Simple methods, recommended to anybody else, coping with any other kind of abuse, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law. Forbidden by whom?

While I agree with everything in the video shared below, I hesitated in sharing it because the discussion leaves out the one person without whom such abuse would not ever be possible.

I believe Indian women would not have to deal with most of the in laws issues if they were permitted (or just left alone) – mainly by their spouse, to cope with them in their own ways.

Some of the methods (simple, common sense) that are recommended to anybody and everybody else coping with any other kind of abusive relationships (or healthy relationships), are forbidden to Indian daughters in law – by whom? Mainly by their husbands.

Most women who do not face abuse by in laws are those where the husbands do not demand that they get along, impress, compromise, display ‘respect’ or obey their parents/extended families. (Such men risk being labelled Joru Ka Gulaam) The parents and extended families realise that abuse would not be silently supported by the JKG. [link]

That’s all it really takes. Letting adults deal with each other as equals.

What kind of coping methods are forbidden to Indian daughters in law?

What would you do to anybody else who attempts to control, bully, harass, demean or humiliate you? Avoid them, at the least? Ignore them? Create a distance? Have nothing to do with them?

Some of us might choose to tell them why we find the abuse offensive? This might require asking questions and giving opinions?

But most women – married Indian women, are denied even validation.

Not only must they not complain or question, they must actually attempt to ‘win over the heart’ of someone who is being manipulative or blatantly abusive. And who empowers these abusers? Who has the most power to end such abuse? What would Indian daughters in law do if they were not restricted by someone they believe loves them – the only person they are actually married to? (no matter what he claims)

What if these Indian Shravan Kumars were not given the option of enforcing obedience and displays of ‘respect’ on their spouse?

Or if Indian women did not view Getting Married and Staying Married as the only goal in their lives? If a successful divorce was seen as a new beginning. If staying single was acknowledged as an option.

It would, eventually create a fairer society where everybody who wishes to get  along with anybody would have the option of being decent to them.  There would be no entitlement to enforced displays of respect.

So basically there would be no Saas Bahu issues if there were more Joru Ke Gulaam who married their wives, and not their parents’ daughters in law.

Video shared by Sangitha and Mansi.

Related Posts:

So who is eating the the gajar ka halwa that the daughter in laws are was not permitted to eat? 

An email from an anonymous Confused Wife.

To an Anonymous Daughter in law.

No jeans for an Indian Daughter in law.

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

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

“I have to seek permission for visiting parents. My phone bill has to be reasonable. My expenses nominal. And my desires non-existent.”

“When wives become too possesive of her husbands and do not want the affection to be shared with their near and dear…”

Of girly men who fail to convert irresponsible women from liabilities to assets.

Skewed sex ratio is not caused by sex selective abortions.

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

Shravan Kumar takes his wife to London to bring back her smile…

From the modern, Indian woman to Shravan Kumar.

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

The JKG: Joru Ka Gulaam

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

You’re going to be with your in-laws for only a few days in a year so why can’t you live the way they want and keep every one happy?

‘Last month, my sister’s husband picked a fight with her as he felt she was not doing enough for his parents.’

“I have no other option than to move in with my very orthodox in laws. I need tips to not get hurt.”

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’

“Leaving US is a tough decision and, going back to live with in-laws has scared and shaken me.”

No Gajar Ka Halwa for an Indian Daughter in law?

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’

Because of my initial submissiveness, my husband and his family volunteer to take care of my chores, to let me resume my career.

‘I am not really sure why is it the duty of a new bride to adjust no matter what you feel?’

An email: ‘He made it clear to them he will not marry me without their support. He will not leave them behind… ever.’

 

 

106 thoughts on “Simple methods, recommended to anybody else, coping with any other kind of abuse, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law. Forbidden by whom?

  1. Can not agree more. Few days back I was discussing quite similar thing with one of my friends. I told her that it depends upon the husband, how the rest of his family members (including the mother in law) will behave with his wife. If the family members get the notion that whatever their actions will be towards the daughter in law, the husband is going to keep his mouth shut then surprisingly the amount of abuse increases.
    If the husband supports his wife then the mother in law tries to manipulate her son by stating that supporting the wife makes him look like a joru ka gulam. The other relatives only add fuel to this theory. It’s a complex manipulative theory in which the mother in law thinks her son is being stolen by her daughter in law). The son thinks the unusual amd immoral theory of his mom as excessive love towards him and the daughter in law feels upset about the whole process.

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    • My question to such MILs is: “Why get your son married to an educated woman”?

      My context, of course, is the average Indian middle-class family. I am excluding the other social classes because most of us have a middle-class background.

      It’s an impossible situation for middle-class women.

      Most men these days want educated, employed wives. Yet the old expectations persist.

      As Ms Venugopal observes insightfully, the bride of the 70s and 80s submitted herself willingly to such constraints because women did not expect any better.

      Sometimes, I think that the only solution is for middle-class women is to stay as physically away from their MILs as possible.

      That also has limited effect. I think that because disrespectful behaviour from MILs has widespread cultural sanction, it is very difficult to even prove that the behaviour is abusive.

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      • The mother in law do wants her son to get married to an educated girl but in spite of that also wishes that the DIL will always abide by the rules set up by the MIL. What an irony! She will inconsistently critisize the DIL in every possible ways and make it look like to her son that she is trying to help the DIL as she loves her so much.
        When the reality is completely the opposite. Most of the time the husband will not understand that so it is useless to argue with them regarding this.
        So the DIL bears the burnt of abuse disguised in a form of *love.*
        This type of equation between MIL and DIL have been circulating from ages. The problem with this generation is that we want to break that chain. But that is a rigorous process and it leaves us breathless.

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        • Have you heard of such comments from any of the family circle or relatives, that ‘how much ever the girl is educated, she should be modest in front of elders(read in-laws family)’. They want the girl to earn, but she should not ‘think’! Wish boys are also taught the virtue of modesty and humbleness how much ever they are educated and earning….after all those are virtues and can be inculcated into any human’s personality….! Why ONLY girls’?

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      • “Why get your son married to an educated woman”?

        That is fashion, an illiterate bahu (DIL) is such a blot on family honor. Convent educated young, fair, slim woman with professional degree is preferred and expected she’ll not hold a professional position. My Pakistani friends tell me how a doctor bahu who is not working is a status symbol Begums (rich MILs) demand. So many of our Pakistani friends are sitting at home just because family honor will be slighted. When rich do so middle class just follows the suit to keep up with the Jones.
        Peace,
        DG

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        • Its same in Indian Muslims too especially the well to do ones !In my community business wala guy are usually 12th pass, or graduates ,..the girls are studying more but then when it comes to marriage most have to do with 12th pass ! I know 2 doctors sitting at home !
          So now ‘smart’ old aunties and uncles are saying : ab zyada padhao hee mat ,ladki ki demand bad jaati when it comes to men for marriage !
          Now, its new trend in our society : don’t get too educated girl for boy so PhDs,mbas are on wait lists if they don’t compromise with guys’education !

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        • Cosettez, I can’t seem to reply to your post. BUT, I couldn’t agree more!!! Not only is it that if the girl is too educated, she will think, the problem also lies in that Indian men (the ones I’ve met through my parents, at least) have an ego issue. If a woman is pursuing a professional degree that is higher than theirs, it becomes an internal conflict for some reason. This feeds back into the a professional woman not getting married, by choice or otherwise, which further feeds back into the older generation telling women not to study too much because then they (the women) become too demanding! In other words, women, regardless of their degrees or thinking power, should be “compromising” and “adjusting”, and happy that they are getting married….because, you know, that is the all end all of life!

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        • Whitedaisy,
          Dumb people equate a woman’s assertiveness with education because less educated ones are more docile according to ‘smart’ oldies !
          What they fail to understand that every women has a different nature,temperament,etc ! I have seen less educated women who are fearless,can fight and give as good as it gets ! They instinctively know how to fight back !
          And there is a breed of padhi likhi women who is actually ‘passive’ because she can’t even fight or attempt to fight for what she wants !
          I was one such person ,…crushed under good manners ,….I couldn’t recognise manipulation, and games people used to play,very trusting and loyal !
          Now I recognise nobody cares about my wellbeing but me !
          Now I fight back,don’t take any nonsense from anyone,wary of so called well wishers ! Now I am called selfish !🙂

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        • Cosettez, I am in the same boat as you. Almost at the end of my third degree, have the greatest amount of education (in terms of degrees, not necessarily knowledge) compared to anyone in my family (immediate or extended), yet it was only last year that I started to actively question the reasons for me “haanjis” and “oks” to any degree of compromise asked off me. A lot of it comes back to my brainwashed self wanting to please and be a “good” or “nice” daughter. And now that I ask, I get told that I “talk back”, or have become “too westernized”, “forgot my roots”, “lost my sanskaars” that my parents worked so hard to instill in me. I thought the “sanskaars” were to be a good, trustworthy, non-judgemental, fair human being, but I think some of these “sanskaars” are for women to be docile and agreeing to everything laid in their paths. Don’t think I want those anymore!

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  2. I was one of ‘Yes mummyji’ bahus mentioned in the video who wanted to appease her, hoping that she will eventually loosen up and perhaps adapt to certain new ways of doing routine things and modern day attitudes. But as I understood myself and her better over the years, I knew I couldnt keep it up for the next 2 decades of my life. My husband and I recently ‘created distance’ to get some semblance of independence and control over our own marital lives. And things have gotten worse with my MIL, but as the speaker says I too am hoping that it gets worse before it gets better🙂
    The first thing that most MILs tells her DILs is ‘ab tum humari beti ho’ thanks to the bollywood influence. But neither can the ‘beti’ treat her as the ‘maa’ nor does the ‘maa’ treat her like a ‘beti’ since her heart is already overfull with her love for her ‘beta’. The ‘beta’ who showers attention and adores the new ‘beti’, thereby denting the ‘maa’ time and attention.
    Its really futile to invest in building a parent-daughter like relation with ILs. Instead I think both should focus to create a sense of mutual respect.The MIL/DIL relationship suffers from a perennial lack of trust and respect. Its difficult to respect the other during emotional manipulation, but the least one can do is ignore the slights and sounds, to avoid bitter resentment. Love may never happen. But if we can achieve mutual respect, we can sail thru life pretty Ok I hope!

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    • Wish the girl’s Pa and ma, would atleast act as if the husband is a threat to their bonding and the husband is scheming to separate them….think it in ‘indian movie style’ and how it can make the pati go crazy…though hilarious, it will have a ‘sad’ ending as now the enraged pati throws one suitcase (which contains the entire belongings of the wife) outside the house and pours out the dialogue – ‘if it is your parents that you want, why stay with me, and go back to your place…’. Shuts the door. The poor woman drapes the wet sari (it is raining outside….increase the pathos with a slow violin tune) and walks in the dark alley dimly lit by the street lights…..’lo, the fate of women, who loves her parents than her husband’. Curtain falls wipe tears and do seva to your husbands and in-laws….
      Even if 1000 odd directors churn out 1000 movies showing empowerment of women, the above storyline will take ages to get flushed out of our memories!!! grrrrrrrrr.

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      • On one hand they show so called progressive serials and movies, and then get thier revenue from ads that show the perfect bahu or cosmetics that make you slim and fair so that you can find the man of your dreams! Media and thier contradictions I tell u!😐 Yes, sadly, it will take years to wipe it out from collective memories!

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    • DG understood very early MIL was only trying to be difficult and has decided not to be ever happy. But she did not have the support to call off her bluff as that God forsaken now ex did not want to be labeled JKG.
      All week DG asked her what to cook for lunch and she would say, cook any thing and after asking ten times she’ll may give the menu or else DG would cook few things that were in the refrigerator and one fateful day DG went ahead and cooked that hurt Mommyji’s feelings so much there was a flood of tears that would drown the whole town.
      FIL said, you just have one job to keep mommyji happy can’t you even do that? In her head DG was thinking, great you could not make her happy in 28 years and you want me to take your burden here on.

      The DIL is Daughter is an eyewash here is why https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/desi-parenting-daughter-vs-dil/

      Raising a shravan kumar recipe
      https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/desi-parenting-raising-devoted-sons/
      https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/desi-mothers-in-law/

      Peace,
      DG

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  3. A lot of men seem to believe that standing up for their wives indicates that they do not love their parents. This seems to be a really issue especially in mother-son relationships.
    Quite frankly, every single time I hear of a woman manipulating her son into putting her needs above his wife’s in every single issue (or a man playing into this twisted trap),some part of my mind is screaming “oedipal complex!!!”

    Any normal healthy parent would understand that the relationship between a mother and an adult child is completely different from the one between an adult and his/her spouse.
    You simply cannot compare the two and reduce it to an absurdities like “Who do you love more -your wife or your mother?”While I am sure that there are instances of this kind of ridiculous thinking all over the world we in India take it to new levels by glorifying this unhealthy, poisonous (and dare I say, somewhat emotionally incestuous?) manipulation as the “the true love between mother and son which is above all relationships”

    This is a link to the video of a popular talkshow in Tamil Nadu which explores opposing views on common topics.

    The topic here is Nice mother-in-laws vs. Mean mother-in-laws.(yes, its wierd,believe me it gets wierder)
    The nice MILS basically say that they prefer to handle disagreements with their DILS in an amicable fashion and stay friends while the mean MILS assume a more conventional dictatorial approach .

    Perhaps someone with a better understanding of tamil can help paraphrase some of the points.

    A lot of the discussion focuses on issues like “What to do if the daughter in law doesnt fold the bedsheets /make the food/set the table according to the way the MIL wants it” . (which I believe highlights IHM’s previous posts on older people needing a hobby,because really,if you’re nitpicking to this extent about methods of housekeeping,you have waay too much time on your hands)

    Another problem seems to be “How to deal with DIL who doesnt come back from work on time to cook for husband/ wakes up late on holidays while husband is hungry”
    (While the nice mother in laws say that in such cases they are okay with occasionally preparing meals for their son themselves NO ONE is talking about what the lazy ass huband is doing and why he cant freaking make himself a cup of coffee considering that his wife works for a living as well) .

    But the most cringe worthy part comes at the end when the anchor asks the women if they feel bad that they are now playing second fiddle to their daughter in laws. A number of them responded with YES and then went on to detail ways that they tried to assert their claim over their sons – ranging from sabotaging recipies to stealing credit for laying out medicines.

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    • The first comment itself was so cringeworthy! Apparently they want their sons to be married because they want someone to bully😐 Just yuck!

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    • I watched this show too and I was really disgusted by the way importance is given to the mother-in-laws. These mothers behave this way becoz the sons allow it to happen. They refuse to accept that they shd be adults and put their wives and their marriages first. The sons should stand up for their wives and make sure the whole family knows that if the wife is disrespected or treated shabbily they would face the consequence of desertion or abandonment. Also all these old women really need to get a life of their own and let adult children lead their lives in peace.

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    • I think a large part of the incestuous mother-son relationship is because the husband-wife relationship of previous generations wasn’t built not on companionship and closeness.

      My parents have a fairly healthy marriage, but I’ve never seen them discuss their feelings and emotions with each other.

      My mother spends hours discussing her feelings with her friends and sisters, but never with my father.

      Most marriages of the previous generation weren’t based on friendship and comfortable companionship.

      Wives and husbands played distinct roles, but emotional intimacy wasn’t high on the list.

      It never occurs to my mother to discuss her feelings with my father. He would probably not understand even if she tried.

      I can’t articulate this well, but I think that Indian mothers seek from their sons, the emotional intimacy and validation that they should ideally have received from their husbands.

      Indian sons are expected to be emotionally closer to their mothers, not their wives.

      An Indian man can proudly declare that he loves his mother and everyone would beam approvingly.

      Imagine everyone’s reaction if an Indian husband were to publicly declare that his wife is the love of his life. Accusations of being a JKG.

      There is another unhealthy dynamic in Indian families that I cannot articulate well.

      It’s that at any given time, the emotional well-being of the male members takes priority over the well-being of the female members.

      I have known many women, MILs and DILs who have struggled with this relationship, yet the male members, the son and the father have only had derisory contempt for their troubles.

      When an Indian man is facing emotional distress, SOME woman, either a mother, sister, wife or daughter will provide him emotional support.

      Usually, men turn to women for emotional support.

      The reverse rarely happens, especially in traditional families. Very rarely have I seen women turning to men for emotional succour in traditional Indian families. They turn to other women.

      The only exception to this unwritten rule is the emotional closeness that a mother demands from her son.

      The son becomes a stand-in for all the emotionally non nurturing men in her life. The husband, the father and often the older brother.

      It’s only in a mother-son relationship, that a woman’s dominance is unquestioned. The woman controls the relationship, unlike any other man-woman relationship in our society.

      Unquestioned power and adoration is a tough habit to break, I suppose.

      Underneath the fabled “stability” of the Indian family, is a bed-rock of dysfunctional emotional bonding

      Liked by 4 people

      • Your observation is quite right, it is called parentification where one parents tries to fill in his/her emotional needs from child(ren), it is emotional incest.
        Deprives the child of childhood and prevents them from building any meaningful relationship with partners. Their whole existence revolves on parent pleasing, seeking approval and other time feeling guilty. They have a secret disgust against this parent but cannot articulate it as proximity and constant demands on time and emotions do not leave anytime to analyze.
        The only way is some quite time by themselves that is rare to come by as adult offspring has to make sure he/she reports to the parent regularly besides attending to his her job, chores etc.
        https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/desi-parenting-raising-devoted-sons/
        https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/desi-mothers-in-law/
        Peace,
        DG

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      • It would be useful if women found men who also shared their demand of the primacy of their mutual emotional intimacy, above all else.

        Rather than assume such a coincidence of such a desire in a man, just because he is trying to get married.

        Thrashing this out up front may repel mutual incompatibles away, and would likely decrease the probability of painful situations later.

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      • Very well captured Neha. So, how to deal with this, given that the odds are stacked against a healthy spousal relationship? How to avoid getting caught in this Oedipus complex scenario? Perhaps, when a woman considers marrying an Indian man (be it choice or arranged marriage), carefully evaluate how independent he is in his own life ….? Did he make some choices of his own? Did he move out and establish himself as an adult? Has he formed some opinions on his own or are they all borrowed from parents and tradition and culture? Has he seen and experienced the world? How does he deal with conflict? Does he face it head on or avoid it? Are there some notions and people he never ever questions or crosses or does he approach things with an open mind? Is there mutual respect between him and his parents? Is he allowed to disagree on views or choices? Maybe difficult to establish everything in an arranged setting but just thinking aloud here …..

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        • Thank you Words.

          I am afraid that I do not have any workable solutions.

          Many people ignore the elephant in the room.

          Nobody asks themselves: “Why do so many women become bitter and controlling enough to actively sabotage their son’s marriage? ”

          After all, most people are not inherently evil or psychpathic.

          If I analyse my own MILS, ex and current, I can clearly see that they were themselves victims of a very cruel and unfair system.

          Often, Indian women are repressed, controlled and devalued from the moment of their birth.

          All the man-woman relationships that an Indian woman is in has her in a subservient role; except as a mother/grandmother.

          If you have been controlled, marginalised, exploited all your adult life, what do you do the moment you are given power over someone else?

          Do you break the cycle or do you control and exploit others just as you yourself were?

          Indian men are raised with healthy doses of guilt and obligation.

          Their primary purpose in life, they are told again and again, is to be a good son, repay the parental debt.

          Very few men have the emotional strength to stand up to years of emotional manipulation.

          They can’t rebel even if they see the manipulation, so strong is the cultural imperative of being good sons.

          The only way we can break the cycle is by ensuring that women are not fed a diet of denial, deprivation and enforced sacrifice.

          We have to view the parenting of sons in a radically different way.

          Sons are held hostage by parental expectations because parenting is all about sacrifice and self-deprivation.

          Indians have a very selfish parenting philosophy. “I gave birth to you, so you are beholden to me for the rest of your life”.

          Such a philosophy is unhealthy on multiple levels. Parenthood is not about making investments for later benefits.

          Ultimately, the cycle will only break when women in our society are valued as individuals. Right now, Indian women are only valued as “the mother of sons”.

          A son is a ticket to power and dominance over the family. That needs to change.

          Liked by 2 people

      • “Underneath the fabled “stability” of the Indian family, is a bed-rock of dysfunctional emotional bonding”

        Brilliantly phrased.
        Ever since I was 8 yrs old, every time I witnessed this sort of interaction between my own family members or other people’s families and heard them brand it as “tradition” or “indian-ness”, I felt a strange discomfort and repulsion bordering on disgust. I was never able to pin point what exactly was wrong with it. My predominantly feeling-over-thinking /inarticulate/right-brained assessment simply boiled down to “this is not what real love is like.”

        Your point about how men turn to women for emotional support but offer none in return is so true. It kind of turns that whole “oh men dont need emotional support unlike weak pathetic women” statement on its head – the truth is that our society and familial structure offers men enormous support and simultaneously silences the source of that support-women.

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    • My Shravan Kumar ex-husband would let his dear darling mother to share my bed even if I absolutely hated it (He would sleep in the couch and give up his space for his mother). She was very happy to disrupt her son’s family life. He offered the same to my mother when she was visiting us. But my mother answered him back by saying, sorry you have only been married for 6 months I don’t want to come in between the happiness of the couple. Why does the son’s mother not care the same way as the daughter’s mother in an Indian household?

      My same mother would give up a better room for her son-in-law and daughter-in-law making sure the couple stay happy. My struggle in my married life was to deal with a new family which was way backward in thinking than my parents nevertheless I quit

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      • So true!!!!!!!!!!
        My ex-bf did the same and imagine with his father. I had gone to visit them for the first time and his sister came down with her family. Apparently, his sister could not manage her own two kids and needed my ex’s mother’s help, so conveniently this old man came and slept in our room and my ex-bf did not even say anything, neither did he ask me if I was feeling uncomfortable with the arrangement.
        I was horrified, disgusted and god knows what else…That was the end of our relationship too…
        I just don’t get it till date as to how can such things be tolerated. When I told my married friend the reason I broke up, she told that it is common and that her MIL always slept with them whenever she visited them…My friend thinks it’s alright.And this girl is an Engineer with MBA working in an MNC earning a 6 figure…So I would not like to blame only the husband in this case.
        Earlier girls were married off without even attaining puberty so obviously they did not have a brain of their own, but it really bothers me when educated working girls put up with such behaviour…What use is that education for if they can’t put an end to such things…And why blame the husband or boy for this, because by blaming him I feel that girls are simply not willing to take ownership. If somebody ill treats me it’s my duty to stop it, and take action rather than looking to someone else and by expecting the husband or boy to help girls are indirectly conveying the message that “I am dependent on you, please save me from your mother” to the men…
        Obviously, the husband will not interfere because he knows that apart from shedding a few tears there is nothing this girl is going to do and moreover all he needs to do is just hug her and say some soothing words and lo behold all is fine and his needs are met…
        And it’s not about arranged or love marriages as my friend in the above case had a love marriage after dating for 7 years…And we have countless women who write to IHM describing their “love marriages”…So ultimately it’s the so called “educated, independent woman” who has to take things into her hands and stop blaming the husband and the whole world because the truth is nobody can walk over us unless we allow them to …

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        • Yes, I agree with you completely. Same I have written in my response also

          When educated women voluntarily gives into controlling then what’s the use of education. You can not even make change in your life then how it has empowered you. When you are not ready to take stand for yourself then who will be bothered for you
          You are right in point out that husband are aware of that wife is not going to say anything then why he will spoil his relation with his natal family
          Here in all cases husband, your own family, friends all are support system and if you shift responsibility to support system always then you are voluntarily becoming dependent

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        • True that HG, I did talk to my ex-husband and showed my displeasure but he would not give a thought about my feelings, I lived with him for 4 more years after all this and I dreaded the thought of his mother visiting us again….Thankfully she never did as we moved to another country and that was where matters became more worse for me and my ex and I chose to quit and he along with his family demanded 40 lacs to sign on the divorce papers as I was asking for the divorce and he was not done torturing me enough. Thankfully my family stood by me and warned him by saying “We have no problem giving the extra money, but then again we have every right to lodge police complaints for the physical abuse you put her through” which set him right and he signed the papers without any more troubles…

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  4. I don’t understand how asking men to change is going to change women’s lives. Surely it is up to the women to bring the change they want to see in their lives and then the men will change.

    To me the only solution to domestic abuse is economic independance for women, meaning a woman can walk out any time if needed. If women don’t work then they should ask money to the husband as they are sacrificing their career to take are of the family.

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    • Victoria, economic independence for women is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for escaping abuse. Plenty of women who write in to this blog are economically independent, yet they can’t break free of abusive marriages because they’re held fast by cultural conditioning. As for men following along when women make the changes that they want, sorry, but in the Indian context that doesn’t happen. Doing that would mean giving up a whole boatload of privileges, and most traditional Indian men are not willing to do that.

      Anyway, I highly recommend Veena Venugopal’s book about MIL/DIL relationships. Be forewarned, it’s marketed as a light, funny book, but it’s actually pretty harrowing. Like all too many Indian women though, Venugopal is overly lenient and indulgent towards Indian men/husbands. Often she takes the usual line that the poor man is trapped between two women, when it’s clear that the man could stop the abuse if he grew a spine. It’s high time that Indian women developed higher expectations of their husbands.

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      • //Often she takes the usual line that the poor man is trapped between two women, when it’s clear that the man could stop the abuse if he grew a spine. It’s high time that Indian women developed higher expectations of their husbands.// Haven’t read the book, but agree with this after watching the video.

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      • Pryia, thanks for the book recommendation, I will try to find the book.

        My first MIL, although a westerner, was a professional trouble maker and emotional blackmailer. She would cry each time we left her house and after 2 days in her company I felt a total wreck. We were living in another town but she would come to stay with us very often. We fought many times because of her with my then boyfriend. It didn’t work. No normal guy will want to chose between his mother and his girlfriend/wife and it is unhealthy and unfair to ask him to do it, if you do that you are turning into an emotional blackmailer yourself.

        In the end, it came to a point where my boyfriends made sure he was out of the house when his mum was there. I realized she also annoyed him but because of loyalty he wouldn’t admit it.

        In the end, what worked was this ; I decided I would not accept certain things regarding my kids and this time, instead of fighting and demanding, I chose a quiet time and told my boyfriend what I was going to do with or without him, I asked him if he agreed. He did. We never talked about this to anyone in the family, we simply acted on our deal.

        Because I changed, the relationship with my boyfriend changed and he also changed.

        I do not believe in the kind of feminism which thinks you need to replace a power game by another. I believe society can change only when everybody matures, and as the old saying goes, the only person you can change is yourself.

        If you are a victim of cultural conditioning (aren’t we all ?), it is up to you to break free or not. To be provocative I would say it is high time Indian middle class women developed higher expectations of themselves – speaking as someone who is still struggling to break free😉

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        • Good….reminds of the movie – Monster-in-law. As you rightly said we need to stand up and no use ‘playing victims’ and drying our tears with sari or dupatta ends…..

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        • Very true Victoria!!!!!!
          My grandmother who is 74 currently did the same and taught the same to all her daughters.
          My grandmother stopped fighting or arguing, instead she would simply not do things if she did not like and once when my grandfather shouted at her she simply told him that he has to back off otherwise she is going to create a scene.She insisted that all her daughters get educated and always lived on her own terms.
          I have seen my mother do the same. My mother till date does not tolerate even if my father barely raises his voice. She just gives him one stern look and that’s it…
          Never has my father tried to take advantage of my mother as he knows that it will not be tolerated. They always talk things out and in their 28 years of marriage I have never seen them hurl abuses or insult each other.
          And none of them had love marriages. I fail to understand why women today cannot do this..
          Women today want to choose their own partners, but then end up compromising more than people in an arranged marriage. This in the name of “love”…
          I think we women should also rise up to this and not agree to everything instead of first nodding the head and later blaming the guy. Why give in in the first place and then think that things will change??

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    • I think a simultaneous change in men is necessary too.

      In cases of child abuse, along with teaching children to be more cautious,we also ask adults to be more vigilant . Or when it comes to gay rights, we have to promote a change in the mindset of heterosexuals as well.

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  5. Oh boy my MIL is a wise women floatingaround in a sea of idiots. Seriously, she is actually happy her sons are not alone, non interfearing and encourages us to be self reliant, and tells the sons off if they dont pick up the slack. independent and noninterfearing.
    and guess what she’s labelled as –
    not very loving,
    self centered,
    ‘how she can not care about her kids’
    ‘ weird’
    ‘hard hearted’ and finally ‘ they must have had a big fight, she is this way because she probably have devils for DIL’s , so she’s putting on a brave face. what a fate !!!!

    For the most part we as a society cannot even acknowledge a good human being in a healthy relationship even if it;s right in front of us.

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  6. Sometimes I feel sorry for the women of the previous generation. For centuries women have suffered abuse because they’ve been reassured that if they pay their dues some day their turn will come to reign. They will get the power promised by patriarchy some day when their son brings home a wife. Except that for the current generation of MIL’s, they most certainly suffered in their marriages but they are not rewarded with anything at the end.

    I think it’s similar to the first batch in college when ragging is banned. You suffered at the hands of your seniors but you can’t assert your authority over your juniors. But there’s a glaring flaw in this reasoning. Once you’ve already suffered, how does it help if you torment another person?

    Some women understand this instinctively and they resolve to be to their DIL’s what they never had. They also see this as a chance to escape the constraints put on them by society and change the direction of their lives. These women are able to let go of the past and embrace change. At the other end of the spectrum we have women who are resentful of change because it benefits someone else. They are not able to see how they themselves benefit.

    It’s easy for us to say that someone should “get a life” or develop hobbies. If it’s that easy why don’t they? Simple, they were never given the tools to live an independent life. They’ve been conditioned, blackmailed, brainwashed, shamed into not having a life beyond folded bedsheets and home-made pickles. Looking at the current generation it appears that few women are naturally interested in homemaking if they’re not forced into it. Can you imagine a whole generation of women almost exclusively pushed to be homemakers even against their wishes?

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    • Even when women that generation were degree holders and working outside home for money many still chose to be obnoxious because personal power over another is exhilarating. That God forsaken now ex’s mother was M.Ed, school teacher and his father was Ph.D. who wanted to be given “proper respect” by DIL’s parents. Now what ever that “proper respect” is, not set in stone is ever changing it will never be proper. It is not just one case five of divorced have almost similar stories to tell.
      DG

      Liked by 1 person

      • @DG
        If conditioning was related to academic or professional success we would not see this blog at all because most of the readers (and LW’s) are quite stable in those areas. As were your ex in-laws.

        Conditioning and societal guilt is what makes professionally accomplished women feel like a failure because they don’t serve their families hot, round chappaties each night. Our generation is learning the concept of individual freedom for the first time in centuries. This is the fundamental difference not our IT jobs or designer shoes or advanced degrees.

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        • DG mentioned two things
          Social conditioning and
          Personal power.
          You are talking about personal power over self and DG pointed out personal power others. Ability to control another person(s) actions and resources was the aim then now with our generation it is my control over my actions (freedom to do what I want) and resources (time, money and energy). It is same concept used in different dimensions.
          DG

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  7. Agree with everything Indian homemaker said. Very well written IHM. Excellent observation . I was thinking IHM; as much understanding as you have of the whole dynamics of Indian culture , specially the joint family dynamics :- you would be an EXCELLENT very sought after marriage counsellor if someday you wish to get into counselling .
    I was also wondering what a BEST SELLER your book would be If you someday decide to write a book about all these issues and it would empower sooooo many more woman who are possibly not tech savvy. Just a thought !

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  8. I think, for the average Indian woman (assume married) to be liberated, the average Indian man must feel liberated. The average Indian man is still very much infantalized. He has not made many independent choices in his own life. He probably hasn’t chosen his field of study, his career, or been friends with women so he has a chance to get to know some, and maybe become interested in someone whom he may have eventually chosen to marry. These fundamental choices – career, life partner, etc. are forbidden to most sons. So when they marry, they are not doing so as adults. They are still very much like children, eager to please parents, afraid of their disapproval, etc. Into this unnatural situation (a married man who is very much a child, avoids conflict, doesn’t take matters into his own hands, does not express strong opinions) – comes the wife, again a woman who has been raised by her parents to never question and always adjust. When she finds herself surrounded by unfair rules, maybe even abuse, and has never been taught to believe in herself, and has not been given a single skill by her parents to fight this abuse, who will come to her rescue? The un-liberated husband who himself is struggling to assert his adulthood and hasn’t quite succeeded yet?
    There is a minority of Indian men who are changing the paradigm, who are making independent decisions, who are questioning the norms, who are finally understanding that patriarchy which may appear beneficial to them in the short run, is unhealthy (yes even to them) in the long run because it crushes men’s individuality too, belittles their personal happiness.
    Along with this change, along with these changing men, the abuse that women face (in the traditional Indian patriarchal context) will also come down. Men’s and women’s liberation from these destructive patterns of parental abuse are inextricably linked.

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    • Please adjust was always there but the paradigm shifted in raising daughter as it became post colonial reclamation project of parents asserting modernity. Parents raised confused daughter who had no tools to defend themselves, in their quest for modernity they even withheld the traditional manipulative tools young women had at their disposal drama and tears
      Parents raised modern educated daughter who had to marry shravan kumars they raised in the same house.
      https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/desi-parenting-raising-confused-daughters/
      DG

      Liked by 1 person

      • You nailed it . My parents raised us two sisters to be “modern” yet when we had male cousins (our own age) stay at our home (living with us not visiting for holidays ) , it was clear the rules were different for them. we were mean enough to not help her set and clear tables or serve the meals and put our feet up watching TV . Needless to say , the civil disobedience hit home !! And said relatives are now seasoned at housekeeping😉

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    • //patriarchy which may appear beneficial to them in the short run, is unhealthy (yes even to them) in the long run because it crushes men’s individuality too, belittles their personal happiness//

      Any writings out there that elaborate on this?
      This line of argument – while common enough – is still written from a modern woman’s perspective and has assumptions about what OUGHT to be the desires of a ‘modern’ man.

      While, even for men, fiercely individualistic departures from the family, are frowned upon- the Indian man is still cut a whole lot of slack by the system as it stands today. So he is nowhere close to feeling as suffocated as many modern women seem to be feeling. So he doesn’t quite feel his individuality being crushed by the family.

      The change you wish for can come from men being impelled by empathy – with all its assumptive uncertainties- or from specific personal situations that have already propelled him into seeking an independent existence.

      It would be insightful to read men elaborate about this. Of having opted for ‘independence’ after a ‘what’s in it for me’ reasoning.
      It is far from apparent.

      And a sidenote: natural/unnatural is a curious positing- and IMO an unhelpful one- as far as discussing relationships go.

      If ‘nature’ were to run it’s course, not everyone would be married and furthering the gene pool. And ones too old to hunt would die.

      Insofar as we believe civilization is a decided departure from nature, and we recognize the ‘naturally’ underlying frictions that it would cause – we may be better positioned to negotiate our relationships, with the changing times and values.

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      • I disagree. Indian men may feel considerably less suffocation, I grant you that.

        Yet, they still lack basic freedoms. EVERY Indian son is raised to be a doctor or an engineer.

        After that, he is supposed to slave as a corporate lackey till he retires. Why should he do this? So he can earn enough to buy a 3 BHK, a nice family car and a family vacation to Thailand.

        If you are a man and you are naturally interested in medicine or engineering, great.

        What if you are a dude who dreams of having his own cookery show on TV?

        Or if you are IIT-IIM educated, but what really makes you happy is teaching science to children?

        The average Indian parent will react with horror if the “laadla” wants a career in fashion, or music.

        Say the “beta raja” is a dream come true. IIT-IIM, big corporate job. He meets this girl at work and falls in love, only the parents don’t approve.

        Indian men are as imprisoned by narrow cultural mores as are women.

        The so-called sexual freedom is a mirage. Most middle-class Indian men only have a tiny bit more of it than women.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Men making safe career and life choices isn’t peculiar to India, is it?
          The appetite for financial risk is ultimately the most important guiding factor everywhere. It is just filtered through the make-up of the society.

          Sure Indian men’s agency is far from unfettered in our societal set-up, which has always had an emphasis of the family over the individual.
          But I really don’t see men feeling weighed down by that as much as the women are (I hear a collective ‘duh!’).

          Atleast, not to the extent of many men, being natural accomplices in the process of redefining marriages. That is, marriages where there are only two people; consciously departing from the extant system of marriages being ensconced within families -which, for all practical purposes in most cases is- the men’s families.

          Which is why I think it’d be interesting and insightful to see if something is written from a modern Indian male’s perspective on this topic, that too expresses such a preference. i.e. beyond the “finally, my husband is slowly beginning to realize this” type comments coming from women, on these topics.

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      • “modern woman’s perspective (on) what OUGHT to be the desires of a ‘modern’ man.”
        Why is it ‘modern’ to want freedom? Men have been fighting for freedom of will since the dawn of time.

        “So he is nowhere close to feeling as suffocated as many modern women seem to be feeling.”
        Nowhere in my comment did I say that the Indian man suffers as much as the Indian woman in a patriarchal setting.

        “The change you wish for can come from men being impelled by empathy.”
        Empathy is something that many of us feel but are unable to act upon unless we are capable an in control of our own lives. A man who is unable to assert himself with his parents may feel empathetic to the much worse situation his wife is in, but is incapable of helping her or standing up for her. To do that (to act on his empathy), he must first learn to stand up for himself.

        “natural/unnatural is a curious positing- and IMO an unhelpful one”
        I was using the word unnatural in reference to an adult married man behaving like a child – wanting to please his parents, afraid of their displeasure, unwilling to make independent decisions in fear of hurting their feelings, etc. Would you have preferred the word ‘unhealthy’ to ‘unnatural’? isn’t this a matter of semantics?

        “Any writings out there that elaborate on this?”
        Yes, in fact there are. Recently, an American woman wrote about her Indian boyfriend and what he is going through to convince his parents so he can marry her. Their threats of suicide or ill-health sounded very much like intense emotional abuse. Other men have written on this blog on similar situations. Granted, these are fewer than the emails that come from women.
        In my own family, my cousin goes through intense emotional abuse because he has chosen to stay single. Everyday he is asked by his parents, “Why don’t you kill us right now? Why kill us slowly?” Other men in my extended family have fallen in love with women from other communities, given up their dreams and married the women their parents chose for them (I dread to think what their wives have to go through). Only 2 of them have gone ahead and married the women of their choice – they too face a lot of abuse. An uncle of mine who dropped out of Engineering college is ridiculed even to this day. He is struggling financially and is still used as an example of a ‘bad sheep’ in the family, of what happens when we don’t listen to elders. One uncle who never married recently announced he is gay and is in a relationship, and all hell has broken loose. His parents are routinely insulted for not bringing him up with the right values.

        Anyhow this post is not about men’s suffering versus women’s suffering in patriarchy but how lack of freedom of personal choices is something ALL Indian children experience, both daughters and sons. And since we are not islands, what impacts one impacts another.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve noticed a remarkable difference between men and women in my age group (20-30) these days.

      The majority of the men are strangely one-dimensional – their life seems to revolve around football,how much money they make,the occassional political discussion and bike trips. I dont think this is a bad thing, what I mean is they’re not overly concerned with analysing their own lives, or their actions.

      The women on the other hand are different, Today, even your average,”of course I will do an arranged marriage as per my parents wishes” is aware of the choices she has in everything (love,career,education,entertainment)- and the consequences of those choices- all courtesy of medis+internet. They are somehow more open to newer ways of thinking. I’m not saying they’re better – its just that the all pervasive glass ceiling (or in India it should be called the concrete ceiling- there’s not even false hope to keep you dreaming) in all areas of their lives forces them to look beyond conventional solutions. True,in the end,they may end up running back to the shelter of their unsatisfactory but necessary(according to them) traditional setups, but the fact that they’ve SEEN that there is a better way changes them.

      The men are however still stuck in their comfort zones. But I guess eventually the change will come.The traditional Indian family,for all its constant belittling and abuse of women, NEEDS women in order to function. When women no longer play their roles,the men will unfortunately have to begin the painful process of growing up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • //The traditional Indian family,for all its constant belittling and abuse of women, NEEDS women in order to function. When women no longer play their roles,the men will unfortunately have to begin the painful process of growing up//

        That’s a wishful assertion.

        When the women no longer play ‘their’ roles the family ceases to be ‘traditional’.

        And in a modern marriage that is focused substantially on the individual man-woman dynamic, whether men would be sufficiently motivated to marry, remains to be seen.

        After all, isn’t the Western – my gross shorthand for a society which values above all else individual agency- stereotype all about how men are remaining boys for longer and longer now and are getting more and more wary about commitment.

        And yes, I agree with you that young men these days seem to be relatively behind the curve, in terms of understanding women’s expectations from marriages these days. By Western standards, the eagerness of Indian men is even unseemly. I reckon, if they knew better, they’d not rush in to get married and act a little more like their Western counterparts.

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        • “And in a modern marriage that is focused substantially on the individual man-woman dynamic, whether men would be sufficiently motivated to marry, remains to be seen.”
          True. But by the same token, even women are becoming more unmotivated to marry. We now have more and more women who can earn, be independent, have friends, have a life, sort of the same things men have. A marriage offers to the modern woman constant companionship – a best friend for life, if you will – and if the man is afraid of commitment, afraid of being tied down, they why bother? Why put up with this wanting-to-get-away restless husband? And aren’t women feeling more restless too, now that we have economic independence and fairer laws? More and more women want to go on adventures, explore, take risks, etc. There are now fewer reasons for both men and women to get married, so I suppose the whole concept of marriage is now dwindling. According to a Bowling Green State Univ study, the marriage rate in 2013 was 31 out of 1000 for American women whereas in 1920, it was 92 out of 1000. In 2011, about 50% of Americans were married compared to 72% in 1960. Not sure where India is in this process but we definitely have more people choosing the single life than we ever did.

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        • 😀 nothing wishful about the assertion. I suppose you interpreted my statement to mean that when women stop putting up with abuse, the men will automatically
          blossom into loving,caring,family-oriented husbands.

          What I meant is that once the Indian marriage stops favouring men so much, they (like any sensible woman today) will start thinking twice about getting married – because marriage actually involves a lot of responsibility for both parties.Growing up does not necessarily mean wanting to get married – it means taking responsibilities for one’s choices and perhaps realising that one is not really cut out for marriage.

          So yes, people will stop getting married all over the place.

          But I believe this is a good thing, Whether here or in the west, marriage should happen only when both parties involved respect each other and feel secure in the relationship.The committment-phobic man who refuses to get married because he doesnt want to be tied down is a thousand times better than the marriage-happy man who expects his wife to do all the work. Such men make rotten parents, rotten husbands and generally rotten people.

          When the women no longer play ‘their’ roles the family ceases to be ‘traditional’.

          If by “traditional family” you mean the Indian traditional family(which was what I was referring to) where the woman is basically expected to do all the work,be subservient ,put up with abuse etc,. I completely agree with you.

          If however you mean “traditional family” in terms of a family which is made up of a husband(male),wife(female) and possibly children, then I disagree. A traditional family does not require a woman to give up everything to exist. It can function very well when both parties share the responsibilities of bread-winning & care-giving. And there will be definitely be cases where women CHOOSE to be care-givers only- nothing wrong with that.

          Also, I wouldnt be so quick to generalise Western society as valuing individual agency above all else (though there is nothing wrong with it) – there are some definitely conservative voices in there who believe women should be submissive ,the whole point of life is having a family blah blah. but i suppose the difference lies in the fact that personal choice is always valued unlike in India where if you are a woman you MUST want babies,you MUST defer to your husband etc,

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      • I agree with you Anita ! Men themselves don’t want to introspect and change for better ! The present system is good enough for them ,…they have all liberties plus extra advantages of being a man ! I don’t think they even realise women’s suffocation in Indian society ! Hell ,even well to do ,aaram sey rehwali women too are not sympathetic to those who are stuck !

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        • Why should they? Life is pretty good for middle-class Indian men.

          They marry women who are educated and financially independent, yet can still come home and demand hot chapattis from the wife.

          Not only do their wives do most of the “compromising” and “adjusting, they are also obligated to take care of the man’s parents, no matter how disrespectful the in-laws are.

          The man on the other hand, is treated like a king when he visits his wife’s parents, who are eternally grateful to him for agreeing to marry their daughter.

          It’s a really sweet deal, if you think about it

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  9. IHM, the mother-in-law who raises this inept son (the last chapter in Veena’s book talks of the non-existent husband in all abusive MIL-DIL relationships) is a woman. As long as we make the issue one of gender and try to fix the blame on one gender, this issue isn’t going to go away.

    Someone has to break the cycle – the onus is on both genders to, the woman who brings up sons and daughters and said sons and daughters. Also, as long as we’re in a blame fixing situation, there aren’t likely to be solutions. Solutions happen when we try to find cause, not fix blame. As a society, we seem to be fixated to blaming.

    Once blame is fixed, everyone sits back and expects some ONE person or one gender or one part of a system to change miraculously. It hasn’t worked this far because it can’t work that way! This is in all our houses, even the most progressive of us and each of us has to root this out with whatever personal cost that comes with – not likely to be the most popular person when we speak up.

    What is required is that in addition to overall systems changing (which pretty much the elite manage in India). Bringing sons and daughters to speak up and stand up for themselves and one another is the only start – at the cost of ‘respect’ and some bits of bhartiya sabyatha/sanskriti that seek to control in the name of culture.

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    • Most families have problem solving formula that stands as
      Identify a problem
      Ascertain responsibility (blame)
      Problem solved
      Same is done in everyday life, Be it Premchand or Tagore they raised the issue of plight of widows but did not offer any remedy. When Ishwarchand Vidhyasagar advocated widow remarriage, young men started having two wives to remedy the social evil of widow abandonment.
      Least the inevitability of marriage as the ultimate destiny of Indian women is rewritten not much is going to change. Getting married and remaining married is an important decision and human right but most women and few men do not have option of breaking this commandment. speaking up for yourself will work only if there is a way out or else it will just ensue more drama and abuse. At our individual levels we have to start telling younger lot you have a right to be happy and respected you can quit you don’t have to kill yourself to make it work.
      Peace,
      DG

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      • Agee, DG. Change in mindsets will never be easy. But you did it, so did I (on a much smaller level) and I know many who have done it. Critical mass isn’t far away, that the joint family is pretty much a rarity is a great start. I think my children’s generation isn’t going to be as hobbled as we were and their kids will be flying free.

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    • Well said Sangitha . Change has to happen in every house. When I see women who have sons act with ‘sympathy’ at some sexual abuse happening somewhere and act scandalized is purely hypocritical. Once when a discussion came related to that issue, I pointed out that the sons have to be taught since childhood that they can arrogate another person’s personal space,one parent averted her eyes and felt at a loss. She abruptly changed the topic, as if I was talking about some species which had already become extinct and she cannot revive it. The parents want only a few things from their kids….. good marks in exams,
      earn well, get married, produce children and wait for the sunset years.

      Why the hell should they bother when they have a son who might later become a perpetrator and not the ‘victim’ !!

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      • “Why the hell should they bother when they have a son who might later become a perpetrator and not the ‘victim’ !!”
        Why is it okay if someone else’s daughter suffers but not one’s own son?
        Why does injustice to someone not matter?
        Is it enough if we are happy and others around us suffer?
        Is this why we are a nation of individual performers with very few or non-existent leaders? Is this why our country launches rockets but fails to provide basics and the majority remain in utter poverty?
        Why does it not bother them if their son becomes someone who doesn’t respect another human being, who is callous to another’s suffering, who lacks compassion, who is selfish and self-serving?
        Why is passing on sound values to your children not important in our culture?
        Why are we fixated on material gains (job, money, dowry) and not on values (respect, humanity, dignity, honesty)?
        Why indeed.

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        • Masculinity, as perceived in both the Eastern and Western worlds, is for a man to not be emotionally driven, nor to show “weakness”, be it physical or emotional. That feeds into never wanting to think about the men in our lives being a victim, or even a perpetrator for that matter.

          Our society is based off personal materialistic gain and public image; not only our Indian society, I mean all of humanity. Over multiple cultures, public image has higher value than personal happiness. The questions you pose are questions to lend over to all of humanity…why indeed?

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      • I made an observation to my group of married friends that they need to be alert with their sons,question them and not let them boss over or overpamper them just because they are sons when we were discussing on similar topics ! I went ahead and added they better teach cooking,cleaning up ,washing their own clothes as they grow up so that they learn basic skills and later not expect wife to do it !
        They quickly changed topics because upbringing of sons by mothers is faulty even now circa 2014 !
        Women with sons are oblivious to societal problems or couldn’t care less,….they have hit the jackpot as of now !

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        • Haha….very true Cosettez. Sometimes I have seriously doubted how many ‘daughters-in-law’, who are vehemently opposing abusiveness in this and many other women’s blog, will later not become a perpetrator of abuse herself. I feel we all of us need to introspect on our actions now and then, to check if we all are ‘walking the talk’. Otherwise, there is no point in sharing such views !! What you say?

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        • Chintu,
          Since the few months that I have been on IHM ‘s blog I have learnt many things! For a few years now, I had begun to doubt myself and my though process because I don’t have a single friend who thinks about all this !
          The educated friends of mine are a disappointment,married ones are artificial, happy go lucky,doing pitpat without thinking all traditions !Their identities are intertwined with societal demands !
          I had begun to tire of being ‘different’ ! That’s when by freak accident I came across IHM s blog ! At first, everything seemed radical ,…it still does sometimes but I use my brain and decide for myself !
          Regarding implementation, I speak only about things I have tried or done !I still don’t have many skills which here so many commentators seem to have !Some things are alien to me !

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        • @Cosettez,

          I am glad to find many people who share the same thoughts as me through IHM. I have always improved my thought process through this blog.

          I have just started seeing a very nice French man and my life has been very good since then. Soon I might write to IHM for opinions on how to convince my parents without hurting them

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  10. DH and I have a preventive/corrective rule for this.
    “If your natal family makes a comment about your spouse that seem like a joke/ less than neutral/ feels like hurt to your spouse, take offence”
    This is to train the natal families that spouse is the highest priority, what spouse feels is more important that what they meant. Else, you get the standard response “I didn’t mean it like that beta” and every time the beta backs off, the comments get nastier. Actually, it starts as a test with small things, even as simple as “you’d look better in XYZ” (also means, you cant wear what you are wearing) to see if beta will object and progresses to “we are family, s/he is taking you away from us”. Nip it in the bud is what we believe in.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What if ILs actually means ‘ you look better in one outfit than others ! So,on casual observation s too,in laws get ticked off ?? There isn’t much conversation anyone can have with you in that case without getting punished for any or all remarks !
      We are a product of our families, upbringing and even the mohalla we were brought up in !
      It helps to see from which angle a person might be saying something to ease conversation !

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      • may be I should have made the example more clear: “you’d look better in saree” when you are wearing jeans.

        Besides, why would any one tell me what would look better on me when I am dressed and ready to go out? How many observations made by ILs are casual especially in the context of discussion? And how is it punishment if I don’t change just cause someone thinks something looks better on me? Did I say DH beats them up? No, we simply ignore and he says ‘I like this better’? But oh yes! That IS punishment, JKG hey bhagwan!

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        • Maybe you could have made it more clearer,because it comes across as for every little thing spoken by In laws ( and by others)you take offence !

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  11. Focus of the post was “Some of the methods (simple, common sense) that are recommended for coping with any other kind of abusive relationships, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law – by whom? Mainly by their husbands.”

    Why women give this much emotional importance and control to husband when he does not give you back the same??? Why always women are warm towards husband when they are cold to your situation?? Why women can not stay aloof from their matter if they do the same to you??? Why if MIL is able to annoy DIL , DIL do not annoy back MIL??? after all MIL and husband also want to live in peace.

    This all problem is out of the fact that Indian women makes husband as centre of life and expects same from their husband. And when the same expectation are not reciprocated more and more frustration and loneliness comes. As your loneliness will increase you will start losing your self confidence.

    I am not married so maybe I don’t understand this dynamics. But I would have done Tit for Tat. You compare to me with your mother I will compare you with my father. If husband and MIL complain about comparison say the sermon you are also married to my family. If he can guilt trip you can also do it back by saying in case if he does not live with them he can show some respect. Why this Tit for Tat is difficult. it makes picture more clear when it happens with you. Until you do not experience it you will never be able to understand what it means.

    One more solution which I learned on this blog is to ask WHY??? Till the time they do not realise what they are saying.

    And it is always worth fighting. My mother fought tooth and nails against my grandma and enjoyed more than 23 years of peace by living with her under same roof. I live in joint-unjoint family. My grandma was a horror. In front of her all the MIL mentioned in this post will look like kids but she dealt with it by fighting each and every issue. When my aunt joint in many tradition was demolished by my mother and they had better life. In case if any one mention that this use to happen in family they don’t even believe it.

    I had similar discussion with my friend. One thing which was mentioned that if educated and professional womens can not stand for themselve then what is the use of education and being self dependent. There is no difference between uneducated women and a MBA/B.Tech. At the end both of them give control of their life to other people in their life. When the people see the fate of educated women then they think there is no point of educating girls and investing in them. But the same people if they see live example that education can bring change in the life of their daughter then they will feel motivated towards educating their daughter.

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    • In real life ,tit for tat is very common !Its just that DIls don’t get enough chances or upper hand till either she is rich or bears a son or if MIL falls sick or something !
      If Mil brainwashes so does Dil,…most DILs remove bhadass once they get a chance ! Some do it in sophisticated way ,some are downright cruel !
      But that is not the issue,a sincere,non violent woman should be able to stand up while the fight is happening and without stooping to other person’s level !And this requires skills ! Most people stop talking,ignore family members before they have even tried to talk things out because nowadays its easy to ignore people ,…for most people good manners do not come in the way !

      Like

      • I dont think so Tit-tat strategy is very common.

        Most of the time , the love toward husband is out of conditioning that he is my husband and he is my centre of life. I will always love him. Its all her mother,sister and family etc. He also loves but he is not able to take stand. Its all come out of conditioning that now you are married and you have to love him. No love gesture is showed by husband.

        So why every time your husband makes a comparison with her mother then why women do not compare him with his father. I guess he will feel more annoyed and will understand your annoyance. You MIL orders you , then simply say them it is this what your husband’s MIL has to told you. People don’t understand the pinch unless they are pinched in same way.

        If somebody is on Guerrilla warfare then either you declare War in Open or play Guerrilla or stay oppressed.

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        • Doing tit for tat here and there is still bearable but as warfare strategy its extremely tiring and it doesn’t solve anything ! And if one doesn’t have that kind of mean mindset it causes lot of stress and personality change!
          Why bother ?
          Either talk things out ,if that doesn’t work remove oneself from the situation or ignore !

          Like

  12. Men should not get a free pass. But if young women are conditioned, so are young husbands and the older women and everyone in society.

    I blame the parents (and “supporters”) of women first and foremost. We pay for our daughters’ wedding.. A wedding as per the man and his family’s demands. We tell our daughters to keep their husbands and their families happy. We give in to our daughters in laws demands. We don’t teach our daughters to stand up for themselves or to do what is best for them.
    We expect our men to look out for us and stand by us. But we should also be taught to be disappointed in our husbands too.

    But most importantly, we need to stand up for ourselves. To our in laws and husbands.

    Like

    • “We expect men to look out for us and stand by us.” “….we need to stand up for ourselves. ”

      – Most women would face no problems in the place – If only women were not forbidden by their husbands from standing up for themselves.

      Like

      • I get where you are coming from.

        But to me, the bigger issue is not what the husbands are forbidding but the fact that we are giving them the power to forbid. We have no control over how our husbands may react, we do have control over what our boundaries are.

        I would be clear with any man I marry what my expectations are. If I tell my boyfriend/arranged fiancé, I won’t move in with your mom and he agrees only to change his tune later on, I would be mightily annoyed. He should be allowed to change his mind, of course, but at that point I have got to start thinking what my options are as well. Can I go from living in a different city to the same one as his parents, same area in the city, same neighbourhood, same colony, same house? Or can I only handle seeing them twice a year, six times, every weekend? Or it is not an option in the first two, five years of the marriage and then I will be willing to consider? What is an option both the husband and I can agree on. If he is dead set against any sort of negotiating, is it one thing or is it a pattern with regards to everything?

        When I watched the video, she talks about women agreeing to wear what they are told and agreeing to quit work BEFORE even getting married. To me by doing that, you are making yourself very, very vulnerable. By agreeing to it and not saying no and giving your fiancé an earful, you are letting others get involved in your marriage and setting precedence for how you are allowing yourself to be treated.

        Why do that? What are her parents and her “supporters” doing when this happens? How often do we tell our daughters, no, you really should not marry that guy because he and his family is simply not worth you.

        Like

        • Doesn’t always help. In my previous marriage, both my parents and I had explicitly told my ex’s family, several times, that we were a liberal family and I had been raised to be independent.

          My father brought the issue up the very first time my ex’s family visited us.

          My ex-in-laws just smiled and said that they understood.

          In many families, there is a belief that a daughter-in-law can be “tamed” after the marriage.

          She can get up to whatever hijinks she wants to, once married, she’s theirs to tame.

          That’s why arranged marriages are sometimes dangerous.

          The husband’s family can put up a convenient facade of “modernity”.

          There is no fool-proof way to ensure that the DIL won’t be controlled and tamed a few months into the marriage.

          It’s a slippery slope. The grip is tightened gradually. Little by little, the DIL is persuaded to “adjust, give up parts of herself, in the name of “adjustment.”

          The only remedy I can think of is to be firm and draw clear boundaries.

          If you don’t want to wake up at 5.30 am to cook, say no, firmly.

          If you’re lucky, your husband will step in and act as a buffer between his intrusive parents and you.

          If like the majority of Indian women, the husband is a spineless, proto-adult, then the DIL is fighting a lonely battle.

          I guess there are no easy solutions, which is why I urge every young woman I personally encounter to be VERY CAREFUL when evaluating men for marriage.

          It’s the most important decision you will ever take. If you want to have a healthy marriage, pay attention to the thought process of the man you are meeting/dating.

          Does HE want to be married and take an equal amount of effort to build a relationship, or is he a passive mama’s boy who will watch silently as you struggle alone in the marriage?

          Like

      • What I think IHM, its not husband but girls parent who forbids all these option for girls.

        Yesterday I was again watching the episode of Satyamevjayte on dowry and domestic violence. In first case girl’s mother said “ladkar, jhagadkar, gusa ho kar mat aana” then how girl is supposed to fight back . Same was for domestic violence married daughter raised voice but the voice is choked by girls parent . If you are not going to value your daughter who else will value her . Have you ever seen any boys parent saying this that if you have any problem don’t come back to us .
        Its girls parent who keep them dependent, who marry them dependent and in end even remove their support.Its girls parent who never teach them life saving skills .

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        • This is very true! When a girl is conditioned to be continually compromising and to keep everyone happy like it is only her job, when she does want to speak up, or talk about what she going through, she will be muted by her own parents. How many times have we heard, or seen amongst our own families, that a daughter is not supposed to say negative things about her sasuraal to her parents, because NOW that she is married, her sasuraal is her home and family. When she is turned away from her parents, who is she to turn then but her husband? And if he wants to keep peace, more often than not, he will also mute her concerns.

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    • You are right. You know what, many women do not want to jeopardise their position or the little bit of peace which is left over in their family. But what they fail to understand is that, had some women in the past, who had walked out or given up their lives for the sake of empowerment, had thought so, we will still be 100 yrs behind. Every step matters, every bit of assertiveness makes a difference. At least it will tell our girls that she can lead a life with head held up high.
      We will get only brickbats for what we say, but one day this will become the rule. That day everyone may rejoice.

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      • You are right every step matters. And the freedom which we are having today was extracted by generation of our mothers. They didn’t enjoyed it because their life was spent fighting out. Same will be for our children.

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  13. I hope you and your family will enjoy lots of holiday cheer this year and join me in wishing goodwill towards “all fellow beings with whom we share the planet”.

    Pamela Anderson has sent ‘vegan treat hampers’ to Bollywood stars with a friendly note on how vegan diet helps her stay healthy and fit.

    Among the recipients are Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Hema Malini, Shahid Kapoor, Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha.

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  14. You are so right in saying that a husband’s support is so crucial to a wife’s survival in her married life. A husband should allow a wife to stand up for herself. Unfortunately, I have seen incidents where mother-in-laws blame their sons for allowing his wife to be herself!

    “You have changed so much after marriage.”
    “Alright, defend her. I have sacrificed my whole life for you and now you take your wife’s side!”

    Comments like these are so common to men who support their wives. Every little thing ends up in a big drama.

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  15. This is my husband’s reaction to the video posted on this blog- “who recommended this crap to you btw? This video is there for a year and just 3.5k views..says it all.I can do a video of an hour length how reckless and jobless today’s women are”

    Can you believe it?

    Like

    • There are strong opinions against the thought that women are still being suppressed. One hypothesis is that it questions all that we are conditioned to believe is true, which is that the modern family raises modern sons and daughters without making any distinction whether it is a boy or girl. Not true, and this will never be true! Well, not in our lifetimes. And this conditioning is shared by both men and women, so you will have both genders arguing against this video, or even this blog.

      I don’t want to take offense to the “how reckless and jobless today’s women are”, but I do. Women have not been in the workforce, especially in India, for as long as men have, but apart from that, women have proven that they can and do handle as much as men can. If anything, I would argue that men have greater competition in the workforce because now they are also competing against a part of the society they didn’t have to worry about…the women!

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      • It’s not a comment that anyone who has given any degree of serious thought to gender issues could make.

        The comment screams “denial” to me. There are people who believe that if they haven’t faced a specific hardship, discrimination or obstacle, then others who claim that they have faced it, are being dishonest and over the top.

        Many people can’t empathise with some experience if they haven’t personally encountered it.

        That’s why many men have problems understanding what sexual objectification feels like, because they have never experienced it themselves.

        Like

    • Your husband doesn’t seem to understand your perspective. He seems to lack basic sensitivity to other people’s problems and point of view.

      I would have questioned such a dismissive and belittling attitude towards women’s problems.

      Can you not call him out on this insensitivity?

      Like

      • This response is to all the above comments…I thought of adding one more contention which has been several times raised in some ‘so-called intellectual debates’, where men argue that

        “oh, come on. You feminists talk about women empowerment all the time and can’t you see more than in the past you have / had women leaders like Indira Gandhi, Mayavathi, Jayalalitha,Mamta Banerjee, and even women like Kalpana Chawla who has visited the space…what else you all want? I think you are asking for more…..etc”

        The men (also some women) always look at the cream of the layer, which has reached the top and expect the others to be complacent. This stems from reasons like
        — their basic insecurity that women will outdo them and also awarenss that many women have the ability to do this IF given opportunity. Hence ‘do not give them opportunity so that they will always be subservient to us’ attitude.

        — the men think that it is because of their ‘magnanimity’ that at least some women have grown till this stage. But what they fail to understand is that they are taking upon themselves how much a woman has to grow. When in every sphere a woman encourages a man in growth, she does not have insecurities because she believes in herself. But a man does not. His ego has been fuelled so much since his childhood, that he does not want to stand a chance in losing with a woman.

        Every self-respecting woman should not, and need not wait for a man’s acknowledgement, if she believes, what she is doing is right and it does not violate anyone else’s rights.

        I write this because about 2-3 yrs back, before I started reading IHM’s blog, I thought if my husband and dad did not agree with me, I thought I was wrong and saw me as a foolish person. But when I read this blog and found that many women had thought processes in similar line, then I got convinced that they are outdated and need to change their perception. It took a few years for my husband to understand that I was ‘asserting and not being arrogant’. But when he did, he is campaigning more for the cause than me nowadays. He in fact respects me more for standing up for the ideology for women’s rights and not cave in when I was stigmatised.

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  16. Dear IHM,
    You may have already noticed that this post has branched off into several interesting side discussions each one of which may be worth exploring on it’s own, for future discussions. Here are some that come to mind –
    – How interesting that men receive emotional support from a mother/sister/wife but women do not – this is so Indian context specific – in the Western culture, men are not allowed to have emotions or be ‘weak’ or needing support. In the Indian culture, women are expected to tolerate suffering without complaint, without tears, without anger and sacrifice with a smile.
    – What kind of a life did our mothers and mothers-in-law have and how does it impact the next generation? Did the mother have companionship from her own husband? If she did, would she probably not have this unhealthy attachment to her son? We claim to worship mothers but do we even give them basic rights and freedoms?
    – Did our parents bond as a couple? Did they consider their relationship the primary one? If they did not, how did it impact us, their children?
    – How many of us had freedom in making personal choices? Both as sons and daughters? How does conformity impact our adult lives?
    – What role do men play in women’s freedom? Is men’s freedom from stereotypes and conformity connected to women’s freedom from the same? Are Indian men truly liberated? Do they really go after their dreams or dwell in a comfortable, privileged, well-fed prison?
    – The Western stereotype is of the male unwilling to commit, marrying a woman, doing her a great favor by remaining faithful to her and the stereotype of the woman is of wanting marriage, commitment and kids. How is this same or different in India? How is this changing in the West or in India? How are attitudes toward marriage changing and why?
    – Why do Indian mothers of sons feel callous about another mother’s daughter’s suffering? How important are values in Indian parenting? Are humanity and compassion seen as “weak” in a culture that seems to struggle with daily survival?

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  17. I feel men have not changed. As one commentator rightly said, change will not happen until you personally experience issues. I was the ‘Regular commentator’ btw. Suddenly I felt, why anonymise my comment? I am not sure if my husband reads this blog but I would be very happy if he does. Let me tell you that he is a normally rational person. However, wen it comes to his parents, he loses all of his logical senses and says such stuff to me.

    Do I care? No. I stand by my principles which I believe is a result of all the nonsense I had to experience as a girl and woman living in India.

    Like

    • Hi Arpita,
      It is really nice that you are sticking to your path. I think I can understand why your husband is sometimes behaving in an illogical way.
      My husband is having a great difficulty sometimes to stand by the ideology towards giving me space and also letting his mother and sisters understand that he gives me space and respect just because ‘he respects me and not because he is scared of me’. But unfortunately, they all think that he is being threatened (with what, I don’t know) by me.

      He has the toughest job of making them understand this; as I do not find the need to explain these to my in-laws, as I know that even if I do, it would be as if I am regretting for being assertive or justifying myself. But he would feel happy if they know that there is truth and logic behind my behaviour.

      This is another pitfall of patriarchy. The men would be made to feel guilty or helpless by others around him, that notwithstanding such pressure, sometimes they take their parents side. They do not want to make an issue and endanger their relationship with their parents and siblings. Instead of asking 4 or 5 people to adjust, they expect the wife, who is just one person, to adjust. But they do not understand why ONLY the wife should ‘adjust’.

      Like

      • Hi Chintu, Thank you for your response. I can see a husband’s point of view but I would also think he would make a better picture if he stands for what he believes in rather than sticking to his comfort zone and making the wife’s views seem silly. I just hope one day sense dawns upon him and he is able to stand up for himself.

        Like

        • Very true that he needs to stand by you, and not get blinkered when he sees his mom or others. That day will definitely come when he will surely support you. Sometimes, wisdom will dawn with age or some unique experience….we all wish you luck.

          Like

  18. First time commenter, long time follower. I am probably one generation older to most of the readers here. It so warms my heart to see youngsters not getting brainwashed by culture, family honor, pleasing elders and all that nonsense but think critically and fight for equality and justice.

    This from the early 90’s and still remains fresh in my mind : My friend mentioned about a matrimonial ad in which a guy was seeking a girl who had passed the C.A [Chartered Accountant] exam with all India rank between 6-10. And he? He had finished within top 5 !!!! It seems “the more things change, the more they stay the same” as far as bridegroom’s family is considered. Thankfully more and more girls are standing up for themselves.

    Like

  19. Pingback: An email: “He told my MIL that he doesn’t like me. I knew he was depressed so I tried to console him.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  20. Pingback: “I remember the first time I got slapped was when I bought some pasta home for $2.00 when the similar thing could be bought for 40cents.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  21. Pingback: Not touching feet after a year of marriage is disrespect to MIL? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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