‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

Do you think Indians would value sons the way they do now – praying, fasting and sex selecting to avoid having girl children, if there was no expectation of living with and being cared for by a future daughter in law?

What if the parents knew that they could not control or choose who the son would marry or live with? What would change? 

Sharing an email from an American woman.

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now, ever since I have been dating (now engaged to) an awesome and caring Indian man. Even though I am American, I find some of the topics mentioned on here to be universally relevant and interesting, nonetheless.

I am writing to ask if you could share my story on your blog as soon as you get a chance with your readers so that I can get their opinions/truthful advice.

My situation is as follow:

I am engaged to an Indian man who has been residing here in the US for the last 6 years. He has lived here since he was 24, now he is 30. I am 26. We are getting married in less than a year, and he is honestly an awesome and caring person, whom I care for very much, no doubt! 🙂 I have only met his siblings thus far, and they are awesome and all living outside of India now. His parents are living in India, and I have yet to meet them, but speak to them often on the phone. They seem very sweet, kind, and non intrusive. Everyone, including him, is actually very westernized and liberal-minded, and mostly not very traditional at all, as they reside in a big city. They also have several other family members around them, like their own siblings, nieces and nephews.

Awhile back, we were speaking about different things in life, and a topic came up. He mentioned/asked me how I would feel about his parents living with us when they become old, or maybe even before then, I do not quite remember the conversation to be honest. All I remember responding is how I truly feel about it, which is basically that I do not feel comfortable living like that and am not a believer in that sort of family set up. I believe you marry your spouse and share a home with your spouse, and that’s it. Marriage can be hard enough as it is, never mind adding in other family members into the equation. I am marrying one person, not 3 people, simply put. He is not insisting that this happen, he is simply asking because while no discussion in the family has been spoken yet on this topic, there is a possibility they may just stay where they are or live with his older brother. (He has 1 brother living in the Middle East not far from India and 1 sister here in the US.) I think he basically wants to be able to welcome them into their home if they need it, not necessarily that he is demanding it. He just wants to know they’ll  be taken care of later on, which I suppose is fair.

Now I know this is seen as a “cultural difference”. Indians live with their sons in their old age. My genuine question is why? In my European culture, daughters are actually the ones to care for their aging parents, as they feel more comfortable with daughters versus daughters-in-laws. Americans hire full time care takers for their elders but people remain in separate house from their kids, or in some cases, the same house to cut expenses. In my personal experience, my grandmother lived until 95 years old with a full time care taker and in a house of her own. My mom stopped by everyday for an hour, but lived within 5 minutes of her so that as relatively easy. We do not “abandon” our elders like some people think we do.

Now since I am my parents’ only daughter, I would technically be the one responsible for them in their old age, but simply put, I do not want them living with me either, and that is not to sound cold or callus, but everyone, including elderly, need their own personal space, and mostly, their own privacy. I have already discussed this with my parents and they agree. While they want to be nearby to me, they themselves do NOT want to share a house with my and my future husband, as they know they can be just as well taken care of in a separate house than in the same house.

I genuinely would like to hear people’s thoughts on this and how to handle this with my fiancé in a fair manner. I definitely cannot live with them on a full time permanent basis for the rest of my adult life. As I said earlier, I do not even want my own parents living with me. I just want it to be me, my spouse, and my future children hopefully. My future in laws have been to the US once on a vacation and will come for our wedding in less than a year. So they have not been here very much. Logically, it does not make much sense. We are of 2 different cultures, and things may be uncomfortable for us both. Financially, it definitely doesn’t make sense, as a non US senior citizen is not entitled to medical care or any medical benefits.

I believe this arrangement would cause a big strain on our marriage. My fiancé knows how I feel and that I am uncomfortable with it. He laughs at me and doesn’t really understand where I am coming from, he is a man after all, and they just don’t understand certain things, especially if this is a cultural phenomenon. This just worries me slightly and this is really not an issue you can force on someone. I just wish he understood where I was coming from a bit better and had a but more common sense for all things considered. I do not see many elderly Indian people living in the US permanently anyway, and I am not sure he has even thought all of these logistical issues through.

The bottom line is this: how can I handle this fairly, so that he is not very upset and at the same time, I’m not living in misery? And second, why would people in their 60s (by that time they would be) want to live in a foreign country permanently in their old age? If they wanted to live here, I guess they would have done it long ago. And 3rd, why he is discussing this with me when he has not even discussed this with his siblings or parents? Lastly, please do not misunderstand me to be cold or heartless. I hope they are well taken care of also. They may just have more things in common with their other daughter in law, who is also Indian and also has her own relatives residing there also.

Any advice is appreciated and respected. Please reply.  Thanks so much!!


Related Posts:

This email reminded me of  – “If you are lucky you will get an American son-in-law, and if unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law!’

American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

Brave new Indian family or no Indian family? Why Indians resist social changes.

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most.

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”


96 thoughts on “‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

  1. You could ask your fiance how he would feel if your parents came to live with the two of you on a permanent basis. I doubt he would be overjoyed at that prospect and it would highlight your plight (I have married one person, not three) pretty well.

    Also, you could offer to have your in-laws stay with you for an extended holiday (3-6 months). This would let them spend time with their son and DIL without the permanence of moving to the US.

    In any case, I doubt they would be able to move to the US permanently given visa issues.

    You sound genuine in your email, so also don’t rule out an honest conversation with your fiance.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In India, women exist not for themselves alone but for others – their children, husbands, parents in law, infirm parents, etc. Even if they are working and independent, they’re expecting to play the roles of the self-sacrificing mother, the dutiful daughter/daughter in law, the obedient wife – all contributing to the image of a woman as the ‘caretaker’. Women must constantly surrender a part of their lives to others, almost as though they are an extension to other people’s needs and demands.

    Such is the state of affairs in India. So expectations from daughters in law are high. But these expectations are only cultural in nature and do not take into account the practical realities of life.

    It may disappoint him, but your future husband needs to hear every thing that you wrote about in this email.

    And he needs to hear it loud and clear that you are not willing to take on the full-time (and I may get flak for saying this) burden of caring for parents – be it his or yours.

    Also, know that your ‘worth’ as a wife does not depend upon whether you can take care of his parents. You’re marrying him, and not his family.

    All the best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. one: not wanting to live with in-laws is totally a personal thing, We are an Indian Couple who flat refuses to live with her in-laws or even parents. The way we see it, we wouldn’t mind them being guests at our place for even extended periods (guest implies they play nice, don’t get all parent-like on me/ DH, give us a list of Do-Don’t for the short time they are there, etc. My house, my rules and that sort of thing). But Parents neither DH’s nor mine can ever play nice, it starts nice, then gets nasty. Why does he have to cook, its a woman’s job, why do you come home so late, why do you have to go out alone when we are here. Its called a date night, get your own date night! We try to understand that they can’t understand, but we do things our way any way.

    I might sound a bit callous and out right against ‘Indian Sanskriti’ but hey DH agrees. See that’s the main thing, your partner has to be on the same page. And not we don’t have to worry about this right now its still lot of time but we agree today and stick with it kind of thing. DH has 4 sisters, all older than him (ya I know what you are thinking and its true) who wont ‘take care’ of parents but are first to ask for ‘gifts’. We don’t expect any ‘gifts’ and are willing to ‘take care’ as long as its not in our house. Honestly, we’d rather be parents to our children than fight for control over them ( with our parents) and then our grandkids (with our kids)cause we didn’t get a ‘chance’ with out kids.

    Sweetheart its not a cultural thing, its totally personal. its not a man thing either (he laughs at your concerns) that’s cultural! You guys have to talk it out. Its not funny at all. I have see firsthand the way it has impacted my parents marriage, the way it nearly impacted mine ( I spent all of 6 months with MIL, thankfully DH is not the Laughing sort) The whole seem westernized is different from ‘Indian marriage’, MIL has a PhD from Europe, that doesn’t stop her from thinking that its my JOB to be a slave to in-laws and DH the way she is.

    Financial Implications HAVE to be discussed BEFORE tying the knot, nothing kills romance faster than bickering over WHO to spend money on. The way I see it, sure parent did a lot for us, the RIGHT way to repay them is to do the same for their grandkids and not for them!

    Best of Luck with the long chat and hope it all works out for you guys. You seem like a thoughtful woman who is ready to leave and cleave and deserve a person who would do the same for you.



    • I mostly agree with everything in this comment.. The most important thing, IMO, is to talk about these things in detail before getting married so that you both know each other’s feelings on this issue.. While this can be portrayed as a cultural difference, I think its more of a patriarchy vs equality issue.. Your opinion on the issue is fundamentally fair, that either set of parents can visit but shouldn’t expect to live with us.. I think if you have this conversation with all the points you’ve made here, with your fiance, and he’s a sensible rational guy, he would understand your feelings and opinion on the issue..

      I’d also like to comment about something that I’ve observed in the last few years – why is it that its mostly women who are bringing up these conversations about fair and equal relationships and marriages.. Why don’t most men realize that its unfair to expect their parents to live with them.. I’m not trying to stereotype genders or make it a men vs women issue.. Sadly, from my experiences, Most men of our generation are still very comfortable following patriarchal traditions, irrespective of where they live..


      • @I’d also like to comment …..
        Women grow up not expecting to live with their parents but with husband’s parents. They are brought up as ‘paraya dhan’ under the dictum called ‘what will your in-laws say’ from the day they are born. Yes, parents are more concerned about the feeling for people they haven’t even met (future in-laws) over happiness/ well being of daughters. So in general women get lot shit and time to appreciate how messed up their life could be if they continue the 1000s of year old traditions.

        Compare this to a guys life, he is brought up to expect that nothing is to ever change. They will continue to live with their parents, sisters if any will be replaced by wife, but in general, their family (mother-father-son) is going to remain. Other women in their life sister-wife are simply outsiders. See the difference? Where is the guy to expect here that his life is to change post marriage?

        Then comes the marriage, beta gets a bahu for his aging parents. Bahu wants to be a wife. Beta realizes something is not right, its no fun when two/ three people having a cold/hot war in you living space. Simple logical analysis proposed by parents, before your wife came we were happy, after she came war, so she must be the cause of war, right Beta? Beta strives to keep peace by asking bahu to adjust. Why ask bahu? Its easy, she is his age, parents are too old, they get all crying and cranky, duudh ka wasta/ sacrifices listing and crap on him. Bahu seems like a nice sensible person to ask, so beta asks bahu to adjust.

        Most men contrary to what their parents think are not comfortable with patriarchal crap. They keep wondering to the end of their lives where the romance vanished post marriage. The logic they followed to achieve peace seems to have worked settle the conflict so he should be happy right, he wonders why then is his bed so cold. Both bahu and beta then seek warmth in the relationship with their beta and the cycle continues.

        Some men get lucky, they deal with the “after she came war, so she must be the cause of war” as lets take her out of your house. Beta and Bahu live separately. Then one day they find they have become Pati-Patni. Next time some one says bahu is causing problem, pati says patni is not causing any problem. Since they set up a home together with their own set of rules, that the Pati expects even his parents will follow. Kids are born, pati-patni become mother-father, kids grow up and move out, they go back to pati-patni and love it and hence the cycle is broken.

        see the problem is that guys never get too much time in patriarchy to understand the problems they are heading for. Like any person required to grow-up overnight, their responses are erratic and non-standard. Lets give the poor blokes a chance. It may not seem obvious, but they too are suffering under the patriarchy even when they don’t exactly why.


  4. Simply ask your fiance how he would feel if your parents shifts with you permanently. They way it is answered by him will clear all your doubts. As many times in this blog it is mentioned that there are few things which you have to decide are non-negotiable to you.

    Suggest him similar living arrangement can be made for his parents which is made for your parents.

    Please do not fall in this trap. Being Indian we don’t know how the In-Laws will behave once they move in.The drama of how you can say this to my mother,what is wrong my father said etc will start happening even on small things and will suffocate you. Dont lose your equal footing in the relationship. In-Laws are welcome but for short duration and will have to play by your rules.


    • Then the same yardstick should be applied to girl ‘s parents as well,….then why are we criticising men for being an unhelpful not responsive jamai to girls’s parents !
      What do parents with only child,or girl child or only daughters do ?
      This is the reason most people want sons and are killing girl child !

      Of course,nowadays ,people know that sons and dils will not necessarily be ‘budhape me saharas’ !
      So ,once emancipated woman becomes DIL she has license to treat in laws,siblings badly ? Instead,you care for his parents ,he’ll help you take care of yours ! That is what you should be negotiating for !
      Similarly,Just because a girl gets married doesn’t mean she should not take care of her parents even if she has a brother !
      And I don’t know why people are saying its not a cultural thing ,…..when you marry an Indian man you marry his family !!! The only exception is if the guy has abandoned his parents or if parents have abandoned him !!!


  5. I have lived in the US for about 5-6 years now and I completely understand what you’re saying. My suggestion would be that you talk to him in the same way that you talked to us. Growing up in India, and staying here for the last few years, I know exactly what you mean. I am sure your fiancé will too. Like someone said, you need to be on the same page on this. And everything, actually.


  6. I just read your letter with great interest.
    I will respond in detail before the end of the day, here in India.
    I am a 65 year old Indian parent and father of a daughter married and settled in the USA for the past 13 years and an unmarried son who is also abroad (in UK) for the past 7 years.
    I have thought deeply over this issue and made my plans.
    I am hoping you will find my views of interest
    Please await my detailed comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. From your email, you sound like you have already made up your mind about what is “good” and what is “bad”. Respect sister. You have to understand and appreciate that your husband will love his parents differently from you. Cultural conditioning certainly sets the precedence for parents/in-laws staying with daughters and sons. However, in a family where members are honest, I believe that it’s not cultural, but personalities that should determine if one can live with in-laws or parents. And it is your and their personality. Here is a situation in my family:
    I have two widowed Grandmas (I am Indian). One lives in an old age home (in India), of her own choice: she embodies the American concept of personal freedom, and decided that society be damned, she wanted to live independently, and alone. The other, loves family. She has shuttled between US and India for the 25 years. Finally, 5 years ago, my uncle got her US citizenship, so she could stay longer without being limited by visa. I wouldn’t say my grandma was not independent. While she could, when she stayed with us she had her own car and drove herself. She still has her own friends, parties to go to and relatives to hang out with. One of my nicest memories of childhood are coming back to a smiling grandmother and a hot snack. Sure, my parents had to make adjustments and now that I am married, I realize what those adjustments were. But all in all, it worked out. No one is unhappy. Annoyed, irritated sometimes, but that is family. This could only work because my grandma is super adjusting, loving and liberal; my parents are similar and draw boundaries on how involved she can get in their social life or other decision-making events. They are honest and frank about this with each other. The short time that my old-age gradma lived with us it was uncomfortable. She was rude to my mother and really didn’t bond or try to bond with us kids. Also, to undermine another cultural notion, old-age home grandma is paternal, loving grandma is maternal.
    From the way you write, it appears that you have preset notions already. Going into an inter-cultural marriage, I am surprised by how naive you sound. Plenty of elderly people migrate to live with their children – go to NJ or California. It’s the norm. Certainly not all are happy, but there are permutations and combinations, up to you to decide.
    You are in an healthy relationship – your fiance has already decided that you and him are the decision-making unit, which is why he is talking to you first about what’s on his mind, not his parents or siblings. He is sounding things out.
    And darling, when you love someone, where does common sense come in? He is not talking about transplanting banana trees from his hometown, these are his parents. Living with them might be one way he can show them how much he cares. Why should we be judgmental about that being cultural, if it is by choice?


    • To be judgemental under these circumstances is just good sense. Would you say I am judgemental if I am wary of walking into a hungry lion’s den unarmed? “And darling, when you love caves, where does common sense come in?”


  8. I love the idea of aged parents staying close by independently and kids helping them as needed. May not be possible for everyone, but in my mind thats the ideal solution. you get to see your kids and grand kids in small albeit satisfactory doses and yet continue your life as you see fit.

    Try putting this forward to your fiance and explaining exactly how you feel now and also how unlikely you are to give up your personal space. trust me it’s easier to speak those words now than later.

    Some people can live with inlaws, some cannot. i completely understand your point of view. I cant stay with my parents except for in small doses.
    Your in-laws may decide not to move but you need to be very clear on your thoughts to your fiance and how you feel. unfortunately it is not like your parents, your in-laws will not know this place and even if they get used to it, at that later stage they wont drive and getting around is a pain in most places here without driving. so they may not ( 99% ) be receptive to being setup in a diff house/apt nearby. for short visits it’s fine, but i dont believe in shuffling them like a deck of cards to diff kids homes every few months. thats simply unfair.
    so talk to your fiance just like you did here and put forth all your points in a nonjudgmental way. nothing wrong in saying you need space. i say that all the time. sometimes i need space from my own husband and kids 🙂


  9. Oops. ! Sorry. I am unable to keep my deadline.
    A friend’s aged mother just expired.
    Am rushing along with my wife for a condolence visit.
    I don’t think I can post my comment today/
    I will post it tomorrow.


  10. Dear American soon-to-be-Bride 🙂

    I completely understand how you feel at this moment. You’ll have to talk to your fiance about this situation and speak out about the cultural difference. I am sure he’ll understand. And tell him you wouldn’t want your parents to move in with you either, so its not only his parents ! And our country will become so much better if MILs prefer living with their daughters than their DILs. Daughters take better care of parents than DILs without causing much of issues. Now I really admire european culture 🙂
    Stay relaxed and happy.
    Just talk to your fiance….I am sure he loves you alot and will understand you:)



  11. well every family is different and so could be their needs, finding reliable geriatric care is still a huge issue in India, especially in smaller cities. I am an only child and yes I am unable to do much for my parents and despite being educated and liberal I sometimes feel my parents would be more forthcoming in seeking support/help if I was their son instead of their daughter.
    Also often they had to delay and cancel their extended stay with me because in-laws were also scheduled to visit around the same time and they being the son’s parents feel they are more entitled for the care and support than my parents. completely unfair but the reality for most Indian daughters/daughter-in-laws still.


  12. I just got back and am hoping to keep my deadline.

    To the letter writer:
    First things first:
    You don’t have to feel defensive. You don’t have to justify anything to anyone.
    You are an American. Expecting you to suddenly become Indian in your thinking just because you are marrying an Indian is not reasonable.
    Since (presumably) both of you are going to live in America, not India, it is only reasonable to expect your husband to become an American and be like them in these matters.He migrated to USA, You did not migrate to India. Period.

    You would have been on weak ground if you had insisted that your parents could live with you but not your in-laws.

    Secondly: This expectation of Indian parents that you apprehend was common till about a few years ago.
    Times have changed. While small town folks and rural folk still think along those lines and plan for dependence on sons and daughters in law as matter of parental right, many modern parents of my age group, exposed to western education and the ways of the west, have compromised with the times and no longer expect to be able to do this.

    In your case, from the description of your in-laws family, it is very likely that your in-laws will not expect this from you .
    But that is no reason for not discussing this with your Indian would-be right now. Get this sorted out right away and also let your prospective in laws know about it up front to avoid heartaches later.

    I myself have seen the writing on the wall. I supported my parents and my in laws. My parents lead an independent existence as long as they could but they could no longer do so in the last few years of their lives. My brother and I accommodated them in our homes, tolerated their eccentric ways, their dementia their orthodox views and looked after them as best as we could. My in-laws have always lived with me after my father in laws retirement back in 1980. Father in law is now now more. Mother in law is still staying with us and is going strong while in her mid eighties. This generation had no alternative. They took for granted our support and hence never planned anything else.

    But I have realised early that while both my daughter and son love us, they now have their own worlds, their own problems, and I would be loath to be a burden on them. So we planned our old age well in advance and I have booked my place in a ultra modern retirement home about 50 km outside the city where I now live. I plan to move there in about three or four years.

    Your in laws could think along similar lines. At worst you and your hubby may be required to assist them financially during the last few years of their lives. But if they are going to live in India and you both in USA with income in US dollars, money for their support will be no issue. You will have a problem only if your prospective in laws refuse to consider moving into a retirement home when they can no longer manage by themselves. But I am glad to inform you that the concept of retirement homes is catching on in a big way and many such homes are coming up with better and better facilities and conveniences (for a price of course)

    There are some people here in India who consider this cruel and unacceptable. But I have seen the fate of these old people living with their children and ill treated by them and by their grown up grand children. Retirement homes are a blessing. In fact relationships actually improve and the old people can look forward to cordial and affectionate visits periodically from their children and grandchildren and also visit their children during family occasions or festivals. Life in modern retirement homes is rich and rewarding. Medical assistance is available round the clock. The hassles of running a household come to an end. I have gone around and seen quite a few of them and finally made my choice. My children are also happy with this decision.

    I just thought this will reassure you. I hope you settle this issue and everything works out well for you.
    All the best.



    • I agree with GV ji, I have 2 sons in college and don’t foresee staying with them. Their lifestyle and needs are very different than ours will be more so in 10 yrs . We planned for our own retirement. Our independence is very important to us and yes i also don’t want to be the official babysitter or raise their kids, i have raised mine and hopefully raised mine well that they will be productive citizens and capable of managing their own families. You should talk to your fiance and explain your ideas and views. it will help set expectations in his mind . such things like elder care and kids and career etc., need to be discussed before marriage.
      nowadays i see kids discussing lots of things with their future spouse but leaving out these important topic of who stays where and with whom, retirement plans ( theirs) , careers and kids.
      so go ahead and let your point of view and plans be known and best of luck for your wedding.


    • Thanks GV. I am the writer of this email, and It was great hearing the perspective of someone who is a bit older. You have made me feel a bit better about the situation, I just wish I knew my soon-to-be in laws’ way of thinking, which I do not. I appreciate your response!


      • I think you should not only discuss this issue in more detail with your husband but also meet your in-laws to get a feel of what they are like before you marry. Also, ask your husband to discuss his parents’ living arrangement with his siblings – the entire responsibility shouldn’t be only his.


      • P.S. Please discuss with your fiance if there’s a possibility of moving back to India in the future. In case his parents can’t take care of themselves and they can’t move to the US due to visa issues, he may want to move back. If that situation ever arises, would you want to move with him? Have you been to India? If not, It would be a good idea for you to do so before you get married.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! It was great hearing the perspective of an older person, as I am the writer of this email. Unfortunately, I do not really know my soon-to-be in laws yet, so I am not really sure about how they think of certain matters. Thank you again, GV, for your input.


      • Ah! but the suspense has ended!

        Here is some more suspense for you.

        I hopped over to your blog for the first time this morning and read your latest post

        Await my comment (which I hope is not unwelcome.. Better be sure. In the past, some ladies were embarrassed by my presence at their blogs without an invitation, and I soon beat a hasty retreat.)



    • GVjee, as usual, a very perceptive, thoughtful and practical response from you. I am in my early 40s and have also started thinking along the same lines as you regarding planning for my old age. It is not easy to change an older generation’s thinking, and not everyone from that generation thinks the way you do. But the younger generation can definitely learn these lessons early on and plan for their future in advance, without counting on living with their sons/daughters in old age.


    • Your response is absolutely heartening. I bow to your spirit of having cared for the old ones yourself and expecting nothing from your children. That must take a whole lot of fortitude.

      While I do buy in the concept of living in an old age home and my guess is, another 4 decades and I might be in one of those too. But right now…the idea seems pathetic to me when I think of my own dad – I cannot just cannot put him in one. I would be ready to bear( I am a daughter) him – old age – orthodox whatever and have him with me in his final moments and therefore whenever I put my ils in that frame I see why my husband would want them with us and for the life of me I dont have the heart to say no to him. Despite all the differences and bickering – I am hoping their golden years will be blissful for all of us – may be my thoughts are too grand ..but hope lives.


      • P,
        Thanks for responding. I understand how you feel. I felt the same when my parents were around.

        I was not referring to “old age” homes.
        Those homes simply scare me and I have a horror of them.
        They are for the desperate ones, with absolutely no alternative and for the economically hard up.
        Fortunately, by God’s grace, I am better off economically.
        I am talking about RETIREMENT homes. There is a huge difference in standard of living (and of course costs)

        When I discussed the details of facilities and conveniences in a particular retirement home that is coming up near Bangalore, with my children before taking a decision, they actually envied me for being able to afford it!

        After knowing all the details, they have welcomed my decision and my daughter even offered to fund me partially if needed. I thanked her and declined.
        I took my son with me during his last visit to India while on a tour of retirement homes in Coimbatore. We didn’t like any. We are considering something much better (though costlier) just outside Bangalore City, where I now live.
        If any one wants details about Retirement homes, please mail me privately.
        My email address can be obtained by clicking on my handle.


        • Thank you for the clarif GV ji, somehow, even the fancy well equipped uber retirements homes bring my heart upto my throat, at least right now, when I think of it. Is it essential for our old and greying to live in such very organised set up ..away from the noise of living in a society, amongst family, I am not sure.

          And I am very tempted to say – I hope your children fly back home to be with you should the need arise – I hope so – you are such a fine person, god bless!


  13. I think its difficult to judge from your email if your fiance’s parents are expecting you and the other DIL to be primary caregivers. Residing in a big city and seeming liberal minded does not necessarily mean they would have risen above their social and cultural conditionaling. Seeming and talking are a world apart from acting in reality. My inlaws seemed very liberal too but in reality, were not. My parents have been liberal and cooler than most other parents, yet when it came to me wanting to leave my abusive marriage, they were pretty conservative in their outlook and fears. Its best you discuss these issues with your fiance and take a stand.

    Good luck!!


  14. Dear D.M.,

    You are not alone addressing this issue, I am facing the same dilemma. Like you I am also American but with a Hispanic background and my fiancé is Indian. He has been working and living alone in the U.S for the six years and God put him in my path two years ago.

    He has two sisters, and is the only son. I have two brothers, and I’m the only daughter. Soon after things got serious between us and we decided we wanted to marry each other, he told me he felt responsible for his parents and suggested they would live with us later in life. Nothing was set in stone and he told me we would figure it out when the time came. I worry about my own parents because my brothers are not very family oriented and I don’t want them to suffer if I am not around or if my house is full with my in-laws and they cannot live with us. Regardless, I hope for the best.

    When I was younger I pictured my house to be occupied with my husband, kids and myself, but things change and I have accepted that it is a possibility for my FIL and MIL to live with us or us with them if necessary. I have to add that a couple of months ago I travelled to India and met them, they welcomed me into their family with open arms and were the sweetest people in the world. I could never picture myself turning my back to them in a time of need. You should spend time with them and experience the strong bond that your future husband shares with them, then you’ll realize why he feels protective of them. Remember that our guys feel guilty for being away from them and only seeing them a couple of times out of the year, and they want to compensate them for that sacrifice.

    From this blog and from interacting with my fiancé’s family I have learned that Indian sons are very protective of their family. When I met my FIL and MIL I thanked them for raising such a good son, they did a great job he is such a hard-working sweetheart!

    I humbly suggest you talk to him clearly, and spend time with your future in-laws 🙂


  15. Dear Letter Writer,

    I do not agree with a lot of folks who ask you put a proposal to your fiancee saying ask him how he feels if your parents moved in.

    That will not solve anything. It is not my parents for yours.

    I am indian , very much and very attached to my parents. However , I would believe in a similar arrangement to yours – having them nearby (sadly which they aren’t). With them being in India , as are his folks , you (and Me too) , need to figure out how we can be there for them , given they aren’t nearby .

    I think that that is the bottomline.

    You are not selfish , or callous to feel like this. A lot of us do. A lot of folks also have no choice or are conditioned such.

    Please do a have talk with him , and see if you have a practical alternatives which will make him more open to discussion.


  16. Dear D.M.,

    You have expressed your point of view quite well. Why don’t you share this letter (the initial part) with your fiance? Sometimes a letter gets through when a conversation fails. A few caveats though –

    – Keep your reasons personal (YOU are not comfortable with this arrangement and have every right to feel so, no need for guilt). The first half of your letter captures it well.

    – Exclude this part – “We are of 2 different cultures, and things may be uncomfortable for us both”
    Even if you bridged the cultural gap, it still doesn’t change your position.

    -Exclude this part – “a non US senior citizen is not entitled to medical care or any medical benefits”.
    You can sponsor them as dependents, then they will qualify for medical benefits. That still doesn’t change your position.

    – Exclude this part “why would people in their 60s (by that time they would be) want to live in a foreign country permanently in their old age?” That is a personal preference of theirs and they don’t have to think like you. If they don’t have a problem transplanting themselves, that STILL doesn’t change your position.

    -Exclude this part “They may just have more things in common with their other daughter in law, who is also Indian.” Yes, she’s Indian, but there’s a billion people in India and they all don’t have to think alike. This d-i-l may is entitled to have ideas of her own ideas and may not like a traditional set up. She should speak up for herself.

    I think your most effective argument is that you are personally not comfortable with this arrangement and if he fails to see how, ask him how he would feel if your parents lived with you.

    One final piece of advice. You said “He laughs at me and doesn’t really understand where I am coming from, he is a man after all, and they just don’t understand certain things, especially if this is a cultural phenomenon.”

    Tell him this is important. If he laughs, don’t join in. Wait until he takes you seriously before you engage in this discussion. Men are not exempt from “understanding certain things”. He is an adult and he owes it to you to listen attentively and process it logically when you have something to say that matters to you and affects both of your future.

    Best of luck!


    • You sound like a debate team captain, in a good way. Proposing only relevant points to discussion is the only way she is going to get her guy to **see** what her actual problem is. Otherwise, he will just push it all under the carpet called ‘cultural difference’


      • ha ha 🙂 sometimes over-justification hurts more than helps I suppose 🙂

        Also wanted to share my own family’s experiences with senior care.

        My hubby and I are in 40s, parents on both sides are in 70s.
        My sister and brother live in India, I live in the US. My sis lives in the neighboring town (a 4 hour drive to my parents’).
        While all 3 of us call regulary and are involved in my parents’ lives and well-being, my sis is the go-to person because of proximity. She has repeatedly asked them to come live with her. Her 2 kids are long grown and out of the house. She lives in a large house with many servants, it being a small town. She shares a good rapport with my parents. However my parents are FIERCELY INDEPENDENT. They want to live in their own home for as long as they can. My mom refuses a cook, even if we all want to pay for the cook. She says, shopping for groceries, planning meals, cooking simple meals keeps her feeling young. My dad drove his car and refused a driver until last year. Only in the last year, he said he was getting “tired” of driving. He now has a driver, although his vision is perfect. My mom has an active social life in her building. She has friends, they go out to movies, shopping. My mom also likes classical music and she hosts singing contests in the building. My dad is the president of the building association and he is loves to crack the whip when someone tries to get out of paying the maintenance fee, or when someone does something inconsiderate (making a mess in the common areas, playing too loud music). They have a LIFE and I’m not surprised they don’t want to leave it. They also have excellent supports. Their maid is almost live-in (morning to evening) and other than washing dishes and cutting veggies, she doubles as my mom’s best friend and confidant. My dad is currently hooked on You Tube, Wikipedia and Facebook. I was afraid to tell him about Google maps but he found out himself and is now spying on my front lawn and joking that it needs more water 🙂

        Now coming to in-laws. They are much more traditional. They do not have this optimistic attitude. They are much quieter, less social. But they are not bad people. My hubby has only one sibling, his sister, who lives a couple of blocks away from my in-laws. Currently, she is the go-to person, who can check in on them frequently, and we provide all the financial support. After my f-i-l retired from his job as prof at the U, we found that he was retreating into himself. Because his entire life had revolved around his job. My m-i-l was concerned that he was going into borderline depression. So we encouraged him to start writing a book (a physics text book). We hired a Master’s student to help him out with typing up the equations etc. The book also required collaboration with other retired profs and PhD students. This lead to a sort of project where they tutor low income high school kids (in physics )who are bright students. Over the last few years my f-i-l is doing great. He talks with great enthusiasm about his tutoring project and is more excited about it than his incomplete book which he says he’s still working on.
        My m-i-l complains that we are far away but I don’t think she is really unhappy. Complaining is just her way. We call and skype and visit often. She also loves to cook like my mom but as she is slowing down, we’ve now hired a cook for them. I suggested the cook and my m-i-l cook together. This has worked out well as my m-i-l has company and she enjoys bossing over someone in the kitchen 🙂

        My in-laws may move closer to us in the future. Not sure yet. We have plans to build a suite adjoining our home that is separate but connected through an enclosed walkway. This way, if they come live with us, we each have out space, but we are able to take care of them.


  17. Unlike some others, I do think this a cultural difference. Conservatives Indians think along the lines of parents must live with the son as you mentioned. But even the most liberal Indians are willing to consider the idea of their parents or their spouses parents living with them in old age, should the need arise.

    My sister and I live abroad and it is a source of anxiety to us how we will care for our parents when they are unable to manage on our own. We discuss this, and we are girls and so by traditional Indian norms it should not be our ‘problem’. But it’s what you grow up with I guess. My mother’s mother is now over 100 years old and living with my mother. I can see the level of care my mother provides and I can see the value of having your own relatives attend to you even if there is help to assist the family members. When the time comes, if needed, I hope I have it in me to live up to that and I hope I don’t kill myself with guilt if I can’t – though my mum stresses to us that she would like to live in an old age home setting like GV describes. Somehow, maybe because I’ve not seen excellent such facilities, I’m skeptical about that option. Many Indian children (not just sons) feel they would like to do this, not out of duty, but because these are our parents and we cannot imagine not being involved in their care should they need us, maybe an Indian conception of love even when divorced from duty.

    I would think my husband feels this way too. Neither of us cherish the other’s parents living with us for an extended period though, so our ideal scenario is like yours, separate houses but nearby. But if the need arises, where the older parents really cannot manage alone, I think we would consider moving in with them or them moving in with us. My preferred option is that my my husband or I go stay with the parents who need help for their final years, while the other spouse keeps the independent home running and supporting as much as possible but we’ll see.

    My point is simply that it doesn’t sound like your husband is the conservative Indian type. But he shares the anxiety that many Indians feel when they move abroad and their parents are in India. I think your thoughts are reasonable, share them with him and you can stress that you wouldn’t be comfortable them moving in with you’ll unless there are really extenuating circumstances at which point there can be a discussion about it. But also remain open to the idea that if his parents are really unable to care for themselves, he may feel responsible and want to do more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear LW,

      Let me share my story with you.
      I have had an arranged marriage since the last 5.5 years. Married to a wonderful person who is not at all patriarchal, ultra cool etc etc… Loves me and is crazy about me.
      His mother is partially disabled. Had aneurysm in her brain about 11 years ago and is completely dependent. My father in law used to care for her out and out.. When I got married he clearly sent out messages that his wife is his responsibility and we kids (my hubby has an elder brother – married has kids and lived 2 mins away from his parents house) should concentrate on our lives…. Me being just married flew to US as my hubby was working there then… Things turned out badly after an year when my dad in law passed away… Now what? None of the sons were prepared for this situation as MIL is a patient and FIL is hale and hearty!!!
      My BIL made it clear that he can’t take up mom’s responsibility and we should return to India! We did after 2 years… Because my hubby loves and feels responsible for his mom just the say he loves me and our baby… That is who he is… And I can’t be the one coming in between his duties and wishes and die with guilt… Because if I stop him from doing this, I know that he will not be the same confident loving person that I’m madly in love with… Guilt and helplessness will engulf him.. So I have decided to support him and I’m doing it by adjusting here in a new city in India ( I belong to a different city) … Adjustment is an understatement as we obviously have a full time care taker at home… These ladies can be annoying and may get on your nerves, as they know that I’m new to everything… And we have to live with them 24 hours in a small 2 bedroom house in Mumbai..
      My hubby has been a rock solid support to me since we moved… Takes up most of his mom’s responsibilities himself… I do things only when he is not around… Encourages me to go out and explore and tries to involve me as minimally as possible in his mom’s burden…. When I see this my heart goes out to him and it reassures me that my stand was correct…
      One more thing: hubby himself has shared that this whole thing is hard and he loved his life before… I tell him that I’m with him in this and we will sail through…
      So what I wanted to share is, not everything can be planned before marriage… Lot of unforeseen situations arise… And kids here (including me towards my parents) have a lot of sense of responsibilities towards their parents and guilt of not being with them that overpowers most of the other things…
      Also, my in laws were also very cool when they were healthy… They would always say that they want to travel and enjoy in their retired life and not live with kids… Sigh!
      So please think hard and then decide…

      Liked by 2 people

      • @crazyhouse
        Make sure you return the gesture ! Involve him as little as possible when it comes to your parents ! It will be only fair that he would not have to do much for your parents !
        If there is love and if you are basically a kind person you don’t really have to over think this,discuss yes !!!
        If you help with his parents he’ll help you with yours,.…atleast that would happen in a good marriage! Even if he forgets how you took care of his parents you can always remind him and make sure he helps you take care of your parents !


    • Yes, I also think it is a cultural difference. Affection does not express itself in the same ways in the west and in India.

      I just came back from a trip to India meeting the whole family and going on trips with them.

      This time, what impressed me most was to see my husband in a different light. The youngest son in a family of 5 children, he is expected to behave in a certain way. Although the trip was difficult for me, my husband is absolutely exhausted but happy at the same time. We have been married 4 years and I feel I have just discovered a whole part of him I never knew. Nothing bad, but I have to think about this. And also I discovered I had unsuspected ressources and energy, and some things I thought of the uttermost importance are not.

      Dear LW, if I were you, I would take one day at a time. Preparing a wedding is a very stressful thing and it can put your relationship on a strain. That is the most important thing right now, and meeting your in-laws is also important. And regarding eventually living with your future in-laws in a distant hypothetical future, you can just be vague and say you don’t know about this, you have to think about it. Be happy 🙂


  18. @wordssetmefree
    – Exclude this part “why would people in their 60s (by that time they would be) want to live in a foreign country permanently in their old age?” That is a personal preference of theirs and they don’t have to think like you. If they don’t have a problem transplanting themselves, that STILL does not change your position.

    I am eminently qualified to comment on this question!
    I am in the right age group now. Here are some of my thoughts and experiences.

    In the last four years, we (wife and I) made three visits to the USA and stayed for periods up to the maximum permissible period of 6 months. We stayed in what is considered the best part of the USA, California, Bay area, with its salubrious weather, (no snow, no storms, no floods) and with temperatures not too different from what we experience in India. We were also completely protected from the high cost of living there, because we were guests of my daughter and son in law all the time. We stayed guilt free, as we “paid” for our trip and for being hosted by being useful to my daughter and son-in- law during their months of need. My daughter had delivered her first baby, and as usual, had requisitioned her parents help. At their invitation, we and and my son in laws parents took turns every six months for the first two years to be with them, and help them during the initial difficult period.

    The question is, assuming my daughter and son in law too wanted it or at least didn’t mind it, would we like to live with them for ever? An emphatic No!

    The story is common. I had heard it from others before who went through these experiences and it was no different in our case. While we have the best possible relations with our daughter and son in law, and while I am all praise for the excellent quality of life in California, with all conveniences at hand, we were never really comfortable staying with them for such long periods and only the fact that we all knew we this was temporary and that we were being extremely useful to them kept our morale high.

    We missed our independence here in India. I missed driving my own car. (I could not drive there as I had no license. Besides I was terrified by the high speeds there, and missed India’s slow chaotic traffic, speed bumps, honking, noise, cows on the street, and people criss-crossing the roads all the time!) My wife missed all the family gossip and politics, friends, shopping, temples, our TV programs, desi cinema, the weddings and other functions, etc. At California we were locked up in what everyone calls a “Five star prison”, with nowhere to go and nothing much to do apart from attending to our infant grandson when the parents were out all day. Weekends offered some relief when my daughter and son in law would take us out in their cars. My on-line life was of course not affected and that kept me going. I also did all the odd jobs around the house and helping my wife in the kitchen, cooking, cutting veggies, cleaning up, mopping, vacuuming, loading the dishwasher and washing machines, etc. After six months of this, I was hardly surprised at my wife beaming a grateful and welcome simile at our local maidservant, when she reported back after we returned home!

    Our grandchild is now two years old and my daughter has made arrangements with an excellent day care center nearby. She has also identified an Indian lady nearby who cooks and keeps food hot and ready at her place to be picked up in the evenings by Indian couples coming home from their places of work. So this arrangement of my wife and I and my son in law’s parents taking turns to be with them finally ends next week. My son in laws parents who are currently in California, have also admitted that they too have had enough of California and are eager to be back. My daughter and son in law have now reconciled to the fact that it is time they learned to manage on their own using all the resources available. When their friends are managing with two kids and without parents to help them, why should they have a problem managing just one? She is the envy of her colleagues! Some day, this arrangement had to end and we are all glad it is over. Future visits will be only by invitation and for much shorter periods, not six months.

    Besides all the time, we were there, in spite of having an insurance policy, we were terrified of falling sick. I know some of you will not agree, but I feel medical facilites in USA are hopeless, particularly for those of us who come visiting. All minor ailments were managed by self medication and our past experience. We can’t rely on luck all the time. By comparison, India is great! A doctor is just a stone’s throw away and we can walk in without an appointment, and chat with him during consultations and get away with just a couple of dollars as fees, and we won’t have to sell our house to pay for hospitalisation expenses ! Something unthinkable in California for people like us with savings in Rupees and expenses in Dollars if we think of moving there.

    So if we felt like this, even under these favourable circumstances, why would modern parents who have resources of their own and can manage well in India, choose to live with their sons in USA, particularly in the those states in USA with less favourable living conditions and really cold weather to which they are not used to?

    With the help of relatives and friends, and with hired household help freely available, we are all better off here. At worst some of us may require some financial help which I am sure most Indian couples settled in USA will not grudge and which will be no issue at all. Retirement homes can extend our ability to manage till the last few weeks or months of our lives. Only in the really final stages, do I feel that we folks will need our near and dear ones at hand. For this small period, for which couples must find their own solution, there is no point in ruining several years of fruitful life as a senior citizen by living and being dependent on children abroad.

    Solutions during the final stages are many and some of them could be:

    1)One of the children living abroad comes over and lives with the parent till their final departure. This is not impractical. Such children will perhaps be over 60 years old themselves and their careers would have ended or they could afford to take a break.

    2)Sponsor the parent and take them abroad. The inconvenience will not be too long. They will pass on sooner or later.

    3)Find a relative or paid help to live with them here in India and take care of them. For the right kind of financial incentive, this should be easily possible. Skype, phones, and modern internet conveniences can be used productively to be in touch. Sending money is just a mouse click away.

    Conclusion: There are problems. But there are solutions also. The letter writer need not be too worried about this problem. It should be discussed and settled before she marries him.



    • GV – How do you suppose you came about the be such a cool dad? Cause you are in the same group as our parent, and about zillion times cooler in the way you think about your kids and their life and your life. Is there some special dad-school you went too 😉


    • Sir, all I want to say is: Respect! I could hear my Dad in your voice. Wish more and more people thought the way you do. We humans have a habit of creating problems that are not there in the first place. Lots to learn and hopefully a long way to go. Glad to know you through IHM.


    • As an American whom has worked in the US healthcare system for 15 yrs & cared for my elderly mom in the USI have to agree with vishvanaathjee.
      The US healthcare system is so ridiculously complex, inaccessible (compared to India), exorbitantly expensive & difficult to deal with I can’t imagine why an elderly Indian couple would want to suffer through it even with the help of their children.
      Do you realize it is not uncommon to have to wait for 2 weeks to get an appointment to just see a general practitioner? A specialist may take months.
      It may take hours to days to get a prescription filled at a pharmacy in the US also.
      And you better know which doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, medications & procedures are covered by your insurance BEFORE you need them – because even if you have insurance NOT EVERYTHING is still covered.
      This may be difficult to explain to Indians who may feel that the US is heaven etc, but it is a valid & important point.


    • GVji…I have been reading your inspiring comments and even your reply to a letter I posted here. I wish I could make my in-laws meet with you 🙂
      I am glad to know that you visit Bay area ! I am very much in the Bay and would be delighted to meet up when you visit again. Let me know if you dont mind and I will reach out to your gmail id!


      • Khushi (and all other readers who have responded to my comments).

        I am thankful to all of you for your responses
        I would be glad to establish email contact with any one of you who wishes to be in email touch with me.

        I am already privately in touch with a few of IHM’s readers and wouldn’t mind being in touch with a few more.

        The simplest way is via your respective blogs (if any).
        Ever since I had an embarrassing and unfortunate experience with a lady blogger whose blog I visited and commented on, without a formal invitation, simply because I was impressed with her writings, I avoid the blogs of ladies unless I am specifically invited to read and comment.

        I refuse to be anonymous. It is totally alien to my nature.So my age and gender is not hidden and this lady blogger did not want me around at her blog !

        IHM’s blog is a place where I feel perfectly comfortable.

        My email address will be available by clicking on my handle.



        • Arey GVji, you are most welcome on my blog anytime 🙂 i’ve hooked my dad to your comments. He’s kind of like you but can regress to the orthodox lecturing dad once in a while and i tell him your comments, then he laughs and says maybe you’re much younger than him 🙂 you probably are but you are so cool.


    • You sound like the late RK Narayan who, like you, divided his time between the US and India. This is how he put it: “Despite all its material deficiencies, life in India is strengthening”.


  19. Hello, i am new to commenting on this site, but have been a keen reader both before my marriage to my DH who is Punjabi Hindu from Delhi and after. I am “firangi bahu” who lives in Singapore currently and my in-laws live in Delhi. Having worked myself thorugh a fair share of cultural differences in the past 4 years, I noticed that it is still a some kind of obsession in some circles in India for parents to live with their grown sons and there is real fear on the parents’ side to be separated from their son or for their foreign DIL to “take them away” from their sons. Luckily in my family it is not that obvious but my IL do want to live with us when we eventually move back to Delhi. I was very uncomfortable with this idea at the beginning (much like the LW), however over time (and with examples) I could see the benefits of the situation, given that my DH comes alive and is very happy when he is in the family environment (be it his or mine).. And there are a lot of practical benefits for me also in my particular case. I would suggest the LW evaluates “pros” and “cons” one more time after meeting her prospective in laws. It actually might work for her in the end!


  20. All the solutions listed out here are only if money is not a problem and parents have their own house and savings.Medical expenses,paid help ( that too right kind of help),and inspire of right kind of help nursing bed ridden old parents is not a joke.
    I have nursed my dying mother and I was dead tired at the end of 10 months.
    All you can do is keep your fingers crossed !
    In middle class households, its usually DIL or unmarried daughter who tends to sick in laws or parents or they are chucked to bed ridden NGO hospitals.
    We had regular visits from a palliative centre and one day the doctor from there told me – that we were taking very good care of my mother,most people don’t take such good care and prefer to put such patients in a hospital.
    Inspire of having help I had to help the maid to sponge,turn my mother,change diapers !
    So, yeah its only about money and in middle class homes the Dil is expected to look after the in laws !
    All the love for parents seem to disappear when sons and daughter s need to do 24/7 work for sick parents.Only the truly hardworking and willing ,loving and responsible ppl can rise up to the challenge when there is not enough money !


    • When I was going to get married , we both spoke to both our parents and asked them to put all the money they were going to spend for the wedding in an account for their retirement and let us have an regd marriage . Even after a ton of forcing /arguments etc., the parents insisted they had enough money for retirment and we absolutely had to get married the traditional , religious way. When i decided to go after my mom and explained a bad future scenario to her she told me she has a son and he was her old age support and care. !!!! i was shocked and horrified , my brother ? the lazy bum? and she laughed and said he’ll get married and everyone will be fine. At that moment i was ashamed and shocked. It took me a long long time to argue and educate , oh yes educate her. and educate my brother. on what a marriage means. i dont think they still get it .. sad but true of many parents .


  21. There still households where DILs in rural areas do take care of their in laws simply because they are not working full time ,are housewives.I was not working full-time so everyone assumed I would do everything ! Nobody asked me ! My one sibling was married, my other sister was staying in same house but working full-time so she didn’t bother at all ! The point is they chose to continue their lives without helping me and dad physically – actual help ! Of course me being unmarried helped !
    It was not abt just taking care of her ,I did cooking,other cleaning jobs which the cleaning maid didn’t do,washed clothes simply because we couldn’t afford more help!
    The point is I wanted to make my mom as comfortable as possible and I couldn’t leave her to strangers !
    From all this I realised one thing :things can’t be planned and children don’t love parents as much as parents love children !
    And after seeing the way my siblings behaved ,I have decided to stop talking to my sisters and not socialise with them ! It rankles me but I had to do it to save my energy as I still have Dad to take care of !!


  22. Ok I have a solution. This is from watching way too much DIY HGTV and House hunters 🙂
    On that show, a lot of the couples ask the realtor for a house with “Inlaw suite”(most people want to care for their old parents or want to be close to them). The lot has a bigger/main house and then there is a 1-2 bed room house behind the main house. They have separate entrances, separate kitchen and everything. They just share the same lot and the convenience of being a minute away when needed and its private.
    Have you guys had a chat with his parents? They might not even be willing to move to a foreign land in their old age. My parents do not like living in United states. They visit us for a couple weeks and thats it. They complain that its too lonely(unless you live in NJ or CA where there’s significant amt of indian population and other indian retiree’s living with their kids who they can socialize with when you guys are at work).


    • In-law suite, walkout basement apt. , all these options are there. But these will not be considered by some in-laws. For example, my MIL wants us to sponsor for her GC in US. Her other son lives in US also, but his wife has told her flat out, they can’t sponsor her because of high medical costs etc. Right now she lives alone in Mumbai with 2 maids doing all her work. All she does there is go travelling, cinema, theater etc etc. When she comes here for long visits, she does not help out around the house or with her grand-daughter. I told her if we sponsor her, how about a walk-out basement where she could live, and she told me no. FOr some indian in-laws, unless they are in their grown up son’s and DIL’s face ALL THE TIME, they do not feel “loved”. So they have to live in the same house, even a basement suite is not fine. You should really discuss this with your husband. My husband was the one who first told me about the basement apt. idea. SO we are on the same page about this esp. since she does not help out at all around the house other than being an inconvenience and we getting no privacy because of her.


  23. Dear DM, I have not seen any of the replies mentioned above – so if I sound repititive, please bear with me.

    I am only sharing in these few lines what goes on here not essentially my personal take – *Indian boys are brought up in a way that makes them grow up with carrying the guilt of ‘not looking after’ their parents in old age. I am just talking of a psyche – boys grow up to believe they are eternally responsible to care for their parents in the old age, physically, emotionally, financially take them on. Girls grow up to love their parents and worry equally too – but somehow the mindset is – there’s little to expect from the daughters, as they move on to settle into someone’s home and possibly take care of their in laws.
    As parents grow older – the pain and thought of not living under the same roof bites the men terribly – mind you the boys may care a lot for their parents but just the way the things work here – they dont match up until they bring the elders home with them. Possibly your fiance is from this kind of mindset/upbringing*
    Frankly speaking – I do believe there are no issues living with parents or in laws (I am a married Indian woman and currently dont live with ils). If issues are resolved amicably. If people give space, some freedom is lost but there are benefits too. Right now, as my children are growing and I am also settling into my life – I am glad to have the space, but I am not sure…if at some point we may have to take them in with us.
    Its just about what we have seen around us. Frankly, the arrangment you talk of is equally workable too.

    You can bring that up with him – explain the cultural difference – it is possible for his parents to move to US and live …say a block away – so you all are close and yet have privacy. Its not right to say that your husband will have nothing to do with your parents once they are old and aging – similarly I guess we cannot expect you to have nothing to do with his parents once they are getting closer to very old age. I think you should take some time out to discuss this issue with him – the various options and possibilities and yes whether son or daughter both must equally care for parents in old age.

    All the best!


  24. GV,
    People with your mindset are privelege for their near and dear ones.You have been an asset for your parents as well as inlaws and your kids too.
    Sorry my comment is off the post but I couldn’t help expressing my appreciation for GV!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. “he is a man after all, and they just don’t understand certain things, especially if this is a cultural phenomenon.”

    The above line doesnt sound OK to me.There is a nagging voice in my head that objects to it.
    Does it mean, a man may be excused by virtue of his gender, from being a mature individual?
    If so, then what all can women be excused from, because we are ‘afterall’ women?


    • Hi…am writing this fr the first time…but I can tell you one thing….this is not cultural ….even in India….my mom aunties….who are illiterate and are from village 60+ wanted to move out of their in laws place….70s was a generation which migrated a lot to different cities….I am a north Indian married to a tamilian…my in laws are better educated and compared to my parents are liberal…but they are obsessed with the idea of living with their sons and families and take care of them… I see most of the elders talking about child care being taken for granted by them…but there are a lot of in laws who don’t want to lose control over the kitchen and the like….ironically I work and have a 1.5 year baby and we stay together and I hate it.they want to be a part of every single thing involving the child and kitchen and groceries if I need space either I’ve to lock my room with my baby or go for walks……no body likes to live with in laws.period. its not a cultural thing.


      • I think you put it exactly right Priya : it is a space problem. If the in-laws are independant, respect your independance, and the house is big enough, then it is not so bad… don’t you think ?


        • But those are lots of its andbutts ,Victoria, don’t you think ?
          In the end ,its all boils down to how parents have planned for their retirement and savings ! Money is important to care : big house,separate suites,cooks,help !!
          Most people on this forum seem to be US based,independent parents ,with money not being problem !
          Most seniors don’t plan their senior life,expect a dil who will stay in joint family,not work ,take over most work !Though, hard work has never killed anyone nor has kindness, most sons,dils or daughters don’t want to cook soup,mash food,change diapers,help in spongeing if required !
          Most of my frnds are dils and they are distinctly unhappy ,grumpy if in laws come in to stay with them for short time !
          I wish more parents would plan their retirement than forcing and expecting dil to be nice to them and their old age ! I have only seen well to do parents not having any expectations from sons or dils !


        • Cosettez, it’s very true what you say about money.

          I’m European so our retirement fund is taken from our monthly salaries. You need to work full time for minimum 43 years to have a full pension fund. Our parents value their independance so they will usually want to live in their own home as long as possible, and town councils send social workers to check on the elderly citizens, sometimes they provide food… Then if they have money they can go to old people’s homes but often from the moment they do that, they start declining even in a good home. Last year one relative had to go to a home and she passed away 6 months later.

          Now in good families, sons and daughters still take care of elderly parents even if they live in separate houses. One of my colleagues brings food to her mother and checks on her everyday.

          In my husband’s family (he is Indian), many relatives live in joint families, it seems to be hard on the young DILs, the older DILs seem to have tamed their MIL lol. My husband is worried about his mother, he went back to live with her when his father died. Ideally he would like her to live with us. I think she would be very unhappy in Europe, far from her family, friends and habits. So we have discussed going to India in a few years time.

          Maybe it’s difficult for an Indian DIL to live with her MIL, but for a western DIL, I really don’t know how it can work out. That’s why I’m wondering. My MIL annoyed me last time I saw her and I shut my mouth because I knew I was soon going back home thousands of miles from the place, but if we lived in the same house I know I could not shut my mouth (I am short tempered). Then I would probably have all the aunties and uncles on my back and then I would get really angry and my husband would hate me 😦

          hehe maybe you’re right, I think with too much with “ifs” and “buts” 🙂


        • Also, DILs in India are helped with day to day work by in laws and parents ! And personality clashes are going to happen if there is more than 1 person in the house !
          What irks me is that DILs want conditional help according to their preferences and in many cases take that ! And when it comes to taking care of her in laws, some dils are brusque,unkind !They don’t want to work around living with in laws even for short time ! This scenario is worst in 1 or 2 bhk middle class homes !
          Personally, I think wife should be negotiating for give and take ! ‘ I help u with your parents and you help me with mine !
          Frankly, old age homes or even swanky retirement homes cater to particular religion and communities ! Seniors will have to compromise on food in India and other small joys that our diversity provides !
          Its for people who have no choice !


  26. I’m late to the party here, and much of what I want to say to DM has already been said, so will restrict myself to the following:
    – GV-ji – Love your comments. Sensible as always and full of empathy. Re your driving in the US though (moot point since you don’t anticipate a need to anymore) – you can drive with an International license. Both my father and FIL drove here for years – they did the 6 months each routine for multiple years, not because we called them, but because they are the most doting of grandparents and could not bear to miss any of the kids’ milestones! Now, the kids are teens and they chat on Facetime, whatsapp and any other technology they get their hands on! I love their bond, and am very grateful for those early years when they were here in person, that fostered it.
    – Responding to IHM’s question in the post: Son preference does come with the expectation of Budhape ka sahara, but there’s also a lot of carrying-the-name-forward associated with it. I know enough people who are enlightened enough to not openly regret having only daughters, who treat said daughters just fine, but still fasted and prayed for a son and yes, were disappointed when none were born, citing the ending of the family name issue. However, it’s all small steps in a continuum – so yes, knowing that living with the children is not a given may help with righting the preferences some.


    • Thank you Maith.
      Yes, I am aware of this International Driving license.
      I did carry one, during my second trip.
      The Californian Govt and police would recognize it but my daughter wouldn’t!
      She was scared stiff, that I would goof up because of the Left versus Right Side traffic rules. Besides she subjected me to a merciless oral test on rules, and regulations in California and reading and interpreting the traffic signs and symbols and I failed her test.

      She decided I am fit only to drive in the lawless jungles that India’s roads are and that I am unfit to drive in USA. She didn’t want to be saddled with a traffic incident during my brief stay. Besides, my age and history of recent illnesses and hosptilazation gave her some more ammunition to fire at me, while refusing to allow me to drive. My fate was sealed when my wife deserted her husband and teamed up with the daughter in this matter.

      Besides, they had two cars, one for each they would drive them to their places of work leaving me with no car to drive on all week days.

      Even if we had a third car,, taking care of an infant is a full time job, and my wife would frown on any attempt from me to go out, while we were alone in the house with the baby.

      During weekends either my daughter or son in law would drive while we all went out together and so I never got an opportunity to drive.

      I finally contented myself with taking the car out of the garage and parking it in the street in front of the house, every morning. saving a precious few minutes in the morning for her, while she was hurriedly getting ready for leaving home for her place of work.


      Liked by 1 person

  27. Dear L.W.

    One sentence really stood out for me ” In my European culture, daughters are actually the ones to care for their aging parents, as they feel more comfortable with daughters versus daughters-in-laws.”

    This seems to imply that irrespective of cultures, it’s finally women who are expected to be the primary care-takers and hence the need for a rapport with them. As long as we assume this, we will always be more stressed out than our partners about matters involving child-care or elder-care.


    • I don’t know, I think it’s the other way round. It’s because most women stress out more about other people’s well-being compared to men, that they become primary care givers.

      After all, as we say in my European culture, “there’s always enough food for one more guest” ; if you are already taking care of a husband and kids, then is it really such a big deal to take care of your elders ? I know it’s a lot of work but can you leave you elders to suffer and be happy ? I wonder.


        • Well, yes, I do. After all, given the choice, at least in Europe, many women chose teaching and health professions – some people complain about this.

          I think there is something in women, especially once they have become mothers, that makes them very attentive to other people’s basic needs, and able to infer people’s needs even when nothing is asked.

          Would you say it’s social conditioning ?


        • IHM, I have read your other post, but I understand from the stories you quote that even when the DILs were not very nice, they were better than the sons. That is what I tried to express. It doesn’t mean men are bad, but that they usually don’t think about some practical things.

          I can’t see a woman locking up her MIL with a bowl of milk, unless either of the women was crazy.

          Then I guess if you abuse your DIL you can’t expect her to pamper you when you lose your power. And if you beat your son, can you expect him to be nice when you’re helpless ? Not everyone is a saint on earth.


        • //I can’t see a woman locking up her MIL with a bowl of milk, unless either of the women was crazy.//

          But wouldn’t this (the entire comment in fact) apply to anybody? Including to men? Do you think men who are not ‘crazy’ would lock someone with a bowl of milk?


  28. While we’e on the topic of elder care, I wanted to share another thing.

    My husband’s prof (from grad school) and her husband are in their 70s. They’re close friends of ours and a couple of years ago started looking for a retirement community. Their own children took care of all the major stuff, but since they were both out of state, when little things needed to be done, we pitched in, since we lived here.
    So, we got to look at a lot of senior living communities and here are some common features –

    – The seniors (some single, some couples) can choose between studio apt (a long big room that has kitchen, living, bed room separated by short walls or screens) or a regular one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment.
    – Those who choose to cook have a fully equipped kitchen. Those who cannot cook can eat in the common dining hall (pay for the meals either randomly or on a monthly basis) as long as they provide a day’s notice. Last minute drop-ins are allowed at a small fee.
    – There is usually a swimming pool, library, recreation center, games and movie showing are organized regularly.
    – There are on-site medical facilities and nurses care for some seniors. There are walking paths and gardens in some communities that the seniors maintain.
    – One of them (my favorite)- had jobs available for the seniors – one of them works to maintain records on the computer, another teaches a Spanish class, one of them organizes social gatherings, many of them work in the garden, and one of them teaches a fitness class. A former hairdresser does makeovers 🙂 This way, they got to feel capable and productive, and this kept them healthier.
    – One of them had volunteering opportunities for high school students and internships for college students and I saw quite a few young people working here.
    – Of course the more you paid, the better the quality of the community. But even the basic ones had an empathetic staff and involvement from children ensured the seniors’ needs were appropriately met.
    – Many of these people apparently saved enough for their retirement to be able to afford this type of living. In some cases, children pitch in financially, as much as possible.

    Their families visit them and they visit their families as well. I agree with the original LW that Americans do not abandon their elderly. Many children are very much involved in their parents’ lives and vice- versa. But they do believe in having their own space and being independent to the greatest extent possible. Also being social, active, productive, and contributing in some way keeps them healthy.

    We DEFINITELY need to start building these kinds of living communities in India. We need to start removing the stigma associated with this idea. The people I saw in these communities have friends, have a life. They are also close to their children and the children are there for them emotionally and health-wise.


    • @wordssetmefreee
      Heartily endorse your views.
      India is catching up too.
      The one we are planning to move into is very much like what you have described.
      This one is professionally managed by an organziation that is internationally reputed for Elder Care.
      I don’t wish to appear to advertise this company’s retirement home project and so I wont take names. But if any one is interested in knowing more about facilities and costs, you can contact me privately. I will can send the links privately to them.


      • @wordssetmefree There are several such retirement communities in India nowadays – tailored to Indian sensibilities and even specific to communities – I have a few family members who own such places, in preparation for the future when they may need to move out of their primary residences. The big issue, as with many things in India, is the implementation – lots of (smallish) problems with maintenance, privacy, food (not the kind or standard as promised initially), isolation from social events (most such communities are on the outskirts of cities away from temples, areas where concerts and other events are held etc.). At least among my family, there isn’t any stigma associated with this…it’s taken as the norm, given that almost the entire generation of children is abroad.


        • Also most of retirement homes don’t cater to all communities, e..g only Hindus. ,only brahmans etc!
          We are Muslims,.. I don’t any which allow Muslims to buy stake there ! I wonder If Christians etc face those issues. Even if they catered to other religions most Muslims would feel cut off because of food ,away from community etc !


    • @cossettez,
      I noticed the following comment yours only today and hence the late response.

      Also most of retirement homes don’t cater to all communities, e..g only Hindus. ,only brahmans etc!
      We are Muslims,.. I don’t any which allow Muslims to buy stake there ! I wonder If Christians etc face those issues. Even if they catered to other religions most Muslims would feel cut off because of food ,away from community etc !

      I hope you get to read this since it s rather late.
      The Retirement home I am planning to move into is truly cosmopolitan.
      Yes, Muslims are also welcome, provided they fulfill the same conditions that Christians/Hindus and others are required to fulfill.
      After a certain age, our religion will not matter.
      We will all be just old people!

      I saw a few homes at Coimbatore and though they were excellent and also cheaper than the one at Bangalore I did not consider them as nearly every single couple there was not only Hindu but belonged to a particular caste (the same that I belong to)
      I got the feeling it would be a caste ghetto and I didn’t want that.

      Let me know if you want details and I will give you detailed info.
      You can get my email address by clicking on my handle.


      • Thank you GV sahab ! Its good to know there are cosmopolitan retirement homes !
        Yeah ,inshallah ,I might get in touch with you when I need the information !
        You are same age of my Dad but my dad can only check his email ,use skype, ….he is least interested in internet ! You are pretty savvy !


  29. First, I am also a foreign daughter-in-law. I have been with my Tamil husband for 9 years.
    I am very surprised by everyone saying that this is not cultural. This is clearly cultural. When you marry an Indian MAN, you also marry his parents. They will come and live with you at some point down the road. This is the reality and this is culturally normal. Indian sons will always feel responsible for their parents. And Indian parents are typically more needy than Western parents – they value togetherness and they love to be included in the grandkids’ lives more. Everyone who has an Indian spouse knows this is part of the deal.

    What you can do – is try to build a positive relationship with your inlaws, because that way if they ever do come and stay with you down the road, your relationship will already be strong. You never know – your inlaws may become an asset to your marriage – they certainly are to mine!
    Also, I feel like you hardly know your inlaws. You are saying “they may have more things in common with the other DIL” like just because she’s Indian? I can only speak for myself, but I have discovered lots of things I have in common with my MIL, like cooking, reading mystery novels, and watching reality tv together. We both have a love of reading which is basically made us our own little private book club. I think you’d be surprised what you and your inlaws might have in common if they stay with you. I would get to know them first before you completely dismiss them.

    However, Indian parents (as I am aware of) usually stay with the eldest son. So maybe your hubby means “stay with you” like visiting for months at a time on a vacation like many elders do..?

    “We are of 2 different cultures, and things may be uncomfortable for us both. ” – you’re in an intercultural marriage here. You are going to have an intercultural family. How come then it did not bother you that your spouse is Indian, but you’re inlaws are?


  30. Dear LW, well a lot has been said already. I can share from my experience- i have had a wedding outside my community and culture. My husband happens to be only son so there are certain expectations. And i happen to be one of the 2 daughters of my parents. I did have a discussion with my husband about helping my parents financially and emotionally post marriage. We discussed that if there is a need – even my parents should be welcome in our house just as his. This was important for me since i grew up in a joint family with big punjabi parivaar where my mother’s parents were always treated as outsiders and honestly my father though he has changed now, at that time did not take any steps to make situation better.

    Our concept is simple – we both do not interfere about spending with each others parents. Our financial needs and expenses common to our household are decided jointly. In last 6 years of my marriage, i cant recall a single incident where any one of us had issues with this.

    Though we knew each other for 4 years before we got married. Staying away from both our families helped us live a better life during initial phase. And also made us realize that we would prefer to stay independently. We may never live in a joint family but understand that our parents may have needs and we have to support them. Both his and mine parents live independently and are not clingy kinds.

    Honestly, since we are living separately – life is comfortable and occasional get togethers, holidays are more fun. Since we do not have children my mother has offered to live with us several times so that she can support in case we do plan to have children. My response to her has always been – if i would have a kid, i will sort my life first than wanting the world to change for me. Similarly, i do not expect my mother in law to bend backwards or move her life in a different city. And i am very firm in my mind not to do that myself.

    Has it come easily, No. There were constant arguments/ discussions followed by long periods of silence before we reached this stage. My in laws still expect us to move to their city but our response has not changed – which would not have been possible if we had not identified what worth fighting for and what is manageable. We do not live in an idealistic world, but sure can make a better one for ourselves.


  31. I stay in the US and I have observed parents of my friends as well as my own in-laws who come to stay for 6 months at a time. By the end of the second month, the father at least gets totally fed up! The mom lasts a bit longer, especially if there are grandkids! I think you’re right that they would be totally bored in a different country away from everything familiar, away from other family members, neighbors and friends. You may keep this in mind when discussing the case with your fiance. I too urge you to clear the air about this matter *before* the marriage!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just want all to realise one thing….most of these parents who are very needy and clingy towards their parents are the same guys who never lived with their in laws and would have never wanted to….most of the parents try their best to get their son to live with them and try to get their daughters in nuclear set ups…look around u and ud see these double standards…..


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