An email: “this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.”

This issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws is also an issue of bias between a much wanted and valued, prayed and fasted for Indian male child and the generally unwanted Indian girl child.

Those who avoid having girl children, frequently value the male child as a Budhape ka Sahara, expected to provide financial support and obedient daughters in law to the parents . 

Girl children are not expected to do either and the only way they can traditionally repay the parents is by Getting Married and Staying Married, preferably Happily Married (only to someone the parents approve of).  

Because Happily married daughters are seen as well brought up, sanskaari or empowered or ‘lucky’. The parents of Happily Married Daughters generally maybe considered fortunate, sensible, matured, sanskaari and successful.

Happily married sons risk being seen as Joru Ke Gulaam (JKG), neglectful of their parents. Parents of happily married sons risk being looked upon as uncared for, by others and by themselves. (parents who have no male children are free from such expectations)

But how does patriarchy expect to see happily married daughters without any happily married sons?

Same way it sees ‘peace and harmony’ in silenced voices, unhappiness, injustice, cruelty, denial of human rights and freedom, and gender bias.

Sharing an email.  

Dear IHM

Gender issues and bias against women never seemed to really touch me until my marriage. My upbringing was such that both career and family were made equally important. After, completing my studies, I got landed with a cushy corporate job in a big city. My parents supported my decision to move to this city.

After a few years of working life, I met a guy. We fell for each other and decided to marry. While my parents approved of him and respected my choice, his mother refused of our match. Reason, after showing my horoscope to a pundit, the latter told her that while I will get along well with her son but I won’t get along well with her.

Somehow, my hubby along with his dad managed to convince her and she agreed. Unfortunately, my father in law expired only a few months of our marriage. Mil refused to shift with us. I had to quit my job immediately to be with her as she couldn’t stay alone. After a few months my hubby too got a job in his hometown and moved with us.

When we were finally settled, my hubby brought the subject of me starting with my job again. She bluntly refused saying that she does not want to be a maid to us plus she cannot stay alone after her hubby’s death. I loved my hubby a lot and made this sacrifice for him.

But her tantrums didn’t stop. She never allowed to us to go out alone, parties were not allowed, movie dates were not allowed, visiting relatives were not allowed…..Worst, she would get furious even if talked with each other in her presence, many times she would come to our room to sleep since she used to get afraid in the night! We were newly-weds who slept with their mother in between!

I sacrificed my desires as well. She demanded a child soon so that she could get busy with the grandchild.

We understood her situation and conceived. She became all the more controlling and dictating now. I was advised bed rest for one month due to chances of abortion but she told me that doctors don’t know much. The more you will work, the better your chances of having a normal delivery.

She started playing dirty politics. Would say something to me and something different to hubby. Used to treat me like a maid behind his back and showered false care in front of him. Foolish me, I never complained and never shared with even hubby. Kept on enduring all abuse because I wanted to make the marriage work.

Pregnancy and delivery both were a nightmare. Only used to share with my mom. But enough is enough.

My mom expired and I went through one of the worst periods of depression. I couldn’t take it anymore. The desire to make the marriage work finally lost its battle and all I wanted was a divorce.

My hubby got extremely distressed and spoke to his sister, who’s in a similar situation. Her MIL too is a widow. She’s working in a highly reputed company at a good post. She advised us that the only solution to the problem is that I start working and we keep a full time maid. We all spoke to my MIL and she had to agree.

By this time my kid had turned two. I got a job and started working. We kept a full time maid for all the work. Things improved. Although, she never allowed us alone time but at least she stopped treating me like a maid. Time passed and I got promoted. I now used to get a little late from office. Where earlier I used to be home by 5:30, I started arriving around 6:30.

Problems started cropping up again. Our maid used to leave by 5 pm and against half an hour, she now had to keep the grandchild for full one hour. I spoke with my boss and worked upon a solution from working from home. I had to visit office for just one day in a week and just required to remain online during office hours on Skype.

Now she asked the maid to leave to cut down expenses. Due to work at home, my job suffered and I got fired. Even the job solution didn’t work. To engage myself I have now started spending time on my laptop. Once I got fired, the maid treatment started again.

I could have still understood her expectations for having a typical house wife as a daughter in law had her own daughter not been working. Hers is an arranged marriage. She takes special pride in describing her daughter’s achievements. She loves to narrate how she prevented her daughter from marrying the boy of her choice because the boy’s parents were not ready to let her continue her career.

Had she married that boy, she would have turned into a ‘typical housewife’ by now, she describes flaunting her choice of groom for her daughter. My sister in law has two children and her MIL keeps her two kids for 12 hours. And my MIL couldn’t even keep my child for just one hour!

I understand I should not make comparisons, each person is different. But if I am understanding her, atleast she can let me be me. If she expects me to do household chores, I have no qualms. Its my work, my responsibility. But when I am doing all my duties, have sacrificed my career, my desires, why can’t I do what I enjoy doing. Now she is having problems with me spending time on the laptop and not spending time with other ‘bahus’ in the locality!

She now has problems that I don’t go to kitty parties, I don’t mingle with other bahus and waste time on the internet! Her daughter doesn’t go to kitty parties because she is a career woman. I never neglected my duties even when I was working. I used to make chapattis, pack three tiffins (hubby’s, son’s and mine), make breakfast, get my son ready for school, prepare dinner…

My SIL knows no cooking, does not help in any household work, does not even looks after her kids, shouts at her MIL (many times her MIL calls my MIL that her daughter does not treat her well and makes her feel like a maid!) Her ‘saat khun are maaf’ only because she is earning in lakhs per month, while I earned peanuts compared to her! Every time she gives this excuse, if hubby or me say anything.

But why does she fails to overlook, I was also earning good. In fact we both would have been doing well in our careers had we not compromised with our careers due to her. We are now living in a small town, the place is not meant for service class or professionals.

This time when my SIL visited us on a festive occasion and dropped her six month old baby with us to take care as she can’t stay up late in the night with the baby and her MIL wasn’t doing well, I lost it! My blood literally boiled over. This time my MIL had no problem in keeping such a small baby and she refused to take care of my 4 year old child during that one hour in the evening.

I thought a grandchild would make a difference in her behaviour. But she never took interest in my child.

Why such a strong bias! Why such difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. When we raise our daughters to become career conscious individuals, why do we expect our daughters to be perfect
home makers?

This injustice and biased treatment is eating me up. Since we cannot live separately as my hubby is the only son, I have stopped speaking to her. We do not interact other than the basic communication. But the bitterness is still there, hatred is still there. Its affecting me, affecting my relationship with hubby. I have not mentioned here about her manipulations, dirty politics, bad mouthing about me, my parents to my hubby and SIL.

I love my husband but I hate his mother. And after rendering all this mistreatment to me, she wants to prove me guilty to my hubby and other relatives and seek their sympathy. I have lost my hair, my weight, my health due to this. Is there any way out? Will she ever understand and acknowledge what she is doing? What should I do? I am clueless and losing the desire to live.

I cannot divorce my husband, living away from her is not an option. Hubby asks me to ignore and focus on my hobbies. At times I do and at times I lose it and sink into depression again. How to kill this hatred, this bitterness from my heart. I know the damage cannot be undone but how to forgive and start living?

It’s a long letter. But I really felt good writing to you. Would appreciate if you take up this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen, what kind of future was Rani being offered? 

Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? –

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

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

To an Anonymous DIL

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

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

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


43 thoughts on “An email: “this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.”

  1. You asked:
    Will she ever understand and acknowledge what she is doing?

    Why should she understand? Are there any rewards or penalties for her bias and evil treatment of DIL? Nope, no penalties but only rewards, son packed his newly wed wife to keep his widow mother company. Son opened the door to bedroom and even gave mommy space on his marital bed. Do you see any repercussions for her behavior? So why should she change?

    What should I do?

    Put your foot down. Seek professional help and set some boundaries. Insist on couple’s counseling. Here are few links that can help set some ground rules:

    Desi Girl

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is very sad, the way they discriminate between DIL and daughters.

    This part is for others – if you have a chance not to stay in the same city with in laws do not get along with, do not drop everything to live in the same house with them because you know you guys don’t get along. And having kids does not solve anything.

    For the LW
    1. You need to explain everything to your husband on how his mother treats you.
    2. Get a job.
    3. Get a maid. Who is paying the maid? Your MIL has no authority to fire the maid to save costs when you foot the bill.
    4. Try to get a job in a bigger city and convince your husband to move as well.
    5. I am appalled that she slept in your bed. I cannot believe people allow that. Sometimes you have to take a stand. If you don’t, people will continue bullying you.
    6. You need to move out for your own sake and your child’s sake. Either in this city or other city. Stop ruling this out as an option. You lived away from your parents right? Your MIL is not 120 years old that she cannot do anything on her own.This is an unhealthy leech kind of relationship. Your husband is reacting because he is in this system and you are blindly agreeing to him without thinking why she cannot live alone.
    7. Become a mean bahu. Better be mean that be treated like shit. Your MIL bullies you because she can.
    8. Stop being a doormat and abala nari. Stand up and fight back. Argue. Refuse to do anything for her or help her out. Let her do it herself.
    9. YOu can change yourself. Not her. So stop trying to analyse why she is the way she is and start standing up for yourself. She will learn to be nicer when she realises that her shit does not fly with you.

    So move out or be the lean mean kick ass bahu.

    Liked by 6 people

    • My sister went through this and more, finally after 9 long years, she said enough is enough and put her foot down and became the meanest of mean bahus, she went back to work, she now makes mid 6 figure salary per month, cooks when she wants to cook. Even complained to cops about her MIL and came close to filing a harassment case, finally her MIL shut up. Her husband still has not been weaned, now that is a topic for another day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m from a different place and culture, but I do believe that bullies are universal. Your mother-in-law is bullying because she can, and she won’t stop as long as she can. This poster gives excellent advice, but it will only work if your husband grows a backbone with you. It seems to me that the only way your marriage will survive is if you and your husband both put the well-being and happiness of each other as higher priority than his mother’s opinion and feelings, or the opinions and feelings of anyone outside of your marriage for that matter.

      If you can decide together what you each and both need to thrive, stick together as a united front and lay down the law. Ground rule: refuse to discuss anything important with your MiL unless both you and your husband are present to support each other.

      I may be from a different place and culture, but I’ve also had garbage fly in my space and life from my in-laws. It stinks no matter who you are or where you live. In my situation, I put up with it for over a quarter of a century until one day I said, Enough! (I have very little contact with them anymore, because they are still who they are. My boundaries didn’t change them, but it made my life easier.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. माँ के अधूरे सपने पूरा करती हैं — बेटी
    सास के टूटे सपनो की कहानी को दोहराती हैं – बहू

    In english this means
    The daughter is the one who full fills the “unfulfilled ” dreams of the mother
    The Daughter in law is the one who relives the broken dreams of the mother – in – law

    Its a vicious circle of conditioning of the society.
    Dear Letter Writer
    To me your MIL to me looks like a STRONG WOMAN who settled her daughter so that her daughter could fullfill her ambitions . I am not sure if her daughter really wanted to work and be a working woman or was it your MIL unfulfilled dreams that she might have seen when she was as young as you .
    In you your MIL has made a replica of her own self , broken dreams and ambitions .
    I will not call this bias because its you who wanted the marriage to work , your marriage was a priority not your job / ambition .
    For you to sacrifice { conditioned woman } was what you grew up with , and sacrifice you did .
    To forget and forgive HER and move ahead will not help , what is your take for future
    HOW are you going to treat your DIL are you going to tell her at every juncture that look i suffered more than this and said nothing .

    The solution lies in breaking the circle ourself rather then wanting the MIL to break it .
    WHY THIS CYCLE HAS BEEN REPEATED time and again by woman should be the question rather than the problem being written again and again

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do not think that a m-i-l mistreats her d-i-l because she herself was mistreated. I think she does it only when there is a clear sanctioning and a benefit.

      The sanctioning comes from people who are higher up in the hierarchy – male members (f-i-l, husband, in some very traditional families, even elder b-i-ls). The benefits go to these male members as well as to the m-i-l. How else can you get a free maid, cook, cleaner, and overall slave? By enslaving the lowest member in the hierarchy – the d-i-l. This enslaving keeps the family running smoothly – b-i-l’s clothes are washed and ironed, f-i-l’s favorite meals are prepared, husband’s sexual needs are met, etc.

      The d-i-l is only human and despite being conditioned to be a slave, she will occasionally attempt to rebel. How to keep such rebellions in check? By cutting off her support system. Visits to parents are closely monitored and curtailed if necessary. No friends, now, that’s just frivolous, when there’s so much work to do. No going out with husband for enjoyment (God forbid, what if they bond?? What if he then empathizes with her? Or his conscience kicks in? What if he comes out of the denial that everything will be fine as long as his wife ‘adjusts’?) If d-i-l’s job brings in income that the family gets to spend with no cost to enslavement, allow it. If job gives her independence and threatens enslavement, pull the plug.

      This mindset is shared by the ENTIRE household. M-i-l reaps a benefit. So does the husband. And everyone else involved. That is why d-i-l gets mistreated. This is not a ‘woman is a woman’s worst enemy’ thing – that is a myth created to keep women distracted and not look at the real issue. This is patriarchy using women as foot soldiers. The soldiers (m-i-ls) in most cases are not capable of looking at the big picture and questioning the norms and seeing what kind of a role they’re playing in perpetuating this system. If someone is strong, they will submit to them. If someone is weak, they will enslave them. That is all they understand. They are not taking revenge, they are simply appreciating a little bit of control (yeah, finally!) in their lives, control they never had as daughters, sisters, or d-i-ls, control that every human craves. Of course, it never occurs to them how sick this control (in the last stage of their life ) is because it is misdirected and takes away the fundamental rights of another human being.

      More importantly, the other members of the family do not really love or care for the m-i-l. They simply want her to be the front line soldier and fight their battles for them, and be the bad guy. If the m-i-l was truly loved and respected (as our traditions and culture like to claim), her own rights would’ve have been upheld, she would have friends, time to herself, her own career, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think dils can be treated as ‘maids’ in middle,higher,rich classes !
        Its only in lower classes that household work needs to be shared because of obvious lack of money to employ someone to do your dirty work !
        Since when doing household chores automatically means one is a maid ?
        In India,’maid’ connotations comes because I men don’t do household chores or do very little !Ideally housework should be shared when both wife and husband are working ! But if the wife is not working,most work falls on her,..and if she does it .that doesn’t make her a maid ! MIL treating dils badly is not abt getting a free maid its something else !
        Maybe control,lot of insecurity !

        Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. You talked about how much you love your husband. What about him? Does he love you as much? Do you feel loved too? If so, you need to sit him down and talk to him at length. “Ignoring” issues and “focusing on hobbies” is like burying your head in the sand like an ostrich – it does not work. Tell your husband that he needs to focus on your issues for once because they are not yours alone – they are also his, and this is part of what he signed up for when he married you. He’s responsible for your physical health as well as psychological well-being. (And so are you, btw.)
    And by not bringing up your issues with him you aren’t really ‘saving your marriage’. You’re causing more harm that you’ll ever know. And I know because I’ve done this and suffered.

    2. Get a job. If you don’t, expect to be treated like a slave for the rest of your life. As for your kid, put him in a creche or hire a nanny if your MIL can’t take care of him. Pay for the extra help from YOUR salary – this will strengthen your position in the family. Staying outside the house for even a few hours will also help keep you focused on things other than the petty bickering at home.

    3. This is something that most women don’t do, but you need to save some money for your own personal future. You will need it if you want to pursue a hobby, start a business, or get a divorce and start a new life. Even if you want to stay married, you should have something tucked away- and I can’t emphasize this enough.

    4. How is your SIL as a person? Are you close to her? Would she be open to counseling her mother? Maybe she could put things in perspective.

    5. Finally, stop grudging your MIL. She’s doing what she’s doing because she doesn’t know any better. She’s stupid, like most MILs. Forgive her, and move on. And by move on I don’t mean ‘be a silent victim’. If she misbehaves or crosses lines, you should let her know firmly (but politely) that it is not going to work. For example, your MIL does not have the authority to fire someone your hired and are paying for. Learn to say no politely but strongly.

    Liked by 5 people

    • @Rachna,

      These stories are good to hear but the truth is we still do not have basic understanding of boundaries in relationship. In lack of healthy boundaries these same DILs who were supported become draconian. DG recalls one of your posts about a MIL who sent her daughter to do some course and was burdened with all house hold chores with no support from DIL coz’ she was tired after long day or busy with school. DG’s mom put her DIL through college by funding her hostel stay and doing her laundry later taking care of her kids.
      It is important we start talking about personal boundaries in relationships than romanticizing basic human rights as granted by in-laws or spouses.
      Desi Girl


  5. Saying NO is an essential life skill. I don’t understand why you are putting up with all this. What are you trying to gain by it? Clearly, you are not gaining anything at all, with your husband telling you to “forget about it and focus on your hobbies”. Learn to disappoint this woman. Just say no and let her to suck an egg. What’s the worst that can happen? Your marriage won’t work? Is it as bad as what you’ve been going through?

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t sympathize with someone who willingly takes this sort of crap. You have to stand up for yourself and fight back, or keep living like this. The choice is yours. Maybe your husband will take your side, maybe he won’t. Either way, living like this is not worth it, in my opinion. Start by saying no to whatever you don’t want to do. Good luck, girl. Have a hug.

    Liked by 2 people

    • (*go suck an egg).

      What you are doing is not a ‘sacrifice’, by the way. If you are sacrificing your own happiness, how can you be in a position to make anyone else happy? Get out of this rut, please, for heaven’s sake. Just start saying no. Counseling can help with your self esteem and make you love yourself enough to stand up to crap. Consider it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. One thing I hav learned is the more u sacrifice in laws demands will keep growing.You made the mistake of agreeing to all her whims ..she has got used to getting her way….its an entertainment for her now.She enjoys bullying u… dont compare youself with ur SIL……DILs can never be daughters no matter what in laws say….so get used to her partiality……now tht the shit has hit the fan…..keep your foot down…..learn to say NO…. ..dont keep any expectations.. ..what if you were staying alone ? Imagine u dont hav a MIL. ….get a maid for ur kid and dont depend on ur mil……ignore her and do what u feel like.. .I know its easier said than done but just give it a try…..she will raise a rakus … be calm n tell her firmly thts how things will be frm now on….she can either adjust or stay with the sil…choice is hers…..just giv it a try

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well I would say My MIL SIL situation is very similar to yours. Whatever my SIl does is acceptable but If i end up doing similar things its considered irresponsible behavior. It took me a good 6 months to accpet the siatuation and see that there was a problem . But now I am at a better place.

    I suggest you put your foot down and start working even if it is a smaller job . Start goin out again . The more u are busy the less you see all these things and you are happier. where as your son is considered now hez 4 teach him to take care of himself. The house chores can be then shifted to a maid eventually. But be gutsy dont procrastinate and take control. Say you want to do it no matter what. Talk to your husband and your SIL if they are supportive. sharing your feelings will help you too.

    Rest its your call. A temporary sad phase or a lifetime regret. Take action its in your hand after all.


  8. I feel your husband is making things worst by not standing up for you and also to draw the line to these issues, when he should have.

    Sadly, your MIL has taken the upper hand due to your husband’s ‘tolerance’. Is it really ‘tolerance’ or is it because he doesnt want to face the mother and the ungrateful son tag which comes along together. He rather have you face her wrath than himself.

    Talk to him and knock some sense into his head, first.

    Your MIL is a bully. Full stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello LW,

    While everyone here has given wonderful solutions to the problem, I just wanted to point out that the main crux of the problem here is that you seem to have lost confidence in yourself. You have forgotten who you are & what your dreams were/are. – Because of a Bully.

    The first most important thing for you to do is to begin believing in yourself again. You need to understand, despite the fact that you had a child because someone asked you to (not because you wished to), there is someone in your home who is at an age who observes & absorbs everything that goes on.
    You need to start to respect yourself so that others respect you too. You need to show the child that no one has the right to bully anyone & you need to take a stand for yourself.

    Here are some steps you can take to start taking control of your life & be the best person you can be :-

    1. Make a list of everything you’ve always wished to do like the books you want to read, travel destinations, interests you’d like to pursue etc.

    2. As others have mentioned, start to apply for jobs & follow their advice like getting a maid etc.

    3. Until you get a job, I would suggest to join some classes or volunteer. Not only would that help you bond with some people out there, but it will also help you get a social life & your confidence within yourself would grow. — This is very important.

    4. Start going out. Leave her at home. What is the worst that could happen? She’ll shout & whine? – Let her. Also, when you do go out, try to dress up well, put some makeup maybe & wear nice clothes (This is just a suggestion. Personally, I’ve noticed that I feel my best & confident when I feel I made the effort to look good)
    Take a vacation, just you 3 (or 2 if you have an option of leaving your child with someone). Works wonders, always.

    5. Since you didn’t draw the lines before, it would take sometime creating boundaries now, but don’t lose hope. Keep at it till she understands where to draw the line.

    6. Try not to compare how your MIL treats you & your SIL differently. Anything you say or do will not change that attitude. She’ll always her think her children are superior to the rest.
    There is no point thinking about things that make you miserable. Instead focus on the things that are under your control & change what you can in your life that would help you & your family.

    You say you cannot leave her, I understand, but you need to show her that you have an option of doing so.

    Until she feels that she has complete control over you, she will continue behaving this way. She doesn’t care or like you enough to respect you, so you need to understand that even though she’s an ‘elderly woman’, she has no right to treat you this way.

    You need to tell her that for the sake of your & your family’s sanity, you will move back to the other city, unless she starts to behave like a normal human being & accept the fact that you are her DIL & nothing in the world is going to change that.

    Note: I know these things aren’t all easy. It’s easier said than done but you’ll need to start taking the first steps forward & never, ever look back.
    I hope you get back on your feet & show the world (& your MIL) who YOU are & that you’re not just some ‘sweet’ DIL that anyone can mess with.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi LW,

    I agree with girlsguidetosurvival. Why your MIL will realise herself that what she is doing is wrong. She is having power and who loves to give up their power.It you the one who is being affected has to make realise.

    2nd Point: Why all the rant is about MIL. Why no one who is discussing MIL related issue ever write about what their husband are doing in the situation. Only one line is written that I love my husband a lot or my husbands love me.

    This MIL situation is never going to improve until unless your husband does not love you back. Here by love I mean to understand your situation and aspiration and realise that your more than a cook.

    What you can do in this situation: Gather support
    Discuss with your husband what you have written to us. Make him realise that what you lost because of his foolish decision and its time to act. Tell him what u want whether u want career or u want to be homemaker and this bully has to stop.

    Discuss with your SIL.U said she suggested you to work so maybe she is open minded and will understand what you want and help to mould her mother thought.

    Discuss with MIL along with your husband about all the issues you have with her. In case if she is not understanding then you have to take strong step. By that I mean do a house strike. Stop all work and reply back until unless situation is not solved.

    Your MIL and your husband are not going to understand what you are going through until you make them realise this.


  11. Frankly, I find it hard to be too sympathetic to your situation. You have actively invited abuse and are now complaining that you are being abused. Not only that, you actually conceived a poor child to satisfy the ego issues of you three very selfish people. How dare you people bring in a child into this mess and claim it was to make things better?!!!! At every single step, you and your husband have exhibited irresponsibility. You had a child because you understood her situation!!! You have no right to bring in a poor child to solve your petty problems! You both also shifted to a small town without job prospects, which is extremely irresponsible behaviour.

    You quit your job immediately after your FIL expired so that you could stay with your MIL. Why? She had a son who could have done that, didn’t she? You ought to have specified that taking care of his mother under the circumstances was his job. You let your husband bring your mother in law into a subject that is solely your choice – whether or not to start working again. You allowed your mother in law to come to your bed!!!!!! Without a single protest! Right from the beginning, you have been begging for abuse by this behaviour.

    You cut off communication channels so that you can suffer like some goddamned martyr. Your husband isn’t god. He is not going to know what is happening if you don’t tell him. So yes, it was very foolish. Marriages don’t work because one party manages to deal and endure abuse. What nonsense!

    Your MIL seems like she has some mental issues and needs therapy. You, on the other hand, really need to gain some perspective, distance yourself from this woman and work on yourself.

    ” I never neglected my duties even when I was working. I used to make chapattis, pack three tiffins (hubby’s, son’s and mine), make breakfast, get my son ready for school, prepare dinner…” WHAT IS YOUR HUSBAND DOING IN THIS MARRIAGE? Other than allowing his mother into the marital bed?!

    Stop comparing yourself with your SIL. She does not live with you. You are not your MILs daughter, she is! Just stop! Forget her, she is not relevant to your problem. If you drag her in, you’ll just get even more hopelessly embroiled in this nonsense.

    “Since we cannot live separately as my hubby is the only son …” Is she handicapped? Is she unable to walk and talk? What is her problem that she cannot live alone? She seems quite well able to manipulate situations to get the best effect for herself. She’ll survive.

    “I cannot divorce my husband, living away from her is not an option.” Why and why?

    “Hubby asks me to ignore and focus on my hobbies.” Your husband would say exactly that. You see, HE is not the one being tortured and becoming both mentally and physically depressed. He doesn’t understand. He does not care. YOU are dealing with this, not him. Put your foot down, woman.

    Liked by 9 people

    • Yes Fem and her anger is right. Because of this attitude girls parent can not depend on daughter even if they are earning. Because she will throw her job for her MIL and hubby.


    • @Fem
      Add one more point to your list
      Why cant the MIL live for some time with her daughter , when sons and daughter are equal then why discriminate


    • Yet she says she “loves” her husband. I find it extremely hard to see how you can love someone who invited his mother into his marital bed. That alone is enough for me to totally lose respect for someone.


      • @krith,
        Given our Indian social conditioning, a husband is ‘lovable’ as long as he doesnt come home drunk and beat the hell out of his wife.
        The fact that he does not have a spine does not matter.
        I am sure such husbands lend a sympathetic ear and wipe the tears of the victim (wife) which
        1.Earns him the title ‘lovable
        2.Keeps the wife from demanding that he do something about the situation.

        He wins with his wife for being sympathetic, he wins with his Mum for being Obedient.


        • Completely agree, Aarti. I’m constantly disappointed at how low our standards for husbands are.


  12. I haven’t read the whole letter but a few lines in is good enough for me . I have only one question – is this what you want to set an example to your child ? Putting up with bullying tactics ? Is this the kind of household you want to bring your child up in . I know a woman who told her MIL she was willing to live under the same roof as long as her MIL (and she) stayed within their boundaries or she would just rent another place and her son would be given “permission” to visit her . Not perfect but there was not a whimper heard after that .


  13. There are few things where i want you to introspect. For how long you can continue living like this – today you have options to do a lot, but in few years those options will be reduced. you need to do some serious thinking. In case you want to work- go find work.
    At house – You and your husband need to have clear discussion and communication. Someone needs to put foot down in front of your MIL. Whatever i read i guess that would have to be you – since you are the most affected person. Your confidence, life, child, happiness everything is at stake. see if any of the following options work
    – get a maid – let the money be an expense for your independence.
    – be succinct in your communication with your MIL about what you want to do and what not
    – Do not be defensive
    – Do not judge her or anybody else – because there is no point being personal about it, you need to invest in positive thoughts
    – tell your husband to help in household work, taking care of child. He loves you – you love him, alright but what is his role?
    – if possible have separate arrangement in same house for your MIL. may be separate floor… have basics taken care of, this will give you some space if there is no option of moving out.
    – Do not expect her to be pleased – i think by now you have realized that you cant change her. But you can change yourself.
    – Your child now is old enough to be taken in play school/ OR be engaged in any hobby.
    – you can work fulltime or may be for few hours depending on your work situation. Atleast this will ensure that you are building your skills, being independent.
    – meet new people, make new friends. i understand house is important but dont make your MIL centre of your life. Try and move forward, you cant change whatever has happened in past
    – dont feel guilty… Guilt trap is what we create for ourselves because we are competing with so many other females who are able to manage things better than us. Trust me its not work losing your life over this competition
    – Take frequent vacations – have your SIL take care of MIL for few days – in this period. This will give you some space.
    – Do not seek her approval in all of the above!!


  14. I can relate to this although the abuse never got so pronounced as in your case. The villain for me is my father in law and you can read my atory here as “But my in laws do not hate me…”

    Anyway I am giving out some rules that worked for me:
    1. US anti terrorism policy – Never negotiate with a terrorist.
    Things got this bad for you because you continued compromising from the very first time she laid out unreasonable expectations. She knows now that she can get away with abusing you.
    Anyway it is not over. Bluntly refuse anything unreasonable she asks. Do not even try to be diplomatic. If it is terrorism she does, you should not show mercy.

    2. Find a therapist- Go for counseling to soothe your self esteem which has clearly gone down. Get yourself ready for the haul.

    3. Find an ally- I am sure your husband too is pissed with his mom,especially for ruining your privacy. Talk to him and enlist him on your side. To do this, initially you should raise only those incidents which affecred him and when he is on your side, explain the damage done to you.

    3.Become independent- Get a job… Any job. Change career if necessary. Any earnibg is better than no earning. You did not become a housewife because you wanted to be- you simply adjusted. You clearly have ambitions for a career.

    Put your kid in daycare. Go to work. Get a maid.

    4. Rise above the enemy- You know that your mother in law is abnormal and not emotionally mature as an adult. If you cannot fix her,stay away from her. This means not having anything to do with her which she can and will leverage against you, including looking after the house and kids. Whatever you do- never rely on her nor seek her help.

    4. Think out relocation- if she is physically sound enough to manage on her own, move to another place close by. Relocate to the city and give her the option of either coming along on your terms or staying alone.

    5. Stop expecting- we Indian women have this serious priblen of trying to.impress. Stop impressing. Start expressing.

    Lastly read all blogs here to bolster your self image and to.put these into action.


  15. Your MIL is insecure about the horoscope thing !So, instead of trying to get along with you she is becoming combative and trying to keep you under her !Her husband has died and she is on her son’s mercy !
    LW,there are many MILs in the same conditions as your mil is !
    May be you can sit down and talk to her about your expectations from her !I know its too late but if you set aside your feelings for her and maybe talk to her !
    At the same time ,clarify what you want /can do in terms daily running of the house!
    Don’t expect her to take care of your child just because your SIL’s children are being cared for her MIL !It seems to me your SIL is a actually using her money clout to use her MIL !Your children are your responsibility,… And whatever little or more your MIL does is her wish !
    Learn to say no simply without being rude !its difficult in the heat of the moment but its important for your health and to not escalate the problems !
    Her daughter is her own so obviously she is going to be biased to her,…your relationship with your MIL is only because of legal marriage certificate and of respect !
    Don’t expect her to treat you like a daughter !But yes,she needs to respect you !
    Life is unfair ,some people get good MILs ,some people abuse good MILs and then some get bullies !
    You are already on the right track of minimised communication with her !
    Since you love your husband you may want to work at this !
    You can talk to your husband about this and about his Mom ‘s behaviour…even he needs to maintain boundaries !
    You can’t make people like you !

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear LW, most of the comments have wonderful suggestions for you.

    I, however would like to caution you about something from my own experience. We had a young couple and a very orthodox( read bullying) MIL as neighbors. She did not want her DIL to work or meet her friends or basically have a life. The DIL refused to comply with these demands and continued to live her life. Her only mistake was to let her MIL live with them because she was widowed, couldn’t live alone etc. Her MIL, unable to make the DIL her doormat, planned something very sinister. Since she had access to her grandchild alone when the DIL went to work, she started filling her head with a lot of negative things about her own mother! This was so damaging to the child, specially in the most important teenage years. She hated her mother and started rebelling in some very disturbing ways. The MIL probably wanted to hurt the DIL by getting her daughter to hate her. But, knowingly or unknowingly, the innocent child’s career and life and even her emotion health have been ruined because of this. Thankfully, she is recovering with the help of a lot of therapy now.

    Seeing how your MIL has the same manipulative, bullying, sadistic etc. just like this old lady was, I think it would be better if you removed yourself and your child away from her influence. Of course, discuss your MIL’s behavior and the reasons for your decision with your husband. Move out, to a different city or a different house atleast. If your hubby wants to save your marriage as much as you do, then he’ll follow/support you. If not, then atleast you know what his priorities are and you can be happy knowing that your child’s welfare is in safe hands. Your MIL can stay alone (you both can provide financial help), or at her daughter’s place or a nice old age home. Limit your contact to occasional visits and only supervised visits with your child.

    Whatever you decide, I hope it gives you happiness. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You have a bully for a MIl and a wimp for a husband. No one int hat house will help you ,atleats not that i see.
    You may love your husband but you’re probably not at the top of his list, thats ok. get your act together and be happy, get a job and for once stand up to the bully.
    I dont know the relationship you share with your husband. from this end it looks lik eyou give and he takes. that never ever works the giver gets burnt out after a while leaving the taken bewildered as to what went wrong.
    Quit trying to like to the social conditioning you have been raised it and quit being a bad example to your child. if it’s a girl she’s going to grow thinking this is how women should live an dif it’s a boy he’s going to be treating his spouse like you are treated. please dont raise them that way, we have enought of those floating around.


  18. I would add one question to this LW and others ; “why is it so important for you, to do what is expected of you ?”

    The World won’t stop turning if you start doing what YOU want. You will only get freer and happier. It’s scary in the beginning, but it’s well worth the effort. 😉


  19. Dear LW,

    Even if you set up the boundries for her now, it wont last much. My mother is in the same situation with my bully grandmother. My grandmother is 85 years old, but her bully, passing remarks or taunts still haven’t stopped. She feeds on negativity just like your MIL. Some people live their life on bad-mouthing and criticising others because thats what give them most pleasure. MIL’s who have been a bully all their life, never change. You have no option but to move out for couple of years to seek a good career, stable household and to gain your confidence back. She wont every change because she had lived good 60 years of her life like this. And trust me, she is really enjoying seeing you depressed or in pain. You both should move out, find a good job, keep a maid, and send her some money every month so that she can hire a maid or pay necessary bills. I know its difficult to take a stand after all this, but if you want to give healthy atmosphere to your son, please move out. Think about your son who is young, if you are in unhealthy state of mind all the time, you are passing same unknowningly to your son. Please take a decision soon or continue to live in hell.


  20. Dear LW,

    Even if you set up the boundries for her now, it wont last much. My mother is in the same situation with my bully grandmother. My grandmother is 85 years old, but her bully, passing remarks or taunts still haven’t stopped. She feeds on negativity just like your MIL. Some people live their life on bad-mouthing and criticising others because thats what give them the most pleasure. MIL’s who have been a bully all their life, never change. You have no option but to move out for couple of years to seek a good career, stable household and to gain your confidence back.
    Think of your son, if you are in unhealthy state of mind all the time, you are passing same to your son, knowingly or unknowingly.You can send some money to your MIL so that she can pay her necessary bills. But if you dont take a stand now, you are jeopardising your’s son mental health because I am sure this is not something you would want for your son.
    Please take a stand and put an end to her bull-shit


  21. I watched my mom do this to my brother’s wife.
    No amount of reasoning, therapy or threats would stop my mom’s awful behavior.
    Eventually my brother & his wife cut off all communication with my mom.
    I have now watched my older sister do this to her son’s wife.
    No amount of reasoning, therapy or threats would stop my older sister’s awful behavior.
    Eventually my older sister’s son & his wife divorced despite having 2 children together.
    My older sister was happy going around telling everyone “I told you so!”
    I refuse to talk to my sister anymore, my older brother also refuses to speak to her.
    My brother & I really don’t what else to do.
    How do you deal with someone so selfish & destructive beyond reason?


  22. LW, the first time you should’ve said “no”: Mil refused to shift with us. I had to quit my job immediately to be with her as she couldn’t stay alone.

    The 2nd “no” should have come when: “She never allowed to us to go out alone.” (I’m baffled by the word “allow”. An adult needs to be “allowed” to go out?)

    The 3rd “no” should have come when: “she would come to our room to sleep” (nothing to explain here)

    The 4th “no” should have come when: “She demanded a child soon” (It’s irresponsible to bring a child into the world upon “demand” to solve someone’s boredom problem.)

    But despite all the bullying, you turn a new leaf: “I got a job and started working. We kept a full time maid for all the work. Things improved. Although, she never allowed us alone time but at least she stopped treating me like a maid. Time passed and I got promoted.”

    The 5th “no” should have come when: “Now she asked the maid to leave to cut down expenses.” (SHE makes a decision that has consequences for YOU.)

    After this, everything you say about your s-i-l has really no bearing on your problem. Forget your s-i-l and focus on your own problem. Don’t agonize over why your m-i-l is behaving this way. She is just being a bully and you are rewarding her every step of the way. Stop rewarding her. Put your foot down. If something is wrong, say it. Don’t seek permission to live (going out by yourself or with husband, sleeping privacy). Don’t let her make decisions that impact your life (firing the maid, quitting your job). Go back and find a job. Stick with it. Make it work. Hire a maid. Keep the maid. Take charge of your life.

    It’s all about saying “no”. It’s such a simple word but it’s so powerful. Learn to say it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dear LW

    The whole focus of your life needs to shift to your personal happiness.There is nothing to be gained in hoping your MIL will change or repent.As far as your MIL is concerned,she has no incentive or need to change. It’s a pointless exercise to waste time in trying to change her.No point in wasting time focusing your energies on your SIL either.Sometimes people are just bad and are unlikely to change.

    Right from the beginning you’ve played martyr and allowed your abuser(MIL) to gain the upper hand.While you have a supportive husband(to some extent) you have to be the person who has to work at regaining control over your life.

    You definitely need to move out from this household to regain your sense of self and overcome the effects of the toxic atmosphere you’re in.Remember that you are important. Discuss this with your husband. By not sharing your concerns initially you’ve not given your partner a sense of your feelings.

    There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself now.Just regain your confidence and focus on your health,happiness and your relationship with your husband.

    Courage my friend.It’s painful but you can build it bit by bit.



  24. LW,
    Lets consider employing Logic now, shall we?
    Just plain simple logic.
    You started out by making sacrifices to make everyone around you happy.
    Result – you are miserable.
    So, what should you do now?
    Start by doing the opposite.Stop making sacrifices.Stop doing things to make everyone aeound you happy.
    You will start feeling better.
    Next step – strt doing things you consider fun, which will make you happy.Job for example.Or to quote your husband, ‘focus on hobbies’.
    You will become happy.


  25. Pingback: Visions of domestic bliss | Simbly Bored

  26. My friend and I got married at about the same time i.e. almost 3 yrs ago. She was quite clear about what kind of ‘bahu’ she wanted to be. She is as educated as I am, working in an MC and financially independent, not to mention from a wealthy family and super pampered, yet very accommodating. In fact it was my mom who always asked her to bestow her ‘accommodating’ nature to me, as I have always been the obstinate one. She always said she wanted her in-laws to be ‘happy’ with her. From day 1, she did whatever she was told, most of the time at the expense of her happiness. Her hubby is the only son and she has two SIL’s. Her MIL is a witch of a woman who obviously has very flexible views with regard to things when it comes to her DIL and daughter. Since three years my friend is just struggling to have a normal, happy life. She continues to ADJUST and cries and pours her heart out when she talks to me. For many months I sympathized with her and tried to give her strength to stand up for herself. I would give her my example how I have been polite but firm with my in-laws. I have not let anybody walk all over me. Obviously I have had and having ups and downs in marital life, like everybody else, but most of the issues have been related to personal clashes between hubby and me. My in-laws now know their boundaries and never step over it, which they did try initially. Anyway, whatever I would tell my friend to do, she would say yes to it in front of me but would go back to square one once she was on her own. In these 3 years, things got so bad for her that she, in her full 7 months of pregnancy, kept on working like an ass to take care of her sick MIL, while her SILs, who are housewives, didn’t come over to take care of their own mom. My friend was given rest only when the doctor told her hubby that she is being overexerted and her placenta might break. Even then, her SIL’s didn’t want to come and her ‘sick’ MIL got angry at her son and said, “hum usse patthar tudva rahe hain kya, aisa kya kaam kar rahi hai”. She was stunned, hurt, broken. I was soooooo angry when I came to know this. Actually speaking, I was angrier on her than her in laws. I knew she had brought it upon herself. Whenever I would give her advice to stand up for herself, she would say, “what will the world say about me, what kind of DIL am I who doesn’t care about her in laws”. And then I knew, this was the root cause of most women even in this century. ‘Duniya kya kahegi’. Screw the duniya man!!! Please, oh please, ladies, give away this sense of pleasing the world. . Yes darling, the bullying never stops, it just increases with time. With in-laws, there is no limit to ADJUSTING. You are a mature woman, old enough to differentiate b/w wrong and right. You do not need to fight to put your foot down. Simply state your non-negotiable items, stick to it, do not feel guilty and be firm in telling the world, including your hubby. If he understands and supports you, great! If he doesn’t, I am sorry to say, but the man is not worth fighting for. If you don’t want to be treated like a doormat, you have to stop being one. Period.


    • “Adjusting” to everything is wrong, except if you are a saint. But if your friend is a “people pleaser” it is going to be very hard to learn to say “no”. The worst bully in people pleasers’ heads, is themselves. It takes time to learn to say no, and I hope your friend and the LW learn to say “no” before something bad happens to them like burnt out.


  27. Thanks IHM and everyone in the thread for your valuable suggestions and taking up the concern. I am the LW in the above issue. You are right I was fighting a hopeless battle. In trying to be good and pleasing to all, I lost myself. I literally had a burnt out before bursting into a full blown rebellion. But the moment I asserted myself and said no to all the bullying and irrational demands, I found my confidence and courage.

    And from all this struggle and experience I have finally realised the abuser derives power from our weakness. People bully us because we let them. Dils are not second rate citizens so why this second rate treatment. Mils and dils are both equal adults. Problem arises when Mils start considering themselves superior or higher in heirarchy to dils and take undue advantage of their false positions.

    They bully and boss around because we feel inferior and subjugated to them in family hierarchy. And yes, if we cannot play the dirty game, it is better to be mean. I have finally cut off all communication from my mil. Though we live in the same house but there are now clear cut boundaries. I wished I had set these boundaries earlier. I am now considered as the ‘mean modern dil’ but the tag doesn’t bother me anymore.

    I rather regard it as medal of my struggle. Now there is clear cut division of labor among us all. Best part is the change in my husband. He is no more the typical traditional husband as he once was. I have started something of my own and untill my endeavor starts making money, my husband deposits atleast half the amount I was earning through my job into my account as my salary.

    I work from home and take care of both my domestic responsibilities and career. My husband has also started helping me in household chores and we no longer depend on mil for any help. The transition was not easy. Despite the outburst and boundaries, I sometimes used to fall into my old habit of pleasing people by taking entire responsibility and catering to her whims.

    But with repeated disappointments, I gradually learnt to become ‘mean’ and say no. I am still new to this. So although, I am enjoying this new sense of freedom and confidence, I am still unsure how it will go in future. I just hope I become stronger with time and don’t fall back into my old pleasing attitude again.

    Thanks everyone for your time and suggestions once again.


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