alone without the support of her own MIL, whereas she is so gracious as to allow me her constant support (read: constant presence).
He does not look at it as double standards. But in fact is proud that his mother is with us all the time to support us and help us.
Yes, she is a big help. (She cooks for us and I have to merely help her and go to work. She keeps the kitchen stocked.) But no, I do not need the help. Because with that help comes a heap of conditions which I am not prepared to fulfill. With each passing day, the resentment in me increases manifolds. And everytime, I attempt to take over the responsibility of managing the kitchen, I am subtly made aware that it is her kitchen, so her way. Since I am not a bargain queen and cannot manage to bring 80 Rs. onions at 65 Rs., I am not good enough to run the house, yet.
I cannot turn down this help without a big, really big conflict in the home, because she is used to doing things her way since she got married. She has never stayed with her MIL and hence, it has always been a “territorial” matter for her, if I may put so. She gets very insecure due to reasons best known to her and though, not even once, I have either dis-obeyed her or raised my voice or talked back or voiced my opinions and accepted everything without a word, I am being labelled “under the influence of my mom”. WHY? What has my mom got to do with anything?
There have been instances where my parents have been pulled in discussions (in their absence) and have been called ‘asanskari’ for several reasons ranging from lesser gifts for the damaad or “interrupting” the normal way of life of their home by trying to advise the damaad. Husband also does not like my parents advising him on any matters and I have become a sort of prize of the game. The players being my parents and my husband, with complete disregard for my wishes whatsoever.
I dont want to question her intentions. But I am very frustrated and need some independence for my own. Be it financial or decision making. I dont like anyone micro-managing my life at each stage.
Thanks a lot.
Related Posts:

142 thoughts on ““I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existent.”

    • Every writer thinks theirs is a unique situation and fail to draw on similarities and identify patterns. In a way writing these emails are cathartic to them and comment writers have time and patience to respond every time and email writers have the courage to get ripped by utter strangers.
      Most of all hats off to IHM for her patience and doing a great job in keeping this a safe space and regular space.
      Desi Girl


    • There are 600 million women in India. I don’t know what fraction of them has experienced troubles like the ones so often reported on IHM, but even if it was just 1%, that would still be 6 million. And even if just 1% of those sent their story to IHM, that would still be 60.000 stories.

      India is huge — and I rather think similar stories are common to more than 1% of the women in India. (and plenty of the men, too)


      • Then these net savvy women have to learn to identify patterns and start taking charge and not act so helpless. In DG’s day she did not even no how to use computer forget surfing net, once she learned how to hold the mouse correctly there was no looking back. It is about time.

        Your parents have done a great job of raising you confused like every other desi girl confident professionals, domestic doormats and punching bags. Here is the realistic few things you can do

        You are going to row the boat and cause to many ripples and may be a storm so stay strong and consistent.

        Desi Girl


        • In principle, sure. But you know, people *do* require support, encouragement and yes, to be told what a million others have already been told when they’re in trouble.

          Most of the things fitness-trainers tell their clients, they’ve said a million times before, and anyone who can read can easily find this information online for free. Most of the things psychologists say to their clients, has been said many MANY times before, to clients with problems which are very similar. All of the financial advice a financial advisor gives. All of the advice any kind of councellor gives anyone, ever. Is things that’s been said before, to people in quite similar circumstances.

          So yes, you’re right. We’ve heard this story — or a story very similar to this one, many times. We’ll hear it many more times in the future too. Because sometimes people need to know that they’re not alone. That they’re not being silly or egoistical or inconsiderate in having these feelings. To feel supported.


  1. Why don’t you tell them to bugger off? Start doing things as you want to do, in the kitchen or anywhere else. Take control of your money, TODAY. Just buy an armful of books, and when they ask (as they surely will), tell them you earn your money and hence have the right to spend it in any way you like. If an argument starts, don’t contribute to it. Just go ahead and do what you want to do. And at some point, you will just have to tell them to leave you alone and that you are not malleable.

    Also, if you want to live life in your own way, you will have to live in your own house. Living in someone else’s house and expecting full control over your life is an useless dream. Move out.


      • Somebody has to do it right? We have to fight for some things that are important to us in life. We stay, our kid will do the same. MIl cries, throw a tantrum & faints. DIL also does the same and say I dreamt of running my own house like this when i was young, put some masala and tears in the story and insist on moving out and move out. FInd a house and move out.

        I feel most women should be taught to decide this and talk about it before getting married. This is a critical question. If it is very important to you, then ascertain that you have a house ready – rent or own to move into without parents


      • If everyone had waited until everything was easy, India would never have got freedom, slavery would have never been abolished, women would never have got the vote, gays would still be cowering in the closet. Get my point? We have to fight for our rights, because no one else is going to.

        And if husband wants his mommy more, at some point she has to make a decision.


        • Did I tell you this week, that you rock ? You do. You’re awesome and wonderful and splendid and all the good things. And you’re right.

          A husband should prioritize his marriage, and thus his wife (and children, if any) over anyone else, including parents. If he doesn’t, then that’s a huge problem right there. I recommend not marrying anyone who’s not willing to put you first.

          If a husband prefers living with his mother, instead of with his wife — I suggest he should keep living in his parents basement, and not marry.


        • I wonder how parents can see their sons going through so many hardships and yet the son wants only mommy! My husband suggested that we (including ILs with whom we stay in a joint family) move to a place closer to his office. When I agreed saying that initially both of us could move out till we get a place of our own (as my ILs did not want to stay in a rented accommodation despite owning two houses), my husband refused saying,”Please don’t take me away from my mother, I cannot live without her! I hope you will understand”:-) Well, I don’t understand because (1) I also find it difficult to live without my mother and yet I am a thousand km away from her, not knowing when I will get to meet her next (2) he gets terribly tired driving a 100 km daily to and from his office and is still awaiting his parents’ go ahead in the matter! I think his age should be divided by ’10’ to get his ‘actual age’- that’s how his behaviour is.


      • You have to find your place in the family if moving out is not an option @Swati. Nobody, least of all mommy-smitten sons, or the mommy herself, will come forward some day and offer you your entitled self-respect and position of their own accord. Also imagine, children will grow up seeing how the mother is treated. That’s the worst part. That is what made me stand up for myself. I decided I will not have my children grow up in an atmosphere where the mother did not have a place of respect.


    • Dear LW, If you are prepared to take a stand now – and do it before you have any kids – start building up a support system for yourself. Your ILs need to back off, but will your husband support you? If you have doubts you need to be able to stand up for yourself. Start with building up finances to support yourself. Are you prepared to live separately – maybe alone? Find out about renting an apt/ or moving in with your parents, if husband can’t let go of mom’s pallu. Make copies of important documents if you can’t get the docs. Do you have supportive friends – someone you can call in a pinch? What I’m trying to say here is that if you have the support system, it will be easier to tell them to bugger off.

      Start small if you want to – buy stuff for yourself, take time out, meet friends, develop hobbies – but be prepared to go all the way. I can’t imagine that any of this will be easy or conflict-free. It will be stressful but it will be stressful now or later. Hopefully the husband will see sense, but you should be prepared either way.


    • We have moved out, in a way. We work in a different city. And MIL has moved in with us, permanently. How much more can we move out, especially when the husband is certain that he has to pay back the many obligations of his mom.


      • So she is the guest in your home, not the other way around? Then do one thing. Inform all the family members that it is your home and hence you will take care of the expenses, so they must all hand over their paychecks / savings to you if they want to remain in the house. And that being a lawyer, you are better qualified to take care of stuff anyway. See how they run!


        • I think someone called Samar wanted to reply to this comment and posted on my blog on a post that is completely irrelevant to the discussion. Hence, I have not approved his comment. If he has anything to say, he should post on a relevant platform and not spam my review posts.


        • The Samar-guy did the same thing with me, posted a response to my comment to a blog-post of mine where it was entirely irrelevant. Quoting it here:

          ……….must prioritize his wife and children over his parents? Really?
          And, ‘unlove’ all that he has in his heart for his parents, post-marriage?

          Seems very animalistic to me !!

          Don’t even talk of his supposed obligations which might be favourite argument because it’s not any obligations but love in his heart that connects.

          How utterly selfish and who cares of your recommendations anyway??
          Oh yes, selfish beings do take notice. 🙂

          Go ahead and hunt for a voiceless puppet

          I’ve ignored it. He seems young and confused, and more inclined to stir up noise than contribute to a discussion.


  2. Take a stand, go for some conflict if need be and make your personal boundaries clear. You can try conflict or diplomacy or a bit of both, but unless you put your foot down, this is going to be your life.

    I would think complete independence is nearly impossible until you live under ‘their’ roof. However, some basics absolutely need to be corrected here for your own well-being. Your paycheck should absolutely be in your own control, you should be contributing an amount from it, not getting pocket money from your own earnings. You do not want to find yourself in some sort of tragedy and then depend on your FIL’s whims and fancies for your own survival. There should be no interference in you visiting your own parents. Tell them that you disagree completely about ‘good’ DILs distancing them from their parents, that your parents ‘sacrificed’ just as much for you as they did for their son and you have some responsibilities towards them. I also think this male child preferance can sometimes turn quite serious once a female conception happens (forced abortions, treating the mother and baby poorly or worse). Have those fights defending a female child now rather than later!

    All I can say is that as an independent financially self-sufficient human being, I would not tolerate any of the things mentioned here for any sustained period of time. I would question the motives of people behaving in such an unreasonable controlling manner. I would not call this ‘love’ from a husband who sees nothing wrong in being asked to disregard your parents even though he is shravan kumar to his own. Such hypocrisy, from the MIL, PIL, husband, is way more that anything I would accept as a reasonable compromise.


  3. 1. The first person you have to talk to is your husband. i will suggest a story approach. Tell him, one evening, about this really sad story of your friend – a guy. He lives near his in laws. He is told to distance himself from his parents because that is what good sons in law do. He also has to give his earnings to his father in law, because after all, he has so little experience in investing. He has to dress up like the FIL, run the business like the FIL… and so on. Then, when your husband reaches a level of anger and indignation at this , tell him, ever so politely. Oh sorry.. i made a mistake on that one – my friend is actually a woman, not a man. She loves her parents, but is supposed to forget them. Guess girls are not human beings after all.

    2. This approach will have to be done a few times. Empathy is a difficult virtue from a position of power (where your husband currently is). We often dont know how difficult the world is for other people, because we are never in their shoes.

    3. In 3 weeks or so, invite your husband out to lunch and have a chat with him. This time, attempt no empathy. Tell him, that you are having a chat that you should have had before the wedding. but you are having it now. Your fault. Then explain to him, calmly, and without anger. Ground rules of discussion:1. He cannot negate your feelings. You have taken time to identify your feelings, and you know how you feel. He cannot tell you how you “should” feel, without living your life. If he is not willing to live a similar life in your house, he cannot tell you how you should feel. (i have a problem with this approach, but will still recommend it in your case.)
    2. He cannot interpret the actions or intentions of other people “But you have misunderstood. What they actually mean is~” is not allowed. Because it doesnt matter what the intention is. What matters is what the effect of their actions is. They are responsible for their actions, irrespective of the intention.
    Give him a table:
    Stimulus > Emotional Response
    FIL getting whole salary > Feeling like a non adult. Adults have rights over their decisions and should have the capability of managing their money. If they cannot learn, they should stay in school and not get married.
    Expectation that you should distance yourself from parents> Inhuman. If a boy is told the same thing by his wife, she is deemed a “daayan” (witch) by everyone and their second cousins. So girls are not human? That is why no one will want to have daughters. Because they are not even given basic human rights like being able to love their parents and spend time with them (i have a feeling he has not seen it that way yet)

    Then, very succintly, put down the changes that you need in the environment for your life to be livable. Depending on the kind of person he is and the equation you want in the future, put the no. of bullet points. i would not accept any bargaining bcs i want tobe taken seriously in all future negotiations. But some other women have opined that allowing him to bargain you down will give him some sense of face saving and also, because these are “his points” he will be better able to present them to his parents. your take. But i think the key ones should be:
    1. Your control over your money.
    2. Meeting parents whenever you want.
    3. Non comparison with the MIL (i used to remind my MIL very often that she didnt stay with her MIL Ever. She slowly stopped referring to how little time i spend with them)

    4. Next time your MIL talks about girls’ parents spoliing their daughters, say very clearly, and without emotion that BOTH sets of parents want their children to be happy, and girls’ parents do not want them to be divorced or unhappy in their new lives. If that is their assumption, it is wrong. If the in laws treat a girl with respect and dignity, there is no better place for her, as far as her parents are concerned. And then add, for good measure, “if you had a daughter, you would understand.”

    Warning: Few, if any, boys ever grow up. You might lose a lot in this. Freedom always comes at a price. In this country for no women, freedom sometimes costs our families and those we love.
    Thats why this blog is so important. to remind women like us that what we are asking for is not the moon and the sky. It is basic human rights. Even if the rest of the world and our own parents tell us that we dont deserve those basic human rights.


    • Gosh such Indian men are just disgusting and sickening, why the hell do they need so much effort and work to merely open their eyes and see the injustice and unhappiness their wife is going through, is he damn blind ? Does he not understand the concept of a life partner, mutual respect and actually caring about a wife? Why do these immature morons actually get married in the first place?


      • Well , they are not disgusting and sickening, but their behaviour is. Their conditioning and brainwashing since childhood is much harder to shake off because they are rewarded so richly (emotionally and materially) for being ‘obedient’ sons.
        The truth is that patriarchy comes with many benefits, including for women. That’s why such an oppressive system manages to have a free reign over many.

        Having said that, I completely agree that all the scheming and plotting to ‘make’ the husband realise seems a bit too much work. If the man is fair and truly cares for his wife, a simple chat with him about her problems should be enough.


        • ETA in the OP’s case, in my opinion bother the woman and the man are living such oppressed lives but only she sees it as oppression. If the man has been brought up since childhood to accept such a life as ‘normal’, I really have my doubts as to the support the OP will get from him.


        • i’ll just answer that point – do u know how difficult life is for a disabled person? you dont, because from where you are, you have never lived their life. If you drive, am sure you curse the pedestrians and/or the two wheeler drivers more than just once a day, and you do hate people who break rules of the road. At least, i used to do that. Until, i had to drive against the traffic one day to get a really sick person to the hospital. Not saying that everyone who breaks a rule is undergoing an emergency. but I dont know which one of those people is going through what.

          How do you expect the husband to know what she is going through? Do you know what the husband is going through as he sees his marriage, which should have been a happy time, turn into something that is sour for his parents AND for his wife? How does a person feel when they are not able to make the people closest to them happy? How does he feel about being the rope in a tug of war? I’ll bet we dont put ourselves in the shoes of others as a matter of habit. So its important to do that – not as a wife, but as a partner and friend. Show them the side that they havent had a chance to see. If they turn their face away, that is a choice they have made and must live with.


        • @desidaaru12
          I agree, the scheming and plotting will get tiresome if it falls on deaf ears.
          I comment because of what you said about patriarchy being beneficial to women too. Please elaborate? Do you mean, for example in this instance, it being favourable to the MIL?


        • @Igrit
          Yes, that is what I meant. An unfair system such as patriarchy (which upsets many people and makes their lives difficult) can only survive and be propagated from one generation to another with the active connivance of society , which includes women.
          Women who are mothers of sons , or have brothers can *sometimes* be very supportive of practices that hurt women in general, because they WILL benefit economically or socially from such things. You will even find women supportive of the dowry system because they see dowry as their ‘right’ to stake out some status in the husband’s family!
          Not all of this is relevant to the OP. But her husband, who is an example of somebody who ‘benefitted’ from the system, is incapable of seeing the sytem as oppressive. We on the outside can recognise that his home life is just about as oppressed as his wife.


      • Indian men are as much victims of the great Indian culture as is this lady who, despite knowing whatever she is going through is not something an adult, married, independent, successful, professional human being should go through – and is wondering on a forum about what to do, how far to go, and how to do it. Most of us women half expect such treatment before marriage, and wait to do something about it when our fears come true. Why? and yet, most are unwilling to talk out or walk out… why? It’s normal to expect our life partner to be compassionate to our “suffering” but as independent, educated women/persons, where are we? Where is our voice? So, her husband makes his displeasure with his ILs known when they advise him – am sure it’s not as big as them asking him to turn over his salary to them. But this lady, has kept mum throughout her ordeal? Most of us do. We can’t expect men to take responsibility for us when we ourselves don’t. The world may see a professional lady as strong and independent but when it comes to fighting our battles, we paint ourselves “abla nari” in our own heads. With this attitude, no one can helps us.


        • Wow.Lovely.Agree.What makes him so freely express disapproval about her parents, whereas he presents his own mom’s not-so-nice remarks about his wife as normal? Why?


      • True. Is conditioning.Not just the letter writers behaviour, but the husband and his mom’s behaviour as well.Everyth7ng os plain conditioning.Its the result of living in and being conditioned by a Patriarchal society.


  4. Seems a lot like my life minus that we don’t stay with in laws .
    I completely understand your situation. I feel I should not preach what i have not been able to practice till date so cant offer a solution here.
    Though I have realised one thing, this kind of relationship cant go on for long if one person has to make so many sacrifices. Someday you’ll need to put your foot down. and I personally feel the sooner the better especially before a kid. (This applies to me too). Hope this works out for you. All the best.


        • A host of reasons.. For one if its an arranged marriage the bonding between the H and wife is still not established so the H refuses to stand up. And if you are fed up and want to walk out, your family and even counsellors advice you that compromise is essence of life and you should not give up so soon.

          In my case, I put my foot down and refused to part with my salary to my Sis-IL who “adviced” my husband to “teach me the hard way that now I was married so my money was hers” and “bring me to line” and many more despicable things. There were conflicts but I stood firm. Finally my H and IL walked out on me. Atleast now I know where I stood for them and can move on.

          The New Indian Dahej (Dowry) : Bahu with a Big Fat Paycheck


        • Rose, I agree with the arranged marriage point which is precisely why people should know each other and develop a bond for a couple of months and come (love or arranged) to the understanding that marriage means fist the partnership between wife & husband & then everybody else is outside


        • Arranged marriage is nothing more than society approved prostitution, especially when it comes along with dowry. Frankly, I’d prefer prostitution.


  5. I had difficulty breathing while reading this. How does this lady endure all this? This family does not deserve her.
    I think a stand should be taken, no matter what the consequences.


  6. This is what every working woman of today faces. There is no such thing as “economic independence”, is there? You work, slog and then hand over your salary. In return you get the full guilt trip about not being a good bahu and every help that your inlaws is exaggerated to the point of huge favors. Your PIL are also members of the family so they arent really “helping” you when they do household chores like cooking/cleaning. This is what they have to do for themselves irrespective of whether or not you are there so stop thinking of it as the whole “helping attitude”. Its just interdependence that exists between family or even people who co-habitate not “help”.
    I understand what you must be going through and having gone thru it myself, the only piece of advice I can give you is be assertive. Its not just your responsibility to avoid a conflict so please do stand up for yourself.

    Good luck and do write back. 🙂

    The New Indian Dahej (Dowry) : Bahu with a Big Fat Paycheck

    The Many Faces of a Mother: Are Moms Gods on Earth……


  7. Goodness you are working and that too as a lawyer, open your mouth and tell the MIL to fuck off. It is your money, you will do what you want after contributing a base to household expenses at the most or move out to your own place. Rest of your salary is solely yours, you can buy designer bags,shoes, books or luxury vacations, why should MIL/FIL have any say in that? Why should you have to ask for her permission, you are an adult not a dependent child. You spent all those years studying hard to become a lawyer, now you deserve to enjoy your salary however you please. You MIL did not go to law school, she needs to shutup. Honestly, with a lawyer training if you cannot speak up for yourself in this scenario, I would not hire you as my attorney to defend my case if I ever need one. Sorry, I am harsh here but you already have all the advantages a woman can have, speak up and fight for it. MIL will not magically change into a reasonable, kind and goody-goody person if you just keep suffering, tolerating, keeping quiet and trying to adjust, She will just continue walking all over you and treat you like a doormat, that is just part & parcel of great Indian society but you have all the means to actually do something about it. Just stop handing over your paycheck, money is power,in this world and you have it so use it for your advantage.


      • Ya, I would like to give many more thumbs up to this comment. Well said, AnnonDiva. Being a lawyer, if she cannot speak up for herself, I dont know whoelse will!


        • Ha ha ha, this is so funny. I am a Lawyer as well and am in the same situation more or less. let me tell you something- when my husband approached his parents that he wanted to marry me, the first worry was, she is a Lawyer, she is going to argue all the time [so in a way they made it clear that they were going to make my life miserable even before they met me]. While I did that after we got married, I never found any peace. The fact that I had to keep fighting and arguing at work and at home stressed me out big time. I just wanted to have a mute button on everyone.

          While it is atrocious that we as lawyers have to keep quiet through such stupidity, there is not much option left to us apart from using our knowledge and threaten with divorce laws.


    • Love your comment. Tough love is in order.
      Dear OP,
      Please understand that you and ONLY you can decide how others treat you. In other words, you are the boundary-setter, the decider of what’s acceptable to you or not.
      You were brought up to be ‘non-confrontational, especially with elders’ because that’s how Indian women are generally brought up. Thus, you fume inwardly, while outwardly I doubt anybody in that house knows just how badly you feel.
      Only you can step up and really help yourself.


    • Tell the MIL to fuck off –> How is this good advice? It’s perfect advice to cause a total rift in the family and put the poor lady in a worse position


      • SHE isn’t the one causing a rift in the family. By not respecting her and her needs, the rest of the family is causing the rift. Typical victim blaming!


    • It’s a lot harder, sometimes, to fight for yourself, than to fight for others. Because when you’re fighting for yourself you can easily feel egoistic and you’re unable to be objective.

      My wife is a bit like that, it’s difficult for her to say: “I deserve better than that!”, but it’s easy for her to say: “Person X deserves better than that!”.

      It’s about many things, including modesty.


  8. If a man can’t stand up for himself and has to seek permission from his parents for every little thing, how can he ever have the guts to stand up for his wife? You will have to insist on staying separately and having autonomy over your life. The man can join you if he so wishes. Your being self sufficient and economically independent is the biggest plus point. Don’t hand over everything you earn to your PIL. It’s just not worth adjusting to these conditions.


  9. I have the same situation as you.. but worse because we already have a kid
    My husband actually prohibits my parents from visiting me and MIL thinks she can come and stay with us for as long as she likes and the amount of time my husband spends with her and the nature of their talks make me feel like the third wheel in my marraige!
    Realizing the severity of the situation I did put down my foot and asked for the things mentioned in the comments earlier about financial independence and all, but all i got in response was “if you want to make your independent decisions, you are welcome to leave and live independently”
    I dont see how to fix this when husband doesnt feel responsible for my happiness..


    • Tell him I am willing to do that but he will have to continue paying u alimony and child support.,He cant ask u to walk out. One of my frn tried tht threatened her mamas boy husband with legal action.He was tame after that.At some point you have to put your foot down. And unlike normal belief men are scared of loosing their family.They cant stay without a woman in their life be it mother or wife…They just pretend to be rough and tough.Once they get this idea that wife will put her foot down and they will have a lonely life ahead they improve their behaviour


    • Then leave and live independently. sorry to sound rude and harsh but obviously he doesn’t respect you and thinks he’s one step above you, why do you girls agree to this. what mahan culture are you upholding by this? what example are you giving your child? this is not some small adjustment issue, again we confuse adjustment in a family and plain abuse . it’s a major life change. basically he treats you as a child and is saying if you want to be treated as an adult then leave. so leave.
      I know it’s not easy but do you have a choice?
      day in and out we see such situations.. terrible to be born a girl i think but atthe same time if you are not assertive now when you be.
      sorry for the rant IHM – educated, independent girls accepting this BS just gets my hackles up.


      • I agree with this. If the husband said ‘I will beat you every night, if you don’t like it then leave’, would you stay? So then you draw the line yourself. What would make one stay with a person who has such little love and respect for you?! If the house is on your name too, tell HIM to leave if he can’t have a normal discussion. What kind of blackmail is this? He’s most likely bluffing to scare you into submission, successfully. Why not take control of your life and give him an ultimatum? What good is it for the kid to live with such a father anyway?

        As long as we would rather stay with abusive partners than leave and be independent, then the abuse will forever continue because we allow it to.


    • Even if he is prohibiting your parents, what is prohibiting you from inviting them? If MIL has a right to come, so do your parents. I wish that you would just be like a rock, invite your parents and have them there even if your mother-in-law is there. Please make sure that your child has a relationship with your parents, whether he likes it or not. Otherwise you will regret it so much later. When will we women learn to be strong?….


  10. You have to somehow learn to put your foot down! there is no other easy route!! don’t self pity. If you are afraid that hell’s gonna break lose, let it… expect it to break lose and then act… you are not living in heaven anyways… start going to your parent’s house, start buying books… start doing little things for yourself without their approval and then build on it..
    nobody can live in this kind of environment happily… nobody!!! I’ve seen naivest of naivest turn into a strong person.. you’ll too… just start somewhere…


  11. I have a few questions, and answers to those in my mind , i might be wrong but i speak based on being married for 25+ yrs..based on the short description of what you wrote.

    1. does your husband love you? does he want the best for you? does he think together you make a great team? — I doubt it , he’s married because everyone else is. that was probably the next step. You on the other hand have diff feelings and expectations from him. No husband who loves his wife and thinks its a team disregards her happiness.

    2. Asserting yourself after marriage – you are an individual, we always seem to confuse individual freedom with adjustment. tell them clearly.

    3. You cant have power and zero responsibility, – if MIl cooks and does all kitchen work then the kitchen is hers. you cant have a say over stuff and yet sit back and let her do work. that doesn’t really work. I don’t enter the kitchen ever, i have a cook, I pay her for her services even then i don’t go poke my nose in on whats happening there, our cook is a reasonable ind who is doing her job she needs to be left alone and respected to do it. but other stuff around the house since you contribute you can have a say in decisions.

    4. relationships, freedom, etc, – does your husband think you are a free individual first and his wife next? – NO , so tell them without drama that you are an ADULT and not their little puppet.

    All this is going to cause major anger on their side. the more you agree to this the more unhappy you are going to get, it’s up to you to decide if you want to be happy or miserable.
    and please don’t confuse, culture and respect with what id happening in your marriage.

    i think the fault lies with your husband and your relationship , your in-laws are simply getting away with everything they can, they want power, their son gives it, so they’ll live with it happily. taking them away from this equation may give you a measure of breathable space, but whats to say your husband wont become the lord and master???


    • #3: I get your point here but I don’t entirely agree that it applies to this situation. The issue here is that everyone is contributing in some way to running the household, but everyone doesn’t enjoy the same powers and privileges. The MILs contribution might be in cooking food, the DILs might be monetary. But the MIL does enjoy more power reg. what the DIL’s paycheck is spent on, right?

      Also, the DIL did mention that she tried to take over the responsibility of running the kitchen but her MIL got territorial about it. That’s a no-win situation.


  12. Money is Power – you gave that away.
    Love is power – looks like your husband is not upto giving that .so is there love?
    Marriage is a partnership – not from what i read.

    You are an educated woman – a lawyer to boot, with apparently a good working example of what a marriage should look like ( your parents) what other advantage could you possibly have. why are you following their dikats like sheep. what will happen if you do what you want ( without causing them harm) , they’ll yell and scream and settle down or throw you out .

    You have squandered the advantages of education/ job , you need to get them back, speak up and face the issues. You’re a lawyer for crying out loud. You are an educated woman, use your education and the power your parents gave you.


  13. I lost interest when i heard about the son getting permission from mother about the girl. Just out of curiosity, is family planning also planned out and if you can ask your IL if they have a brand of con*** they can recommend? <- I am serious and you should ask your hubby if he can get their opinion. Your problem will be solved in an hour or so after that. If not, I have some other questions too.


  14. Thus begins another beautiful dysfunctional in-law relationship. Sigh! Never having experienced this, I am at a loss what to advise except – get the hell out of Dodge! What a household! Oppressive doesn’t begin to describe it. And what is the MIL modelling herself on since she never underwent the peculiar torture of living under her own MIL’s “hukum” (didn’t the LW say that her husband’s grandma lives separately)? Has MIL been watching saas-bahu soap operas and decided that she rather likes being the villain? Or does she come from a joint family set up where she saw her own mother being treated thus?


  15. It seems from your mail that you don’t have children yet. Please change your situation before that happens. I have changed/improved a similar situation somewhat AFTER having children and stopped working and I cannot begin to tell you the hell there was. If you don’t stop working, you will feel like an outsider with your own baby. Please take up a very firm stance. My best advice is that you stop handing over your salary ASAP and save up your money. Insist on moving into your own apartment/home. Insist that you wish your parents to come over and that you wish to enjoy their company and that you expect your husband to build a relationship with them. Tell him that he should be very grateful to them for raising a daughter so lovingly, especially in such a hostile environment like “Indian culture”. If he refuses to change even after a while, I personally think that divorce is better than suffering the heartache of having children in that environment.

    Women’s rights is about family values. It is natural for a woman to feel grateful to her parents, love them and wish to take care of them in their old age. Your parents-in-law have no sanskar or family values. They are trying to break their daughter-in-law’s family bonds. They are just selfish and narrow-minded and mouthing empty words. Ask them to first learn to respect other people and their relationships before talking about any sanskar.

    Indian culture is like an ocean, it has all kinds of stuff, even some pretty weird stuff. But essentially it is about using your intelligence and being compassionate. Come on, we worship Nature. And the most natural support for a young woman especially during child-bearing years is her own mother. And a good husband is one who can understand this and supports this. These people are just covering up their selfishness and controlling/hurtful behaviour using fake “Indian culture”. I am afraid that you will have to learn to be vocal and honest with your husband. And Indian culture and Mother Nature is completely on your side.

    Ideally, it would be best to clear all this up before marriage. Prevention is better than cure. I hope young girls are reading all this. IHM is doing such a great job in this blog. Girls need to know how women, even “good” Indian women really feel about Indian culture. Love marriages don’t necessarily solve all the problems, either. I’ve seen some nice girls fall in love with jerks. The only answer is to be very, very careful and make sure that you can stay close to your parents and other family members after your marriage. Find out how the guy feels about that. That may give some idea about what he will be like as a husband. Jerks usually want to isolate you from your family and loved ones.


    • Love those lines. “Indian culture is like an ocean, it has all kinds of stuff, even some pretty weird stuff. But essentially it is about using your intelligence and being compassionate.” So true, and yet it is precisely the using of intelligence that girls are brought up to avoid, leaving them unable to negotiate the cultural ocean.


    • Indian culture is definitely mis-interpreted in many instances. But I don’t think support for child-bearing need always be mothers. Sure they can pitch in too, but it is the husband and the wife who made the baby. I think our patriarchal society made the rule of going back to one’s maternal house after baby so that husband and his family don’t have to do all that hard-work during initial sensitive days post-partum. Make the husband responsible in that scenario, I’m sure the wife would love to have hubby doing stuff for their baby.


      • What I meant is that it is natural for a young woman to want her mother or other female relatives near to her. Not necessarily her mother, but people who support her. They should be people who love her and support her. A husband may not be enough, he may find it difficult, his job may be stressful, require travel etc. It can be stressful to raise a child and it can be helpful to have loving family members around.

        Also my point was that it is unnatural to expect her to endure trauma with unsupportive in-laws during childbirth and when the the baby is small. What I mean is that if at all you want family around, they should be people who the woman is comfortable with and who will be helpful not playing petty manipulative control games.

        Instead young women are forced to stay in joint families where they don’t feel comfortable and where they cannot have their own families around. I just feel that it is against nature to isolate them from their family like this.


  16. What kind of an adult asks for permission to eat out? Informing members of the family is a totally different thing – but permission?

    I guess we not only need a minimum physical age for marriage, we need to set a minimum mental age too. And for all of you men and women considering marriage, please walk yourself through the checklist to see if you qualify

    1. You hand over your salary to your parents
    2. You have no interest / control over your financial security
    3. You cannot make simple everyday decisions like what to wear without consulting your parents. If you do not consult and are advised, you accept the “advice” even if you disagree
    4. You cannot disagree with your parents
    5. You think it is OK for your parents to tell you how your marriage should be
    6. Your parents still punish/scold you when you do not obey them and you think its ok.
    7. You cannot think of a family of your own because you think that means you are abandoning your parents
    8. You actually like having parents tell you what to do all the time because then you cannot be held responsible for anything.

    If you have answered yes to the above questions, DO NOT MARRY. While you may be above the legal marriageable age, you have the mental age of a toddler. Actually my 4 year old is offended by this because she vehemently says NO to me at least 10 times in a day.


  17. I could not believe my eyes as I read this letter. IS this what we are breeding in our society? Educated robots waiting for commands? I am apalled she could tolerate it for so long.

    I hate fights and arguments but sometimes we need to. Move out of the house. Open your own account and stop giving your salary to them ASAP. Yes, as long as you are living there, give a fair share – for rent & food etc to them. Keep the rest. Talk to your husband, outside, without them. Explain like you did to us. Stand up for yourself. Tell them you are an adult. Speak to your family when you please.

    We claim to give your children freedom by letting them study compared to many others but we control them actually.

    Ideal bahu, good girl are pittance they give us in return for treating us like slaves. Who cares about the titles? Why are we looking to be approved by them like we should be grateful for their approval because we do not deserve to walk on this earth? See, you can see patriarchal conditioning into play.

    Resentment will grow into anger. And deep self hatred and hatred for them. Would you want a guy you constantly hate as your husband?

    And yup, remember not to get pregnant/have kids. It makes it worse,NOT BETTER.


  18. Honestly what is the use of education and a paying job if the result is this?? Only you can set yourself free! Start by not handing over all your money – just some for household expenses. I see you expect your husband to stand up for you but since he does not you need to do it yourself. Just call your parents over. Buy boatloads of books. Don’t ask permission just DO IT. Do it with confidence, and if they criticize your choices answer back.


  19. You, are an adult. A professional, a well-educated individual. It takes great courage to open yourself to such a platform. I won’t list out things you should do. Your questions and your analyses is more than a proof of the fact that you have a deep understanding of all the issues, all of them legitimate because you deem them so.

    I have just one question for you: can you make an ommelette without breaking eggs? You don’t want conflict with others but are prepared to live with utter resentment the rest of your life?

    You are already so frustrated, so unhappy, so resentful. Can you go on for five years, 10 yrs, 20 yrs, in this manner?
    Are you going to wait for your husband to turn into your knight in shining armour?
    People like these (your IL, my IL ditto) are not mean-spirited people. They are the product of a mean-spirited culture. People you can still change with love – for havent you changed aspects of your personality for love, marriage, relationship? A culture cannot be changed overnight. It can’t be reasoned with. And if you don’t break the eggs, your children never will either. same tales of pain and suffering will follow.


  20. “Can you also add that I am damn scared. I dont know why that should be but I was brought up to be a non-confrontational”

    This. Reading this part made my throat hitch, because this is the very same problem that I face.

    It is easy for people to say, “take a stand”. It is easy for some to say, “you don’t have to put up with this”, or “move out if you don’t like it”, or any such variant. Telling someone to “be courageous” is all well and good. But that alone is not enough.

    Courage, e-mail writer, is a finicky thing. I suspect that you and I know this, mostly because both of us seemingly lack in it. We don’t want to cause problems, because causing problems means that we must also take responsibility for them. We are not sure enough in our convictions, because we could very well be wrong. So instead, we tell ourselves that we are “selfless” and “kind hearted” when we permit the bullshit that occurs around us.

    Some of us don’t come with innate courage. Not all of us are born fearless, ready to take a stand when we sense that something is wrong. Some people, like me, are afraid of such things, because we are constantly second doubting ourselves, scared that we are wrong, afraid of the consequences that will come when we confront people about our problems. We want to please the people around us, because we are afraid that any support is better than no support at all. We are afraid to stand on our own two feet, because we believe that we’re not capable of doing it on our own. Heck, that is what we’re conditioned to believe. When you’re told constantly that you must put other people’s feelings and beliefs before yours, what else do you know? If you tell someone to be “non-confrontational” you might as well tell them that “your feelings don’t matter as much as other people’s, so don’t speak up, even if something is wrong, because you may hurt someone”. Undoing that level of conditioning is difficult for anyone. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have so many problems.

    The key is to start small and build up your courage to bigger things. Courage doesn’t necessarily have to result in howling matches with your in-laws and husband on the first go. Start by taking control of your own personal expenses. Open a separate account, perhaps, and deposit a small fraction of your income into that account to use for things like books. Start by making one purchase not sanctioned by your in-laws. You can do that and deal with the consequences, surely, whatever they may be. Once you withstand their ire for something little, you will gather enough courage to progress to something bigger. Eventually, you’ll start buying submarines and NCC-1701 class space ships, without blinking an eye, in-laws be damned. By that point though, you probably won’t have this problem.

    The key is to gather confidence, in any way possible. Confidence in yourself, in your convictions, in your beliefs and in your abilities. Confidence that your needs are not misplaced. Confidence that what you’re feeling is true and justified. Nobody should have their lives micromanaged like this, Take confidence in the fact that you are not wrong in feeling this way, that what your in-laws are doing is completely incorrect. Sometimes, just knowing that we are right can make all the difference in the world.

    Good luck. 🙂


    • Great advice and excellently written. It is about building confidence. You probably can’t fight all your battles at once but start small, take control of your own money, buy something you want. Let them fight. Like they say, face your fears. Once you come out the other end you will know that you can handle it and they will know too.


      • Absolutely sane advice…Thats exactly how i started though in my case its not financial control. I have a long way to go but after a few tantrums/ fainting fests by MIL i became thicker skinned and more assertive. Also keep in mind that they have lot more to lose if this marriage breaks and you have everything to gain. I dont mean you go ahead and break off your wedding(well I am not exactly advicing you against it too 🙂 ) but just knowing this fact will boost your confidence.


    • “We don’t want to cause problems, because causing problems means that we must also take responsibility for them. We are not sure enough in our convictions, because we could very well be wrong. So instead, we tell ourselves that we are “selfless” and “kind hearted” when we permit the bullshit that occurs around us.”
      — Thank you for writing this !


  21. Dear LW, I was like you when I was at my parent’s house and my parents too did make me non-confrontational. I always thought saying yes to whatever they said made me an ideal daughter. I didn’t realize, back then that it broke my confidence and I never ever made a decision on my own. When the situation threatened to break my relationship with my now husband, I took a stand. Yes, they didn’t like me choosing my own groom, yes, they were old, yes, they are my parents, but it is my life and I want to make this decision or lose him forever. That was when I said no to them. I didn’t necessarily have a screaming match and say things to them. Just one thing. “This is my decision, you’re welcome to oppose it but I’ll go ahead anyway.” Then they spoke of breaking ties, me being a traitor, a bad daughter and what will the society say etc. Now they know I’m my own person and we are on talking terms. They don’t interfere in my decisions as I don’t in theirs.
    So just think of what you’re losing here by abiding to their rules. You’ve lost independence, free will and most importantly happiness. Is it worth it? How many lives do you think you have? And don’t you want the one you are living right now, to be happy? What is most important in your life? Husband, in-laws, society or your own happiness? Prioritize your life and act accordingly. I’m not saying it is easy. It wasn’t easy for me and took years to come out of guilt and midnight cries. But you need to do what you need to do. Esp when you realize, life is pretty short and you haven’t even begun living the way you’ve always wanted to.
    First thing, even before talking to the husband, take control of your money. It is “yours” not his, so you don’t have to ask him before doing this.
    Second, talk to him, in their absence. Let him know you are unhappy and suffocated. Explain in terms he can understand and relate to. Don’t ask him not to give his money, because, again, his decision. But tell him subtly that you need to learn to handle money and want to do it on your own.
    Then confront the ILs as and when you find their behaviour uncomfortable.
    (I don’t like wearing a dupatta, when an aunt suggested me to wear one when I was going out, I just flat told her I don’t like it and carried on.) If you avoid it early on, it is easier. But you can start now too.
    I’m sure if you start rebelling once, you will get the confidence of taking a stand. Just start with a small “no”.
    All the very best.


    • How many lives do you think you have? Many lakhs of them according to Hinduism so much so that, you can do what you want when you are reborn as a man in your next life. To get that, you must be a good wife/daughte/ DIL 🙂

      Even your marriage is for saat janam na?

      How do all these things tie up so conveniently for patriarchy?


  22. As most people have said here:

    1. You can’t avoid conflict in this situation and need to confront your husband about this. I am sorry to say this, but his behaviour is as bad or worse than his parents. If he doesn’t like your parents but expects you to bow down to his, then your status in his mind is clear.
    2. I sincerely doubt how much change would come in the territorial behaviour of in laws, so you should work out a road map of staying away from them.
    3. You definitely don’t want to bring your kids up in this kind of environment and you need to work at moving out before you have kids.
    4. You definitely need to put your salary in your account. Sorry to sound cynical, but your in-laws seem like people who may not give your money back to you if you need them. ( since they expect you to take permission for small monetary expenses.) Financial independence is absolute must no matter what.

    Finally, I am sorry for your situation and sympathise with you. But you need to get out girl, before your entire being is consumed by people you have zero love for. Why would you stay there?What would you get from them?

    Many people would say it is not easy etc etc. But in my opinion, it is easier to break free rather than waste your entire life shackled to something that is neither comforting nor loving nor meaningful.


  23. Hi there, I’d say don’t seek advice. Observe yourself from a distance, look at yourself from an outsider. Imagine you need to advice your daughter who is in the situation, or your best friend. What will you tell them.
    Let me give you the facts. There is no easy way out. You can get them to see reason. The fact that they control so many aspects of your life means you can’t get basic dignified life without being labelled as ‘has a problem with everything, has torn our family apart’ bahu. So you have two choices, live your life as a guest in somebody;s house, obey their rules, respect their wishes and be still be labelled ‘detached’, ‘spends all her time at work’, ‘what kind of a mother is not even attached to her child’, ‘her children don’t even don’t like what she makes, don’t eat when she insists because she never does it.
    Or your second choice is be labelled a bitch DIL, rise in your career, be a good mother who when disciplines, the children listen and respect and has some bond with the children because she is not forced to outsource parenting in the name of help.
    The only line I could relate to was. I don’t need that help. I have been there. I was not allowed to cook even a single meal in the house that we went to live in permanently, my daughters combed hair would change into a style that looked better after she stepped out from my room. I wasn’t allowed to buy anything for the house. So I liked spending time at work. But then I was the bitch who worked all through her second pregnancy till 12 in the night, leaving old inlaws to care for her 3 year old, didnt “help” in the kitchen at all (clean up, kneading the dough, cutting vegetables and generally taking orders while learning the best and the only way to cook), I was the money minded bitch whose job was the only thing that mattered in the world. And yes it was. The only time when I got some mental peace was when I was slogging away at work!
    All I can say is, it won’t change, in my experience such men don’t change either. For me the daily issues brought me to a point where there was nothing left to lose. There was no marriage in any case, so I might as well push interference that comes with it out. I wish I has a solution for you.
    Any attempt to stand up for yourself will result in loss of emotional intimacy with your husband. As an outsider I’d say, that’s a small price to pay to live like a human but its up to you.
    The only other option is to start with things that don’t make you look selfish but start defining your space. I will cook one meal from today. How else will I learn. And MIL needs some rest. Thats a better DIL than one that starts with I want my salary to come to me (only if you want to stay in this marriage). Second, start buying things for the house, not for your room but for house without consulting. Use the tension that these two things will result in, in gettting your husband to your side..if his mom has problems with such self less acts, then how will your survive if God forbid you ever do anything for urself. See what he says.
    These are just suggestions.
    My frank opinion, its not worth it.


  24. What you are going thru is simply bull****! Even if you love your husband, I don’t think you deserve to live in such slavery for the rest of your life…


  25. When will the mindsets change in our country. I can empathise with you. I guess try to turn your husband around. Do not make a huge revolution, but start by making small changes in daily life. Buy a small thing for yourself or maybe a gift for your PIL. It might help in changing their outlook.


  26. oh boy!
    Listen babe. If you want to stop living under the reign of in-laws, you’ll have to stand up to them. If you do, you stand to lose your husband in the process.
    You may love him now, but he’s a mama’s boy, and when push comes to shove, do you think he will stand by you when you’re fighting against his parents?
    And trust me, this is definitely going to be a fight.

    The passive way to “resolve” this would be to move out. But even that will be an uphill task as you will be fighting your battle alone, with no husband to side with you. But yeah, start by moving out.

    I’m guessing this is a new marriage.I’m sorry you’re in this situation. I wish you the best.


  27. Dear LW,
    After reading the letter, I honestly was baffled at the sheer stupidity with which you are leading your life. I am very sorry for sounding so rude but that is my honest opinion. This is proved by the following to statements:
    1. ” I am not some abla bechari naari of yester years troubled by in-laws for either dowry or physical abuse”…. Big hypocritical statement that to coming from a lawyer….I cannot believe that according to you only physical abuse and dowry harassment account for troubles and if that is your belief then you should not be troubled at all because like all “normal Indians” you also count only them as abuse…But then I do not understand what handing over your entire paycheck means???Anyway since you are not being subjected to the above two, please thank your stars…
    2. “We love each other” : I honestly do not know if you know the meaning of love because I do not see any love here at all. All I can tell you is that what you are not in a loving relationship..Again very sorry for putting it so crudely..
    Both the above statements justifying your situation are behaviors exhibited by abuse victims who do acknowledge the abuse in the first case.
    I do not think I need to tell you that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, with your husband and in laws controlling you and your life…
    Also, expressing opinions does not mean confrontation and for that mater I am sure nobody loves fights…So please come out of your self defined theories and get a perspective in life. You have a clear idea about your situation and I am sure you know the solution, its just that you are not taking the steps to implement them and by doing so you are not respecting yourself. The only solution to your problem is that first you start respecting yourself. The moment you respect yourself all things will fall into place and then you will start acting. Then you will not need any advice from anyone because you are an intelligent woman stuck in a situation which you are not trying to solve, instead you are only cribbing about it and trust me that will not help…I say all this because no self respecting woman will ever be able to stay like this….
    All the best…


  28. You got great advice which I too endorse so I would not be repetitive and here are my two cents

    //She gets very insecure due to reasons best known to her and though, not even once, I have either dis-obeyed her or raised my voice or talked back or voiced my opinions and accepted everything without a word, I am being labelled “under the influence of my mom”. WHY? What has my mom got to do with anything?//

    my big question WHY??? Why did you not question, voice your opinion and why did u accept everything without a word? Believe me that is not something to be proud of. You need to do some introspection why you dont assert yourself. Are you hankering for the good bahu certificate? Because if that is what you want there is nothing for you to complain about. Why do u care about labels? why do u want to prove to her that you are not under influence of your mother. She has a right to make her own judgements. You cannot control her thoughts but the point is why are you even caring about her judgements? Are her judgements about you important for you? I may sound harsh but please do introspect. If you want to experience independence you cannot achieve that and be called a good bahu by your MIL as well. Choose what is more important for you. First decide what you want and then the way to achieve it can be found.

    // I have to “inform” them that I talk to my parents regularly because apparently, and to my surprise / shock, a good DIL gradually decreases her contact with her parents and considers them distant relatives. A good DIL knows how dangerous it is to be in constant touch with her mother, because girls mothers know very well how to fuel her brain and cause tensions in the house of in-laws. A good DIL does not spend on her parents / siblings.//

    Again do u want to be a ‘good DIL’ and that too in her eyes? Do u really need a certificate from her? Food for thought.

    //Yes, she is a big help. (She cooks for us and I have to merely help her and go to work. She keeps the kitchen stocked.) But no, I do not need the help. Because with that help comes a heap of conditions which I am not prepared to fulfill.//
    No she is not a help. She is overpaid. Remember you pay her all your salary( minus household expenses). Stop paying her and hire a cheaper cook and you will have the rest of your salary too. No you certainly dont need her help because you can afford a cook.

    Please do not bring a child to this mix. Its toxic environment for raising a child.


    • Absolutely agree with all points especially about the MIL being overpaid and not bringing a child into this toxic environment. I hope the LetterWriter repeats these two points to herself daily, like a Mantra of sorts.


  29. I’m going to be blunt and offensive.

    You haven’t committed any crime, but you’re in prison with visitation rights.

    My mother grew up in a joint household with her great grandparents, parents, siblings and at one point, her aunt’s children. My father’s father was the first person in his family to leave the village. My father sent large sums of money back to his parents. NOBODY handed over the entirety of their paychecks to my grandfathers. Ever.
    It’s one thing to contribute to a joint household account. It’s another thing to hand over your entire paycheck to your parents-in-law.

    Does your father in law still work? Does he earn the majority of the monies? Does your mother in law earn any money? What business do they have telling a legally competent adult how to spend their money? Hint: If you were able to sign that paper saying you married of your own free will, you are legally competent.

    You have been micromanaged by your parents and you’ve gone straight to a bunch of people who are even more micromanaging and ABUSIVE.

    Financial abuse
    Spending money on themselves but not allowing you to do the same
    Refusing to give you money, food, rent, medicine or clothing
    Giving you an allowance and closely watching what you buy.
    Placing your paycheck in their account and denying you access to it.
    Keeping you from seeing shared bank accounts or records.

    Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
    Telling you what to do and wear.


  30. I have one advice for you FIGHT FOR YOUR OWN RIGHTS .. I was/am also in a similar position and even my PILs tried to break me … For some time i let them coz they are “OLDER”. But one day i realized that anyways this marriage wont last long as I cant stay in this suffocated environment so why not put up a fight and teach everyone that a Girl is no less than anyone .
    I refused for joint account .
    I agreed to contribute equally only if my husband contributes to house hold chores .
    During short time with ILs I did not cook (except on few ocassions) after coming back from office as i too get tired and people who are in house the whole day can do cooking very well. If not we went out to eat .(This was such a big SIN as per ILs)
    I didnt NOT get up before everyone to make Breakfast or tea or to serve all in bed . Yes i did offer all when i made my own .
    I call my parents when i want and they are coming to stay with me for more than a month .. I didn not ask my hubby . I just told him their tickets are booked .
    I spend where I want how I want and am also planning to join MBA in a yr or so ( again ill inform ILs and not ask for permission)
    I dont want to have kids anytime soon as i am not sure where this relation is heading and NO one else has a say on this .
    I refused to change my name .NO MATTER how much drama this caused (inter caste marriage and they want to hide it).

    Trust me girl I have horrible dark circle under my eyes due to all the drama i have been thru. these fights are soooo nasty that they break you but I suddenly feel stronger and more content . I do go into depression and start hatin my husband many times but I know that this was needed . I am also a human and deserve equal rights.

    What I am trying to tell you is that many of us have gone thru it and came out a bit more happier. Many of us were/are sad and crying in bed but still didn’t give up. If you choose to fight trust me its going to get REALLYYYYYY Nasty … But once they get the point that they cant mess with you ,you are going to feel that genuine happiness from inside .
    You owe this to all the girls in India who never had the education or the support or the knowledge to fight this Patriarchy … Who lived and died without being respected . You owe it your education girl,to your lawyer skills …
    Don’t let all the people “who believe that educating girls can end this type of discrimination against females” down.PLzzz..

    We all are here to support you …

    PS: I didn’t wanna boast. Just wanted to share the whole process as I am also going thru it .For me it became easier because of the things I read on IHM (soo grateful to you) and few more blogs and the support of all ppl here .So wanted to give you the same .


    • Great reply. Almost felt as i was reading my own experiences and thoughts. IHM I must must give you and all the commentators the credit for bringing clarity in my thoughts. IHM you are doing great work!!! You have no idea how much your blog has helped me. I want to bake a cake and sent it you.

      mbapower would love to get in touch with you. I too go through spells of depression, crying bouts and at times hate my husband. But its all so worth it. I told MIL I will go visit my family whenever and for however long I want. I’ll not ask for her ‘permission’ because I got married but didnt sign any bond for slavery as far as I remember. I do whatever I want whether she likes it or not. but since we live in their house I do follow her weird rules. That will stop only if we move out. I told my husbad not to force me to live with his mother because in marriage both should decide where to live than one forcing the other. I also put my foot down that I will NOT have children in his mom’s house. Anyways I am in 30s now and if we dont move out now he can forget about having children.

      sending postive vibes to mbapower and other girls who are in similar situation.


      • Good decision about the kids, purple sheep! I have a friend who is in a not-so-nice situation, living with her in-laws. She too told her husband that if you want children, we have to move out and live in peace… I cannot bring a child up in this environment. Some space is required for love and respect to blossom. You can’t be in each others’ way all the time and expect to be happy.


  31. “He doesnt eat out before calling his mommy and seeking her permission.”

    I stopped reading here. I mean, please.

    You know what it is and what you have to do. Just do it woman.


  32. Don’t hand over your entire paycheck to them.
    Don’t stop contact with your parents
    Don’t bring a child into this mix
    Don’t roll over and play dead at their command!

    Stop aspiring to be a ‘good DIL’!! It’s just too much trouble!


  33. I read a quite a few comments on this post about men and women handing over their entire salaries to parents and inlaws. I think children can support their parents if and when the need arises. There is nothing wrong in that. They may also give a certain part of their salaries to their parents if they want. However handing over the entire salary and asking the spouse to do the same should not be taken lightly. Like physical abuse this too should be a deal breaker. It should be not be confused with adjustment. This would have far reaching impact on your and your children’s life. You should give only that much money which you are okay with not ever getting back.

    There is a lot to learn from my cousin’s experience .She got married to a guy of her choice about ten years ago. She came to know that her husband gave all his salary to his father(who had an extremely well paying govt job) and took frugal pocket money and that too was used up in paying bills for stuff which everybody used. He did not plan a honeymoon because he wanted to save for his sister’s wedding(but years later he paid for his younger brother’s honeymoon). He asked her too to hand over her entire salary to his father. She refused. Then they got rid of the maid and cook and asked her to leave her job and do all the housework. Since they were not reaping benefits of her salary so her job was of no use to them and they thought of saving money by making her the unpaid maid. she use to cook, clean and still retained her job. then she had an unplanned pregnancy and doctor adviced her against abortion. During her pregnancy that environment became unbearable for her. When her daughter was born she alone use to spend on the baby as her husband still gave all his salary to his father. The child became very weak and troubled. Finally she told him she cant take it anymore and moved to her parents place.

    After eight years he tried to reconcile with my cousin and they planned to buy a house. He asked his father some money for some investment. His father asked him what money was he talking about. He said all that money was used up for his sister’s wedding. He refused to give his son any money and told him to get lost. So he now lives with my cousin at her parents house. They had another baby last year. My cousin cannot work for a year because of the baby and health issues. They are planning to buy a house. Her savings have gone into that. Major chunk of her husband’s salary goes into home loan so there is little to spend on children. Doctor had told my cousin to rest and not travel for a year but she is still planning on going back to her job.

    I would advice everybody to sort out these matters before they have a child. Please do not put up with handing over your entire salary to parents/in laws. Also plan financial responsibilities well before you have children. Whatever money you are giving to your parents/inlaws do not expect that you can get part of it back when you need it. Its lost in the abyss.


    • I agree. A shared household does need to share certain expenses, but that doesn’t mean anyone should have to give up their entire salary.

      If the shared expenses of the household makes out 70% of the familys income, then everyone might put 70% of their salary in a shared account — but even then it should be clear that this is a SHARED account, and not an account belonging to any single person, and that money from this account can only be used for covering shared household expenses.

      What money remains after shared expenses are paid for, belongs to the individual for her or him to use as they see fit.


      • In a joint family all couples needs to pitch in for household expenses. However in cases like a commentator(Indiandil) who lives in a nuclear family only needs to pool into the household expenses of her household(her husband and hers). They both may want to send some amount to their parents but that should not be taken as household expenses. Why should she contribute a penny for his parents leave alone send her entire salary to her parents in law. He may send some part of his salary after pooling into household expenses(of husband, wife and the child). They also need to keep some money as saving for themselves and their child. After that both can do with their money as they please. They may spend it on themselves, send it to parents or do both. But it is not their obligation to send money to each other’s parents(in most cases it is expected only from DIL and not SonIL). In this case sending the entire salary to parents and inlaws is absurd. Nobody should put up with that. I repeat send only that much money you are okay with not ever getting back.


        • Of course not. That’s why I said that this applies to a *shared* household, that is, one where several couples live under the same roof, and thus incurs many expenses which should be shared by all of them.

          When a couple lives by themselves, they have no obligation to send any money to anyone, and they certainly should not surrender their entire salaries. If they want to, they may of course give gifts to whomever they please, including parents, but like you said, that’s not a “shared expense”, it’s just a gift.

          The gender-politics of India are strange to me, I would personally say that if you decide to send gifts to parents, then surely it’d make sense to consider their need first – for example I and my wife *do* regularly pay for some of the expenses of my wifes mother, but we choose to do so because she is poor compared to us and compared to my parents and we would like to help. Not because it’s an obligation for either one of us. We don’t send anything to my parents, they are aproximately as wealthy as we ourselves are, so that would make little sense.


        • Agaraj could not find reply handle on your comment. You and your wife seems very sensible and wise.


  34. Pingback: 3 Things every woman needs to learn | Boiling Wok

  35. IHM these discussions on your blog are great for unmarried people as well since they make you aware of all the things a person needs to think about before getting married…. I am uncomfortable with the premise of moving in with the in-laws after marriage itself….marriage to me is more like a couple getting together and building their home and supporting both sets of parents…even when people say you don’t have to live with the guy’s parents you can stay nearby in a separate house…the implicit assumption that it is going to be near his parents makes me uncomfortable (that still conveys to me the idea that the girl has sort of moved into the guys family which I am uncomfortable with…what about the girls’ parents then..how do u decide that…)…When you are dating someone I wonder how do you get these things clarified since eventhough many guys may be nice as people the inherent conditioning is still there that after marriage the girl becomes a part of the guys family….


    • Talk to the guy. Go visit his family. See how his siblings live. You can kind of judge from how his family is. How does he react when you say you do not want to stay with your in laws ever. When you make an extreme statement, most people will react because they are shocked and we can find out what they really think. Is he shocked by statements like I believe parents have business interfering in their kids marriages, joint family is bullshit


  36. Its only finances n social life now .. what will happen when u have a child. the husband now ex had to take his mum’s permission to visit his wife when preg (i was with my mum last trimester) and on the day of delivery.

    My frustration saw me make a decision that day in the hospital and I haven’t regretted it at all.

    sort this out, will only get worse otherwise.


  37. Talk to him about taking a stand and/or moving out. If he doesn’t, and your life continues to be miserable, you have the option of leaving. Try and sort this situation out sooner than later.

    It’s very hard for men who are conditioned this way by their mothers to try and grow a backbone, and besides, people don’t grow backbones overnight. I’ve left someone like this. Trust me, it doesn’t get ANY better. And just so you know, I’m much happier today and am dating again. Don’t delay on setting things right for yourself — like i always say, you have to take charge of your own happiness, because no one else will.


  38. Dear OP,

    You being a lawyer are in an enviable position of knowing the laws and which laws you could use to support your cause. I am sure your husband also being a lawyer is fully aware of these too.

    All you need to do is to say “enough is enough”, pull up your socks and decide not to take any more of this nonsense. We are all brought up by our parents to give respect to our elders. But the status of an elder is misused to bully us and snatch our fundamental rights from us, then those elders do not have any right to get the benefit of respect due to elders. Time to lash back. Yes, you will be called “asanskari”, so what is new? Are you not already being called that even after taking all the s**t? Give back as good as you get. Don’t ask, just inform that you are visiting your parents. Don’t keep reporting every time you talk to your parents. You don’t owe them that.

    Tell your husband as well as your ILs that if they continue harassing you the way they are, you will do whatever is necessary. Keep your parents informed of the state of affairs, so that if push comes to shove you can get some moral support from them to walk out of this house. Use your money to find another place for yourself – rented or owned. Don’t invite your husband there. If you do, he might refuse just for kicks. When he sees you don’t, if he values you enough, he will follow you there one day out of his own accord. Make it amply clear that his parents are not welcome in your home.

    Also make sure that you don’t hand over your kid to his parents to be brought up. The child is yours and it is your primary responsibility to bring it up. If his mom could bring him up, you are equally capable of bringing up a child.

    OP, open your mouth and TALK BACK. Keeping quiet is getting you nowhere and it will get you nowhere. Fight back. Words like “sanskari” etc. were rigged up only to keep women under the thumb. How come no one talks of the sanskari son in law? Damn the sanskars which subjugate women. Women in our actual culture, puranas and Vedas were strong individuals. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they weren’t.


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  40. You are a lawyer you said but just behaving like a fool who is bearing everything….first of all you should make ur hubby understand ur value…tell him that ur parents are equalyl important to u like him his…u hav to make things clear before thinking of child/pregnancy….until and unless u r not strong , hw wil u be able to raise ur kids….if u r still like this then ur children also will treat u as useless and become dadi ka ladla……it may be hard for u think of the other negative side of problem …u both plan for an outing… talk with ur hubby and explain him hw u r suffering…tell him that eventhough u r physically with hm, mental detachment has started in you,,,u hav only one life which u hav fulright to live…anyways u r not an IDEAL BAHU infront of ur MIL, why to show ur obedience when there is no use…if the same thig u want to continue, concentrate on your work/studies and divert ur mind..else fight for you life…
    what will go once u try to talk with ur hubby….if he supports it is ok, u will be happy…else u hav to chose ur life as u like…..remember its not much late…it doesn’t mean that u should leave him…but just make him understand ur value…..


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  43. Am new to this site but reading this makes me feel real bad for us indian women. Am in a very similar situation like this. Am also a lawyer (not practicing) and that makes me even more angry at the injustice of this so called institution of marriage.
    My Mil is a monster in law and my husband is well just a husband for names sake. Unfortunately me and my parents fell into their trap and are now trying to get outta this mess.
    Mine was an arranged marriage and my inlaws very cleverly decieved us by thier sweet talks.
    Am out and out against arranged marriages and even marriage in general now. If 2 people wanna get married then they should decide what they want together. If only one person and their family is to decide everything then its not marriage but a kind of anarchy. India is the worst place to be married in. We are a ridiculous society filled with hypocrisy and who cant give importance to things that really matter. And our marriages reflect that.
    No love nothing get married to some stranger and then adjust your whole life for them and rewire your whole thought system for them who take u for granted.
    We are really screwed up in our upbringing – of both boys and gals. In india u are either a mamas boy or an ideal DIL or a joru ka ghulam or ‘love marriages are bad’ and such negative stereotypes. No one can be themselves here at all. We really need a strong education system that includes strong moral values. When i see rural india i really cant think of our country to ever change their attitudes especially towards women and gender stereotypes.
    I really liked your blog that forced me to post my opinion.


  44. Pingback: ‘Last month, my sister’s husband picked a fight with her as he felt she was not doing enough for his parents.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  45. Pingback: “Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  49. Pingback: Simple methods, recommended to anybody else, coping with any other kind of abuse, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law. Forbidden by whom? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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