Sharing an email..
I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am to you, for your blog has been an eye opener to me and a solace in my times of sadness.
To begin my story, I am a well educated, 32 year old woman working in the software industry for the past ten years. I am doing very well for myself and consider myself to be successful as well as grounded. I come from an upper middle class family where education was of prime importance. I am the youngest of 5 siblings and as result was a very pampered kid. My parents are traditional as well as modern. My dad has been specially very progressive, as a result, all his kids were well educated and settled well. I grew up in a very open household which was full of opinions, joys, fights, arguments etc. Everything was welcome in my house. Craziness, Bad moods, guests, friends, decisions, everything from every kid was welcomed with open arms. There was always guidance, chiding, scolding, beating, but at the same time there was freedom and acceptance.
I have been living on my own after my graduation away from my parents and my hometown (all my elder siblings were away by then owing to their careers and families). Living alone has only added to my fierce feelings of independence and equality. I have been a responsible and a conscious person also.
My parents started looking for a guy for me after I hit 25. While I worked, I never really had any relationship or looked at anyone with the intention of marriage. So a love marriage was out of question for me. And the proposals for arranged marriages were not interesting enough or I was rejected one way or other.
My parents gracefully accepted my views and kept sending me new proposals, it was a cycle of constantly meeting guys and their families and sometimes talk to a few men away from families for a while and then reach a not so positive conclusion.
Years passed and I was still unmarried and happy in my own life and my friends.
Once I hit 30, my mother was specially stressed because of my unmarried status. She is the more traditional of the two. Relatives and the rest were continuously inundating my parents with unwarranted hints , analysis and advice as to why their daughter is still unmarried. In my community, frankly even the most broad minded and educated ones would find 30 year old spinster unacceptable.
My siblings and parents wanted me to get serious about marriage and make a decision for myself in favor of marriage. So I decided to give it a try on my own and registered on a matrimonial site.
Within a few days, I got talking to a man, in whom I almost found my replica. We started meeting and interacting and liked each other. He had lived in the US and had returned to India for good. It was just a family of 2 brothers and his youngest brother was married to a housewife.
My FIL was an educated govt officer and my MIL was a housewife. From what I got to know from him, they seemed like a normal family. My husband and I shared lot of common views about religion, marriage, kids etc which totally got us into each other. We told our parents and were happily married soon.
After my marriage, when I started living with them, it was tough for me to adjust to the new surroundings. I had to wear salwars only with a dupatta on always even at home (I was mostly a chick who wore jeans and shorts but I agreed to forego it because I felt for any traditional family to accept such stuff was a bit asking for too much), wear bangles (no one in my house wears bangles other than my mom wearing some simple 2 bangles), wake up early (I was living alone and woke up at 11), cannot stay out alone after 7 (I have been out till 10, alone, sometimes), cannot watch irrational(??) TV programs, and most importantly, I realized, to my sadness, they hated vocal behavior of any kind. No one speaks up against wrong in this house. Specially the ladies are supposed to shut their mouths, no matter what they think. Elders should always be treated with respect. Husbands have the last word. My FIL ruled the roost.
My husband I are atheists by choice and we do not follow any religious rituals. The rest the family is very religious, they pray and fast… blah blah.
My in laws are very nice people. On a general note, they never interfere in our lives, they are never rude or mean and they don’t impose religious restrictions on us. They have been good to my family and appreciate me whenever applicable. They are not fake or pretentious people. But one has to abide by the unspoken rules/culture in the house that I mentioned above.
My younger BIl is someone who probably has no character or any personality. He is just going with the flow and very much aligned to his parents and their way of life. I barely ever interact with him. But more or less, on some occasions, I see my PILs (Parents in law) side with him or prefer him over my husband. I understand that to be because my husband was away from them for many prime years and they were just more closer to their younger son. My FIL feels my husband is Americanized and he hates it.
My Husband supports the finances and my BIL also contributes to the household expenses.
My BIL’s wife is a young housewife related to my MIL through her sister.
She was married before me into the household. When I initially came into the house, it was very clear that she was immensely insecure about me. She has ill treated me on several occasions which I casually ignored thinking that she is young and immature. She sees competition with me in every single thing. I find this very annoying. If anyone praises me for any reason, her face goes all black and blue. She simply cannot see me getting better attention from my PILs. Many times she even did her fake praising B***S*** to me too, which I clearly expressed (not in words) was a useless act on her part.
She does not have any god forsaken opinion of her own. She is always ass-licking my MIL. Every decision (even when she will go to take a shower) about her, she consults my MIL and then does it. I feel as if my MIL secretly enjoys the control over this chick. Her hobbies are those that my MIL’s are. She has nice things to say about my MIL/FIL every minute. She will not eat a meal if my MIL is also skipping a meal. She has even gone to the extent of impressing my PILs by saying that her life has changed into great betterment after she married into this house. Basically meaning that her married life and family is much better than her previous one. I mean, Dude, which stupid girl on earth would think/say that!
I also got to know that she got some electronics as gifts (read dowry) from her house when she was married. I was severely disappointed in them after knowing this. Had I known this earlier, probably my decision to get married into this household would have been different.
Anyway I never claim/do such things. I am on my own. I don’t come in their way and they don’t come in mine. I did not get anything as dowry. I am polite and nice and keep myself in my room most of the time. I never give my ideas or opinions unless asked for. I don’t ask for permissions, have my own ideas in place and make my own choices. My husband claims that my PILs really like me a lot and find me to be a genuine, honest and well balanced person.
I accepted everything because I knew my husband was on my side an he was my kind. We shared a great relationship anyway. I found solace in the thought that my husband did not have any such views. My friends and family told me that my husband matters to me in the long run and not the others. I thought that I need to make some adjustments for his sake.
Eventually I began finding it very tough to tolerate my super buttering fake and liar co-sister and my MIL’s submissiveness. My MIl made sure her submissiveness is very well inherited by her DILs also. I am never ready for it but I do not confront or argue. I just ignore it. I was given all the cooking responsibilities. My co -sis does the other activities (sorting out groceries/crockery/vegetables, arranging the table, monitoring the maids). my MIl helps wherever needed (this is super rare, only when we are making some new dish). We have maids in our house for all house work and the cooking is not exactly tough or taxing. But waking up according to their timings (Am a chronic insomniac, they know it) and putting up a happy face and cooking whatever they want, even when I am tired after my long day in the office, while my co-sis sits in front of the TV and passes orders to me in the kitchen, really took a toll on me. While I make non stop dosas and rotis for everyone at the dining table, I am alone in the kitchen dishing it out to them, I cant stop feeling like nothing but a maid/cook. Staying in my room all the time in the house got into me. I found it completely unfair that I had more domestic work to do even though I am a working woman, while my co-sister naps all day at home and does not do much other than trying to impress people with her sugar coated senseless talks. My husband still claims that his mother has distributed the work equally among the two.
I turned sour, angry, began having mood swings and vented out at my husband. He would try to empathize initially, but after some time, I could see him getting irritated. I realized that complaining/pointing out problems to someone about their family is something no one will like.
I missed the freedom to go out whenever i wanted, eat/cook/clean whenever I wanted. I missed the freedom to just be myself, feel happy/sad/excited at my own will and at my own times.
I could see our relationship suffering too. It was clear that he thought that I was not adjusting to his house. He made it clear many times that I could have ended in a much worse situation and expecting an open house like my parents’ or a free life like my single life is simply not done. This is my secret disappointment in him.
Within a year, I am tired of the kitchen politics, of the subdued life, of the skewed morals and unspoken and unreasonable expectations. I seem to have changed myself so much now, that nothing seems to make me happy now. Am not ambitious now, put my career on a total back burner, worrying that I might have to spend a lot of time in office if I take up more responsibilities, rarely wish to meet people now, am always grumpy and sad for no good reason with feelings of regret and depression (I signed up for all this) always looming over me. I am just unable to make myself happy and feel like my dream of a happy marriage has crashed. Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. As a matter of fact, am simply over sentimental now (Totally opposite of what I was and seriously stupid) and lack clear views now.
My husband is also tired of this women issues at his place and he wants out separately.
But the problem is, I feel very guilty to do it. I just cannot see myself separating him from his family and living in the same city. Am sure he will be sad about it. I don’t feel like hurting his parents at all as they have treated me well enough.
It also scares me that I will be blamed for it and I will be seen as a villain in the family.
What should I do?
How do I get over these feelings and figure out the right thing to do in this situation.