‘Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.’

Don’t patriarchal gender roles get doubly reinforced for children who have grown up watching their fathers beat and emotionally abuse their mothers? When do they start grasping how much of what they have lived with is not ‘normal’ or right?

When do they begin to see and  then wipe away almost everything they have learnt about relationships? Please note the abuser could be a very involved, controlling and a very ‘demanding’, perfectionist  parent.

It can’t be easy to totally wash away the conditioning and to start rebuilding the part of their brain/thought process that helps them understand relationships, rights, personal space, equality, happiness, gender roles, family values? It would be like a mindset overhaul.

And then imagine doing this when almost everybody, most media, most family elders (generally trusted for knowing better), the legal system, friends from the same generation, colleagues, siblings and worst of all, even the victim – can’t see any need for ‘these trivial issues’ to be taken too seriously.

Sharing some answers to comments from the courageous young woman who wrote: “My in-laws don’t hate me at all. But ‘love’ isn’t about all this. ‘Love’ is about letting your loved one ‘live’.” –

– IHM

* * *

Thanks for giving my story a chance to go up. There are some comments from the viewers, and I realized I haven’t been clear about this issue.

1. Why did I not do my research before marriage?

 I did. I knew my husband. I knew his family. I knew all the fine print. But, could I simply break up with the one man I loved just because his father drunk? Was it his personal flaw that his father was like this? Did it dampen our love? The answer to all this is ‘no’.

I know this is controversial. I will go ahead.

2. How can you love someone who is sexist?

 

My husband isn’t sexist. He is a perfectly ‘normal’ person as every other feminist out there.

3. How can you claim this when he clearly didn’t support you in your trouble?

I reflected upon this and I asked my husband about this yesterday- “If you are really the nice person that you are now, why didn’t you support me then?”

Here is the feedback.

Every time I was away, my husband used to fight with his family for my rights. He fought through all the emotional drama, alone. He was branded a “gooja thookaravan”, the Tamil equivalent of JKG. He took it in his stride and still fought on. Nobody relented.

But, he never told me what was really going on, thinking he was protecting me. Sadly, he was also not very mature to deal with this situation very effectively and couldn’t bear this all alone- me complaining, his parents complaining. So, he’d get frustrated.

As to telling me to “adjust”, since his family clearly wasn’t giving up, he tried to persuade me to keep low until we figured out a solution. I must admit, it was my mistake too that I just panicked and freaked out instead of dealing with this situation as a mature adult should. I don’t mean a mature adult “adjusts”. A mature adult tries to find out workable solutions. I wasn’t mature. I just cried and like I said, tried suicide. I should have fought back in a decent but firm manner. I didn’t do that, even though my husband encouraged me to speak it out openly and politely to my in-laws if I couldn’t obey all their wishes. I was so scared of their censure that I didn’t do it, and I came back to complain to my husband.

4. How can a husband be supportive if he doesn’t help around with the chores?

How can a husband help around with the chores if he doesn’t actually know how to manage a household? You have to teach him. What if he is constantly discouraged from learning housework? He is hesitant and slow in learning even if he doesn’t believe in pelting all the housework on the wife. What if the wife herself is too young to teach him things? The couple has to learn things together.

And, that is precisely what we are doing now.

We both were absolute rookies. Like I said, MIL was a slave. He wasn’t used to being actively involved in the house. He had eventually become addicted to TV and then, lazy enough to procrastinate. He had his own frustrations (coming to that subsequently). But, he believed in helping around the chores and had promised me that before we married.

Million dollar question: Why didn’t he actually come round helping me then? Because I never really asked. I was too scared to ask him to help, what with his grandma staring at me with hawk-like eyes and passing an odd comment that “this was a woman’s job”. You see, there was social pressure too. It is an object of ridicule in my community if a woman isn’t good at all this. All the women I knew were absolute pros at single-handed household management. I didn’t want to be ridiculed.

When I finally overcame this and did ask him for help, I discovered that although he wasn’t unwilling to help me, he was actually a very bad procrastinator. He was quite lazy. To get anything done, I had to remind him over and over and over again. Result: he’d be cleaning up the hall at 3 a.m. in the morning after watching movies all night. Sexist society + husband’s general procrastination/laziness led to him being perceived by everyone as a sexist.

To be fair I wasn’t very different when I was single. I would simply nod to every chore my mom assigned me and ended up doing it very late or never doing it at all. Why is it so different if it is a man this time?

5. How are your first write-up and the remaining story so contradictory?

 

Because that is exactly how reality works in most educated middle-class families. People are conscious that they don’t want to be called villainous in-laws. The result: Internal politics.

To this date, I have never had a fight with my in-laws. They have never scolded me directly. They have praised me to heaven of course, before my parents and everyone else. The “daughters” in this family are treated the same way I am.

Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.

In fact, every time we meet, and the moment I turn on my charm (which, I must admit, I have a lot) people are too jovial and cordial with me to think about my flaws. My FIL openly declares to the world that I am his daughter not DIL. Though grandma does some “internal politics”, I’ll be the devil’s advocate- she’s 70 plus; you can’t expect her to simply snap out of her old-generation views. Grandma has affection for me, but she also wants to survive in this not-so-conducive environment. She is dependent on her alcoholic-wife-beating son even if she hates his behavior. But, she is helpless. She was also a victim in her days. Talk about vicious cycle. Anyway, I digress.

Whenever my ILs interact with me, it is so sweetly put, you would hardly figure out that they are actually encroaching on your space/being sexist/controlling you and most often, they end up convincing the listener. Eventually, you realize you are unhappy only when you have actually started doing what they said. My husband had warned me, but I took it lightly. I had no clue “politics” could be this bad.

For example, when my FIL told me to stop wearing jeans, he didn’t openly forbid me. He said, “Please wear salwar kurta/saree whenever you are going out with me. You can wear what you like when you and your husband go out alone. The society doesn’t approve of women dressing in modern clothes.” So, sweet and polite right?

Clincher: He was ALWAYS with us. Almost ALL our outings consisted of family trips. Finally we all moved in together. Result: I would get a cold stare every time I wore jeans, as I couldn’t “fulfill this very simple and reasonable request”.

If I cooked a bad meal, my FIL would sweetly instruct me to learn the right technique from MIL. Then he would call MIL and abuse her for “letting it pass her scrutiny”. I would feel guilty for having become the reason for my MIL being abused.

So what you all call “abuse” was so sweetly and nicely put and the folks were so openly affectionate otherwise, there was no evidence that their acts were making me unhappy. This is why my parents, who lived miles away and knew only secondhand information, persuaded me to “adjust”. I was also somewhat a spoilt kid, so my parents had no clue as to the “veracity” of my claims, as being very sensitive and emotional, I used to show more emotional responses than the cool reasoning of an adult.

In fact, it took me a very long time to discover the real reason why I was unhappy. There was hardly any evidence so I couldn’t pinpoint anyone. For the same reason, I couldn’t openly rebel or fight as I didn’t know how to subtly and firmly decline requests, without leaving evidence in my wake. I was either angry or happy. I didn’t have the tact.

One of my MIL’s SILs (my FIL’s brother’s wife) had openly rebelled and had got branded a “vamp”. My husband didn’t want that for me. Nor did I. (Now, we don’t care.)

6. How is your husband a worse victim of patriarchy?

 

My “abuse” was what you’d call an undercurrent and one had to really read between the lines to discover “abuse” in it, so the problems were more psychological than physical. With my husband, the “abuse” was full-on.

Since he had a work-from-home job, he was constantly bothered. He had to do the usual pick-up drop-at-even-odd timings routine even if people could simply take an auto to get somewhere. He was supposed to drive his parents around everywhere, including pilgrimage trips. They sent him out to get grocery, sometimes as many times as one grocery per trip, instead of giving a complete list. They spent exorbitantly, bending him with emotional drama. They made him run so many errands he was almost given a pink slip. Eventually, the company forced him to resign. He got another job, but it was recession and he couldn’t negotiate the salary as much for his experience. Then MIL says, “You dare not blame us for this. I saw your performance slip. You performed badly so they sacked you. It’s your fault.”

Much earlier back, they didn’t let him choose his own course, or a career. He was told to give up his job and move to another city to take care of his younger brother who had come to study there. He was told to send home his paltry salary of 6000, and as a consequence, he had to go hungry for a week. Despite all this, his younger brother was hailed as the best son and my husband was called “a misfortune to be born with my (FIL’s) blood”.

There is a lot more.

My abuse has stopped now. His hasn’t. Yesterday, he was down with fever. FIL called him and told him to pick him up and drop him somewhere. This would have meant a commute of 16 kms to pick up FIL, then 40 kms to the destination, then another 30 kms back home. My husband picked up his courage and refused. Result: My MIL was abused last night.

But, we have decided “not to interfere in their personal life”.

I know my husband has seen so much and he has a deep psychological trauma. The only thing that can heal this is true happiness- loads of happiness and freedom. Our primary aim now is to make each other as happy as possible.

BTW, I told him about this site and sent him a few articles to read. He enjoyed reading the “invisible person” blog.

Thank you IHM.

Related Posts:

‘An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives’

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

What makes some of us resent abuse victims instead of supporting them.

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

“I put my blood and raised my sons. Now the daughters in law are enjoying the fruit…”

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

An email from a Divorcee’s Daughter.

“A message is required to be sent, loud and clear that wife bashing has no place in a civilised society and violent husbands deserve no mercy,”

75 thoughts on “‘Unbelievable? Believe it. This isn’t your usual Ekta Kapoor serial.’

  1. //Result: My MIL was abused last night.//
    This gave me goosebumps. How can he get away with something like this? The jail is where your FIL belongs. You ought to call the police on him.

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    • Me too. At least these two are not responding to his manipulation via beating the MIL so they’re not enabling him anymore. The MIL keeps enabling him though. Scary.

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      • Thanks for commenting scribblehappy.
        That was precisely my first reaction. Unfortunately, things cannot be as simple as that.
        I have studied some criminal law and I hope you noted the part where MIL thinks “her personal affairs” are “not anybody’s concern”. Do you really think she will testify in a court of law? Because, if she doesn’t, which is for sure, we lose the case and go back to square one. FIL gets angry that we dared “disgrace the family name”. MIL gets more beatings.
        BTW her sons tried this once. She once called them to rescue her from this man. When the brothers turn up at their parents’ place, to put it in my husband’s words, “They were almost canoodling. We had been taken for a ride.”
        FIL had bought MIL a saree or two and cheered her up and she had turned all pativrata. So much so that she told the very sons she called to rescue her, when they tried to confront their father, “You should respect him. After all, he is your father.”
        Life is more complicated than you think. It isn’t black and white.

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    • That was the thing that hit me most! That scumbag is a criminal of the worst order and deserves life imprisonment, so he cannot harm another human being ever again.

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    • Thank you for your comment.

      That was MY first reaction. But, it isn’t so easy to lodge a police complaint against a family member and live with it. Like it or not, Indians live as a part of the society and not as an individual. More than the apparent “shame” that would result in, there was another thing here.

      I hope you didn’t pay attention to the part where MIL declares this is “their personal matter”.

      Having studied some criminal law myself, if the very spouse who is abused refuses to testify so in the court of law, we won’t have a case at all. Everyone goes home. FIL gets angrier and abuses MIL more.

      BTW the brothers tried rescuing their mom once. She called her sons and asked them to take her away with them. They apply for leave and turn up at their parents’ house only to see these two behaving as if nothing had happened. In fact, my husband says, “She was smiling, sitting near him, feeding him his dinner.” Apparently, FIL had bought her a couple of new sarees to cheer her up. The brothers were taken for a ride.

      When they confronted their father, she told them to “have some respect”.

      Like I said, you can’t help someone with NO SELF-RESPECT.

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  2. @the LW–Kudos to you for overcoming all of this. Kudos to your husband for taking steps to rectify the situation (though IMO he still has a lot of work ahead). You weren’t kidding when you said your community is known for being super orthodox.

    “Don’t patriarchal gender roles get doubly reinforced for children who have grown up watching their fathers beat and emotionally abuse their mothers?”

    I don’t think they get doubly reinforced. I do think they get reinforced in a different way. This allows a mentally ill individual, an individual with anger management issues, a poorly socialized individual (etc) in power (such as the LW’s FIL) to completely abuse everyone around them because it’s culturally sanctioned.

    There used to be a blog called Big Bad Blonde Bahu in which the author described her MIL’s behavior which I would call extremely abusive and clinically paranoid. [IMO] the MIL needed mental health help asap–but because she was the elderly MIL and everyone was expected to do exactly as she said, regardless of how awful or ridiculous she was being, her issues were never addressed.

    “It can’t be easy to totally wash away the conditioning and to start rebuilding the part of their brain/thought process that helps them understand relationships, rights, personal space, equality, happiness, gender roles, family values? It would be like a mindset overhaul.”

    I agree. At the same time, how much leeway (or free pass) should a person brought up in such a environment get?

    This particular LW is willing to overlook a period of what I would describe as severe negligence at best because she is willing to give her husband that chance. I don’t think this should be expected of everyone. I would completely understand if someone else in this position said ‘good bye messed up family’ and never looked back.

    This reminds me of the time when a lot of people (many of them young women) were rushing to defend Chris Brown when he beat up Rihanna with ‘his stepfather used to beat up his mother so he’s psychologically damaged.’ While personal responsibility versus social brainwashing is a gray area, I don’t think it’s correct to give violent or even negligent partners a free pass on behavior.

    On a lighter note, I was raised, as an only child, by a stay at home mom who was obsessed with keeping the house clean. When I met my now husband, I made sure to eat take out in disposable cups and plates so that I wouldn’t have to rinse anything and keep it in the dishwasher (I was that lazy). I can guarantee you that we’d have no relationship if I expected him to pick up my coffee mugs simply because I was raised that way and I didn’t know how to do ‘housework.’ As an adult, we can’t fall back on the crutch of saying ‘well, this is how we were raised.’

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    • //I would completely understand if someone else in this position said ‘good bye messed up family’ and never looked back. // I agree Kay.
      Edited to add: I would too. But I would also understand giving someone a chance and supporting them in helping themselves and the spouse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kay

      I hope I have made it clear that my husband tried to defend me from his family while I was away. I have written it right there. He also encouraged me to decline their requests, though respectfully enough as to not give anyone any “evidence”. My part of the fault is that I was too emotional to deal with this situation tactfully. My husband’s fault was that he was equally clueless. He may not have been effective in fighting back. But, he DID NOT SIT BACK AND WATCH. I know the difference between sexism and genuine confusion. This was not the former.

      And, how long or how hard can anyone oppose if his mother keeps getting beaten up in front of him for his every opposition? Think that being from another family, I was myself so worried about my MIL getting beaten, why wouldn’t her own son?

      I don’t blame you. I would have responded the same way when I was single. But, like someone said earlier, you don’t understand reality until you are IN it. Everything is easier said than done. It is very difficult to thwart abuse if it is tinged with so much of “affection” or at least “perceived affection”.

      As far as dumping my husband is concerned, I have my own flaws. I was emotional. I was insecure. I constantly worried. That didn’t provoke him to dump me. When you love someone, you love all of them, even the parts that aren’t lovable. I knew him enough to believe that with a little persuasion and real love, he will change. And, I am right.

      Thanks for commenting.

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      • @The LW–absolutely! I definitely didn’t mean to imply that you should dump your husband or that he didn’t defend you. I meant that I would understand it if someone else in your position chose to walk away from this relationship in spite of the fact that the husband is also a victim of abuse.

        Wish you guys all the best in the future!

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      • @the author of this blog , marriage is not a ” who has more flaws” game.. i definitely have more flaws than my husband but if my husband let his parents treat me that way..i will leave him(personal choice) because my flaws and his flaws are “ours” to deal with and accept , but not standing up for me in-front of his parents is NOT what i signed up for . Same with my parents too .The persuasion, you don’t owe to him. loving the “unloveable” traits just makes no sense… sorry i don’t mean to be harsh here , they r “unloveable” for a reason aren’t they ? it was your choice to give it a chance..nd thats perfectly okay but saying you were flawed too or why he didnt leave you is irrelevant.

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        • Thanks for commenting.

          I just wish you had read the part where I actually asked him this question. Turned out, as I have written here indeed, that he DID FIGHT with them for my rights. Just that I wasn’t present there at the scene. Please read that part once again. You’d understand I’m not stupid enough to be treated as a doormat and still laud it.

          Being confused in a new situation initially isn’t a character flaw. He was as confused as I was. Nobody had really come with such opposing views into this family before and the one woman who did it was facing serious repercussions. No DIL had ever been like me. So, naturally, everyone took their time to figure out what to do.

          BTW, the decision to move out was actually made by my husband. He sat down, orchestrated the plan and executed it carefully while I simply sat and complained.

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        • Thanks for commenting enthusiast.
          I have clearly specified in the blog that I asked my husband about this and the truth is he WAS NOT sitting and watching his parents abuse me. In fact, most of the time
          He just didn’t TELL ME what exactly HE was doing to remedy the situation. Please read that part in the blog again.
          I mentioned flaws because these same flaws were exactly what couldn’t let him act effectively. He had the intention, and the will to do things right, but the means he was adopting to do it wasn’t efficient. For instance, whenever he fought with FIL on my behalf, FIL adopted his same stubborn policy of abusing MIL/calling my husband names/disowning my husband/going on hunger strikes/threatening suicide etc. Not many people can deal with such violent persons. My husband couldn’t. For the record, even I couldn’t. Should we have divorced each other for this flaw?
          We chose to provide each other strength instead, as we had done in our dating days. If he were really the kind of person you are picturing, he’d not have taken a move today or any day. The fact that he did it shows that he was worth supporting.
          I am sorry if my write up was confusing that lead you to such a conclusion.

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  3. Such a brave and sane response, LW! Wishing you and the husband loads of happiness and peace. I hope your husband and his mother are some day able to break free of the abuse and feel valued. I fear that it is next to impossible for your MIL, given for how long the abuse has been going on, but maybe one day your husband can feel strong enough and then you can both help her build the courage to stand up for herself and be her own person.

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    • Dear Pallavi,

      Thanks for commenting.

      We are already strong enough to support her. We gave her that option. I personally said that she can move out and join us.

      But, she simply refuses to accept that she isn’t happy with her husband. I think it is pretty clear from the fact that she puts up with this and still insists it is “personal matter”. I have tried counseling her to no avail. In some ways, she is as stubborn as her husband.

      The worst part is, this is the only person in this family who genuinely loves me. She understood us and upheld our decision to go separate, even while knowing that she was losing her last refuge. She is the only person in this family I genuinely love and care for. I still call her on my own. She still suffers. She is severely diabetic too.

      You cannot help someone with no self-respect. It has to come from within.

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      • She has been broken, LW. It has happened over such a long time that it’s her new normal and that is so sad that it breaks my heart. It shows your maturity and magnanimity in offering to physically get her out of her god awful situation and provide her alternate living. I hope you and your husband will continue to grow together and break free of the abuse.

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      • I agree. It has to come from within. I hope it does, some day soon enough. I wonder how high her bullshit-taking threshold is, and I hope it reduces… it’s causing her and those who love her too much pain!

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  4. Great to read your thoughts and it’s completely true that abuse like this is so insidious and the manipulation so ‘sweetly’ done, that you slip into the trap before you realise there is one. It sounds like your husband and you can both really use your own space. This cycle of manipulation and control is toxic and it’s great that you were able to get out, for both your sakes. A lot of people just give up and carry on because ‘aise hi hota hai’. You did well.

    I think the FIL saying things like ‘please don’t wear jeans when you are with me’ or ‘learn this technique from your MIL’ are actually offensive, no matter how sweetly put. It’s not the FIL’s place to tell the DIL what to wear, no matter what ‘society’ thinks, she is a grown adult. Also, if he’s getting cooked meals without lifting a finger, it’s downright rude to then be judgemental and abusive over their perceived ‘flaws’. My honest reaction is ‘don’t like my cooking? feel free to make your next meal yourself!’.

    The issue is that society primes us to expect this behaviour and tells us that it is ‘reasonable’ for a woman to be told these things by her in laws. Such conditioning lowers our standards so much that such controlling and offensive ‘requests’ seem reasonable. Otherwise women would probably say ‘no, I’d rather not actually’ at the very first instance of abuse. I do feel for your MIL who puts up with beatings and still is unable to step out of her conditioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • //think the FIL saying things like ‘please don’t wear jeans when you are with me’ or ‘learn this technique from your MIL’ are actually offensive, no matter how sweetly put. It’s not the FIL’s place to tell the DIL what to wear, no matter what ‘society’ thinks, she is a grown adult.//

      Thanks for the reply carvaka. My thoughts exactly. Sorry I didn’t mention it.

      However, here the attitude shifts from being controlling to more of protectiveness or what you’d call the Indian way of expressing goodwill. Though I agree the roots are all in patriarchy. But as far as most people are concerned, my FIL’s statement would have sounded like his genuine concern for my social status perception. This has even more social sanction.

      We as Indians have a long way to go.

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      • “But as far as most people are concerned, my FIL’s statement would have sounded like his genuine concern for my social status perception. ” – Sad, but true.

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        • And sometimes it is genuine concern on their part, too. In-laws/in-law-like figures are often under intense social scrutiny themselves. My ex-boyfriend’s mom would want to offer me lifts in their car everywhere. She was quite a darling(albeit somewhat patriarchal person) and I swear she did this in goodwill and had no idea why it would annoy me. My mom asked me to “see the good intention and not overreact.”

          My current boyfriend’s mom(not Indian but from a pretty traditional society) in reasoning with him about why he should not sleep with me(HA HA) said “how would you feel if (insert his sister’s name) did this?” She is also (clearly) slightly patriarchal but sweetheart of a person. When my mom heard this, despite her very feminist views and personal lack of objection to my sexual autonomy, she said, “well in our Oriental societies this just signifies concern. In fact, if she had just told him to have safe sex, I would have doubted the family’s intentions.” I lectured my mother long and hard and angrily about how messed up her reasoning was, and she quite regretted it eventually, but most people DO think of affection in terms of protection in our country(and countries like ours). If it was the instinctive reaction for a truly radical feminist like my mom, no doubt it is for many other people.

          Good for me, I have always exactly spoken my mind to all partners’ families, no heed to my mom’s advice. Never had a problem in getting along with them. If it just concern and not control, they won’t care at all.

          Of course I haven’t been married to their sons, and that’s a whole other more institutionalized deal, but the ex’s parents pretty much assumed we would be married, as it was a very long and involved relationship, and they still seemed to like me and accept me.

          Very different from this situation, none of the people concerned were abusers. But control is pretty insidious and sometimes good intentions can be manifested as control, was my point.

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  5. Its very nice of you to answer all the questions raised here, albeit i wanted to ask you one more question, you said you dated for 3 years..im just curious, did you not know about the physical abuse by your FIL before hand?I m sure its important enough to be discussed before your marriage, you were moving in with them…you had to know what to expect right? if you knew in advance, were you okay with moving in with them , living in the same house with a physically abusive guy? And if you didn’t know beforehand its a very big piece of information to keep it from you,Don’t you think? I m just wondering how could a rational person like you would place herself under such circumstances?

    what your husband had to go through is very sad, but it still doesn’t give him a pass to not act even after your suicide attempts.if he cannot fight his demons..he shouldn’t let you suffer . you are not responsible for them. A bit of trivia here, In physically abusive fathers cases,many a times the physical abuse stops as soon the son gets strong /big enough to fight the father , the abusers are generally cowards and are terrified of a stronger objection. May be its high time he stood up for himself, his mother nd you. all it needs is an open discussion, objecting their “affectionate” rules openly. what is so scary about expressing your dislike to their interfering rules???

    Why cannot you with the same affection deny their illogical requests? if your own parents said that to you “to not wear jean etc” would you not be offended? however sweetly they put?

    Lastly,my Husband grew up in a very emotionally manipulative family as well , he wanted to add his two scents hope it helps . – ” i definitely understand why your husband “couldn’t” take your side openly ..i have been there too , but what i don’t understand why he “wouldn’t” .!? Even if he has been a victim of abuse ,he just cannot hide behind it and let you go through the consequences ! Its just no excuse.He should gather courage and do the right thing! “

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    • just wanted to add , @author of this blog, you said you knew the difference between sexism and ‘genuine confusion’ … i wanted to ask what is the genuine confusion here? should i object to the ill treatment of my wife or not? is that the confusion? “he encouraged you to openly but “politely” object to you in laws …if he wanted u to do be so polite, why cannot he object his own parents?

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      • Exactly, I don’t see any confusion here about what is right or wrong. No doubt about it, he just refused or was too scared or lazy to take a strong stand and defend his own wife. Come on, it was bad enough that she tried to commit suicide, inexcuable, confused or not. He is an adult who should have grown and up taken responsibilty of marriage. What the hell with politenss crap toward Indian in-laws. If someone is mistreating and abusing me, respect/goodwill/politeness is least of my concerns. Go hell with being polite, this FIL should thank his stars and the screwed up Indian legal system and society that he is not spending rest of his life in jail. A despicable wife beater deserves absolutely no polieteness in my book.

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      • //just wanted to add , @author of this blog, you said you knew the difference between sexism and ‘genuine confusion’ … i wanted to ask what is the genuine confusion here? should i object to the ill treatment of my wife or not? is that the confusion? “//
        No. The confusion was as to how to create an intelligent workable plan.
        His open objection wouldn’t have solved anything. The only result would have been FIL turning more abusive. We had EVERYTHING against us: the society, the extended family…every single person, except probably my father, who still didn’t know the entire thing clearly.
        //he encouraged you to openly but “politely” object to you in laws …if he wanted u to do be so polite, why cannot he object his own parents?//
        He could object his parents much as I could object mine. You cannot take the same rights with your in-laws. Try that sometime.

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        • “You cannot take the same rights with your in-laws.”

          You mean, cannot take the same rights as you do with your parents? Or perhaps cannot take the same rights that your partner does? I do. I refuse to accept any less. My in-laws are very progressive and generally nice, so it’s not a source of friction.. but often it doesn’t match their expectations.. but I still do because those are the terms that I will live my life on. We must stop accepting this ‘cannot’ philosophy. You can and you must. Don’t let anyone trick you into believing otherwise.

          Like

    • //Its very nice of you to answer all the questions raised here, albeit i wanted to ask you one more question, you said you dated for 3 years..im just curious, did you not know about the physical abuse by your FIL before hand?I m sure its important enough to be discussed before your marriage, you were moving in with them…you had to know what to expect right? if you knew in advance, were you okay with moving in with them , living in the same house with a physically abusive guy? And if you didn’t know beforehand its a very big piece of information to keep it from you,Don’t you think? I m just wondering how could a rational person like you would place herself under such circumstances?//
      We all knew about it. We just didn’t expect him to continue the same way in front of his DIL. You see, flawed as joint families are, there is still some apprehension about the prospective DIL and her family, and people are very conscious these days to put on a good image. In about the 2 years before my marriage, there was no abuse or fight. So, we all assumed, albeit wrongly, that FIL had changed.
      We were wrong. Grossly wrong.
      //what your husband had to go through is very sad, but it still doesn’t give him a pass to not act even after your suicide attempts.if he cannot fight his demons..he shouldn’t let you suffer . you are not responsible for them. //
      I asked him. He DID ACT. Please read that paragraph again. We gradually progressed from staying within the family and opposing their moves to finally moving out. It isn’t all the failure to act. There were some other logistic problems, unrelated to the domestic situation, which prevented us from moving out.
      //A bit of trivia here, In physically abusive fathers cases,many a times the physical abuse stops as soon the son gets strong /big enough to fight the father , the abusers are generally cowards and are terrified of a stronger objection. May be its high time he stood up for himself, his mother nd you. all it needs is an open discussion, objecting their “affectionate” rules openly. what is so scary about expressing your dislike to their interfering rules??? //
      This interesting trivia is what we expected. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you have a very big misconception here. Not all abusers are cowards. Some ACTUALLY have really manipulating smart minds that you have no idea of.
      My FIL cannot be shaken. We have already tried out everything you have said.
      //Why cannot you with the same affection deny their illogical requests? if your own parents said that to you “to not wear jean etc” would you not be offended? however sweetly they put?//
      My bad, yes. I wasn’t brave enough. In fact, I couldn’t distinguish if it was abuse or reasonable because of the niceties. Everyone else around me was normalizing this so much, I was ridden with self-doubt. Was I right? Was I wrong?
      This is purely my part of the mistake.
      //Lastly,my Husband grew up in a very emotionally manipulative family as well , he wanted to add his two scents hope it helps . – ” i definitely understand why your husband “couldn’t” take your side openly ..i have been there too , but what i don’t understand why he “wouldn’t” .!? Even if he has been a victim of abuse ,he just cannot hide behind it and let you go through the consequences ! Its just no excuse.He should gather courage and do the right thing! “//
      He has done the right thing. We sat together whenever we could, schemed, plotted and executed our opposition plans in the typical serial villain way. I cannot describe in detail how much impact our little evil plans have brought about.
      Problem was, while he was fighting them, I was still chicken myself. I should have stood along and fought alongside. But, I simply cried and complained. So, well, any man would lose his courage.
      I don’t think it is fair to blame him when I myself didn’t take responsibility to thwart them in our initial days. Instead, I stupidly tried suicide. Come to think of it, if I had “dealt” with my problems from the very beginning instead of “adjusting” and then getting frustrated, all this could have been avoided.

      Like

      • “Not all abusers are cowards”

        ANYONE who physically abuses a person knowing that he/she will not retaliate is a coward of the worst sort. He may be manipulative, “smart”, etc, but that hardly negates his cowardice. Besides, there is mental illness/psychopathy/severe inferiority complexes deep down that makes him derive pleasure in controlling and abusing – ideally, he SHOULD be locked up, either in a jail, or a mental institution.

        Given that that’s not going to happen, maybe you could threaten to let the world know about his abusive habits if he so much as lays a hand on your MIL? You’re in his bad books anyway, in for a penny, in for a pound – threaten him with humiliation, the police, a mental institution, whatever.

        An even more hard-hitting threat: Tell him he’ll never lay eyes on any of your prospective children – that you simply cannot let a physical abuser anywhere close to your children, and you’re very sorry, but that’s that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for commenting Thumbelina.

          Why threat? We are actually GOING TO DO that. I screamed bloody criminal to our entire extended family and used his own techniques on him. Now, we have the social sanction. We are not going to let that man manipulate our child.

          As far as “saving MIL” is concerned, only she can save herself now. We cannot threaten FIL with anything. His own abused wife supports him and you’d be surprised how wholeheartedly she does it.

          Like

      • Thanks for bursting my non existing bubbles🙂

        Quote /”He has done the right thing. We sat together whenever we could, schemed, plotted and executed our opposition plans in the typical serial villain way. I cannot describe in detail how much impact our little evil plans have brought about.”/

        He didn’t stand up for you , he was paying 6000 rupees by going hungry nd now you both are paying the EMI , for a house you don’t live in or get rent out of and your name is not even on the agreement. all these all facts stated by you..i m not assuming anything here , so what has changed?? Yes you moved out, nothing much other than that !

        i must commend your patience nd tolerance , my head started spinning by just reading how much you mentioned “plotting, scheming and execution” nd “evidence” “social sanction” Oh my god… we are just talking about relationships here right? relationships where people communicate nd solve issue like adults? ” typical serial villain way” – you are now contradicting your own statement, you just said its not like typical ekta kapoor serial , then why act like a villain?

        Oh and by the way , why is social sanction so important to you ? i mean you know society is filled with patriarchal cult followers right? if you are seeking their approval what are you doing differently than your MIL?

        This would be my last response here anyway as i dont think i can contribute any thing extra.

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        • Unfortunately, some families are really messed up in their understanding of adult communication.

          My ex-husband’s family genuinely believed that it was fair and natural to ask a DIL/wife to tolerate disrespect and abuse. This is what my ex-MIL told me: “This is all a part of married life. That’s how things are. All women learn to live with it including (insert name of random neice). You need to be more understanding”.

          Like

  6. When I read the previous post I found the LW very courageous and strong to have been able to ‘see’ through the abuse and actually come out of this abusive situation. However after reading this post I feel she is still not able to see everything clearly and acknowledge. I feel she is justifying her husband for everything.

    //Don’t patriarchal gender roles get doubly reinforced for children who have grown up watching their fathers beat and emotionally abuse their mothers? //

    It depends on a lot of factors. I too have seen my mother being a victim of domestic abuse. How did it affect me? It affected my self esteem(because it took me time to know it was not my fault but it did sink in) but no way any gender roles are reinforced for me. What my father did was wrong and wrong and wrong. I will not let any man do that to me. Infact it has made me more sensitive to equality.

    //When do they begin to see and then wipe away almost everything they have learnt about relationships?//
    There is no need to wipe. You acknowledge, judge and take positive steps. You must do some introspection before you take important decisions like marriage and do the appropriate work before making another individual involved.

    // When do they start grasping how much of what they have lived with is not ‘normal’ or right? //

    I am sorry I cannot answer that because I lost my mother when I was 9(not because of my father). But for me my father was always wrong. We have not seen each other for more than a decade. I have always felt my situation was ‘not normal’ and ‘not right’. I was aware I had issues like I always remained in a shell but I never harmed another person and cannot see anyone else do that. Nor did I think a man can rule over a woman. I am constantly working on myself. However when I look back I had not always been so aware about my issues. To acknowledge(with justification and without judgment) you have issues is the first step. I think LW has to stop justifying for him. First acknowledge he has issues(like seeing his wife to bend backwards to keep a house according to MILs even if she doesn’t complain.)

    //It can’t be easy to totally wash away the conditioning and to start rebuilding the part of their brain/thought process that helps them understand relationships, rights, personal space, equality, happiness, gender roles, family values? It would be like a mindset overhaul.//

    It is not easy but it is the most fundamental thing to do when you are an adult. We must be brutally honest with ourselves. When we are taking an important decision in life like being a parent or getting married we must evaluate ourselves honestly. We must do the required work before getting married because it is your responsibility to build healthy relationship with your partner.

    I think you are justifying him and making excuses for him. It would be better he starts psychotherapy to heal his past.

    Like

    • The comment was getting way too long so let me add more.

      1.//But, could I simply break up with the one man I loved just because his father drunk? Was it his personal flaw that his father was like this? Did it dampen our love? The answer to all this is ‘no’.//

      Agreed that you love and him and do not wish to break up with him. However I do not understand why did you have to marry right away. Maybe you should have given it more time and helped him heal before taking the plunge. Since you knew of his drunk father maybe you both should have worked out different living arrangements. It is irresponsible to bring in another human being to a messed up family. I am not saying you both should repent your decision. But accept and learn from the fact that you both acted irresponsibly. You both cannot make excuses that only the family was at fault.

      2.//My husband isn’t sexist. He is a perfectly ‘normal’ person as every other feminist out there.//
      I am sorry but it is sexist to make your wife live with your family.

      3.// I must admit, it was my mistake too that I just panicked and freaked out instead of dealing with this situation as a mature adult should. I don’t mean a mature adult “adjusts”. A mature adult tries to find out workable solutions. I wasn’t mature. I just cried and like I said, tried suicide. I should have fought back in a decent but firm manner. I didn’t do that, even though my husband encouraged me to speak it out openly and politely to my in-laws if I couldn’t obey all their wishes. I was so scared of their censure that I didn’t do it, and I came back to complain to my husband.//
      Dear LW please don’t beat yourself about not being to stand up to them in a mature way. In a situation like this you can break down completely. Its okay. Its your husband’s duty to see to your physical and mental safety because it was his family who was was misbehaving.

      4.//How can a husband help around with the chores if he doesn’t actually know how to manage a household? You have to teach him. What if he is constantly discouraged from learning housework? He is hesitant and slow in learning even if he doesn’t believe in pelting all the housework on the wife. What if the wife herself is too young to teach him things? The couple has to learn things together.//

      Still you are using words like ‘help around’ not doing ‘his share of chores’. You are once again making excuses for him.. You mean its okay for him to not know housework and therefore not do anything about it but just sit around. Even you didn’t know housework so why not you too sit around? It is not your prerogative to teach him when you yourself are learning. Yes the couple has to learn things together so why didn’t he do it for past one year.

      //Million dollar question: Why didn’t he actually come round helping me then? Because I never really asked.//
      You don’t have to ask someone to do their share of work. Period.

      //To be fair I wasn’t very different when I was single. I would simply nod to every chore my mom assigned me and ended up doing it very late or never doing it at all. Why is it so different if it is a man this time?//
      Because you both are equals. You don’t assign tasks to equals…you share tasks. So if you could do with your mother why couldnt you do it with your inlaws?

      5.//To this date, I have never had a fight with my in-laws. They have never scolded me directly. They have praised me to heaven of course, before my parents and everyone else. The “daughters” in this family are treated the same way I am.//
      Praise is another way of control. Its either stick or carrot that they apply in this dysfunctional family. Did you notice that? If the daughters are treated the same way it doesn’t do them any credit because by the end of it daughters are treated bad too judging by your treatment. Abuse doesn’t have to be highlighted in red.

      //“Please wear salwar kurta/saree whenever you are going out with me. You can wear what you like when you and your husband go out alone. The society doesn’t approve of women dressing in modern clothes.” So, sweet and polite right?//

      Ummn no…I wouldn’t call it sweet and polite. I would call that highly inappropriate and objectionable of a FIL to tell his DIL what to wear(no matter if his tone was dripping honey, thanks but no thanks). How did your husband react to this? Would you be okay if your mother instructs your husband on a dress code whenever he has to be with her?

      //He was ALWAYS with us. Almost ALL our outings consisted of family trips. Finally we all moved in together. Result: I would get a cold stare every time I wore jeans, as I couldn’t “fulfill this very simple and reasonable request”.//

      I would refuse to go with an abuser and that too at his prescribed dress code. If this request is so simple and reasonable why don’t you also make a simple and reasonal request in a polite sweet voice and using that charm you claim to have in abundance to not ask you for any outings? I am amazed that a person feels his request of dressing up according to him is reasonable enough compared to beating his own wife.

      //One of my MIL’s SILs (my FIL’s brother’s wife) had openly rebelled and had got branded a “vamp”. My husband didn’t want that for me. Nor did I. (Now, we don’t care.)//
      I am glad that now you don’t. That amazing!!!

      6.//With my husband, the “abuse” was full-on.//
      I think he was not responsible enough. He brought another person into his dysfunctional family. He should have first dealt with his issues, moves out, healed and then married. But we all make mistakes but its important to learn from them and not justify them. Good luck with your future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • //Agreed that you love and him and do not wish to break up with him. However I do not understand why did you have to marry right away.//
        FIL and MIL produced medical reports of them dying, also some horoscope predictions and literally pushed us into this. They had the backing from EVERYONE. You cannot do much when THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY is against you.
        I wish people like you had been our aunts, uncles and all those relatives who influence marriage. We’d have been better off.
        Or, I wish we had been liberated enough not to care about people. We are products of the same conditioning and cannot break out of this cycle all at once. It has to come slowly and steadily.
        //Since you knew of his drunk father maybe you both should have worked out different living arrangements. It is irresponsible to bring in another human being to a messed up family. I am not saying you both should repent your decision. But accept and learn from the fact that you both acted irresponsibly. You both cannot make excuses that only the family was at fault.//
        Yes, we didn’t act right because we didn’t have any idea what to do.
        My husband tried to secede from the family before the marriage, but there were many logistic problems because of which we had to live together for some time. BTW, I lived with FIL and MIL for just a few months. We moved out soon after.
        //I am sorry but it is sexist to make your wife live with your family.//
        I am sorry I am not brave enough to oppose an entire community. My own mother insisted that the ILs live with us as I had no idea how to manage a household. I was 22 and fresh out of college.
        I don’t think it’s fair to hanker over the past and think about what I SHOULD HAVE DONE. It’s doing nothing to make things better.
        //Dear LW, please don’t beat yourself about not being to stand up to them in a mature way. In a situation like this you can break down completely. Its okay. Its your husband’s duty to see to your physical and mental safety because it was his family who was was misbehaving.//
        A man cannot do much when his own wife is scared of confrontation. Many times, he insisted on it. I backed out.
        //4Still you are using words like ‘help around’ not doing ‘his share of chores’. You are once again making excuses for him.. You mean its okay for him to not know housework and therefore not do anything about it but just sit around. Even you didn’t know housework so why not you too sit around? It is not your prerogative to teach him when you yourself are learning. Yes the couple has to learn things together so why didn’t he do it for past one year.//
        Maybe I wouldn’t have been any different if I were in my parents’ house. There is a comfort level difference.
        I was a very dirty and messy teenager in my own house but I would pick up after me when we went to visit others.
        I am not trying to make excuses, but I am trying to understand the situation to SOLVE it. Beating my breast about something doesn’t SOLVE IT.
        This reasoning is what has SOLVED the problem now. You have to approach a person from their own mindset. I learnt this from Chanakya neeti.
        //You don’t have to ask someone to do their share of work. Period. //
        Not everyone is brought up with the same set of conditioning. My husband wasn’t. I wasn’t. The situation too, wasn’t conducive.
        No reason why we cannot change. People change all the time. This time, I brought in the change.
        We are happy together now, being equals.
        //Because you both are equals. You don’t assign tasks to equals…you share tasks. So if you could do with your mother why couldnt you do it with your in-laws?//
        In-laws and parents can never be the same. You just cannot have the same comfort level. 22 years can never compete with 2 years, that too ridden with politics and misunderstandings.
        //Praise is another way of control. Its either stick or carrot that they apply in this dysfunctional family. Did you notice that? If the daughters are treated the same way it doesn’t do them any credit because by the end of it daughters are treated bad too judging by your treatment. Abuse doesn’t have to be highlighted in red.//
        Agree to that. This is why I blogged. Most women don’t realize this.
        //Ummn no…I wouldn’t call it sweet and polite. I would call that highly inappropriate and objectionable of a FIL to tell his DIL what to wear(no matter if his tone was dripping honey, thanks but no thanks).//
        Right said again. BTW I was fuming at his comment anyway. FIL asked me why I was getting angry. I just reply, “Oh I haven’t really showed my anger yet…”
        You should have seen his face.
        // How did your husband react to this?//
        To me: “Forget him and wear your jeans alright.”
        To FIL: “Why do you have to put in your 2 cents for every single thing she does? Why can’t you just let her be?”
        MIL got beaten up that night when everyone was asleep.
        // Would you be okay if your mother instructs your husband on a dress code whenever he has to be with her?//
        Oh, she does that alright! All my relatives do. “Shave like this, dress like that…” I tell them not to bug him. But, he certainly reacts to this better than I handle my own harassment.
        //I would refuse to go with an abuser and that too at his prescribed dress code. If this request is so simple and reasonable why don’t you also make a simple and reasonal request in a polite sweet voice and using that charm you claim to have in abundance to not ask you for any outings? I am amazed that a person feels his request of dressing up according to him is reasonable enough compared to beating his own wife. //
        I was being sarcastic with that “reasonable” comment. Sad you didn’t grasp it.
        Yeah, I refused. Also, I didn’t dress up in his prescribed code when we DID have to go out together.
        It is easier said than done to isolate a “family member”. I didn’t want MIL to suffer.
        //I am glad that now you don’t. That amazing!!!//
        They branded us “villains” anyway, so we thought what the hell! Let’s prove them right!
        //I think he was not responsible enough. He brought another person into his dysfunctional family. He should have first dealt with his issues, moves out, healed and then married.//
        Healing cannot be done on your own. Many people need support. In fact most people in this situation take some time to identify that something is really wrong with them. They need to be told, shown and then given enough courage to confront their past.

        Like

        • //I am sorry I am not brave enough to oppose an entire community. My own mother insisted that the ILs live with us as I had no idea how to manage a household. I was 22 and fresh out of college.
          I don’t think it’s fair to hanker over the past and think about what I SHOULD HAVE DONE. It’s doing nothing to make things better.//

          You do not seem to understand what I have meant in the entire comment. I am not at all asking you to sit and hanker over past. Just see things for what they are. by being brutally honest because that is the first step in learning and evolving. Your own mother insisted you live with in laws because thats how it is meant to be according to her. Yet in the previous post you mentioned your parents are liberal. You mention everything as it was a thing of past. That you were conditioned and he was conditioned. But has the conditioning really worn off? It doesnt come across from your replies. You still mentioned your husband doing his chores being limited to helping. So it gives me a reason to belive that considerable work needs to be done both by you and your husband. You both have moved out which is commendable but it too soon to say that earlier you were conditioned and now you both have tranformed into equal partners. If you have not reached there then there is lot of work to be needed and for that you must be able to see yourself and each other honestly without making excuses. Thats is what I meant and I am no way asking you to hanker over past.

          Your earlier post was something of an example that you both stood on your feet and took proactive steps to be on your own. It was some sort of an example for couple. In this post you are giving the entire credit to your husband.

          Like

      • @the purple sheep..
        “But we all make mistakes but its important to learn from them and not justify them”

        This is so true. Step number one is being brutally self-honest in one’s evaluation of one’s own actions, and well as the actions of those that one loves.

        It’s hard to do that for obvious reasons- you will have to reconcile to some difficult to face facts.

        @LW, on reading your story, especially the attempts to self harm- it’s natural for many commentators to wonder if your husband could have been more supportive in the beginning. (It’s also a sentiment you yourself expressed in your first email.)

        Subsequently,you seem to be satisfied that he has done his best and pulled his weight to get you both to a better place, emotionally and physically. That’s important. That’s very commendable- of BOTH of you.
        But some people would want you to examine his past actions with a more critical eye-and I feel it’s a valid thing to want to do, given the agony and the suicide attempts you went through.

        You don’t want to do that, and that’s perfectly okay and valid too. It’s your life, after all.

        Like

        • Desi daru I am NOT BLAMING her husband for being less supportive . I am just STATING that he has been less supportive and sexist to some degree because he did not do his share of housework. He may have his reasons and very valid ones too like he grew up in abusive environment that normalized only women doing housework and thus conditioned. However that could be his REASON for being less sensitive to equality. We can have empathy for him for that but to claim that he has not behaved in a sexist way is denial.

          I do not wish LW to go back and view him more critically but honestly. Its perfectly okay that she doesnt want to do that but since she has posted this as some sort of an example for other couple I feel some issues are ignored completely. Hence I brought them up.

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        • //You still mentioned your husband doing his chores being limited to helping. //

          Sorry if that was misleading. We have split up work between us now. Maybe the way we have split our work may NOT appeal to most “liberated” women, as in, it is still very conventional- I maintain the house, he pays the bills, I cook, he buys groceries, I make lunch, he packs it… Guess I really had to go into details to establish this point.

          As to the contradiction between the previous post and the present one, I understand how that came about. I was all about my own view of the situation. Here I have presented it from both perspectives. I also asked him straightaway and posted some of his own replies in this blog.

          As for the conditioning which you say hasn’t worn off, I am not really interested in the idea of shaking off my “conditioning” to suit the rest of the “liberated” world. For instance, I don’t mind cooking for my family, which most “empowered” women would look down upon as some sort of slavery. I and my husband have managed to reach an agreement where both partners’ needs are satisfied. This may or may not suit a “liberated” viewpoint.

          Like

        • I wasn’t JUSTIFYING my husband, but I was trying to explore the root cause of this problem. Simply labeling someone “sexist”, “weak”, “uncooperative” etc. doesn’t help. I found a lot of judgmental comments on my earlier post so I went into a lot more depth here from the other perspective.

          Some were even irked that I was praising him for taking more part in the household now. I strongly believe that progress isn’t made by haranguing, but by encouragement. Not that my bar is low or I am completely satisfied. But, that I believe in raising the bar gradually. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yes, I am proud of the man who has come a long way in one year.

          It is easy to find a perfect man with a perfect family and just the perfect circumstances to allow perfect marital harmony. It takes a lot more to improve something imperfect.

          As far as modern feminist expectations are concerned, I don’t think any of us are perfect in that aspect. Not me. Not you. Not the rest of the world. How so much ever feminist we claim to be, all of us still have ideology flaws. Let’s not go into the details here and judge each others’ ideology based on our own, as has happened in many comments here.

          I had but one message- you know what’s totally unacceptable for you (liberated or conservative conditioning): never compromise on that.

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        • @Purple Sheep
          I agree with everything you’ve said.

          “I do not wish LW to go back and view him more critically”
          Neither do I, if she doesn’t want to. I should have probably left that part out of my comment, in hindsight, it is irrelevant because she had already expressed her (critical) feelings in the first email.

          @LW
          I guess there is a tonal change is the description between the two emails because one described the past and one described the present. I read them again and your husband really seems to have come a long way. That’s really saying something for a person who has come from a dysfunctional family with physical abuse.

          Also, I disagree with your views on what you term “liberated” and “empowered” women in your comments. I’m sorry you felt ‘judged’ by some comments, but that’s no reason to stereotype women who may have a different value system.

          I think you have a point about the existence of ‘modern feminist expectations’. I frequently find them annoying and ever-changing but I’m GLAD that they exist- if only to serve to counter the patriarchal expectations that I would otherwise be left to grapple with. Obviously, an expectation free society would be ideal, but impossible:)

          Like

      • LW you both are happy and satisfied and that is all that matters. :)You both are a strong team which is amazing. You are right adjustments can never be 50-50. As long as the couple are happy and nothing is forced on anybody it is a wonderful relationship. My best wishes are with you and I pray that your MIL is not a victim anymore. I am sure your love and understanding will bring lot happiness and peace in your life.

        However nobody is irked on this blog when you praise your husband. Its just that when somebody puts up their experience as an example for others to follow not everybody can resonate with that. You both are brave and wonderful people.🙂

        Like

      • Since I could not find reply handle to LW’s Comment so I am replying here. LW you are right the divison of work should be upto you both and it need not be 50-50. It should be something that both agree and is not forced on anyone. Since you are both comfortable with arrangement you are not answerable to anyone for who does what.As about shaking off the conditioning your previous post was entirely of how messed up conditioning is. But again it is entirely upto you both how what suits you. By the end of it both of you should be happy and satisfied.

        However I do not agree with
        //It is easy to find a perfect man with a perfect family and just the perfect circumstances to allow perfect marital harmony. It takes a lot more to improve something imperfect.//
        Believe me its NOT easy to find a perfect man with perfect family. Atleast not in India. So I would applaud them who are able to do so as much as those who improve the imperfect.

        //I had but one message- you know what’s totally unacceptable for you (liberated or conservative conditioning): never compromise on that.//
        Thats a lovely message.

        Thank you for sharing your story. Hope it gives courage to people.

        Like

  7. Dear LW,
    I am glad that you both were able to deal with the abuse and come out of the crap. But what strikes me –
    ‘Please wear salwar kurta/saree whenever you are going out with me. You can wear what you like when you and your husband go out alone. The society doesn’t approve of women dressing in modern clothes.” So, sweet and polite right?’ – this is not sweet this is plain control. I do not know why you did not understand it, may be you did not face it ever before.
    But in my case, my mom has been doing it since I was a kid. Now I do not bother to listen to. But in my teenage years, when I was still in school still dependent on them, I listened. But now I don’t.
    Anyways wish you all the best and one request, please get your fil arrested ..

    Like

    • Dear simple girl,
      Yes, it was conditioning. I wasn’t used to this at all.

      Like I said, I belong to an orthodox and conservative community. My parents are better than most others, but in some things, they’re still orthodox i.e. a girl always has to wear bindi (even widows) etc. You can rebel safely with parents, but with ILs, both set of parents join and harass the couple together.

      We cannot get FIL arrested. MIL will not testify. I think that is clear enough.

      Like

  8. Marriages like these are exactly why India has such a miniscule 2-3% divorce rate that everyone sings praises about. How could the letter writer put up so long with this abuse and not walk away being educated and working? This is what Indian cultural conditioning does to women’s self esteem and rational thinking. In my book there is absolutely no reason to stay in such a marriage.
    I would never let the abusive father in law even come near my own childdren no matter how loving he appears. I have no qualms or guilt pangs keeping him away from his grandchildren, that scumbag dug his own grave.
    You are saying you loved him enough to overlook these flaws, Sorry, I might sound very critical, I think this is just being blinded by love and not thinking clearly. I would advice my friend in such a situation to just dump the bf when she realizes what a crazy family he comes from.and not have to suffer through all this. In any case, absolutely refuse to live in a joint family with a bona-fide wife beating abuser. Rather live in a 400 sq ft rat infested studio apartment than share a roof with such a FIL. Sorry love doesn’t conquer all in real world of Indain joint families and I would rather walk away. In fact, I once dumped an Indian guy after few dates when he took me to visit his brother and SIL with our group of friends. Both brothers were busy playing video games, his poor SIL was trying to cook 4 course meal afer working all day. I told them to go help or just order pizza, they lauged it off. I walked away and told him never to call me again, good riddance.

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    • I hear you, I broke up with a girl because her father was someone with low morals (almost a typical desi movie-type father who receives bribes but expects his daughter to stand on high moral ground). I couldn’t see myself meeting him for decades to come. In my case, I was only willing to marry a girl if she had a reasonable family background.

      In the LW’s case, she’s taken a clear choice to face these issues head-on. I know a friend who’s done this, and it took her a little longer to get to a reasonable state in the relationship, but she feels it was worth it.

      I think it’s really a personal choice. I think she just wanted to vent out in the last post, doesn’t sound like she regrets it

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    • I think the whole concept of ‘love’ in India (and possibly other conservative cultures) is really messed up. When I read about a lot of these kinds of love/arranged marriages, I keep wondering how someone could so easily ‘fall in love.’ It took me a full year to fall in love with my now husband–if we hadn’t lived together for two and a half years earlier, there’s no way I’d have moved to India with him. The kind of trust that kind of move required wouldn’t have been able to be cultivated in a shorter amount of time regardless of ‘love.’

      The LW here is different in the sense that she says she went out with him for three years and she says she knew about his dysfunctional and abusive family. I still wonder though, to what extent did she know about the abuse? Did she know that if her future FIL’s slightest whim wouldn’t be fulfilled then her future MIL would get beaten up? Was she okay with living in such an environment, in very close proximity to a violent abuser because she loved her husband?

      I’m very comfortable with the fact that I’m not such an open minded person. When I started going out with my now husband, I made sure, very early on, that he didn’t come from a remotely traditional family in any way. There’s no way I would have gone out with someone who came from an orthodox family even though he didn’t identify as such. I suppose that’s not exactly fair on my part, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

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      • It’s my personal choice to stick it out. I’d myself not blame someone who’d quit. I have a divorced colleague here who went through the same for 5 years before she called it quits.

        I had the conviction I knew my BF enough to believe he could be changed. I saw that he wasn’t beyond redemption if the right person handled him. And, yes, I turned out to be right.

        I still feel 1 year isn’t a long time to give to a loved one. Of course, I’d have eventually divorced if this was more long stretched.

        Some people have a little more patience and tolerance than others.

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        • Dear LW, I commend your courage at writing out all these personal details for the world to see and judge. You are so committed to improving your situation that you’re taking the time and effort to read and respond to all sorts of comments. Just wanted to say I appreciate how you are trying to work things out. Even though I think of myself as a liberal-minded person, and someone who wouldn’t take any BS, I don’t know that I’d have the sense and courage to rise above my situation like you did–especially at such a young age!

          Like

  9. Dear LW – I know exactly where you’re coming from, (apart from the abuse) right down to the lack of tact/ability to handle such situations in a suitably political manner – you could be my mother, transposed 45 years!
    Kudos to you and your husband for working through it together – it looks like you are on the right path. There is huge strength involved in doing what you have done,. not just in the burning bridges aspect, but in recognizing what was wrong and taking steps to fix yourselves.
    However a big red flag for me is your FIL’s abuse of your MIL. Think ahead to if you have children – will they grow up with that example before them? How will your attempt to leave them to their personal problems seem to children? Things that I got around diplomatically, before I had children, took on a different color once I had them – I didn’t want my kids to internalize that these wrongs should be handled only quietly, or that they are unimportant because they only impact women.

    I am not downplaying the sheer difficulty of dealing with that abuse in any way – but having dealt with so much, it seems like you’ve left a biggie behind.

    (Trivial example that does not compare with abuse in any way: menstrual taboos – ours were somewhat mild – no kitchen/pooja room that’s all. I simply stopped letting anyone know when I had my period. But with my daughter – I don’t want that to be her norm (when we visit India, we don’t live there anymore) – so have told the parents and ILs we will not follow any such taboos with her and to their credit (and doting fondness for their grandkids who can do no wrong) they agree)

    This may be a long term thing for you to think about – and you may find it too much to deal with too – which, TBH, I think it would be for many of us. Perhaps some kind of professional help is required for your husband to get over his trauma and for both of you to figure out a better way to deal with the FIL’s abuse?

    Also -don’t sell yourself short. You may not have had the street-smarts to handle the ILs on their terms, but your genuineness is a huge thing.

    Like

    • Thanks for commenting and relating to my situation.
      //However a big red flag for me is your FIL’s abuse of your MIL. Think ahead to if you have children – will they grow up with that example before them? How will your attempt to leave them to their personal problems seem to children? //
      I talked about this with my husband last week. He is firm that our future children are NOT GOING TO LIVE with their grandparents. They may visit in good times, of course, but no question of living together.
      I was worried that kids may lose out on the doting grandparents part.
      Husband- “Just too bad, then! Better no grandparents than living with hell like we did.”

      Like

  10. Thanks for the reply LW. Whatever you put down here, made me shudder. That man belongs in jail.
    All in all, I can just say that you both did not know how to deal with situations. So you tried killing yourself instead of acting against it, like you are doing now. And your husband fought for you silently, instead of fighting it together. But I guess, you both have learnt a lot and your independence is probably the best thing to happen to both of you. You finally learnt to stand up for it together. Thumbs up for that.

    Like

  11. Great write up, LW. It’s very hard to see both sides of the coin, you have incredible patience and clarity. Wish you all the best.

    It’s so easy to walk out on a situation but you’ve decided to stick around. Your husband is lucky!

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  12. Actually, with my experience I want to show that stuff like this isn’t the bastion of weak minded people. It can happen to anyone.
    Here I was, known to my family and friends as a go-getter. Submissive was the last thing I was. I was (still am) an active blogger, the typical confident girl who has her feet in everything, earning well etc. I and my husband came together on similar grounds and did great in our 3 years together as we dated.
    Marriage upset the equation totally. None of us was realistic enough and actually prepared to face things. Stuff which we had been blind to, like relatives, family and household etc. started appearing very prominently in our lives. We both panicked and it took us a lot of time (1 year) to figure things through.
    Thankfully, we have got over all those troubles now and lead a happy life. But, I’d advise every couple:
    1. To thoroughly discuss household responsibilities and stick to the plan before marrying.

    2. To never live with in-laws no matter how loving/caring/understanding they are or seem to be. This arrangement is NEVER comfortable. (I have decided to throw my future son out of the house the day he gets a wife.  Jokes apart, it would be the day he chooses himself. Same for a daughter.)

    3. To make sure you’re really marriage-worthy. Job won’t suffice. Are you mentally strong to “deal” with things? Here, we both weren’t and had to undergo several counseling sessions to get on track.

    4. To make sure you trust, understand and love your spouse. If there is enough of these three, with special emphasis on “enough”, there’d be no trouble ever.

    5. To make sure you know the person well. You shouldn’t be in for unpleasant surprises. But, no marriage ever comes without ANY unpleasant surprises, unless you were living in together before marriage.

    Make sure you know your spouse enough to be able to cooperate and solve the problem together instead of bickering. In fact, this saved my marriage.

    6. To resolve never to take shit, no matter how sweet. Shit is always shit.

    7. To know that if things don’t work out, you do have the option of walking out. We were lucky to have got things working within the time our patience afforded. Not all couples are.

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  13. Just want to share this on this thread.

    I have a brother-in-law who is being verbally, emotionally and financially abused by his wife. I stayed with them for a few days and was completely thrown by her behaviour and his meek acceptance of all the BS that comes his way. It is classic, textbook abuse, and if the genders were switched, society would be yelling for his head.

    This happens despite that fact that he is ’empowered’ – the one with the job(wife doesn’t work), has a car, lives in the USA and by all accounts was an assertive child and teen!

    My in-laws have tried to intervene multiple times to no avail. My husband has tried to get him to commit to a plan of escalating action- again no result.

    My take-away from all this is that it doesn’t matter how educated or liberal or well off you are- you can still end up with an abusive partner/ family situation. And it takes tremendous self-honesty to recognise abuse and a great deal courage to do something about it, it’s not easy for people like the MIL and my BIL to accept something that they have ‘normalised’- as wrong.

    Like

    • I have to understand what is unlikable with this post. I agree with desidaaru12 completely.

      One of my former relationships was extremely abusive and even though I’m supposedly more empowered and less-judged, my good friends found it impossible to believe that my ex was an abuser, even though she behaved poorly amid them. It took 5 terrible months for people to agree that ‘she may have some issues’ and all of them sided with her after the break-up.

      That taught me something about how poor Indians are with relationship issues.

      Like

  14. The next time your FIL abuses your MIL you both, or ur husband can threaten him with “I have taken a foto on my phone of you beating mom”. (thou you don’t have it) or try taking a pic when he does that….if ever the opportunity comes your way. Say to him “I will use that as proof if you ever raise your hand again on mom. It’s time to put an end to this torture. We know mom will support you and not complain against you”. It has to play on his mind that he cannot get away in future.

    Since you are living separately, he cannot try to flick your phones or tamper with it (thinking you really have some evidence). Even if he does, you can again say “We have sent the photo to our friends to keep as proof in case something happens to our phone. So don’t even think of stealing or tampering with our phones”.

    All the very best to you and ur husband LW. Kudos to you both for standing up and putting an end to the abuse.

    Like

  15. Hi LW,

    I’m so sorry to hear about this immensely difficult situation that you and your husband are going through; I can’t even imagine what that must be like! I hope that you are able to stay in touch with your MIL, to support her, listen to her, show her that you both value her so that she can begin valuing herself more, and so that she can realize that what is happening is not her fault in any way. It will probably be a while before she is comfortable speaking with any outside person yet (counselor, doctor, etc), and so it’s really important that you/your husband/other family members are there for her in the meantime (if you’re able to, I know that you two are going through a lot already, and I’m not sure how easy it is for you both to talk to her over the phone etc. I’ve heard the suggestion of using code words for over the phone – when is a good time to talk, etc).

    Very best wishes and hugs!

    Like

  16. I can so totally relate to this. The instructions that I get are done so politely that I do not know how to deal with them. If I stand up for what I believe in, I would be branded as being disrespectful especially when they are treating me like their own “daughter” and when what is being asked is perceived to be really a simple thing to do. And if I do follow them, i fear for the loss of my own individuality. It leads to bitterness at the end of it all in my mind. And I wonder if they are doing it all in innocence without putting themselves in my shoes.

    But I know this is new age abuse. Rubbing off values, ideologies on to someone else. Physical abuse, openly demanding dowries etc are all passe now as no one wants to be branded as bad in-laws!

    Like

  17. Oh my God. These people put the Manson family to shame. Perhaps the in-laws, especially the FIL suffer from some psychiatric issues.
    I know that differences in brain chemistry cause people to behave in strange ways. Does the FIL have a personality disorder like BPD or bipolar disorder?

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  18. I wish I could look on this as an isolated incident; unfortunately, it’s far too alike things I’ve seen in my own family.

    My gay cousin, having turned 32 is under immense pressure to get married. While his dad loves to look like the good guy, he loves his drink and, much like the FIL of this story, beats up my cousin’s mother everytime he is enraged at his son’s disinterest in marriage. Everyone in the family knows of the abuse yet noone will do anything to stop it. My cousin has told his mother several times to leave her husband but she has a misplaced sense of loyalty towards him. And again, my cousin doesn’t hate his dad; there’s enough of a good side to him to hold his affection still.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: you cannot blame the victims for not trying to change their circumstances or for not doing enough to have prevented issues from arising. You have to place the blame on the kind of society that taught these people that such behavior could be tolerated or even encouraged. And make sure the generation you raise does not subscribe to such behaviour.

    Like

  19. Pingback: ” My mom (a doctor) left her MD midway because my dad and his parents wanted her to ‘come and be their bahu’. “ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  20. Original LW, I am very late to the comment party but I wanted to tell you that you’re very strong and steady to make sure that you don’t buckle down under this cycle of atrocities.

    A lot of people have a lot of questions for you — why do you make excuses for your husband; how could you not know his father is abusive; why would you listen when people tell you not to wear certain clothes — and I think it takes a lot of patience to try and answer and defend yourself to so many people. Yes, you turned to the Internet for answers and therefore you did ask for it, but it’s still quite difficult to explain your life in a few words.

    I have the same questions as all the others. But then again, I think we all make questionable choices in life. It isn’t as easy as that to immediately push back, or fight back. “Conditioning” is an unpleasant word, but another way to explain it is that we’re just trying to make the best of things because we think things will get better, or we think we need to. When things DON’T get better, sense prevails, and we fight for ourselves. Or we should.

    This is a very garbled response. I suppose my point is: good work, you should be proud of yourself. You and your husband might have some way to go, but you’re getting there, and you’re pushing away the negativity, manipulation and guilt that comes through his parents. It’s a story that a lot of people might find fault with, but it’s a story that you managed to work for yourself. So yay!

    Like

    • Hi,
      I know it sounds pretty much like defending. As for the “asking for it”, yes, that’s true too. In fact, after this revelation, I was so stressed out, I took a nice long break just to get away from the blaming.
      Everyone has their weak points in life. I know that domestic violence is a deal breaker. Somehow, it does not seem logical to me to divorce my husband because my FIL abuses my MIL. Yes, it’s frustrating, but on a larger picture, it’s totally stupid. Also, it is not as if my husband supports all this – he has even been in a physical fight with FIL, but you see, if the MIL refuses to testify, we don’t have much stand in the court of law. We all know the police in this country. On the other hand, all our relatives will end up testifying against us.
      I understand the outrage on not walking out on a husband who was willing, but anyhow, initially not capable of completely defending me from his family. But you also have to see that sometimes the best preparations fall short. New things come up. Unprecedented things happen. We both knew it was bad and had prepared to live together anyway. What we didn’t anticipate was for it to get this bad. My husband had no idea of the things a daughter-in-law in this generation would be put through. He is the first son in the extended family. So, yes, I was the first example.
      In my opinion, divorce should be a solution only when nothing works out. We went for counseling; fixed our tempers (I have a flaring temper too. Many times, I have actually over-reacted, when I think about it now.) We both have given a second go at this relationship ever since we moved out and believe me, things have worked out excellently.
      I praised him helping out not because I am not used to it. I just wanted to show the contrast – before and after, nothing else. We both truly have a long way to go. But, today, we are glad for not having given up on this marriage just because of others. Marriage is about the couple. Others are merely overlapping circles, but a large part of marriage must always be free of others.
      Today, my husband doesn’t expect me to come along when he visits his parents. He understands that we’re better kept apart. Maybe we cannot really fight here. Maybe we resort to tricks and lies to manage this peace, but it’s worth it! We both are happy. That’s all that matters.

      Like

  21. 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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