“My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

Sharing an email. For all those who think women, as adults, should be able to fight back and walk out and live lives of their choices – please give some practical, workable suggestions here.

How do young victims survive in families where everything that concerns women’s happiness (wishes, freedoms, lives, dreams, self reliance and rights) is not taken seriously?

What do you think would her FIL, father and husband say if we were to question their control over her life? 

What are the chances that she would give up? 

What could help keep her going?

Can this be legally challenged? Is this cruelty (legally)? 

In a culture that sees control as tradition, would these family members be seen as wrong?

Do we need a law against Semi Forced Marriages? And another law against women being denied education till the age of 21?

What kind of family values permit families that survive because some of the members see no way to get out? Why do some of us feel that keeping spouse/family members in dependence earns their respect 😦 

Here’s the email:

I am all alone. Nobody understands me. I want to study. My FIL says, today she is talking about studying, tomorrow she will ask to work. I will not give permission. My husband says he can’t go against his family, he cannot revolt. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission. Nobody supports me. I have become totally alone/isolated. Somebody understand me. I want to be somebody. I want to be happy. Somebody listen to me. Atleast you listen. I don’t like it in my marital home. I don’t like to wear sari… I want to wear suit. FIL says he has no problem but what would the people in the samaj/society say. Husband also does not support. I have to follow (nibhana) so many rites and customs which have no meaning. Husband says if you start earning I will be ashamed of my being a man. … and when his OPD is not enough and pay for the rent of the clinic from my savings, then he is not ashamed. I have been saving from my childhood. When my mood is good my husband loves me very much, but when my mood is not good, then instead of pacifying/consoling me he starts getting angry with me. I have to forget my own unhappiness and pacify him. Then he tells me when you cry then I do not like it, you should always smile…   Arre bhai, when I am not happy then how can I force myself to smile? … I will cry no? I am not able to understand anything. I think I will find peace if I die.   But I don’t want to die, I want to live happily.   What should I do, I don’t understand.   Please talk to me.   Somebody understand me.



In response to my email:

I am 24. I am from a very small town in Rajasthan. My marital home is in a small village. I have done BA and M Sc in Computer Science. In a small village there is no career with a Computer Science…. that’s why I want to do a B Ed…. I want to go in teaching line.
I can understand English, but just not comfortable in writing or speaking in English.
My husband is not a bad person… but he has been raised in a village so he is not so broad minded… he is afraid of he society…. so fare as I have understood him… I feel he is afraid of bing labelled a JKG. But he can do anything to be labelled a SHRAVAN KUMAR.

You will be surprised to know that the dream of doing the B Ed was shown to me by my husband… I am at my parents’ home at the moment… Just two days ago I have filled the form for PTET… before filling the form I had spoken to my husband… then he had said no problem, you fill the form… then he spoke to my FIL about this and he blew up… he started saying that, “This is not possible… today she is talking about studying, tomorrow will talk about working… if I wanted to bring a job wali bahu then there was the proposal (rishta) of Bank Manager… I might as well have finalised that rishta for you.”

Then my husband called me and said, “Where was the hurry to fill the form? Now Papa is saying no… atleast you should have asked him once. …now I don’t know, I can’t do anything in this matter… ”

When I went home and told my parents, then they started saying, “When he (FIL) is saying no then this is not possible… not possible without his permission…” After that my dad started convincing me that I should not be stubborn … he started giving me examples of other women …my sisters in law (brothers’ wives’) examples…. take a look at her, she is so educated but still manages house hold… ..blah blah blah…
O god!!
I don’t understand why are people so afraid of the society… I had learnt in school that samaaj (society) is a support system… but my samaaj has made living difficult for me…


I don’t want to lose my husband… because he is good at heart… his only weakness is he does not have a mind of his own …he doesn’t have any views of his own, just the FIL’s opinions are his opinion. … what should I do, I am in a dilemma….

* * *

Here’s the original email in Hindi:

Me akeli hu. Mujhe koi nahi samajhta. Me padhna chahti hu. Mere FIL kahte h ye aaj padhayi krne ka bol rahi h…kal job karne ka bolegi..me to izazat nahi doonga. Pati bolte h ghar walo k khilaf nahi ja sakta…bagaawat nahi kar sakta. Papa bolte h padho lekin FIL ki permission k bina nahi. Koi mujhe support nahi karta h. Me bilkul akeli ho gayi hu. Koi to mujhe samjho . Me kuch banana chahti hu. Me khush rahna chahti hu. Koi to meri baat suno. Aap to suno. Mujhe sasural me kuch bhi accha nahi lagta. Mujhe saari pahanana accha nahi lagta…me suit pahana chahti hu FIL kahte h mujhe dikkat nahi h samaz k log kya kahenge. Pati bhi support nahi karte. Mujhe itne ulte seedhe riti riwaz nibhane padte h zinka koi matalab bhi nahi hota h. Pati ese to bolte h ki agar tum kamane jaogi to mere mard hone p sharm aayegi mujhe…aur jab kabhi inki OPD kam hoti h to clinic ka kiraya me apni savings me se deti hu tab inko sharm nahi aati. Me to bachapan se saving karti aayi hu. Jab mera mood accha hota h tab to pati mujhe bahut pyar karte h. Lekin jab mera mood kharab hota h to mujhe khush karne ki zagah ulta khud gussa karne lag jaate h…mujhe khud hi apna dhukh bhool k unko manana padta h…phir mujhe kahte h k tum roti ho to mujhe accha nahi lagta h …tum hamesha hasti raha karo… Are bhai me khush hu hi nahi to zabardasti kaise hass sakti hu…rona to mujhe aayega hi na. Mujhe kuch samajh nahi aa raha h. Sochti hu mar jati hu to shaanti mil jayegi. Per me marna nahi chahti me khushi khushi jeena chahti hu. Me kya karoo mujhe samajh nahi aa raha h. Plz mujhse baat karo na. Koi to mujhe samajho na.


Me 24 saal ki hu.
Me rajasthan k bahut chote se shahar se hu.
Mera sasural ek chote se village me h.
Mene B.A. Kiya h…aur computer sciense me M.Sc. kiya h…chote village me computer sciense me koi career nahi h….isliye me B.ed. karna chahti hu…teaching line me jaana chahti hu.
I can understand english but just not comfertable in writing or speaking in english.
Mere pati bure insaan nahi h..lekin gaon m pale bade h isliye itne broad minded nahi h…wo samaz se bahut darte h..jahan tak me unhe samajh payi hu..mujhe lagta h k unhe dar h k kahi unhe JKG ka khitab nahi mil jaye…ye unki nazar me bahut hi sharm ki baat hogi…lekin wo SHRAVAN KUMAR ka khitab paane k liye kuch bhi kar sakte h.
Aap ko ye jaan k aashcharya hoga k B.ed. karne ka sapna bhi mujhe mere pati ne dikhaya…me abhi apne mayake me hu…abhi do din pahle mene PTET ka form bhara h…form bharne se pahle pati se baat bhi ki thi..tab vo bole k koi dikkat nahi h tum form bhar do…fir unhone mere FIL se is baare me baat ki to wo bhadak gaye…kahne lage k “ye to sambhav nahi h..aaj padayi ka bol rahi h..kal ko job k liye bolegi…agar mujhe job wali bahu hi laani thi to tumhare liye to bank manager ka rishta aaya tha..me wo hi kar leta”…uske baad pati ne mujhe phone karke kaha k “tumhe itni kya jaldi thi form bharne ki…abhi papa mana kar rahe h ..unse pooch to leti ek baar..ab mujhe nahi pata…me is maamle me kuch nahi kar sakta”.
Ghar jaake mene apne mummy papa ko bataya to vo kahne lage k “jab vo (FIL) mana kar rahe h to ye sambhav nahi..unki permission k bina to nahi ho sakta…”..uske baad se mere papa mujhe hi covince karne me lage huye h ki me apni zid chod du..mujhe doosro k example dete h …meri bhabhiyo k example dete h…use dekho itti padhi likhi hoke bhi ghar sambhalti h…blah blah blah…
O god!!
Mujhe ye nahi samajh m aata k log samaz se itna kyu darte h…mene to school me seekha tha k samaz ek support system hota h…lekin mere samaz ne to mera jeena mushkil kar diya h…
Me mere pati ko khona nahi chahti …kyu ki vo dil k bahut acche h…bus kami yehi h k unki khud ki koi soch nahi h…unke khud k koi vichar nahi..bus jo FIL k vichar vahi unke vichar…kya karu badi duvidha me hu.


Related Posts:
“Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.”

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

“This would help people realize that happy Indian families like this also exist.”

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

An email: “indian daughter in-law is servant?”

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

From the modern, Indian woman to Shravan Kumar.


71 thoughts on ““My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

  1. Your husband is right, listen to him. Always be happy, dump him and his family and their samaj. Move on, if you have savings are they enough for sustaining you for time being? Not sure the legality in this but I think you can claim alimony on grounds of cruelty or something. Use that money to fund education and get a job. If not, you can get BPO jobs (with minimum pay) to sustain you for a while and use that fund to study further. No one will listen to you until you start listening to yourself.


  2. Dear god! Why, why, why do women not ask before getting married? I feel very sorry for this young woman but frustrated at the number of young women who do not ask any questions at all of prospective spouses.

    As for screwed-up families of this sort, I have given up hoping that they will come to their senses. One’s lifetime (and youth) is too short and precious to waste on them.

    The question I have is, she says she has savings, so presumably, she can pay for the education, at least to begin with. What if she were to enrol for a course and just start? Is there any threat of physical abuse, harm? If she is safe in that sense, I feel she should just enrol. What would the husband or FIL really do? Why ask permission? No one should be leaving that kind of power with anyone else.


    • I think it’s reasonable to expect that urban, working women should perform some due diligence before marriage, but the LW is a small town girl who isn’t fluent in English, who is living in a small village in one of the most conservative parts of India, with a very traditional marital family (and I bet that her natal family is just the same). Since that is the case, I can understand why she didn’t speak up before marriage.

      Most of the advice given here is appropriate for the sort of people that usually write in to this blog (urban, educated, employed, reasonably empowered by Indian standards), but I’m not sure that the advice is appropriate for this particular LW. Considering how traditional her marital family seems to be, I would be genuinely scared that she might face violence or restrictions on her movements if she tries to implement the advice given so far. I don’t know what to suggest. My heart goes out to her.


      • I agree, Priya. After reading the second letter, I got a clearer picture. From the first letter, I just assumed its someone more comfortable in Hindi than English, but not the milieu she is living in.


  3. This is going to be a brutal reality check, but it’s perhaps needed.
    It seems like no one from your husband’s family cares about what you’re feeling and going through not only in this matter, but generally too.
    Going at the rate at which it is going, they’re never going to care about your happiness.
    First, you need to toughen up. Why? Because you deserve happiness. Every bit of it. And no one has a right to snatch that away from you. No one! So first and foremost, understand your right to your happiness.
    Second, have a serious talk with your husband. You’ve been submissive till now. He’s taken you for granted. Inform him about your right to happiness. If he says no. Do you really want to be with a husband who doesn’t care about you or your happiness.

    Now coming to the big problem – Moving on from the marriage. Always a scary thought in Indian society. The girl and her parents are often worried of the “shaming” in society. You can counter this by standing up for yourself. A stupid example but remember in the movie Kya Kehna, how the family stood together when Priety Zinta gets pregnant? They fought it with confidence. That’s what you need to do. There are plenty of job opportunities out there. You can surely get one.

    Yes, it’s a scary thought of moving out of a marriage, but it’s either this, or staying in a house for the rest of your life where no one cares about your happiness. Ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I won’t suggest divorce here. I am divorced myself and know first-hand how stigmatising and isolating it can be. This is particularly true for the sort of family she comes from.

      I know it sounds politically incorrect, but I would advise her to retreat temporarily to fight another day. Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war.

      A little persistence and clever maneuvering may help her carve out more personal space for herself. She can bide her time and pick a more effective tack.


  4. I feel them saying you shouldn’t study is cruel, and the husband saying his value would be reduced and the FIL saying society (might) say things is plain ridic.

    However, the husband and the extended family isn’t obligated to support your studies if that’s what you are expecting. Of course, that would be the nice thing to do, but technically they don’t have to. However, they don’t have the right to stop you from supporting yourself in whichever way and studying, if need be.


  5. How old are you? What is your education level? Do you have access to a computer and email? Do you speak English? I think you should secretly start applying for jobs. If you do not have the resources or privacy to do it yourself, ask a friend to help you. Once you have a job, you can just move out and apply for a divorce. You can also try asking for help from a NGO in your city.

    I would most strongly advise against discussing anything with your husband if you are that young and inexperienced. But if you need proper workable solutions or even decent advice, we need more information. As such, we can just tell you to dump them and move on with your life, but with lack of information, we cannot say anything more.


        • She wrote a Hindi email in roman script and you IHM translated and transcribed it in English. Hats off to you.
          Keep up the good work. This woman’s father has offered a sitting duck to that egomaniac FIL.

          … he is good at heart… his only weakness is he does not have a mind of his own …he doesn’t have any views of his own,…
          DG is just wondering …


  6. honey, honey, honey.. please don’t listen to what they are saying! as long as you listen there’ll be these kind of nuisances everywhere. start by being a little rebellious and see how it goes.. then slowly build on it…
    and your husband is a piece of work, I say… he is using your savings and then asking you not to work.. ???? he wants you to look happy even when you are unhappy? and you are trying to make sense out of all this?
    oh.. and please don’t give up your life for these cartoons.. their power lies in your subjugation.. just don’t listen to everything..


    • I like this advice. Rebel against the little things, such as wearing sari. When they get used to 1st rebellion, go on a second one. Try to get out of the house on some pretext. Will something like cooking or sewing classes be acceptable? Then you can go to them just to escape from the home for some time, and later on build on that to leave the home for college?
      Sure, if you can leave, nothing better. But since your own family is not supporting you, maybe a less confrontational approach wil be better for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think my comment got lost somewhere. 😦
        Please ignore this if the earlier one appears.
        Since she lives in a village, leaving the house may not be easy for her. In that case, and since she wants to teach, what about teaching some neighbourhood kids? If she does it for free, it would be seen as just a hobby and she can get away with it. Later on, she can charge money, and the experience will help her when she becomes a teacher.
        A couple of women I know took this path to economic independence. It took years, but they are successful teachers now, and the families love them.


        • @Iva
          This is actually great advice.
          She could also try to do a relevant qualification via correspondence through the Open University (www.ignou.ac.in) in the meantime?


      • Agreed. Rebel against the little things. Your FIL says he is OK but what will Samaj say? Challenge his sense of authority with a smile. Tell him ‘If you are OK, why should I care about other people? You are the important person here, no?’ See what he says. But of course this kind of things need to be handled veru carefully and you will need to be an expert manipulator (sigh!)
        One other point – DO NOT touch your savings, at least the core of it. Get someone to invest it for you if you cannot do it yourself and only let the family share in the interest. If you lose your financial backup, it will be even worse getting any kind of power in the whole situation. Use whatever excuses you can to avoid touching the basic savings and every time you reinvest, add some of the interest to it.
        The idea that your husband tries to control your emotions raises abuse flags for me, please try to make clear to him that you as a human have every right to human emotions. Turning every situation of discomfort into something all about themselves is a very narcissitic personality disorder trait.

        Finally, more as a joke than a real suggestion: Tell your husband that if he is a real man, he should come and debate us here 😀


  7. Dear IHM and commentators, This LW may need help beyond the form of advice which we can give on this forum. She may need financial support, legal advice, career/education counselling and therapeutic counselling to prevent her from falling into depression. Is it possible to direct her to any organization which supports women in her situation on the ground? Maybe someone like DG can help.

    Dear LW, Never lose hope. We hear you and we understand you. First of all, none of this is your fault. You are completely right in thinking what you are thinking. Please help us understand your situation better. You can create a dummy ID and post your reply here.

    1) How old are you? Till what point have you studied? Do you have some clarity on what course you want to study further? Do you already have options in mind or do you also need suggestions on that?
    2) Is it practically possible to find employment through your current qualifications?
    3) You mentioned that you have savings. Do you have enough savings to live on your own for a few months? Or are you completely financially dependent on your husband/father? You can also use any property/ jewelry which is already on your name.
    4) If your family doesn’t support you, are you in a position to fund for your education through your savings or through a bank loan?
    5) Please give us some background on the place where you stay. Is it a village or a town or a city?
    6) Do you have any siblings who you think may support you and convince your father? Or any other family members who can help you in convincing your father/FIL?

    I think we can make a relevant suggestion if we understand the above aspects. Please don’t lose hope. There will always be a solution. I am proud of you for the fact that you don’t want to give up, that you want to live a happy life (which is rightfully meant to be yours).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. @ the LW– you have my absolute sympathy and I sincerely hope things work out well for you.

    However, to say that I understand you, would be false. I do not understand why an educated person who has a solid savings base would stay in this situation (all the while completely understanding that everyone else is being extremely unfair to you).

    Your husband does not think the situation is unfair–maybe he will years down the line, but do you really want to lose that amount of time when you can be studying/further advancing your career and perhaps even meeting someone who isn’t so insecure as a ‘man’ that he doesn’t want his wife to add to the household income (especially when it looks like you guys really need it)?

    I do not know a workable solution for this kind of situation expect from–leave, get a job and/or use your savings to sustain yourself until you get a job or enroll in further studies.


    • **Edited after reading the update–“I don’t want to lose my husband… because he is good at heart… his only weakness is he does not have a mind of his own …he doesn’t have any views of his own, just the FIL’s opinions are his opinion.”

      He’s not a bad person, but he doesn’t seem to care about what you want either. It’s really up to you to decide whether you want to stay with someone who has no views of his own? Not only does he have no views of his own, but he’s supporting his father’s views which are limiting your basic human rights. Regardless of whether you think he’s a good person, can you have respect for such a person?

      I stand by what I wrote earlier–the only way out of this situation is to leave. The husband’s not the type to challenge his world views as long as they’re convenient to him.


  9. Very disturbing what adult women in our country has to go through just to be able to study..
    I agree with freebird, she needs help more than what the forum can offer. She sounds very young and inexperienced, nevertheless wanted someone to hear her cries.
    I hope someone from an NGO can reach out?


  10. IHM,

    It looks like the letter writer may appreciate a reply in Hindi.
    With my limited knowledge of simple conversational Hindi let me attempt it.
    I am simultaneously translating it into English for the benefit of readers who may prefer to read in English.


    तुम अकेली नहीं हो। लाखों भारतीय महिलाओं की यही स्थिति है।
    आशा करता हूँ कि इस बात से शायद तुम्हें कुछ तसल्ली मिलेगी।

    You are not alone. Lakhs of Indian women are in the same boat.
    We hope you get some consolation from this fact.

    जल्दबाजी में कुछ न करना।
    हिम्मत और धीरज से स्थिति का सामना करो।
    सोच समझकर और पूरी तैयारे करने के बाद ही ठोस कदम उठाओ।

    Don’t take any hurried step.
    Face the situation with courage and patience.
    Think carefully and prepare fully before you take any decisive step.

    हमें उम्मीद है कि कम से कम आप को मारपीट या धमकी का डर तो नहीं है।
    ससुराल वाले केवल पुराने विचार के लोग हैं पर इतने बुरे तो नहीं हैं।
    We trust you don’t face any threat or fear of physical violence.
    Your in-laws are merely orthodox in their views but not bad people per se

    यदि विनम्र विनति से कोई नतीजा नहीं निकलता है तो फिर साहस करके अपने पति और ससुर को ultimatum देना होगा। या तो आप को पढाई और बाद में नौकरी करने के लिए और मनपसन्द कपडे पहनने की पूरी छूट दें या आप परिवार से अलग होकर रहना चाहेंगे।

    If polite requests don’t bring about results, then you must be brave and give an ultimatum to your husband and father in law. Either they permit you to study and also work later and let you dress the way you want to, or else you will leave the family.

    यह शर्त तुम तब रख सकती हो जब तुममें साहस, काबिलियत और आत्मविश्वास है।
    शायद आपका साहस और आत्म विश्वास देखकर वे मान जाएंगे।
    कोई सख्त या कठोर कदम उठाने से पहले इसे आजमाओ।

    You can give this ultimatum provided you are brave, capable and self confident.
    Quite possibly, seeing your courage and confidence, they may yield.
    Before taking any extreme step, try this out first.

    यदि वे नहीं मानते हैं तो उचित सलाह देने के लिए हमें और जानकारी / विवरण की आवश्यकता होगी।
    हो सके तो freebird के पूछे गए सवालों का जवाब दो।
    IHM को लिखकर बताओ और वह इस ब्लॉग पर छाप देगी।
    आगे हम सब तुम्हें उपयोगी सलाह देने की पूरी कोशिश करेंगे।

    If they don’t agree then to give you proper advice, we need more details/info.
    If possible please answer freebird’s questions.
    Write to IHM and she will publish this on this blog.
    Afterwards we will try to give you useful advice.
    Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You da man, GV ji! Trust your trip back to Bangalore was without event! My husband’s family is based out of Bangalore and the next time I visit, I will not leave without sharing a cup of suda suda kaapi with you 🙂


      • @Krith,
        Yes, I had a comfortable flight back home and could even sleep in the aircraft as the seats next to me in the central aisle were vacant.

        I will look forward to and also host “Koffee with Krith” and you can look forward to “Gossip with GV” if we meet. Let me know by email if you are ever in Bangalore.
        My email address can be obtained from my profile.

        I have yet to actually meet any of Ihm’s blog readers or followers, though I have met several readers and bloggers, online forum members and yahoo group members face to face after knowing them online for some time.
        So far my impressions about them, formed by reading their writings and comments , agreed well with my impressions about them in the face to face meeting. I have been warned that people in reality may be far different from what they project online. I hope I come up to your expectations if and when we meet.

        If I remember right, It was my comments in a Hindi blog that you read and reacted to and lead me here to IHM’s blog over three years ago. Actually, you and IHM would have many, many more readers and followers if you wrote in Hindi too.
        There is a really huge blog reading population out there in the regional languages. I used to follow and comment on over a dozen blogs in Hindi but have finally settled down and I stick with just a three blogs in Hindi. I like to write in Hindi, even though I am not very good at it. This was another opportunity and I took it willingly.



        • GV,
          DG appreciates how you acknowledge her directing you to IHM’s blog. Yes, transcribing GGTS in Devnagari is her dream project but she is pretty tech challenged and given her limitations it keeps being pushed back. Earlier she had an internet radio channel where she archived most of GGTS pages in Hindi. Soon she’ll be on air again this time on proper FM. Wish her health and luck.


    • This is great advice, GV. Dumping the husband and moving on does not seem to be the appropriate solution here. It’s not easy even for urban women.

      Also, “or else you will leave the family” may not be a good ultimatum, in my opinion. And she doesn’t want to leave the family either. Ultimatums work only if you follow through with them, else they’ll call your bluff. What would be a more doable ultimatum? What are your thoughts?


      • An ultimatum should be a last resort.
        Winning over the husband and enlisting his support should be tried out first.
        Making the husband convince the FIL should be the next step.
        Niharika’s suggestions look good to me and might very well work.
        If these fail, than rebelling in small ways is next.
        Let them get used to not being obeyed always in all matters.
        Then demand (not plead for) education and employment.
        If everything fails, then the ultimatum will be the only resort if the LW is really serious about what she wants and has the ability to carry out her threat.
        If she cannot she has no option but to live her present live and resign herself to her fate.


  11. I am no legal expert but IHM I found this on net about whether this can be legally challenged as cruelty:

    Slide 4 lists “Preventing you or the child in your custody from attending school, college or any other educational institutions”. I am not sure how strongly this applies to our scenario as she is currently not enrolled in any educational institution, but I guess there is scope to challenge this legally.


    • She is not a child and it is not her father who is preventing her from seeking further education. If she has to challenge it legally who is going to support her? A father, who is ready to prostrate to her FIL. After filing legal suit where is she going to live? Let us be realistic.
      Laws are no good least they have logistic backing for the victims.

      The foremost focus here should be to suggest this woman to stand her guard against this by being vigilant into not getting pregnant at this time. Once a woman starts voicing her discontent with relationship and realities of marital home she is soon found pregnant and then the violence escalates as her social and physical options are further circumscribed.


  12. IHM, for the email writter is only one available solution for moment and i don’t think she will be able to apply. She should return to her family and forget about marriage. She should continue her studies and take a job. No matter what her family and society will say she should do this. If her family loveing her with time they will understand and will support her.

    As about to prevent this type of situations India should make education compulsory for women till age of 22. India should have public schools and colleages where women can study for free. When every woman will be able to graduate a colleage, they will be able to apply for jobs, so is less possible to control their lives. Free education will change also the mind of couples regarding having a baby girl. More women will have jobs, less people will see in that something harmfull. More women will have acces to education and jobs, more women will be outside and this will change mentalities.

    Look to FIL’s attitude. He said now she wants to study tomorrow will want to work. What is wrong with having a job? Nothing wrong. Just they feel losing control. So this should happen. They should loose control. They should work to gain the feelings and admiration of the woman that come in their house. They should not take anything for granted. They should be scared that woman will divorce if is not treated right. This is the way to bring changes in a society obsessed by control. You should not allow them to have control.


    • Hardcore, sensible measures suggested here. But we still have a looooooooong way to go, especially when it comes to smaller towns / rural areas to be able to effect such changes.


  13. Updated to add this response to my email from the email writer.

    “I am 24. I am from a very small town in Rajasthan. My marital home is in a small village. I have done BA and M Sc in Computer Science. In a small village there is no career with a Computer Science…. that’s why I want to do a B Ed…. I want to go in teaching line.
    I can understand English, but just not comfortable in writing or speaking in English.
    My husband is not a bad person… but he has been raised in a village so he is not so broad minded… he is afraid of he society…. so far as I have understood him… I feel he is afraid of bing labelled a JKG. But he can do anything to be labelled a SHRAVAN KUMAR.

    You will be surprised to know that the dream of doing the B Ed was shown to me by my husband… I am at my parents’ home at the moment… Just two days ago I have filled the form for PTET… before filling the form I had spoken to my husband… then he had said no problem, you fill the form… then he spoke to my FIL about this and he blew up… he started saying that, “This is not possible… today she is talking about studying, tomorrow will talk about working… if I wanted to bring a job wali bahu then there was the proposal (rishta) of Bank Manager… I might as well have finalised that rishta for you.”

    Then my husband called me and said, “Where was the hurry to fill the form? Now Papa is saying no… atleast you should have asked him once. …now I don’t know, I can’t do anything in this matter… ”

    When I went home and told my parents, then they started saying, “When he (FIL) is saying no then this is not possible… not possible without his permission…” After that my dad started convincing me that I should not be stubborn … he started giving me examples of other women … my sisters in law (brothers’ wives’) examples…. take a look at her, she is so educated but still manages house hold… ..blah blah blah…
    O god!!

    I don’t understand why are people so afraid of the society… I had learnt in school that samaaj (society)is a support system… but my society has made living difficult for me…
    I don’t want to lose my husband… because he is good at heart… his only weakness is he does not have a mind of his own …he doesn’t have any views of his own, just the FIL’s opinions are his opinion. … what should I do, I am in a dilemma. ..”


  14. God !! poor girl !! the story is same everywhere specially in small towns….I admire the LW. Inspite if being in small twn with regressive in laws she has the ambition to do something.I wont suggest her to go legal way n divorce her hubby…Its very difficult in small towns and she dosnt hav a support system. Even her parents wont support her.
    She can do two things…stay at her parents place, continue her studies and forget abt her FIL n sasural…they can cry n whine she shld do wat she wants.
    Second way is wat my FIL did for my MIL…My MIL is an economics graduate and university topper….She wanted to persue her career post marriage. Being in small town teaching was the only option…
    Her In laws where dead against it…. same log kya kahenge prob…And I am talking about 70s. When the situations were even worse.
    My FIL is still a little MCP and was a perfect shravn kumar. Yet he wanted a working wife.
    Anyways he told his parents tht he wants his wife to study and work because its his wish.He wants a modern wife !! And he didnt want to leave a dependent widow on everyone in case something happened to him.
    His tactic eventually worked and my MIL is a university principle today.
    If the LW wants to study n work she will have to take ker hubby into confidence.
    Is it possible for her to make her hubby read IHM’s mails ??
    Maybe he will become ready to face his family….Trust me once the LW starts getting extra income in the family all this lok/laaj execuse will go away.


    • Excellent idea!
      I heartily second this proposal.
      Get the husband on board, slowly and patiently.
      Let him bell the cat.
      Looks like the hubby is a nice chap and is not opposed to the idea but is unable now to defy his father.
      With time and patience, he can and should be brought around and slowly made to overcome his father’s reluctance.
      Relatives and family friends can also be roped in to speak to the hostile FIL and make him see sense.
      Give him a face saving way out and he may finally agree.
      Best of luck to the letter writer.


  15. Dear LW,

    1) You deserve every bit of your freedom and happiness. NOBODY can ask you to give that up.

    2) Your husband may or may not be a good person. But he has no right to deny you your rights. He is supposed to support you in all your dreams and stand by you against anyone who controls you – Even if it is your FIL who is against you. If he doesn’t support you for your education, I strongly suggest that you leave him. WATCH QUEEN movie.

    3) Have a strong conversation with your husband and tell him firmly that your education is your choice, not his, or your FIL’s or the society’s. Tell him that you will study whether your FIL will like it or not, and that you don’t need FIL’s permission.

    4) Discuss with your father and tell him strongly that your life will be better with education and a job. Tell him clearly that you will not continue in this marriage if they stop your education.

    5) You have not mentioned whether your savings can sustain you for a few months on your own. If none of your family is supporting you, I suggest you to leave them and look for a job with your current education, even if it is not in the same village.

    6) You can work for a few months and provide yourself enough to do B.Ed. if required later.

    7) Don’t care about society. Society is not rescuing you when you want your basic rights like education and financial independence to be fulfilled. There is no need to care for such a society.


  16. This is very disturbing and sad. But there is a silver lining too. That is LW’s savings. Dear LW it is a wonderful thing that you want to study. It is not only harmless but also a very noble thing to do. Someone pursuing education can never be detrimental to anybody, not your parents, not your husband and certainly not your FIL. Your wish to study is completely legitimate. It is your husband, parents and in laws who are being mean. How can you discourage somebody from studying?what is the difference between them and talibans?

    My advice to you would be to convert your wish to your goal. You don’t need to discuss or seek permissions. Start by getting proper information. What do you want to study, from where, what will be the cost and the job prospects. Work out your finances. Also have some alternate living arrangements lined up incase push comes to a shove. Maybe a pg or a friend just incase of an emergency. Then go for it and start applying. Try to build a support system of like minded friends.

    Sometimes it takes a lot of courage but its worth it. I hope you find yours. Maybe reading about Malala would inspire.


  17. If your father is giving you examples of women who gave up education to be housewives you too give him examples of women who gave up conventional life and fought against all odds to get an education and made something out of their lives.


  18. God This is such a terrible thing to befall any person. This constant unhappiness is very sad, we are indeed a set of terrible people wh subject our children to this.
    From what i understand, dumping her husband may not be an option or a choice. It is not easy to leave everyone, go against society and survive with no job especially if you are raised the way this poor child has been. I’m not saying it’s impossible, after all i dumped everyone and walked out with the person i loved but i had the confidence of living and working alone.
    I dont know what jobs you can get with a Msc comp sci without any experience and where you can go, certainly not rural rajasthan.. also maybe she loves her husband, we cannot all love people who are righteous and fair 🙂 sometimes you get attached to losers too …

    I’d suggest taking your husband into confidence and telling him you sra extremely unhappy. if he shows no signs of wanting your happiness, your attitude towards him might change. Show your displeasure openely and see what happens. ofcourse you will face ridicule and censure from EVERYONE but thats life. in the meantime apply for jobs elsewhere and see if you can get anything. if you can THEN present your ultimatum. that you want to study or will move out. at this point you have burned your bridge and are on your own, but that confidence you get and the fun you will have is amazing, who knows your husband might come with you and choose a life of happiness too.


  19. IMO – she needs financial help, counselling nad some support system outside her marital or parental family. She needs a job to support herself . But first she needs to talk to her husband in confidence and see where he stands, thenshe has to decide if she can take an opposite stance. for that i think she needs counselling, building confidence and such. only then can she move on out. It is not easy to move out of a family in such settings, it is harder still to stand against society and family with no support, best chance of success is to leave the place after all attempts are futile. sadly this may mean the end of a marriage, which she may or may not be ready for.


  20. Statutory Warning:

    Marriage implies that you are going to get a new set of parents who will come up with new ways and new rules to control your life…These new rules will always be stricter than the rules set by your biological parents.


  21. Why do women marry into traditional households where their decisions are subject to approval from husband and elders, and then complain later?

    The household does not have to be ultra modern and believe in full equality for women. Obviously if women look for such households only, they will remain unmarried. But try to find one where there is some hope of holding a job like teacher, bank, and other so-called suitable for ladies jobs.

    BA and M.Sc in Computer Science. It is simply maddening to think of such a person needing approval from FIL to study further.


    • Unfortunately women in many parts of our country, no matter how educated, don’t seem to have the courage to stand up against their parents and social pressure to say “no” when it comes to marriage. Forget “no” to marriage, they are often not even asked for their opinion about what kind of guy they want. “The parents know best” is the tag line and often women, too, subscribe to this line of thought. How many women really have an opportunity to have an open chat in private with the guy? In this case for example, even if she had had that opportunity, he would have supported it only to renege once they were married. Isn’t that what he did even after marriage when it came to her doing a B.Ed? Said one thing but did something else?

      It requires a complete change in the way of thinking which is often seen as “negative, western influence” for a woman (or even sons) to stand up for their rights.


  22. it’s very difficult for the girl to stand alone with her problem. It’s the situation where she should to look for a help outside. She needs a mediator, who is of same age as her in-laws. Because they think that a chicken came earlier than egg, they don’t listen to her and speak b….it. Of course she shouldn’t do something behind husband’s back, that’s disrespect. So before she talks to some elder people again, she should inform her husband about her intentions. Once again, she should ask for the help from her family, her father probably, or uncles. She should speak calmly and explain the reason of ‘why she wants to study’. Let it take some time, but she should make a list of reasons, long one list. If she knows her father will go on with some facts, she should be prepaired and shower him with the facts too, but tell him everything in calm way. It’s not that hard to write a novel, we all were taught that in school, so I think she should write the story of why she wants to study, not emotional one. She was studying BA and M Sc in Computer Science. Good. There are plenty freelance jobs she could start doing right now. Let it be the option for the future, ok?

    She could ask her father if he was alright with the fact he spent so much money on her education and that she was doing nothing to pay him back for such support and concern about her future? She could not to study and simply marry after school. I would suggest her to count how much money her parents spent of her education and give him numbers. That’s very convincing, it worked on my parents many times. I think if I got married and didn’t work they would ask that money back from my in-laws!!! And they have all the rights, actually! If her in-laws and husband can’t pay that money, they can allow her to work, so she could do it herself at least. By the way, why not to use her saving on paying the depts she has to her parents…it will shake her husband at least, since he uses her money for rent. Unfortunately, I don’t know her relationship with her parents, but if she talks everything in positive and calm manner she can succeede.

    As for her being a teacher. That’s what her husband’s suggested her to do, then why not to think how to make him a mediator in the conversation later too. She wants to be a teacher, which shows how she respects her husband’s opinion and words he speaks to her. I think he should value that! As for the society’s opinion. Her husband and your in-laws can speak up for you saying: ‘Your happiness is very important for them and your decision to be a teacher was made not for the money deal, but for emotional happiness you can gain from working with children’. But yes, before you need to study. Again this situation can be shown in different light and you husband could always say something like this: ‘She is very good wife and good housewife, but she has a lot of energy left, which can be used even more effective. I want her to be not only a good wife, but a good mother. She should learn how to deal with the little children like professional and teach them in professional level. Thats why I suggested her to become a teacher at first. I understood she needed more qualitifcation for this, so I proposed her to study at first, since she has good degree in M sc in computer science and not teaching. I can allow my woman to study, I can provide her with this’.


  23. I will tell you the story of my friend, who also comes from a small town in Rajasthan. Her parents were living in Mumbai, then father lost his business and they all went back to Rajasthan. They wanted to get her married off and stop her education. But she believed in the power of education and wanted more than to be a slave to some family. So she left home with only a little cash, went to Mumbai and started working in a call centre to support herself. She supported herself through college and is today reconciled to her family and married to a man of her choice. Now her parents also want her younger sister to be independent and educated. Why I am telling you this is to tell you that woman like you also have hope if you show courage. I will not lie – the future is going to be hard, but the hardest step is the first step. Once that has been taken, the rest is easier.

    You can try these things.

    1) Stop giving money to your husband and take your marriage jewellery (I am assuming you got some) under your care. You need to protect your rights and your money now you can see no one really cares about what you want. You will need them.

    2) Start applying for jobs and ignore what anyone says. Let them be unhappy for a change. If you feel that doing so would mean a physical threat to you, don’t tell them. Do it secretly until you land a job and are able to move out.

    3) If you fear for your safety, please contact a woman’s organisation in your town and explain your situation. They might even be able to negotiate with your family and help you join the course, but if not, this will be on record for future problems. You can also try taking police help, but I am not sure how helpful they would be in Rajasthan to ‘family matters’.

    4) You need to understand that fighting has its consequences. It should not be so, but it is. You need to make up your mind to face the consequences, but be assured there will be people along the way who will offer help and moral support. Decide how far you are willing to go. Are you prepared to face society after divorce? Separation? Move out with the husband? Where do you want to draw the line?

    5) Please take action. Keep talking about how unhappy you are. Tell people this is not what you want. As someone suggested, start rebelling with small things. Let them get adjusted to your way of life.

    6) I would not waste time arguing with either your parents or your in-laws without your having something concrete in hand. Speak only when you have a job and are in a position to threaten some sort of action. Until then, work on what you want. Do not give them the satisfaction of having broken you.

    7) The best advice I can give you is to seek employment in a metro city like Delhi or Mumbai if you have any friends there. Start moving things along and something will surely turn up. Meanwhile, we are here to talk to you.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ xxxxxxxxx ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I see some commenters are telling the LW to simply move out and dump her family and to watch Queen. Really? How is that going to help? The woman does not have any experience of life, nor education, not even a job. She is going to eat grass, and go on a honeymoon all by herself and get empowered with air and water? I really think we need to take people’s circumstances into account before giving advice.

    Or maybe should we just tell her that everyone must respect her irrespective of her situation (as some people have implied in the past posts) and leave her to her fate? I mean, we will be vindicated, right? We will feel holier than thou and happy at having made a point. Never mind that real women in real life are having problems because they aren’t working or allowed to work.


    • This is what i mean about the unconcious classism on this site. They can only see things from their priviledged perspective and their solutions are no help to this woman.

      She is living in a small village in a very conservative part of India and has in laws and parents who care deeply what others think. Im scared that this woman might face violence if she goes against their wishes. They sound like the type of people who would commit an “honour killing” if she “shames” them. Her safety and life are in jeopardy. Watching queen is of no help to her.

      If she goes aganist her inlaws and parents she will have no support system, no help financially or emotionally. This will be very frightening. I think she needs to find anorganization or NGO that can help her who have experience in helping women in these type of situations.

      I will keep you in prayers lw, stay strong, i wish there was more i could do for you.


      • OK. There is no need to vilify me for suggesting to watch Queen. Firstly, in no way did I imply that the LW has to replicate the actions of the female lead in that movie. I am no classist and I fully realize that she may face violence if she goes against her family’s wishes.

        And I am am ALSO fully aware that victims of abuse often don’t understand that they are the ones who are being abused, that they are often made to feel that it’s THEIR fault in asking for ‘more’ (freedom which is rightfully theirs). Without any support system around, they give up on their wishes and eventually submit to abuse, blaming themselves for their situation with no way out. And this LW has gone through precisely similar emotions if you read her next email:


        In my attempt to make her realize that it is not her fault in asking for her rights and to sustain her hopes, I have suggested her to watch that movie which I thought brings forth this particular point (specifically about woman wanting to work) in a beautiful manner. I have written this in detail in words that she is right in asking for her rights and it is not her fault. Along with that, I asked her to watch this movie because I felt message conveyed through this medium would be more powerful and convincing than all the words which I could use. What is classist or impractical about this (maybe it is difficult for her to watch movies in a small town and her husband may not allow her – I am not sure, but generally speaking movies are popular across strata in India)?

        Making a woman understand that she deserves liberation, and that it is not her fault in asking for it (contrary to what everyone else around her is forcing her to believe) is the toughest hurdle in liberating her. Again, this is not to undermine the tough spot she is in financially. I am sure most of your advice would be of use to her, if she takes the first step in choosing freedom and understands that she is not responsible for the cruelty being imposed on her by her family. My attempt was aimed at helping her realize this.

        I sincerely appreciate all your attempts at making practical suggestions which I hope would be of use to the LW and have no intention to take any ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Let’s end this unnecessary vilification here.


    • Fem how can the LW find a job when she herself said job options for her qualifications are non existent in her current village when she is staying with her FIL who doesn’t ‘permit’ her to work and all her moves are likely to be watched? If she can’t convince them personally, she can either take external help for the same like you suggested from an NGO or she has to take some bold step. I never suggested that she should leave without having enough savings to sustain herself. How will she find a job in metro without setting foot out of her village? It’s a vicious cycle : she needs job before she can leave and she needs B. Ed before she can get a job in the current place.

      Having said that, the LW admittedly shares a decent relationship with her husband. Why is she overlooking the fact that he is not standing by her? I agree that the amount of brainwashing he would’ve undergone is higher but the extent of intrusion his family is imposing is also likewise higher than what we hear from women in a more urban locality. The LW is fighting for something very very basic: education and financial independence. She and her husband need to understand that they should support each other in this endeavour. She should acknowledge that lack of support from him is a failure on his part.


  24. Dear letter writer…I say tell lene gaye society, samaj and whoever who is trying to stop you to gain khushi….why care about the society when they don’t care about your happiness. Your husband sounds like a wimp and your father well sorry to say but he sounds like a idiot and needs a doctor who can give him a mental shock. Become a strong women and don’t listen to your husband family. Do not even dare to give your husband your savings anymore. Ignore would be the best word. In regard to your fathers home. Don’t listen to them either. Become independent. Ignore the worlds criticism. It seriously doesnt matter what they say. Become empowered and join the teaching pathway which you always wanted to do.


  25. Dear letter writer. .. I say tell lene gaye society, samaj and whoever else who is trying to stop you from living your life….the society doesn’t care about your khushi so why should you follow their orders. You are not a kid to get permission for the slightest of things. Your husband sounds like a wimp and your FIL needs a doctor to give him mental shock. Become a strong and empowered women. Do not let your husband touch your savings. He is not JKG so why should he even look at your money. I think you should live alone for a while for your family to understand the importance of you. Ignore the cristism of the world. They have no right to judge you not even your own family members. You have got computer and science degree and still asking permissing for a job!!! The world needs more degree holders like you yaar. Yet if you want to get into teaching do just that. Do what makes you happy


  26. Dear LW,
    You are in a hard place. I feel slightly awkward to give advice, as I can’t ever imagine being in the place that you are in. I am glad you took the courage to write to IHM. Hopefully, the comments and responses will make you feel a bit better emotionally. Based on your circumstances, it would appear that you have little support, except in the privacy of the relationship with your husband. The key here is – how can you get him to stand up for you in front of his dad? I don’t know. These are emotional marital waters that only the people involved would have to figure out. However, I agree with many others that your happiness should matter to your family – beyond the roti, kapada and makaan necessities. So don’t feel like you are asking for too much – you aren’t.

    OK. Some practical advise the IHM asked for. Disclaimer – this might not seem practical to you; I put down whatever came to me. Also, quite a few have already been mentioned.

    1. Please continue to save and maintain an independent financial identity. If you don’t already, have a bank account exclusively in your name, where you can deposit your money. Make sure it has internet banking facility.
    2. If you don’t have access to a computer and internet at your in-laws place, make this a priority. If it helps, the pitch can be that it will make railway reservations easy, and you can talk to far away relatives (skype), look up recipes etc.
    3. Once (2) is in place, you have some options to exercise from home:
    (a) freelance.com – a website that allows software professionals to bid and work on small projects.
    (b) learn how to trade the stock market. It is risky; but one profession where you can sit at home and at the click of a button, make money. You don’t need extensive training – read up on the internet, some common sense, and a sharekhan account.
    4. For further education: try correspondence?
    5. To keep yourself socially and mentally challenged – home tutions for kids? You don’t leave the house and income is generated. Or, teach them computers? Don’t all parents want their kids to be “modern”?


  27. IHM, sorry for commenting off the topic, but did you see the piece of news where the court ruled that a daughter who elopes against her father’s wishes can’t ask for the father’s FD? In other words, she forfeits the money her father deposited for her studies once she becomes an adult. I can’t really make an opinion on this so would like to know what your readers think on the matter. Thank you.



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  29. i see so many comments may be some of them have already answered what i am writing but i strongly feel to tell the mailer
    don’t think of earning money when people at home are tough to deal with. your in-laws and husband has problem because you want to study and work. so don’t study further and don’t earn money else they will feel they are less of man 😉

    say you want like to spend some part of your time giving free tuition o neighbour children. give 1-2 hour of your time to children, students and hon what you have studied. go online and register for tutoring online. be a tutor there. Start answering people’s question or write blogs about things you know to do. in sometime you will have confidance in yourself and your family will also see your inclination and hard work.
    if you do this with hardwork and zeal things will start to turn in your favor.

    I remember from childhood I had inclination to learn painting sketching and my father always thought we should just concentrate on nothing else than study. I used to make casual sketching but a day when he saw me sketch my late grandfather and it was almost copy of his photo, my father realised that I am really interested in sketching and I shall be sent to learn it. So I started to do that very late.

    Same way when slowly they approve you to help neighbour children(might be poor children who can’t afford tuition) for free, some good parent can come asking for you. You do not go and grab those good student because you want to be a teacher until you husband stands for you or FIL agrees. Once you make that place in their eyes they won’t stop you and won’t consider that your income puts them down.

    It takes leader to change thing and you can be one.Remember bad time doesn’t last, people do.


  30. LW, Your husband CAN go against his family. The point is that he does not WANT to. If your husband does not emotionally support you, then what is the point of this marriage! Get the hell out of there and spread your wings, girl! Get out of that prison!!!


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