“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

Sharing an email. 

Hi
I am a housewife (I don’t like to use this word for myself) and a regular reader of your blog.
 
I don’t know if you would be able to help me in any way but if you would just read my entire mail with patience and also respond, it would just give me a feeling that there is someone who at least understands me.
 
I was born and brought up in Delhi/NCR and have decent educational background. My parents never had enough to spend on any kind of luxury not even eating out and during one phase we even struggled to manage two meals a day. But they have been the best parents because they kept us so bonded and taken care of during all ups and downs of life. Me, my siblings and my parents….we all were a so closely attached and knit up that we shared everything with each other. Even in our worst day we could laugh loudly with each other.
 
My mother has been the pillar of the family. She is traditional and yet open minded. Traditional with culture and family values and open minded about learning new things, adopting modern ways of living and doing things.
 
I have been a jolly and happy person with very strong positive attitude in life. I have faced some social evils personally that I am not discussing here because I want to forget them (I know it not possible….but I pretend to as long as it not haunting me). I believe in forgiving and forgetting because I feel that keeping things in heart obstructs your way to happiness and all I want in life is happiness. And my happiness is associated with just little things in everyday life that an average girl dream of.
 
I always believed that only good things happen to good people and so I tried to remain good and I believe that I succeeded in my efforts.
I have never intentionally hurt anyone, if I dont like someone I just keep a good distance from them and never pray bad or bitch about them.
 
I never had any boyfriend or even a thought of having one because I knew and believed that I will get true love from marriage and that had to be an arranged one as per my family tradition.
 
So i religiously preserved all my love for my future husband and waited for him to come in my life when it was destined.
 
As I was in a close knit family I always wanted to have all the relations in my in-laws. (ie. parents-in-law, sister-in law etc.)
 
Now I am in such a family for last seven years where there are all the relations that I  wanted but I don’t feel connected to anyone.
I love my husband and he loves me too….but it seems there is something lacking.
 
Our likes and dislikes are different, our tastes are different, our perspectives are different.
My in laws are too traditional and follow the rules too rigidly and sometimes stupidly. It seems they are doing something because it has to be done and not necessarily needed to be done.
 
They do Pooja (worship) like maniacs, when there are guest I dont get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time.
I cant wear what I want…even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent by them. I cant have a friend circle of my own…I cant go out alone…at least not for my personal indulgence.
 
I dont get to watch TV as my FIL keeps the remote all the time and all he watches in news.
 
I don’t know if I am making any sense or not but the fact is that the family and nature of people I grew up with and the family and people that I am with now are so different that I am not being able to be at peace in my own home.
 
My husband is the only male child of his parents and thus it becomes my compulsion to take care of them. They are not independent enough in attitude that they could live on their own. And when I think of leaving them alone and live separately with my husband it give me a guilt felling as I feel it would be the worst thing to do to your parents.
 
But staying with them, following their style of living, taking care of their likes and dislike, accepting the restrictions on my freedom to do things my way is now driving me crazy. I have lost my confidence completely…I am ruining my physical appearance as I have no interest in taking care of myself and looking good.
 
 I sometimes feel that I am falling into depression as I am loosing interest in everything that I liked…I have no friends…I avoid inviting people at home.
 
My husband hears me and agrees with the unjust behavior and expectations of his parents but I doubt if he actually understands my dilemma. I don’t want to hurt them and cant even please them. Don’t want to leave them alone and cant even live with them. Its like either they can have a life they want or I can have the life I want….both cant happen together.
 
My husband says that I should not bother too much about the likes and dislikes of my in-laws and should follow my aspirations. But I feel caught as all the household responsibilities from kitchen to market, from to kid to guests and everything small or big related to the house is done by me with occasional and minimal help from others.
 
I feel completely caught up and tangled..with no hope and no true happiness.
 
Sorry for all this blabbering but I still had so much to say.

– An Indian Bahu

 
 
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To an Anonymous DIL

70 thoughts on ““When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

  1. Don’t worry you are not blabbering, I can understand your situation. have been there myself. I got out of it by taking a job and deciding to block everyone out mentally. Physically everyone is nice and smiling including me, but I have stopped communicating. They know it how bad they have been, but I have moved on from feeling sorry. If you can take up a wok from home option. You write great. Give ghostwriting and work from home writing a chance. It helps when you have other things to do and focus outward instead of inward.

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    • The woman neednt be depreesed. Lift urself up. Engage in a job. I agree that his parents n ur family should live separately unless they r physically dependent.

      A young couple r better coping in marriage living alone. Move to a different city for sometime like go on-site.

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  2. It looks that the email girl needs some hep. You definitely need to get out of that hellhole. Get out if your house and get some fresh air. You definitely need it. To tell you the truth your husband sounds like …bad along with your in laws. Don’t go into depression. That will just make it worse for you. You definitely need to get out more. Stop worshipping your in laws. They will value your existence then. I think you need to go and visit your parents but not with your children. You will get some sort of freedom then. Your parents sound like normal humans so it will easier to communicate with them. While you are at your mayka you can enjoy the freedom you never had in your inlaws house.

    I just hate the fact that DILs are considered to free servants. I mean what is wrong with Indian people and their values

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  3. When your husband tells you to pursue your aspirations and you feel caught, that is your guilt talking. You got to do what you can and learn and ignore the guilt trips on the rest. You can’t keep others happy unless you are happy yourself. ‘Me’ time is always important – regardless of whether you work at home or outside your home.

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  4. How can somebody dictate another person’s way of living…This LW’s experience is what exactly keeps away from getting married….I hated my ex MiL when she asked me to properly lower my chunni as I was going out in her “VILLAGE”. I was always termed as a city girl and my husband and his family took it as a responsibility to tame me. “Oh hell if you did not like the way I look and behave like a city girl why din’t you get a Village girl in the first place????” I always wanted to ask them this question….

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  5. Sigh. I really do not understand why you thought that some unknown person you never set eyes on before legally binding yourself to him, could give you more love and affection than somebody you could know, understand, and decide to commit yourself. And that your some family that you never even knew before would love you like one of their own? I am really stumped by this thinking. Did you really expect to have a whole lot of freedom of the kind that you had in your parents’ home? I am sorry, but you yourself are to blame for putting yourself in this position with unrealistic expectations from utter strangers.

    That said, you need to make a decision. I don’t know if you have any siblings who live with your parents, but there is no obligation to live with your husband’s parents either since he isn’t volunteering to live with yours. If his parents are not dying or bedridden, they can learn to be independent, many parents do, especially if they have only given birth to girls. No need to feel guilty on that account. You should just put down your foot and clearly state that you are going to be as you please and if they don’t like it, you will move out, with or without husband.

    And finally, when you avoid inviting friends home, just remember that you don’t really consider it ‘home’ in your heart.

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    • Why are there so many dislikes for this comment? It’s the straight truth, isn’t it? There will always be idiots in the world, it’s our responsibility to steer clear of them. There are many parents like mine and several my extended family who choose to have a healthy level of interaction with their children. My ex-GF and my partner were/are both happy with my parents visiting, talking to them etc. And a couple of my men cousin’s wives absolutely love the man’s parents coming over – they take over house duties and let the couple sleep and hour or two extra.

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      • I think it’s because women are only to be pitied, not to be criticised. They also need not respect themselves, but others must automatically respect them. It’s an idealistic view, but not practical. Same goes for men, but that problem is far less since most men tend to respect themselves.

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        • Wow, I’m so happy someone voiced this. Especially in online forums like this, it is just impossible to write critical of anything related to women (even if it is for the better), for fear of a backlash. People have rubbished my comments for suggesting the woman should’ve taken more care not to get married when she knew the guy’s family was a bother.

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        • And I say this as a woman who has been in a bad relationship, and have also faced emotional blackmail from loved ones for marriage (I managed to resist). It was my mistake to choose a wrong partner, and it was my responsibility to get out of the situation. I had supportive friends but ultimately, it was my decision. You can’t force a person to have some self respect. I don’t really understand women who don’t have self respect and allow themselves to be treated like a doormat. It’s one thing to make a mistake, it’s another to throw away your self respect and then whine about it.

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        • Thanks for responding, Fem! I complete agree with you, I’ve helped some women friends who stayed in abusive relationships for an unreasonably long time. I also see then unable to come to terms with choosing to leave.

          With one friend, it took me like 5 minutes to figure out the guy was a weirdo – he told me he would smash my teeth for cracking a sarcastic joke. I mean, who speaks like that? To date, my woman friend can’t see him as a weirdo, but just claims she couldn’t make it work with him, and sometimes calls me to ease her guilt about the fact that she called quits in that total fail relationship. Why? I mean, why? Yet another had an abusive relationship SIX years ago that lasted 3 months, and she is unable to get into her next relationship. There are a couple other women I know with serious trust issues – they claim they are unable to trust men after their last relationship

          I’ve been through one awfully abusive relationship where my partner left me feeling worthless, depressed and left me nearly 10,000Rs unpaid money (for her personal expenses etc) because she didn’t think I was worth being paid. It impacted me badly, boss at work started noticing it, told me to keep up with work etc. At the end of it, I took responsibility and owned up, and have been at peace with it ever since.

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        • women with kids put up with abuse more out of fear. Since their job and manage kids along with managing loans mut be tough. I agree w Fem’s suggestion.

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  6. Do you realise that everyone in this story is living their life as they want except for you? If you want to change things, you have to do it yourself because none of them (especially the people you slog for day and night) are going to do it for you. Your inlaws as well as your husband are adults, so there is no need to care for them every waking moment.

    What you need to do is rid yourself of this burden of expectation (from yourself as well as others) that comes with becoming a daughter in law. Then find some activity (job, volunteering, classes). That way you will get out of home everyday, make your own set of acquaintances and friends, become person (not just a daughter, DIL or wife).

    You will start feeling happy again, you will feel like taking care of yourself and looking good.

    And yes, if these things are not possible while living with inlaws, there is no harm in moving out. It’s Infact preferable to live apart and have good relations with them than live together and let the relationship sour.

    Thinking about your own happiness is not selfish, but your duty towards self. Start respecting yourself, and others will respect you too. And if they don’t…. well, just ignore them😉

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  7. This is a very common situation in Middle Class Indian families.
    You are not alone.
    Deep inside, your husband is also probably feeling the same way but has simply reconciled to the situation.
    Have you confided in your husband? I am happy to note your relationship with him is good.
    May be both of you should be able to figure a way out by dscussing freely.
    Have a hobby.
    Continue your education.
    Try taking up a job, even part time should be okay.
    Involve yourself in constructive social activities.
    Read books.
    Improve your computer skills.
    Go out for a holiday.
    There are so any ways to mitigate the situation.
    Choose one
    Hang on and a solution will come with time and patience
    All the best.
    Regards
    GV

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  8. The tv remote brought back my own not so good experience. The moment I switch on the tv, my in laws would start hovering around the living room out of nowhere with out of place comments. So much so, I stopped watching tv altogether. Bullies, that’s what they are!

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    • I feel for you girl, even in my in-laws place, they don’t switch on TV, when they do, then, it has to be some depressing serial known as Muktha Muktha. The only solution is to just live in our own place. Thankfully, that way, I am lucky. My home my rules, take it or leave it.

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  9. LW,

    You said:
    “I never had any boyfriend or even a thought of having one because I knew and believed that I will get true love from marriage and that had to be an arranged one as per my family tradition.
    So i religiously preserved all my love for my future husband and waited for him to come in my life when it was destined.
    As I was in a close knit family I always wanted to have all the relations in my in-laws. (ie. parents-in-law, sister-in law etc.)”

    So, you consider even the thought of having a boyfriend as ‘wrong’ and believe strongly in arranged marriage, and cannot bear the thought of living separately from husband’s parents (presumably you have brothers). This happens often in Ekta Kapoor serials. The heroine also enters marriage starry-eyed about winning the hearts of everyone in the new home.

    Unfortunately, the above style of thinking and living often go hand in hand with suppressing the bahu’s identity and her having zero independence and feeling stifled and a guest in her own house.

    You say: “husband is the only male child…it becomes my compulsion to take care of them…living separately will be the worst thing to do to your parents”.
    So, you believe that women should leave their parents, it is ok for women to leave their parents, and men should not. If you have such views and follow them in life, why complain when you are treated like you are by your in-laws?

    Some things in life come as a package deal. If you want to opt out of one of the items in the package, there is a price to pay.

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    • My colleague of England told me if I were your dad, I would have slapped you if you came to me and asked to arrange a marriage for you. This sounds hilarious but that moment I replied to him wish you were my dad lol. His point was an adult should have the level of maturity to choose their own partner.

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  10. This was my s-i-l’s (husband’s sister) life for the first 10 years of her marriage. For 10 years of her life, she became invisible in her own home, serving her in-laws, having no friends or interests of her own, and had no control over her life – yes, no control over simple things like deciding to go out for fun or visit her parents who lived in the same town or watching her favorite show – all these things needed permission, which was often denied or offered conditionally. Any husband wife together time was seen as unnecessary indulgence. Think about it – even servants are treated better, they don’t need your permission to leave the house. Even children are treated better – they don’t have to justify having fun or enjoying with their friends. So the only word that comes to my mind to describe this is “slave ownership”.

    My husband and I talked to her, suggested she and her husband move out – she came close several times but never took the step.

    Guess what happened? After 10 years, something woke up inside of her. One day, she moved into her parents’ home. She told her husband to simply forget about her. “Call it divorce, separation, I don’t care, I can’t live like this, giving up who I am, forgetting who I am. I’m dying a slow death. Any kind of life is better than this. Even being alone is better than suffering so much.” (Please note that she is very traditional like my m-i-l and “being alone” is considered a horrible fate, but she chose this over the depression that was taking her over.)

    Her husband panicked. He would come everyday to her parents’ home and they would have long talks everyday behind closed doors. No one said a thing to them. No one interfered. In the end, they moved into their own home. They still help his parents when needed. They are both happy. Every time we visit India, she proudly invites us to “her home” (in the past, we would go to her in-laws’ place where she would be hovering in the background and barely sit and talk to us). She serves us great meals, shows off her collection of CDs (she is really into Carnatic music), picks vegetables from her garden for me to take home to my mom. She holds her head high and laughs with her husband. Her husband too seems more relaxed and happy (and not anxious like before).

    Such a simple wish she had, just like you. But she needed to overcome her own fears to get it. I’m glad her husband understood and acted, but I think, even if her husband had not come around, she would’ve been better off alone than fading away into non-existence.

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    • This sharing of somebody’s similar experience and how it was dealt with,its happy ending is the best reply to the LW’s post,according to me.Felt so good to hear of such a happy ending to your S-I-L’s story.Thankyou for sharing it here, wordssetmefree.

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      • Yes Aarti, we are happy for her. She’s like an altogether different person. Taking that one step gave her so much confidence. She tries new things now, is more open to new ideas, different points of view. I think all of us have this strength inside of us. We just need to find it and trust it and act on it.

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  11. Perhaps your husband should be tasked with the duty of speaking with his parents. Let them know that he expects them to treat you with the respect that you deserve. He needs to be firm and stand up for you.

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  12. Dear Letter-Writer,
    Others before me have already pointed out the flaws in your approach – in your unshaken belief that you would find true love and belonging with a family of strangers, your belief that it is your duty to care for your in-laws (and not your parents) etc. In any case, that is history and you are seeking now to change your present. Remember, also, that your decision will also decide the course of life your future will take, and possibly the future of any children you might have.
    You’ve taken the first step – you’ve realised that there is a complete mismatch between your expectations from life and that of your in-laws. In an ideal world, I’d have asked you to leave immediately, RIGHT NOW – but if you were the kind of person who was capable of such a dramatic step, I’m guessing you’d have done it long ago. So I’m going to try and give you some realistic advice.
    What you now need is to make your peace with is the fact that, unfortunately, in our country and culture, as a “traditional” woman, if you want to seek happiness, you WILL have to step on some toes. You WILL have to fight for it. You WILL have to run the risk of annoying your in-laws, being ostracized by “your family”, being made to feel guilty. If you’re lucky, it will turn out that they aren’t so averse to modern ideas, after all- but if not, then there is no alternative. You’re also lucky that your husband at least pretends to (even if he doesn’t actively) support your aspirations for yourself. Firstly, start talking, expressing, discussing your feelings, your ideas. You’ve been in the family seven years, and you are a human being. Insist on being heard. Insist on doing certain things your way. Take care of yourself, your health, your appearance. Remember, you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs. Start slow, start small, but START, and do not stop chasing your dreams, even if they make life really difficult (and they probably will).
    You don’t have to be rude, be firm.
    You don’t have to be disrespectful, be self-assured.
    Eventually, one of two things will happen: either they’ll back off or you’ll realise that it’s not so hard, and that what you are asking for is the most basic human right – happiness, on your terms and you won’t feel so guilty anymore.
    Good luck!

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  13. Similar to my situation. Only mine was not an arranged marriage. I did have a job but compared to husband my paycheck was much smaller. We lived in different cities and i was quite independent and lived by myself. He lived with his mother. I somehow got convinced to move to his city and expected to find a job here. He had promised me that we would move out eventually and requested me to live in their house for a year or so. He also promised me that I would face no problems as I was apprehensive because i was used to my freedom.

    It was only after the marriage I realized what I had got myself into. I felt completely stifled with the MIL’s crazy irrational rules. I was so upset and down, looked for jobs but lost my confidence. I was trying to manage too much change. My plate was not just full but overflowing. Went to a counselor, she told me its normal to feel like that and the first year of marriage is difficult and I would be fine in sometime. Its been two years now. I am still NOT fine. I too was sinking into depression, put on weight, lost interest in looking good, had no confidence to find a job, was on the verge of breaking down many times.

    But I dont know how something pushed me to take small steps. I dumped the counselor. I came across this blog. I started working out, joined some voluntary work, go for hobby class and made a small support group of frnds in the city where I knew nobody. Still looking for a job. Once i get that only then will I decide my next step. Sometimes you just need to focus on the next step. No matter how small start taking the next step. So go ahead wear that nighty.

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    • I would like add some coping mechanisms I devised to help myself whenever somebody tried to make me feel guilty for not doing enough at home, for not being a perfect DIL. I do what I would call ‘space test’. I think we are all born equal inspite of difference in caste, religions, gender and age. So all of us have a right to do what we like, believe in and makes us happy as long as we don’t encroach other people space no matter what the relationship. If my doing things that makes me happy and not doing things I don’t believe in makes others unhappy then that unhappiness is completely self inflicted as long as I don’t encroach on their space and I absolutely refuse to be drawn into any guilt.

      So I do follow MIL’s crazy rules because I live in her house for whatever reasons. I don’t believe in them but it’s is her house and her rules. But I wear what I want to because it’s my body and she has no right in dictating how I drape it. A DIL cannot and would not even like to tell MIL what to wear so the same goes for her too. My going to gym, spending more time outside and having a life of my own is not harming anybody. If it bothers her or anybody that is not my responsibility. I do chores at home but I don’t do everything. If they feel there should be more dishes for dinner then they need to do something about it because I am fine with what I or anybody cooks.

      Another thing that helped me was that I stopped going after the title of good DIL. No thank you. It’s okay for me to be incompetent DIL. I would rather work towards something worthwhile. If MIL ever needs help I would help her out just like any other person but I will not serve her. Why not serve someone who actually needs help. Why not do some voluntary work instead.

      Another thing that really helped me was being firm. I would stick to my own opinion about myself than any inlaws. I trust myself that I am a good person and no amount of guilt tripping me would shake that belief. You need to repeat that to yourself when you are trying to do something for yourself that would bring an outburst. On the wedding MIL gave me a few bangles to wear and told me to never take them off. I hated them. I wore them for more than a year as I was not yet mentally prepared to handle the drama. And when after more than a year I did take them off she threw a fit. Shouted and screamed and yelled. But I was firm and refused to wear them and removed myself from her vicinity for the day. My husband said I could have avoided the drama by not taking then off. Well I did my space test. It was she who was crossing boundaries and she not just could have avoided the drama but had no business creating it in the first place. That belief in myself that I did nothing wrong is what helped me.

      Inspite of all these mechanisms I have for myself I am not so mechanical and have moments where I go through crying fits, don’t want to get up from the bed in the morning and face the world. I do feel I can achieve lot more without the drama in my life. But in the end it’s my belief in myself that I am a good person that keeps me going. I would not go for societal approval and set myself up for control. I would rather seek validation from within. Only god can judge me.

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      • Why are you still living with her? Can’t you move out? Living in an atmosphere like this is very harmful, no matter how much you use coping mechanisms.

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        • Fem I mentioned I don’t have a job. I have been trying but economy is bad and so is my confidence level. My earnings r haphhazard from some freelance work.I don’t have parents that I can go and live with. Husband is not ready to move out because she makes him feel guilty about abandoning his old single mother. So right now I can’t move out on my own or with him.

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        • I’m so sorry you are in this position. Please keep trying and applying for work. Do some course to pick up your skills again. Something will certainly work out soon. Hugs!

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      • Purple Sheep, this sort of constant (even if low-level) stress will wear you down. You may think you’re coping fine, but chronically elevated cortisol levels will age you faster, destroy your immune system, and generally lower your life quality. Also, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning sounds like the start of depression. Please do the best thing by yourself and remove yourself from this environment.

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      • hi, i just loved your reply. I fully agree with you. What you have said above is another form of “live and let live”. Unfortunately not many understand that. Thanks a lot, i will use this space test in my life too…:)

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  14. It seems like your husband supports you – he probably sees you suffering and wants you to not forget your own dreams too. Take his advice and try to make a life for yourself, your own identity.
    I was going to say for you guys to live separately but if he is the only son, I’m sure that would be difficult. If he also wants to live away then that could be possible. Your resentment is going to build unless you do not carve your own identity – try to get a part-time job, or study a course you always wanted to take – anything that gets you out of the house, by yourself, will feel like a vacation from all the hard work that you are doing! One has to nurture one’s own soul – or you are going to snap. It will be good for your marriage also if he sees you having your own interests, etc.
    It is hard for a woman especially – when you are a mother, a wife, have to take care of inlaws, household work etc – it’s like being an 8 armed goddess balancing everything. I think the main problem is that you are trying to please too many people, and not doing anything for yourself.
    Take baby steps…in the right direction. Take care of yourself too.
    From one mother to another….xoxo

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  15. This is really heart breaking.

    ” it would just give me a feeling that there is someone who at least understands me”

    I don’t understand you at all. I understand that you’re unhappy, and I’m not exactly surprised because it sounds like your life is terrible (like a worst case nightmare scenario for me, terrible). I don’t think your parents were open minded at all if they raised you to believe that having a boyfriend is the most terrible thing in the world. In fact, they’re probably only slightly less closed minded than your husband’s parents. I am a bit surprised because you seem to have chosen this life, and even the thought of doing something for yourself fills you with guilt.

    I do have a question though–for something really inconsequential like a TV, couldn’t you just buy a TV for your room? This way you don’t have to confront your FIL and you get to watch what you want.

    The only advice I could give is a) try to work outside the house and get therapy, couples and individual and then take it from there b) accept your life and try getting rid of this depression and anger by prayers. and meditation (if it were me I’d probably take a ton of sedatives every day to Stepford my way through this).

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  16. First things first, you write so well! Second, why do you feel guilty so much? – do you ask your in-laws and hubby if they feel guilty that for seven years you have rarely ever done anything by yourself, for yourself? If you did, what would they say? And third, it’ll be a lousy life indeed if we sit by the wayside, judging other people’s actions, thoughts, and reactions. My in-laws do havans like there’s no tomorrow, just like i listen to music and read books like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t know/care if they judge my interests but I certainly don’t judge theirs. What I do care about though is that I must have the latitude to opt out (and I do at times) of their pujas if it doesnt’t suit me. I wear what I want to, if I face some comments, I simply don’t react. This I had to learn, and the learning came at a price – there, I am with you. I learnt it by understanding that they come from a place very different from mine. I don’t seek to please them; if pushed a lot, I just politely say ‘but I like this better’. Although I personally feel nightie better stay in a bedroom. And why not! there’s so much nice stuff to wear😉 Look after yourself, what’s stopping you from joining some hobby class!? And please figure out whether your ILs’ inability to help themselves out comes from being incapacitated in any way or sheer unwillingness to do so resulting from that typical Indian feeling of entitlement to “seva”? I am not saying move out, but I do think you can’t be a bahu, maid, butler, servant, assistant all rolled into one. Let them take some responsibilities. I’ve made this crucial journey and I would love to share a few points:
    Put your marriage first (if there’s mutual love, respect, trust): if you are not happy, you can’t make anyone happy – neither hubby nor kids.
    Love thyself: why should you need focal points provided by these relationships to love yourself! Agreed you lived in a close-knit family but this one’s different. Why should you lose yourself?
    You can’t please everyone: It is absolutely to please everyone, and that too all the time.
    If you want change, you have to accept some unpleasantness along the way: no transition to any place is painless, effortless. If you want change, be ready to pay the price for it.
    Big picture: If you keep going this way, do you like what you see yourself as in the future? Now ask yourself first and foremost who has the power to change this situation – you or someone else!
    all the best!

    Like

    • I agree that you can do better than nighty. Also do take care of yourself. Nobody else will do it for you. Nobody will even encourage you to do that. Only you can make yourself your priority. Don’t make housework your priority. Plan your chores around yourself and not the other way round. Cut off some of the unnecessary work. Make it a point to have a healthy diet and get some exercise everyday. Even if it is going for a brisk walk with your iPod.

      Like

  17. Dear Indian Bahu,
    Being a homemaker is a profession in itself. Just because it doesn’t involve a paycheck, doesn’t mean that it is not important or difficult. I think your children, husband and in-laws are lucky to have someone who is at home to take care of their needs. And managing so many tasks can be quite overwhelming. So please don’t feel ashamed to use the term housewife to describe yourself. It’s a real job and just because it is “expected” out of you, doesn’t make it less so.
    You seem to be perceptive enough about your state of mind to realize that you are depressed. Realizing this and accepting this is a big step to changing the status quo. You have the strength to see things clearly and articulation has hopefully given you more power. Now, use that to propel yourself and make the changes you think necessary. What would make you happy? Start with describing that ideal situation and work backwards to figure out the tweaks which will get you there. Like a chess game, your moves have to be slow, thoughtful and strategic. You can start by getting a haircut and highlights. Nothing helps a makeover more than seeing yourself differently in the mirror each day.

    Like

    • I would rather advise her to stop doing free work at home, and go out and earn a paycheck, and tell the inlaws to get their own tea. It’s a little counter productive to ask her to stay in the same position that is keeping her down, under the circumstances.

      Like

  18. Generally speaking, you can either make yourself happy, or everybody else happy. You’ve been making everyone else happy at the cost of your well-being for too long. This has to change. Imagine living in this situation for the next 20 years! Speak to those at home. If they are not willing to change, and stop treating you like a workhorse without feelings and desires, you have to leave. Move back with your parents, and look for employment. With your command over English, some door should open.

    Your husband is an only male child, and it is his duty to take care of his parents within reason, NOT yours. You are not doing anything wrong by leaving those people who’ve been using you. Why do you want to sacrifice your best years to people who don’t even care? Please don’t feel an iota of guilt for leaving your in-laws. You agreed to be your husband’s wife, not his parent’s slave. If you don’t leave this toxic environment, you are only going to get more and more unhappy and frustrated as the years go by.

    The fact that you held up for so long shows you are an incredibly strong woman who can face any adversity. Others would have crumbled long ago. Since you have lived through the worst, you should be able to handle whatever curve balls life might throw in the future. We can never be happy if someone else is in total control of our life. Force yourself to take small steps, or even giant leaps, and reclaim your life. I wish you courage.

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  19. Indian Bahu,

    “I never had any boyfriend or even a thought of having one because I knew and believed that I will get true love from marriage and that had to be an arranged one as per my family tradition.” – This one statement tells me you did not come from a liberal family. Forget tradition, culture & think once – would you love someone, suppose even as a friend even without knowing them at all? Would they become your best friend because your parents & relatives seem to think so? Sometimes, we follow culture blindly and often because we have a sense of false superiority over other cultures. Your parents traditional set up may have worked out but that does not mean all arranged marriages will work out.

    “So i religiously preserved all my love for my future husband and waited for him to come in my life when it was destined.” – This is like waiting for prince charming – exists only in a fairy tale. Do we preserve all our job skills waiting for our parents to find the perfect job for us or send out resumes, try different jobs. Do we wait for the perfect roads to learn driving or we learn to drive? Do kids wait & save all their walking skills for one day? My biggest gripe with such logic is the fact that adults who have never been in love do not know how to deal with matters of the heart once they have issues in that area.

    “As I was in a close knit family I always wanted to have all the relations in my in-laws. (ie. parents-in-law, sister-in law etc.)” – Yes, you are welcome to wish that but the reality is we can’t get along with everyone right? Looks like you wanted the perfect Hum aapke hain kaun to play out in your life. Doesn’t always happen.

    “Now I am in such a family for last seven years where there are all the relations that I wanted but I don’t feel connected to anyone ……..but it seems there is something lacking.” – Welcome to reality. At the same time it is okay. Often, we think something will make us happy and when we get it we realise it does not. That is okay and we learn from it.

    “Our likes and dislikes are different, our tastes are different, our perspectives are different.
    My in laws are too traditional and follow the rules too rigidly and sometimes stupidly. It seems they are doing something because it has to be done and not necessarily needed to be done.” – Well we cant control other people but living with suhc people under one roof is annoying.

    “when there are guest I dont get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time.” – Don’t be! Make a chai, order some sweets from mithai wala & go chat with them. What you are lacking , I presume is social contact with adults. Make new friends. Hang out.

    “I cant wear what I want…even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent by them. I cant have a friend circle of my own…I cant go out alone…at least not for my personal indulgence.” – You sound like a prisoner to me. Helplessness like this is bad for your health – mental & physical too. This is horrible. The solution for this would be shattering your ideal indian family idea – move out into your own house. IF that made you happy, it will break all the ideals you held in your head, that ‘s why you are looking to reconcile everything within this situation. This makes me question if you are making yourself believe there is love in your marriage. Would you want to see someone you love lose who they are?

    “I dont get to watch TV as my FIL keeps the remote all the time and all he watches in news.” – Get a new tv in your room

    “I don’t know if I am making any sense or not but the fact is that the family and nature of people I grew up with and the family and people that I am with now are so different that I am not being able to be at peace in my own home.” – You have not been letting your personality out for so long, you are unsure of voicing yourself out. Like I said, you think it is your own home, but do others sharing the house think the same way?

    “My husband is the only male child of his parents and thus it becomes my compulsion to take care of them.” – Not yours, his. Who is taking care of your parents? Have you had been the only daughter, then wat?

    “They are not independent enough in attitude that they could live on their own” – Throw them in water, and they will learn to swim. Arey, you can move few streets away, nobody is telling to put your in laws in Antarctica alone. What were his parents doing when your husband was a baby. I think we should stop thinking that our parents can’t do without adult children. They were looking after us. Let us stop pretending they are kids because we are adults now.

    “And when I think of leaving them alone and live separately with my husband it give me a guilt felling as I feel it would be the worst thing to do to your parents.” – What about your parents? Guilt – the ultimate weapon used to control women. Condition women to feel guilty about self care, breaking tradition and we have got robots on which patriarchy runs. At the expense of whom, wait a minute, we make them feel guilty if they think of themselves & ask these questions.

    “But staying with them, following their style of living, taking care of their likes and dislike, accepting the restrictions on my freedom to do things my way is now driving me crazy. I have lost my confidence completely” – Your traditional ideals are breaking in front of your own eyes, honey. This is like something in the bible being proven wrong to a christian. If that shatters, they know everything will crumble. So, they desperately try to justify that one belief.

    “I am ruining my physical appearance as I have no interest in taking care of myself and looking good. – Please take care of yourself

    ” I sometimes feel that I am falling into depression as I am loosing interest in everything that I liked…I have no friends…I avoid inviting people at home.” – This kind of lack of control over your own life and helplessness is what drives humans into depression among other causes. Se, the very ideal of tradition you believe in relies on helplessness of many people mainly women. If you can’t invite them home, go meet them outside in cafes, go out shopping.

    “My husband hears me and agrees with the unjust behavior and expectations of his parents but I doubt if he actually understands my dilemma.” – then why does not suggest moving out, talking to his parents & telling them to back off. I guess he will say they are like that only, you adjust because we are younger.

    “I don’t want to hurt them and cant even please them. Don’t want to leave them alone and cant even live with them. Its like either they can have a life they want or I can have the life I want….both cant happen together.” – Sometimes, it can be either/or in life. How will you look out for others when you are in a state like this? Please get over this sacrifice conditioning.

    “My husband says that I should not bother too much about the likes and dislikes of my in-laws and should follow my aspirations.” – He is right. We want to be the perfect wife/bahu/mom/etc but we cannot be. Accept that.

    “But I feel caught as all the household responsibilities from kitchen to market, from to kid to guests and everything small or big related to the house is done by me with occasional and minimal help from others.” – Stop doing everything yourself!

    I am not saying it as a person who comes from a different society, i get where you are at. Sometimes, in life we have to critically question and analyse all the beliefs we have held without question & have blindly followed & change. Your time is now.

    Like

  20. Please get a job. Nothing is going to change without that. You need to be financially independent before you can start making demands because no one is going to take you seriously otherwise. And having your own money will give you a high level of confidence.

    Like

    • A job, or any other activity that gets you out of the house,improves your mood for and causes you to have your own schedule that make it impossible to take you for granted.
      (Saying this only because while a job is preferable, getting a job may not be that easy for somebody who has been out of the game for a while)

      Like

    • While you have a point, Fem, I believe a woman should be able to earn respect whatever her occupation. A housewife deserves as much respect as a working woman.

      Like

      • You might believe what you want, but in real life, she cannot make threats about leaving, etc. unless she is financially independent. The question is not about being respected, but being in a position to follow through with her threats if her demands are not being met. Basic respect must be given to everyone, but this is India and women are never shown basic respect here, so they need to find ways to demand it.

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        • Who says she wants to leave ? Why make threats and demands ? There are other ways to get respect. Starting by respecting yourself and setting healthy boundaries – which is true wherever you live.

          Where I live many working women get abused and don’t walk out of the relationship even though they have money.

          Like

        • And I would add that if I follow your logic, since I am the sole financial provider of the family at the moment, then I should not respect my husband and children and I should not meet any of their demands ? This is not a healthy basis for family life.

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        • Very well said Fem, absolutely agree with you on this. She needs to do whatever possible to get a job and earn her own money. In an ideal world we all want respect and dignity for whatever our role in life, but that is surely not happening with these in-laws who treat her just like a slave in my opinion. There is no other security or power in life like cold hard cash in your own name, nothing ever compares to it. No parents, no husband, no relations, they may come or go, have conditions or control you, or you have to beg/pray/hope for their mercy and goodwill, but money is money at end of the day. Sure this sounds selfish and materialistic but that is reality and women need to understand it instead of hoping and waiting for a prince charming to hand them everything on a silver platter. At least Indian prince charming come in the same package with horrendous in-laws. Just hope more women and their parents get this lesson and put foremost importance of being financially independent.

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        • @Victoria, I think she should leave. I have also lived in a control environment and even though I always did my own thing, ultimately, it is very exhausting to fight for everything. She seems even more stifled, so unless the inlaws change their ways, she should consider leaving. Setting healthy boundaries is all very well, but she has already allowed them to walk all over her for SEVEN years, so it’s not likely to happen without a major tug of war now.

          I never said working women cannot be abused. I am saying non earning women have nowhere to go if they are abused. Being financially independent is merely the FIRST step.

          And honestly, where on earth did you get that this is my logic that dependent people should not be respected? I am merely being realistic. Her needs are ALREADY NOT BEING MET. So she ought to take steps to look after herself. It is nice if you are respecting your husband and kids and fulfilling their demands, but it’s not true for many people. It’s as simple as that. Do you call what the LW is living ‘a family life’? I’m afraid I don’t.

          Like

      • You’re quite right. Women should, rightfully, earn respect whatever her occupation. But for some women, their occupation is not one that keeps them happy. Clearly, for the LW, being a housewife is not working out for her in the slightest. It is unfeminist to tell this woman that she should try and be happy in her occupation, and that she should earn respect, when even earning that respect wouldn’t make her position any more fulfilling.

        If a woman is happy being a housewife, telling her to get a job in order to earn your respect is wrong. But LW is not happy. It is time for her to try something new. Why not try a job and see how that goes?

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      • That’s utopian, Victoria. Indian housewives will never earn the respect of a woman who has the financial capability to follow through on her threat to take her children and leave.

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      • In this case, more than financial freedom, the woman needs a respite from the folks at home. It really sounds like she will go into depression staying with these people. Getting a job (even one that doesn’t pay well) will give her this break and will boost her self-confidence.

        Like

  21. Definitely find something to do for yourself- either a hobby, sport, job, a short course. Something that gets you out of the house even if it is for a few hoursa day. You will feel good and also be learning something new. Eventually everyone will get used to you having a routine and you will feel so much better..
    You say that you can’t go out alone..you really need to talk with your husband and tell him you need more freedom. Otherwise, you will be depressed for a very long time. Find the confidence to make changes now!

    Like

    • Personally, I think she should just get dressed and go out without telling anyone. She is not a prisoner in a jail, she can go where she pleases without informing anyone! This is not a matter that should be under discussion AT ALL.

      Like

    • “talk with your husband and tell him you need more freedom”

      She is not a slave who has to ask her master for “more freedom”. She can do whatever hell she wants without asking anyone, she is an adult, not a child. Oh my gosh, how are Indian women so brainwashed to not understand and CLAIM their basic rights as a human being? Who says slavery is eradicated from the modern world, they have definitely not been to an Indian household like the one above.

      Like

  22. First of all don’t be depressed, be happy and satisfied with you’re life. You need to change your self and become a much more happier which you were before your marriage.

    My advice

    Make yourself happy, why worry for others happiness when they torture day in and out
    Talk back to your MIL this will show her you are also an human
    Stand up for yourself and set boundaries that will show your in laws whose boss
    Ignore her criticism and shouting. In One Ear, Out the Other
    Start wearing western clothes and don’t you dare wear a sari anymore.
    When she starts giving you some random advice say I didn’t ask for your opinion in a firm voice
    Get your own TV. Don’t even turn up in the living room
    Don’t give them food at all. Not even to your husband
    Disappear from the house when uninvited guests come home
    Time to serve your MIL. Go to the beauty parlor or shopping instead
    Don’t tell anyone and Get a job and don’t arrive home before everyone else has eaten each time.
    Invite your friends home even if MIL disagrees
    Who told you to go to the market…don’t do that…If your MIL is hungry she will go herself

    If that idiot of husband is a mummy’s boy then you are crazy you still living with him. Separation is the only option. They will only respect you and value your worth after you show them you are a not a machine and have your own life.

    Don’t believe Hum Saath Saath Hai fairytale nonsense or even follow K soaps Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki

    Have you seen Meine Pyar Kyun Kiya


    Follow what Sushmita Sen did after Salman Khan persuaded her at 1:45.00 lol
    Jaag bhatiyar nari jaag

    I am not saying be rebellious like Sushmita was acting but be brave and show her you are not her servant

    If she kicks you out of the house after this…then its good…take your husband and live somewere else.

    You said your parents are modern so yes they will definitely understand you and your problems

    Like

  23. I suggest you continue your education and get a job. Don’t show your MIL you’ve gone weak and stuff. She will walk all over you. Just get out of the hellhole best advice i can give you. Don’t waste your life satisfying others. Find happiness around you

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  24. LW, the life that you thought would fulfill you and sustain your happiness has not delivered. Unfortunately, that is life. We expect certain things, but we do not always get those things. Expecting a wonderful extended family, with perfect in-laws and a perfect marital home with true love to boot–that’s a tall order to fill, even for the people who work for those things on their own! No matter what happens, we will always fall short somewhere. The key lies in learning how to deal with such disappointment, and how to move forward.

    So, now what? Your family has not delivered. The relationships you wanted are not there. No matter how hard you try, and how much you sacrifice, you find yourself unable to create these relationships that you want. You’ve gotten to a point where you’ve given up every resource in your bag to try and get these things, including letting yourself go and ceasing to take care of yourself.

    The first thing to do is to learn that it is okay to want things for yourself and to want to be happy. Prevailing culture will tell you that an Indian daughter-in-law who wants to be happy at the expense of her in-laws is a selfish b-i-t-c-h, who only cares about herself when she should be all-sacrificing. This is not true, and not only that, it’s impossible.

    The second thing to do is to learn that you cannot make everybody happy. You also cannot force relationships when there is just no hope of one being there. You cannot force your husband’s extended family to share the same, close, familial bond that your own family did. Relationships like that are a two way street. The other party also needs to be invested in it in order for them to work. Clearly your in-laws are not willing to be invested. So don’t bother. Yes, it is disappointing that you did not get everything you wanted out of your marriage–but such is life. This is a dose of tough love, but you have to learn how to deal with it. You cannot work on these relationships any more than you already have. It is important to know what to fight for–but it is also important to know when to let go. You can let go here. It is okay.

    The third thing to learn is to not feel guilt for learning the first two things. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to be happy. And don’t feel guilty for not working on those relationships with your extended family. Your mind will tell you that you do not have that close-knit feeling because you decided to not work hard enough to foster it. This is not true. Again, relationships like that are a two-way street. If your in-laws are not interested, there is no way to make it work, and you can’t force the issue.

    Finally, focus on the things that you can do. Start by setting time aside for self-care. You have a right to feel comfortable and confident in yourself and your appearance, and sometimes, just knowing that you look good can go a long way in making yourself feel better. Do one thing a day that you truly enjoy. If you like watching TV, invest in a pair of earphones and watch TV shows on your laptop or your computer. Get a Netflix account. Go take walks in the evening, to the library or some nearby park. Watch the sun set. Watch the sun rise. Make your favorite meal and refuse to share. Don’t do the chore that you hate doing the most, and use that time for something fun. There are many, many little things you can do that will slowly get your life back. The important thing is to do them.

    Like

  25. ” I never had any boyfriend or even a thought of having one because I knew and believed that I will get true love from marriage and that had to be an arranged one as per my family tradition.

    So i religiously preserved all my love for my future husband and waited for him to come in my life when it was destined”

    So here started all the problems in your life. This thinking i will never understand and if there is any indian that can explain how is possible that a normal person to think like this i will appreciate.

    My dear all that is happening in your life is your decision. In my personal thinking you can’t choose random a stranger, no matter how great looking it is , and just fall in love. You need more then to know few things about a person to be able to live with.

    We all have the life we deserve it and is not because we are good people or not. You can be more good then God but good things will not just happen to you. You should work for them. You should look for them. You should fight for them. If you just stay and cry and fall in depression, not taking decisions for your own good nobody will do that in your place. People are selfish and do the things for their own. Try to learn that nobody cares for you more then you care. Love yourself, care for yourself, be proud of what you are even you are just a dreamer, don’t let others killing your soul. After that you can love and care for others too, but first put yourself together.

    If you can’t do anything for you, then just do for others but don’t cry. Is your decision so be happy. Anything you choose in life, good or bad, just do it happy. If you are not happy with what you do today means that you need to change. Make the change, give yourself a chance and see what happens. Believe me God wants you happy, no matter if you care just for you or for others. God don’t give us life, the precious gift, to be sad.

    Like

  26. Pingback: “A Hindu woman derives immense pleasure in sacrifice for her husband. The white man will never ever understand this.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  27. “My husband is the only male child of his parents and thus it becomes my compulsion to take care of them. And when I think of leaving them alone and live separately with my husband it give me a guilt felling as I feel it would be the worst thing to do to your parents.”

    1. How does it become YOUR compulsion to take care of them?? Especially when they re treating you badly? Sorry, but this doesn’t make sense.

    2. You feel leaving parents is the worst thing to do to them? Then why did you get married and leave your own?

    Girl, stand up for yourself. It’s the only way you can make your life happier, and if you don’t do it, no one will. Not even your husband – if he hasn’t done anything to help you until now, he never will. Talk to him about moving out. Find a house near theirs if you must, but just get the heck out and start your own establishment where you live by YOUR OWN RULES AND STANDARDS. You are an adult !!

    Like

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