“My story is not an extreme case of abuse or discrimination unlike some stories shared on your blog, but it makes me deeply angry and resentful nonetheless.”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,

I have admired your blog posts for over 2 years now and the fact that you have taken up the issue of gender discrimination especially post marriage which is a very under talked, under debated, swept under the carpet kind of issue.

I wanted to share my story which is not an extreme case of abuse or discrimination unlike some stories shared on your blog, but it makes me deeply angry and resentful nonetheless. I am fed up of being told that I have a perfect life compared to many others, that I am making a mountain of a molehill and fed up of the low expectations from the boy and his parents.

Mine is a love marriage and we met 5 years back and tied the knot this year. My husband is a really great guy who was always respectful and and had great regard for a person’s private space and agency. But,like most indian guys he’s devoted to his parents in an illogical manner i.e. everything they say must be carried out and he cannot make them unhappy by arguing, debating even if they are wrong.

I was aware that his parents are a lot more conservative than mine, but was not bothered that much as we are staying in a different city from them. But, what happened during the 3 days we stayed after marriage with them makes me very resentful and incapable of having a decent relationship with them.

For innocuous comments like ‘I don’t know the tv in your house, I am only familiar with the tv in my house’, I was given 18th century replies like ‘This is your house now, you have to sit, eat and drink here’. It made me feel like a bought slave whereas I am as educated as my husband and doing very well in life financially and otherwise. I consider myself strong, confident and independent and was not used to this kind of humiliation.

I went outside their house to bid goodbye to their relatives and was shooed inside by my MIL like cattle because I was not wearing the customary wedding bangles(chooda) and so what will the neighbours say!

I chose to ignore all this ,but the breaking point came when I was going to go to my parents house the last night(they live in the same city) and my MIL demanded that I return to their house the next day and go the airport for my honeymoon from their place as supposedly this is my place now. I just nodded and made an excuse the next day that I am not feeling well and hence going to airport from my place only. Usually, I do not take this kind of approach and I am direct and frank, but decided not to take any chances of any fight erupting.But it still did. Not giving a damn that their son is going on his honeymoon and that it is the best time of our lives, they scolded,cursed him on the way to the airport and for the first time in our relationship he used abusive language with me and behaved like a typical MCP, momma’s boy that I never dreamed he could be. I fought back and asserted that this is not the person I married and if he continues like this, our marriage will be in serious trouble. Since then, he has not behaved like that again. He actively participates in all household chores, in fact does a bit more than me,he’s being the model husband. But, his parents will not get off my back. His dad started talking aggressively to me on that the phone, dictating when and on what occasions i ‘have to’ come to visit them. They have the typical boy’s parents attitude that what they say, I have to do, no choice and it makes me crazy angry and determined not to do listen to even the basic requests.

My parents were planning to visit us this month. When they came to know, they started a crazy race out of the blue to book their tickets for a week prior to my parents’ visit as they are the boy’s parents, they have to come first to our place.

All this has made me disgusted and my husband knows this. Even though he doesn’t say anything, I wonder if resents my attitude to his parents. Also, I have no idea how to deal with his parents when they visit us. Normally people who I don’t like, I totally ignore and feel no obligation to interact with them. But I can’t do it in this case. I also have a very short temper and very less tolerance towards medieval attitudes like women must change their name, personality, parents blah blah blah after marriage. Please advice me on how to deal with such regressive people who are supposed to be your family but do not treat you like a human being but like an acquired property. I do not want to hurt my husband too and I am getting sucked into a web of resentment and anger day by day.

Thanks for caring about the lives of anonymous people.

Regards,

A

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Response from the 25 yr old Software Engineer, ‘I cannot tell you how much better I feel after seeing my concerns/outrage echoed in everyone’s reactions.’

60 thoughts on ““My story is not an extreme case of abuse or discrimination unlike some stories shared on your blog, but it makes me deeply angry and resentful nonetheless.”

  1. You do not need to justify your feelings and try to make your problems small because other people have bigger problems. Your concerns are as valid as a a woman’s whose husband beats her or more serious cases.

    I feel you have dealt with the situation well so far. Good thing is you do not live with them. As much as you would like to have a nice relation with his parents, accept the fact that you guys cannot get along. My approach would be to

    1. Explain everything you feel in a calm rational manner and that you do not like being treated like that to your husband.
    2. If he cannot stand up, agrees with you but will not explain to them, it is okay. He can keep in touch with them but you could cease all contact. It is his parents.

    You have no obligation to do extra except being civil. Approach it as you would approach a colleague at work or room mate. Stick to bare minimum and avoid conversations as much as you can. Some people are really very draining and I personally feel much better when I do not have to interact with them at all unless necessary. Let your husband talk/visit/do whatever and it is okay because they are his family. You don’t have to. That means no phone talking on the phone. When he goes to visit his family, you could stay back or visit your parents. Either your husband should speak up or let you argue the way you please with his parents. If not, there is no need to maintain this connection.

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  2. @Boiling
    while i agree with all you say… but in my personal experience when I tried to reduce talking and stuck to bare minimum to avoid arguments and conflict knowing that my husband would never speak up for me or let me argue with his parents, all that happened is that overtime my husband started dictating me to “respect” his parents and him and make amends and “fix” the situation by listening to their every word and when I didn’t, it caused the end of our relationship since my husband and in laws started abusing me verbally…
    i wonder if there is any way to have handled such situations… or one must just accept that some people are beyond logic and change… and one should just cut their loss and move on!

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    • 1. I do not think you should be putting up with any kind of abuse from husband or his parents.
      2. Some people are really beyond logic. Just accept it.
      3. Try to explain to your husband. Get some friends/relatives/better yet your parents to behave rudely & place high demands on him from food to clothes to money (the older they are the better it is ) and make him understand how it feels when he is not allowed to argue and has to put up with them.
      4. You are an independent adult. It is really nice if you could get along, if not, he should accept it and can’t force you to put up with his parents.
      5. You guys should work things out between both of you because you are a team. His family knows they can get away with it, which is why they do it.
      6. Why not look at moving abroad? Where it is difficult to get visa, so that his parents can’t come?

      This inability of the husband’s to stand up to their parents and expect the wife to toe the line is way too common. I am not very tolerant of that to be honest, so I do not really know what else to say.

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  3. Keep your interaction minimal. Let them know in no uncertain terms that you will not do what you don’t want to do. There is no need to keep the peace if the effort is just one sided and doesn’t come from them. They owe you as much courtesy as you owe them.

    Speak frankly with your husband about their behavior and let him know that you intend to keep them at an arm’s length. He can, of course, be as nice as he wishes to with them. They are his parents, and he is an adult, and has the right to make his own choices. As do you.

    The important thing here is, learn to say no, firmly, patiently, and politely. Be courteous to them, they are fellow human beings (?! :P) and your husband’s parents, but do not cave in and do stuff you’re not comfortable with. You want to take off your wedding bangles, do it openly and confidently. You want to visit your parents, do so without hesitation. Just say NO, nicely. Perhaps you could plan a solo outstation holiday while they visit?

    It is to your husband’s credit that he understood your initial dismay and discomfort, and excellent that you both don’t live with them. I see some promise here. Just let him know that their rigid attitude bothers you, their mindset is different from yours, you are not one to be controlled or directed, you would like to be left to your own decisions, and are going to keep them at an arm’s length to ensure the least conflict. He can either deal with that, or suck it. You will, at least, find out where his priorities lie.

    Sensible and broadminded people respect others’ choices and differences, and do not try to dictate. Your in laws seem neither sensible nor broadminded, as per what I can derive from your mail. You can’t make yourself miserable over people who don’t respect your happiness.

    Give your husband your best, but don’t be afraid to take the exit route if his attitude is making you more miserable than happy. He seems understanding and open to good opinion, if you say he stopped fighting with you after you gave him a piece of your mind. You don’t have to listen to the ol’ folks just because they are his parents. You (and he) are adults and you must make your own choices. That’s a part of growing up. Both of you, please grow up already.

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  4. It’s again sad that men can be so blind that they let their own parents screw the happiness of someone who quit her own parents to come and live with them!! If the husband’s parents are so important, isn’t the wives? If ‘this’ is ‘your house’ now, isn’t the wives house the husband’s? Shouldn’t the husband visit the wife’s house on festivals? Or is she cut off from being a daughter because she is a wife?

    I think a husband’s support is of prime importance in such a situation. As long as your husband is aware of how you feel about his parents’ behaviour, he should respect you for putting up with it and still being civil to your parents. Unless they get down to being abusive, you should just put up with the days they stay with you. I believe, stretch issues as long as they don’t affect your marriage. In India, in-laws are a major reason why marriages get strained. And even I have compromised as long as it doesn’t strain the relationship. But if push comes to shove and your husband expects you to put up with even abusive behaviour, I think you need to draw the line there and tell him things like these are going to affect your marriage and if he cares about it, he should do something about it.

    I just feel very sad that women have to go through all this when we are equally educated and capable!! We just should have been male!

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  5. Usually, I’d say that acquiesce here and there, on some small things, to keep them happy. Sometimes you have to do what you don’t like, to maintain good relations with people.

    But doing so can be a double edged sword! You give some people an inch; they try and grab a mile from you! What bothers me about these folks is not their old school of thought or conservatism – no, they are entitled to their ways of life… BUT it is the fact that they are trying to IMPOSE their ways on you. I don’t care how people choose to live their own lives, but I am not a fan of anyone who tries to impose their ways on other adults.

    The way I sense it, if you acquiesce here and there, they will expect and argue with you to obey everything they say. Age does not call for respect or guarantee wisdom; attitude does. My instinct says minimize interaction.

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  6. Women says we are independent and educated and earning like husband.
    Then, why you people marring a boy based on his salary, property.
    I can show 99% women are doing this. In turn this women, their parents not getting property.

    Women wants boy’s parents property. But does not want boy’s parents.

    Problem here, this woman not mingling with boy’s parents.

    Go as per boy’s parents, slowly boy’s parents understands your concerns.

    Problem here, you are not treating boy’s as your parents.

    Main problem lies with the society, any woman says some thing, society blindly trust them.
    Society does not want listen boy, boy’s parents voice.

    Media, Society, Judges wants make good impression with women. So that even though they know women mistake, they do not want to criticise women.

    If same thing, boy’s complains this media, society, judges taking seriously.

    Women, if you have guts stop expecting property, high salary than what you have.
    Do not expect alimony as you are saying women equal to men.

    Then, you people why do not you struggle instead of catching on alimony.

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    • She is very clear here that she loves him for himself and not his money !! she never expected his property. salaray etc., she clearly mentions she is financially stable.
      now coming to your other concerns,
      –“Problem here, you are not treating boy’s as your parents.” — they are NOT her parents they are her hisbands parent. you cannot simply one fine day decide someone is going to become your parents, replace them or become co-parents.
      Just like the boy cannot consider her parents HIS parents.
      –“Problem here, this woman not mingling with boy’s parents.”
      If someone is rude you dont have to bend over backwards for them. will you mingle and be nice with me when i tell you you cannot go to meet your parents and I’m your mom now??? Will you be sweet and listen to me if i tell you ,you cannot go outside since i dont like the pant you are wearing. would her husband like to be dictated by her parents. would anyone?

      –“Go as per boy’s parents, slowly boy’s parents understands your concerns.”
      WHY???? will you go per my desire and live your life as i say? NO? why not, i have your best interest at heart. i’m older than you and know whats best for you🙂
      and why will they slowly understand her concerns, are they not wise enough to know whats right and wrong immedietyly , why does it take time for them to understand her concerns, she speaks the same language i assume, when she says , she’s got to go to mothers place, it’s quite clear what she wants,🙂

      dont involve society, law, judge etc., in this mess, all this is is a blatent lack of respect for another human being, an entitlement that i have birthed a boy and it is my due t now demand his wife bow to me. this is just being plain mean and nasty, nothing to do with respect, culture, caring for elders nothing at all.

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      • Nailed it!!

        Raghu seems utterly confused, insecure, and chauvinistic. Confident, secure, mature, and wise people don’t need others to abide by their rules – they accept people’s differences, and live and let live.

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    • Hi sir
      I am the LW and request you to please stop trolling around as you often do with your misogynistic nonsensical statements. If women expect property,salary men expect zillion things in return too. Please do not make insulting comments without knowing who you are talking to.
      Not that it matters , but I make more money than my husband and it does not make the slightest difference to us or our relationship, I contribute 50 % to every expense and I do not expect a man to be the financial provider just because he’s a guy anymore than I will tolerate anyone to expect me be the subservient cook/maid/slave just because I am a female.
      Please mind your words.

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        • hahaha!! I love you too!..I always wait for your blunt no nonsense replies in every post..I too don’t like sugarcoating things

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        • Oh, never realised I had fans!😀

          Regarding your problem, I think you have the drama quite well in hand. Just one more thing to add here. Your home is your own space. Don’t lose your space to outsiders. Set down some ground rules for visitors in general and expect everyone, including your families to abide by them. As for providing your in-laws with a comfortable room and food, why, it should be your husband’s responsibility. Remove yourself from the situation. If anyone protests, say ‘hamare yahan par to yahi pratha hai’😀

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      • I love you too!

        Now all you need to do is give a piece of your mind to your in-laws, just this way! Be polite, and 100% firm. And then maintain distance.

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    • Then, why you people marring a boy based on his salary, property.
      I can show 99% women are doing this/
      Women, if you have guts stop expecting property, high salary than what you have.

      >> Women do this cause men are threatened by women who earn more, they do it to pamper their ego or they might go into a justifiable rage and hurt/dump them
      Kabhi alvida na kehna any-one?

      Women wants boy’s parents property. But does not want boy’s parents
      >> men want woman dowry, not her parent or even the woman herself

      Problem here, this woman not mingling with boy’s parents.
      >> problem is married couple lives with husband’s parents

      Go as per boy’s parents, slowly boy’s parents understands your concerns
      >> they will assume that woman is ok to be treated like second class citizen

      Problem here, you are not treating boy’s as your parents.
      >> Problem here is they are not her parents

      Main problem lies with the society, any woman says some thing, society blindly trust them.
      Society does not want listen boy, boy’s parents voice.
      Media, Society, Judges wants make good impression with women. So that even though they know women mistake, they do not want to criticise women.
      >> err… which media, society, judges are you listening to? I am sure IHM can cite many example on her site itself!

      Do not expect alimony as you are saying women equal to men.
      >> when women are not expected to leave their home/jobs/life for the man who throws them out, then we will talk. When the chances of making a good second marriage for a woman is same as for a man, when she is not viewed as spoilt goods, then we can discuss this!!

      both partners are adults who have a right to choose how to live their lives together or as individuals, neither parents nor anyone else have the right to enforce their rules on any one

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    • Boy’s parents aren’t my parents. I have my own, thanks a lot. What’s more, they like me too!

      As for the rest of your comment, it isn’t worth addressing. It only shows where your focus is.

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    • In a world where life expectancy is 80 and beyond we are talking on an average 30 years of servitude before we will get hold of any kind of property. Do you think women are insane? We want to spend the prime of our life from 25-55 wanting some property. Most of us are discouraged to invest in our own plots and property live separately, our investments are taken care of by controlling in laws and at the end of it when we have given up everything and that includes relationship with the spouse because that stands no chance of survival in such arrangements, we are told we did it for the property! Stop perpetuating nonsense. Women who are made to give up everything want property not the ones who are able to preserve their sanity and their relationships. In fact, its men who want their parents property, their parents make it clear that its not guaranteed anymore and that the only way is to make their wives bow before then. And they do it because its easy to let someone else take the shit.

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    • Mr Raghu, you are living in an age that no longer exists. Why don’t you stay in your cave where you can live happily in you hread with these outdated ideas?

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  7. Act as you mean to go along. Do what you can and want to sustain, nothing else works in the long run. You could transform yourself into Mother Teresa and it still won’t be enough for some. Get a cook for when they visit, bypass the issues with food/kitchen (and that’s a big one).

    I read this book recently that really nails the in-law relationship on the head – http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/en/content/mother-law Check it out, it has stories and pulls out some common points of universal pain. I think it is one of those books that anyone interested in a good relationship with their mother/daughter-in-law needs to read and connect to themselves in order to find their own way.

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    • Very sensible advice in my opinion.

      Being free, feminist and modern doesn’t mean ignoring the basic needs of relatives. The older I get, the more I believe respecting some customs (being courteous) is the best way to have peaceful social interactions and getting people off your back – so long as traditions are not used as a tool to torture.

      I have seen too many scenes made by people who claimed it was better to say everything you think and feel, and do only what you want. Recently one friend refused to see her mother on her deathbed, what a pity…

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  8. Reading this post just triggered old bad memories feel like yelling curses at those abusers.
    Lived through exactly same drama.
    Everyone here will give excellent advise here are few thing DG learned after she got out of that mess.
    You and spouse have to be on the same page and that is not going to happen as he is the “ladka” and his parents are “ladkewaale.”

    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/dealing-with-in-laws/

    Talk, talk now before they land in your home. Talk about possible scenarios and consequences that will follow if you are made to feel unsafe in your own home. This is your turf and do not lose it.
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/lets-talk-communication-deadlock/
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/feeling-and-expressing-your-emotions/

    It is not a matter of a week it is for rest of the life you are married to this man.
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/ask-before-marrying/

    Look out of signs
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/emotional-abuse/
    http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/cycle-of-violence/

    There are more resources on GGTS, don’t think the degree of your oppression is lesser than someone else. All oppression is bad and needs to be nipped in the bud.
    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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  9. Dear LW, none of the things you mentioned are trivial. In your in-laws’ eyes, you are not an adult. They have a sense of entitlement over you, thanks to our society’s approval of this ridiculous behavior.
    However, the problem here is not primarily with your in-laws. You and your husband need to sit down and have a talk. You need to explain your expectations from your relationship, your beliefs (in what you consider your rights and responsibilities), your outlook. While you want to be treated as a complete equal (and I agree with you 100% here), your husband is not on the same page with you. He seems to be reacting differently in different situations depending on the amount of pressure he is facing. It is important to have a basic framework and set of guidelines as the basis for marriage (or any relationship). Write down a charter for your marriage. It could look something like this –

    1) How I dress, who I am friends with, when I shower are personal choices
    2) How we manage money, what hours each of us works, how we raise our kids are joint decisions (only husband and wife)
    – Parents on either side cannot dictate any of these decisions. Reason – you are not children, you are both adults.
    3) We will always stand up for each other when someone hurts our feelings
    4) You can add more guidelines that fit your situation

    Once you have the charter in place, discuss various situations with your husband and how you can apply your guidelines.
    – Using the above guidelines, if you choose to leave to the airport from your parents’ house, it shouldn’t matter to anyone else. Your husband getting angry here – violation of guideline (1)
    – If your in-laws visit, you will provide them with a comfortable room, reasonable food, etc. You will not allow them to tell you what to do. You will not allow them to pick on you. When they do, you will tell them in no uncertain terms that you do not like to be controlled or disrespected. Your husband needs to stand up for here – only directness works here, nothing else. If he chooses to remain silent or pretend nothing happened, this is a violation of guideline (3).

    Once you and your husband are on the same page, a big part of this will be resolved.

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  10. The in-laws are the secondary problem here. They have never been exposed to the concept that a grown woman is an adult, and should not be told to “go inside”, “sit down”, and “stand” or “stay” like a dog.
    In general with your in-laws, adopt this attitude:
    – Do not let them tell you what to do ( like being told to go inside, come back here to leave for airport).
    – Stand your ground and tell them you will not comply.
    – Do not nod, pretend to agree, and make excuses (this sends them the wrong message – they will continue to think it’s okay to tell you what to do)
    – Do not try to convince them, argue with them, yell or shout.
    – Do exactly what you want to do, when it comes to all personal decisions.
    – If they verbally abuse you, tell them you will not tolerate verbal abuse and leave the room immediately.
    – Refuse to engage in conversation unless they remain respectful.
    – Constantly remember, respect is given only to those who expect it and demand it explicitly.
    – If their disrespectful behavior continues, refuse to visit or talk on the phone.
    – Do not reciprocate their insults, do not match their abusive behavior, but protect yourself.
    Remember, “Freedom is not given to you by anyone – you need to cultivate it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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  11. Just wait for a while. If things doesn’t get alright, just take a call which is important in your life.
    Self esteem or marriage?
    If you feel self-esteem is important, just go for a divorce and walk away. Divorce is better than adjusting to a bitter life. Go ahead with your decision.

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    • Why does it always have to be this or that? Why can’t a woman have self esteem within a marriage? Divorce is a candy that are free for takes?
      Things don’t get right by themselves, two people have to make them right because two are in a relationship not one.
      DG

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  12. Been there done that. All I want to say is that oppression is oppression. The ways may be different and seem less serious than what we get to see and read in the newspapers but the underlying thought process is exactly the same and hence extremely insulting and unfair. We are privileged compared to many other women and should be the first ones to refuse to take this nonsense in the name of maintaining peace and harmony in the house..they are old and too set in their ways…..its just for a week etc etc. It took me 6 years to stand up but as they say- better late…

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  13. Tough situation! And one which almost all newly weds in our country seem to face. Well, be happy that people like you and me are changing the world, one step at a time.
    Talk to your husband. This is his fight since they are his parents. Ask him to stand up for you. THIS is what marriage is about. Good luck dear.

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  14. being treated like part of their property is a very serious and valid concern and you have every right to complain against such atrocious behaviour, so please don’t feel guilty about it.

    The in laws are being ridiculous.
    It always amuses me how men such as thie raghu character in the comments above say that the women do not treat their in-laws like their own parents, which is where the root of the problem lies.
    But the point of the matter is, it’s a two-way street. The in-laws need to treat their DIL like family as well, as not like a piece of property that has come into their hands to do as they wish.
    They must be minidful of the fact that you are indeed NOT a part of their family, that you have had a different upbringing, different likes and dislikes, different things that you are used to. Maybe you don’t care about wearing the chooda, and don’t care about what the neighbours think.

    But nooooo! The woman is always supposed to change every single aspect of who she was up to that point to simply fit the boy’s family and their customs.

    Girl, you gotta talk to that husband of yours, tell him that his parents need to treat you with respect, or else they’re not going to get any. That’s the end of the matter.

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  15. Seems like my own story! I got married into a similar household where the in-laws are extremely orthodox and expected me to treat the husband as God. He isnt allowed to lift a finger in the house. I remember one incident as a newly wed where I was making rotis under the watchful eye of my MIL. Hubby walked into the kitchen and I asked him to arrange the plates in the dining table for dinner. And he stood around for a bit simply walked out of the kitchen. I was taken aback by that. Later when I confronted him, he told me that his mom had instructed in signs him that she’d take care of it and he shouldn’t do it.
    This is just one of the many instances. This kinda passive aggressive behavior continued for a long time as long as we lived under one roof. I was expected to sit in a corner when I had my chums, There was always a problem – that I did not pray everyday, I did not tie my hair, I did not light the diya on a particular day, I did not do XYZ, I did not follow ABC. So much so that they started blaming me and my “disrespect” towards these things as the reason for their younger son not getting married.

    I chugged along for exactly a year – tried to not let these things affect me. After that I decided that I will not play by their terms and lead the life the way I want to. I stopped the 3 day routine. I cut my hair short, I still dont pray. Hubby is still not a proactive worker in the household department, but at least does things if I instruct him (old habits and lifestyles die hard I guess). That doesn’t go down well with them. Husband is supportive but he is also loyal to his parents. But if there is something that they tell/expect and I don’t appreciate, I tell them and move on. Sometimes it does get ugly and fights happen. But then it is better to get it out of the system than bottling so much negativity inside you. They live in a different city and I rarely call and talk. I am not much of a phone chatter even otherwise and avoid/minimize calls even with people I am close to. And with them, I have nothing much in common to talk about. That is also a complaint that I dont speak to them. But well – thats how it is.

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  16. Sounds like our own story to lot of us.

    I always see the comments saying husband needs to take care of this. After going through this for years, my opinion has changed.

    You need to be there for yourself. Do not expect anyone – especially ur husband to make a miracle happen. Tough to make people understand something that they “refuse” to understand. There is a saying – u can wake up a sleeping person, not one who is acting like sleeping!!

    I am not blaming ur husband here, maybe he also understands, but in the long run, you cant wait everytime for him to converse with them to put an end to this. His understanding of the situtation in a right manner might just give u the extra emotional support.. thats it, nothing more. You dont have to run away from a otherwise nice life you enjoy with him!!

    Your self-respect is only yours born along with you. Education and finance help you retain it better. Nobody has the right to say what you need to do even if you are not educated and financially sound (which is not true in your case here, just adding it).

    Please set limits politely and firmly then and there. Patience does not work here, it only makes people take us for granted as long it goes. You need to make sure the limits are known to ur husband too.

    Dont bow into the emotional drama they put up with the son… the usual easiest route for them…Good luck!!

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  17. I feel your husband has to stand up for himself and your marriage and create boundaries with them. You are an adult married couple and you do not deserve to be dictated by them, who clearly need some other hobby than attempting to control your lives. Either way, they will most likely blame you, but it will be better in the long run if they learn some boundaries.
    Good luck. xo

    Like

  18. IHM, why do men not stand up for their wives in these situations? Even young men, even young unmarried men will advice the wives to “adjust” and put up with unreasonable behavior from their parents.

    When a husband does not stand up for his wife, the wife may still stay in the marriage but she will not be able to demonstrate true emotional supportiveness to him, as she herself has never experienced any. She will not laugh with him like there’s no tomorrow. She will not look into his eyes in a away that makes him feel he is someone amazing and special. She will not be able to encourage him or reassure him when life throws challenges at him. For her, life is a matter of survival, him versus her. She will learn to take advantage of any little thing that favors her. He will despise her when she gets back at him in the smallest ways. Both husband and wife try to one up each other constantly. Neither of them win emotionally. Both of them lose. And all this for what? Fear of telling parents to not behave immaturely? Belief that age makes people wiser and therefore makes respect mandatory? Why do they ruin their next 50 years over people who have perhaps another 20 years and should be enjoying their retirement rather than meddling? Doesn’t it feel good to do your own chores, pick up your own plate, help around the house, be an adult? Is it not insulting to be babied by one’s mom in your 30s?

    What is it that these men fear? And can they not envision the happiness they can share in an equal relationship? They are missing out on so much! For a husband and wife who are equals, a spouse feels like your best friend. You know you have someone to go to when you feel down. You know someone always believes in you. You know when life is rough, someone’s got your back. When you are like friends, even doing laundry together can be romantic and sweet. A lifetime of sweet memories thrown away. And for what gain, I fail to understand.

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    • While this might be true, this is also a little bit of exaggeration. And it solely put the onus on the guy which frankly never works

      The model of marriage which you have described here is quite different from what actually happens in india. Further what you are giving is your definition of happy marriage; the guy might look at it totally differently and might expect entirely different behaviour

      Further what do you do when you say that something is making you unhappy and he says its fine because everyone does it?? That is a clash of principles /values. This pretty much means one person need to give up their beliefs or the relationship cannot continue. Guess what happens..

      Lastly you dont need perfect equality in marriage for it to be happy… Suppose there are two sisters who are marrried. One of them faces 10 restrictions in her marraige while the other one faces 5. Would one of them not feel luckier than the other one and love her husband even though the marriage is still unequal?? If you put the perfect equality to be the benchmark of happy marriages, pretty much all martiages are doomed on india.

      And lastly when you say”doesnt it feel insulting to be babied by your mother when in your 30’s” no it doesn’t. Because what one finds insulting is pretty much always a product of how one grew up and what he has seen. If a society deems it ok and respectful, than so does it become…

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      • Well, then like the Japanese, we need to go through a phase of all marriages being doomed in India. There should be no compromise on equality. By equality, I don’t mean 100% equality on every issue, but discussion and equal willingness to make adjustments by both parties.

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    • If the average Indian man was sensitive enough to understand the wide-ranging and long-term consequences of emotional abandonment, we wouldn’t have had so many relationships with the exact same problems.

      My opinion, at 40, is that the average Indian man never becomes an adult emotionally speaking. They find it immensely difficult to separate psychologically from their parents.

      Our parenting styles are such that parents bind their sons close to them, fearing that any move towards independence will mean decreased loyalty and affection from the son.

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  19. Pingback: Not an extreme case of abuse | divorced doodling

  20. ..how to deal with such regressive people…

    The best strategy I can give you to deal with toxic people is act as if they are backward, or as if they were immature, like toddlers. How would you deal with someone who is less educated, less knowledgeable, less mature, or from a more primitive society? You would make allowances for their lack of conformity with civilized behavior. You would not regard them as less than human. You would be patient with them as their expectations would be out of step with modern norms. If they were much younger, you could could instruct them point blank. As these people are older, you need to tell them how they erred if they act rude, then immediately carry on as if nothing happened. Be matter-of-fact in putting a halt to their nonsense, but try not to dwell on it. Never wait for acquiescence or apology. When it comes to being treated with civility, you have the right to lay down the law without waiting for agreement. Talk to them as if they were 7 years old. Old enough to get your point, but not with any authority over you to agree or not. Practice sentences that fit the situations: “You need to use a polite tone of voice when asking me for something, just like the one I’m using right now.” “You do not tell me what to wear (said with a pitying smile).” “I shouldn’t have to say this to you–you do not order me, you may ask politely.” Exactly as if you are speaking to an ill-behaved child. On the phone, the moment you encounter nastiness: “I have to go now, I can’t talk anymore. Please call when you are in a better mood.” Then hang up. Role-play in your mind before encountering them again. You have to be firm, and above all else, you have to be consistent.

    BTW, all these are tips from parenting classes. These are ways for you to take control of an interaction where the other party is attempting to manipulate you or be disrespectful. They really work. When they don’t work, they serve to calm me down, so they still work.

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    • What I really love about your advice is – you are sparing yourself so much emotional trauma – you are not wasting your tears over someone so undeserving – you are not wasting your anger on someone who is probably incapable of processing it (as you so rightly put, like 7 year olds). You remain in control of the situation without batting an eyelid. This is what I call perfect poise🙂

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    • These are very helpful suggestions. I will try to put them in practice the next time I meet such passive-aggressive, toxic people.

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    • I think is my favourite piece of advice on this blog by far. I dealt with similar situations with my in-laws when we were first married. I took the confrontational approach and I regret it today, not because it strained relationships with my husband and in-laws but because I spent too much time and emotion on it and in the process lost a lot of respect and love for my husband. After a lot of tears and drama I have essentially evolved into this mode of operation. My in-laws interfere and give me far less advice now but when they do I pretty much ignore them or treat it in a matter-of-fact way as suggested above. This advice allows you to deal with the problem that spares you the stress and trauma of dealing with the problems by confronting them head on.

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  21. Hi,
    It is been long I come to this blog almost everyday and read.I have a very similar situation happened to me during my marriage.So much so in similarity that when I read A’s mail I thought are we soul sisters!!

    Me and my husband were in Love before our marriage and knew each other since 2007.I knew and spoke to his parents before marriage and found out them pretty good people.

    It is after the wedding I came to know what is it to face the Shock of your life.
    We both are different cast, I belongs to what People say high cast here in India and he belongs to fighter men/king’s cast.(Roughly translating, I Personally am against cast-ism).
    Before marriage I has this little concern what would my father feel when he will come to know about our affair.But my husband (Let;s call him S) mom used to assured me now a days who obey cast and who looks into cast all those stuff.

    As soon as we married and Bidai happened I somehow cried a lot.I am not into crying in front of people.I cry but hiding in bathroom or in bed over pillow.
    I was exhausted by whole day marriage, fasting and approx more than 1hr crying.As soon as we reached their home they did some puja and I entered home.Some older lasy told me something to do which I could not hear.Then she said to my MIL”you got job holder bahu, she does not know anything”.Another voice came “They are B cast,may be this is not in their ritual”
    My MIL told ” Whatever cast she may be, now she is in our cast ”
    Shock and disbelieved I was looking her face and got complimented that I got big doe eyes.
    Since that 1st moment in my new home (if it is at all) till 7th day , n no of people came including my PIL and convinced me how my cast got changed by all the mantras of hom in vedika.
    I felt like crying and running to my father and telling him sorry 100 times .His own brothers(my uncles) boycotted him , because what society will say ?they were in favour of my eloping with S but not marrying with full ritual.
    Then constantly my MIL ,SIL keeps on telling me now this is your home , we are your parent and sisters.On 7th day a custom is their to visit parents place.That they delayed.
    When I asked my husband when are we going to my parent because we has less leaves in our hands.He dint have any answer and courage to ask to him Mom.
    Then I only asked in a childish way (my voice is bit like that and I look also younger than age) “hum kab hamare ghar jaaenge?” then one big advice how I should not say that house as my home as my PIL’s home is my new home, how she was not allowed to go her own paretns house and after a lot cry and seva to her own INlaw they allowed her.
    All my BIL,SIL were standing and giving expression like see ” how our dear Mom deals with it.and you today’s chokri started crying from now!!”
    Then when we went to my parents home on 8th day plan was to stay there overnight and next to catch flight to working city.
    Since daughter and son-inlaw came 1st time my papa arranged a lavish lunch for us nextday.Then night a phone call came from PIL and S informed me next day morning PIL are coming to take us ,from their home we will go.Mind it my home only 3km from airport and their home 50 km.
    I asked the reason , any logic, S made a big face and my MOM suspect is not everything all right.I told all to my parents.Poor my father morning 5 o clock ran to get good crab and mutton and mom cooked and by 8 o clock lavish lunch for son-in-law and PIL ready.They all came , eat and took us.
    While writing this tears coming to my eyes automatically(remember I told i can’t cry easily)
    From that day something happened to me , I dont have that emotion for my husband which i had before marriage.I thought we would be best est of best friend,But I failed.

    Sorry for the long rant, but i think here I will be heard without any judgement.

    Thank you,
    Rashmi

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  22. My story is similar… I had emailed IHM, but I guess I could not wait. I have been married to a very nice guy for the past seven years. We recently adopted a nine-month old baby and life has been just awesome. I lost my father quite some time ago and was really attached to him. A couple of days ago, my mother told me his death ceremony was coming up. So I planned to go to my place ( in another city, where my in-laws live too ). My in-laws stay on another end of the city, so I would not be able to visit them this time, with the baby in tow. They created a huge scene, saying I was disrespectful and that I was not following the “rites” . I really want to spend time with my mother this time, especially on a day that makes her sad, but my in-laws are acting as if I am committing a crime. Even earlier, my MIL has complained about the one or two days I would spend with my mother when we visited them. She has threatened suicide now and has even told my husband that he’s going to my mother’s place (he’s there only to drop me off, after that, he’s back for he’s busy with work) because my mother lent us money towards construction of our new home. The husband is very angry at this accusation (we have supported them through their joblessness/ money crises) and refuses to speak to them. I don’t want to either, for I really want to be with my family this time and that too after nearly 4 years.

    Am I justified in not wanting to apologise (I wasn’t rude to them, I just told them plainly what I wanted to do)

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  23. Reading everybody’s after marriage has scared me.In laws feeling threatened by dil’s visit to her own parents ??
    Which stone age we are living in ? No wonder Indians don’t want girls,…. once married girls just leave their parents,. …those who don’t hate forced to ! Girl’s parents justify all these saying it is a custom,media and saas bahu serials promote regressive thinking.
    No wonder women have to manipulate to get their own way and be passive aggressive !

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  24. People in this forum are giving you wrong advice. If you follow them, you’ll soon find yourself with a divorce decree in hand.

    I am going to give you the right advice no matter what you and other people in this forum feel.

    I don’t find anything unusual with your in-law’s behaviour. All that they are asking you is for some respect. There is nothing wrong in following orders of elderly people even if you feel they are wrong.

    When they clearly instructed you to leave for airport from their house, you should have simply complied without a further thought. That should have solved the problem. But since you made an excuse, they felt hurt. Every action has a equal and opposite reaction. Your poor husband had to bear the brunt of your wrong doings.

    Your husband is a really nice man. He does not speak up against his parents because he knows they are right. He doesn’t want to hurt you by telling you that you have wronged. He is being extra nice to you but if you do not mend your ways, he will certainly explode one day. And that day, your perfect marriage will end.

    Your husband’s parents had the option to stop paying his school fees. I am sure, you wouldn’t have married an illiterate guy. So, you owe your husband due to his parents. Your husband will always be indebted to them for the gift of life. He will leave you but not his parents.

    So dear, please have an attitude of gratitude. Show respect to your in-laws by simply obeying their orders. Soon, they’ll also start showing affection towards you. Because again every action has equal and opposite reaction.

    Obey your in-laws because it will make your husband happy,if not for any other reason.

    Also, there is nothing wrong if your in-laws treat you like acquired property. Try to see their affection. They want you. They want to have the whole of you. And they are possesive about you. You are like their Barbie Doll. And they want to spend more time with you.

    You are really lucky but you aren’t realizing it.

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    • I really really hope women do start rapidly divorcing the likes of you .Our divorce rate is still less compared to the number of sheer idiots who get married everyday. Better still,may women stop marrying at all till ppl like you come to their senses.

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    • Maybe she doesn’t want to be a Barbie doll. You know, some women actually like to be humans! *gasp* I know it must be really hard for you to wrap your head around this simple fact, but sadly, this happens. How dare we women want to be treated as human beings with feelings, and not as slaves or dolls or property? But what to do, kalyug! Deal with it, okay?

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  25. The letter reads like the story of my life, except that I’ve been married for seven years now. My in-laws are highly educated folks who to the outside world is as progressive as they come, but that is pretty far from reality once you get to know them. I got married right after my Masters to my husband who was my senior in school against very strong objection from his mom (My parents aren’t as educated or well off financially or in social status). She is a very head strong working woman who is always used to getting her way in her family and my parents went through a lot of humiliation trying to convince her to get us married. My mom though not as educated has very strong views about gender stereotypes and social issues like dowry. So she firmly but politely told her off when my mother in law brought the subject of dowry and stuff. I did not know the details of the conversation they had until much later. I was naive and gullible and let her treat me like I was an acquired property the first few weeks of my marriage. My husband had to leave to his workplace(another city) after a week of marriage and I was awaiting my results and placements. She taunted me about everything from how my mother raised me and my sisters to the way I sat in front of guests and insisted that I return to her house to leave to my husband’s city from my parents’ place where I had gone to stay prior to leaving. My father-in-law, though a good man, never speaks a word against her. She also was very upset about me not giving her my wedding jewellery that my parents and my scores of uncles and aunts gifted me (for safekeeping in her locker as she says). Though I did not go through any physical abuse I remember feeling stressed to the point of depressed at all the passive aggressive jabs and taunts. My husband is a great guy and has helped me get on with life by letting me ignore them and remaining in another city to keep all our sanity intact, in spite of repeated orders from his parents to move back to his hometown. He takes a lot of flak for supporting me in front of them but he also continues to regularly call them and make short trips to visit them. My mother-in-law continues with her taunts every opportunity she gets but whenever I won a promotion or an award at work, she is the first to announce it to the world but not once has she congratulated me personally though my father-in-laws always does. We now have an 18 month old boy and things turned a lot better for a while. But I learned from a relative about some of the things she spoke about my parents and accusations she made about my mother during our marriage that has made it difficult for me to have any civil conversation with her anymore. I know it’s been a long time now and things are much better between us but I can’t seem to forgive her for talking something about my mother who fought with all the world and it’s relatives to give her daughters an education, career and a life of their own choice that she never could have. I have not spoken to my mother-in-law ever since I heard about the incident few months back. I did the mistake of telling my father-in-law to whom I had gotten close over the years about the reason why I don’t talk to her and now he completely ignores me. Knowing his son he probably is being supportive of his wife but I was very disappointed with his behaviour as I had grown to treat him like my own father. My husband respects my feelings and will not impose anything on me but I now feel like I have no ties with my in-laws and it hurts me a little. Though it’s going to be really hard I will be going to my husband’s place for our annual visit, for the sake of my son, if nothing else. But even then, I have decided that if they try to gang upon me, I’ll stand my ground and speak up and leave to my parents place if bad comes to worse. I would appreciate it if any of you reading has any better suggestion to handle the situation.

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  26. Dear A,
    From your letter, your husband seems like a great guy who treats you as his equal or better than equal. I am guessing he is also trying to compensate in his own ways for his parent’s behaviour/mind-set.

    Now, I am going to go ahead and generalize some traits of a typical Indian son:

    – He cannot admit his parent’s failings even to himself. He has seen this side of theirs only after marriage, so he is in denial. And he will not be able to admit this to anyone else. Not so soon at least.
    – He handles his disagreements with his parents by either keeping quiet and doing what he wants or getting angry so that they don’t approach him for those issues. He is not used to handling such situations for others and might not know how to handle it.
    – His parents have over the years told him (subtly) that they are his responsibility in old age and he needs to respect and take care of them (basically agree to whatever they say) This also must have been reinforced when he decided to go for a ‘love marriage’.
    – To him, his parents are good people ( and they most probably are) except for some of these orthodox beliefs. He doesn’t want this aspect to dominate everything else that is good with them. So he might not want to think too much on this topic while this is the topmost thing on your mind due to the upcoming visit.

    Coming to the parents of an Indian son – that is all they know and that is what society expects of them (so they think) and they will not change. Period.

    Now what can you do?

    Talk to your husband and lay out some rules keeping the above in mind. He might think you are overreacting/over-analysing and this is a new situation for him too. He might not be able to say/do the right thing at the right time. Be ready to handle it yourself. Imagine that you guys are not married and just staying as roommates. Now how do expectations change for you and him with regards to parents visit?
    The parents deserve a bit of compassion for their ignorance/insecurity/whatever you want to call it. It’s sad that their identity as ‘parents’ is so strong and maybe that’s all they have to cling on to? Be firm and at the same time compassionate with them . Do not confuse them by being overly nice at times and then resenting/ignoring them at other times. Stay consistent and firm and clearly convey what is acceptable /not acceptable to you. At times, they might even act as if they have not heard you!

    Humour is a good way to discuss such situations with your hubby and maybe it will lighten it for both of you and you can accept their ways without giving in to their whims.

    Take a break when things get intense. You will be able to handle it better when you are calmer. Hope you have lot to do at work and some important social meetings to attend while they are around🙂

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  27. I’m a bit late to the party here, but I think it’s awesome that you stood up for yourself at the first sign of disrespect. Too many times I’ve read on this site about how women who knew their future spouse for years were shocked when he suddenly got abusive/disrespectful the minute they got married. I think it’s great that you let your husband know that you wouldn’t stand for such behavior at the first sign–and clearly, he’s respected you enough to stand by it.

    At the same time, I feel like men like your husband have had years of psychological brainwashing and social conditioning to fall at their parents’ feet at every sign of conflict. I think the major problem here is you’re unsure whether your husband will suddenly change the minute his parents show up–or whether he’ll stand up for you if his parents disrespect you. I think it’d be best if you guys sorted out this issue beforehand and came up with scenarios where “If ___ happens, then we’ll respond by doing ___.” Couple’s therapy is a great way to sort out all of these issues and come up with a list like this.

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  28. Pingback: Not an extreme case of abuse - kalpanaawrites

  29. Pingback: An email: ‘My MIL called up my aunt and my mother and told them that our family has raised horrible daughters.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  30. Pingback: “I remember how tensed my family was at the time of my marriage 2 years back. Every time they were forced to do ‘Milnis and Teekas with heavy envelopes’.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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