“I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with my in-laws.”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,

I really wanted to bring up an issue I have been facing since a few months as a topic/post on your so that I get some tips/perspectives on how to handle this messed up situation.

I had an intercaste love mariage 5 years ago and at that time agreed to stay with my in laws. It seemed like an ok thing to do as I had little interest in domestic chores and my FIL had just recovered from cancer. Me & my hubby are only children and hence both sets of parents depend on us for thier emotional fulfillment. My MIL is an educated woman who has been a science teacher all her life. She loves to wear western clothes and even enjoys an occassional glass of wine and beer. I thought that it will be a modern, liberal family. My husband too openly communicates with them. I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with them. My parents stay in the same city and I see them every fortnight. We had proposed for them to move close to our place, but they have a good social circle where they live and may move closeby only when the need arises. Life seemed pretty sorted.

Then the reality struck. And hard.

My MIL began telling me how bad my dressing sense is and that I should wear brighter colours like her, doll up with jewellery like her and ensure I am the best dressed at every family get together. I laughed it off for a couple of years, sometimes playing along. Then it was about the cooking. ‘This is how it is done’. Then housekeeping ‘Not a speck of dust, not even a handkershcief out of place’. Then the way I interact with people ‘Touch feet, say namaste.’  It was still ok. I did most of it on most days, although it didnt come naturally to me. Then the issues got deeper and the complaints serious. Right from lifestyle choices, to me meeting my parents, to do keeping the house well, to not cooking reguarly,to not respecting them enough (displays of respect) to not spending time with them. If I tried to tell her that I have different views or that maybe her percpetion is misplaces, I was accused of being bad at taking feedback and being too stubborn. Everything we, especially I did was wrong, bad, immature and not perfect. I wish I could get into details and give situations but honestly it is exhausting to even think about it. Lets just say most of the MIL-DIL typical  issues discussed on this blog.And like most modern day DILs, I felt like a badly behaving unwanted guest,who was suffocating every single day.

But that is not the issue I wanted to discuss.

Around 4 months back, my husband and I took the decision to move out of thier house and live close by (precisely 3.5 kms away). This would give us our independence and space as also be close enough to meet them every week and take care of them. I had first discussed this with my husband around 2-3 years back but he wasnt ready emotionally then and we thought things will improve if we just let them be. But the point is, they werent letting us “be”. Moreso me. Because I was the bahu they wanted respect and seva from me, something which didnt appeal to my sensibilities and not sustainable for the long term. My husband and I thought the move will make my relationship with them better as the everyday nitty grittys go out of the way and we can actually spend quality time with them when we do, without a list of complaints. When we first discussed it, they let thier dejection be known, but also said that since you are turning dependent on us, so you should experience living alone.Exact words were’ Wait till you live alone with each other, you will know each other’s bad side. Because of us being around, there was a check.’

But the absolute very next day, the silent treatment began. No eye contact, no words being spoke by my MIL. A frown on face for days. She even gave up eating for a couple of days. FIL stayed glued to TV but at least spoke when spoken ti. This went on for a month. My hubby and I didnt budge and engaged them in conversations to open them up. There were accusations of how insensitively we are abandoning them at oldage (they are 62, active and healthy),how ungrateful we are, ‘humse parvarish mein kya galti ho gayi’ ‘ to all sorts of statements one often hears in TV serials. The most oft repeated one was ‘Log kya kahenge”soceity mein log kya sochenge’ ‘ I dont want to be seen as  a bad MIL’. There were times when we felt incredibly guilty, but then realised that it is only emotional blackmail as when we felt bad and remorseful, they felt better and came back to normalcy immediately. Anything that made us happy,brought back the behaviour. Anyhow, a couple of weekend vacations and many dinners and movies with them later, they seemed to be coming to terms with it. But none of the relatives knew yet that we had moved. My in laws were against telling anyone in the extended family as joint families are the norm in the community, and their izzat would be at risk.

Recently my husband grew tired of leading this dual life and told his parents to tell the relatives about the ground situation so that we dont have to pretend to be living in thier house anymore. We didnt expect support from the relatives, but the least they could do is make my in laws feel better. But my MILs own sister has actually ignited her further and aggravated the situation further. She spoke to us about how bad this decision is. She rubs it in with my MIL every second day as to how her son would never do something like this. How her DIL will never move away (in a seperate one to one discussion her DIL told me that if they had financial independence, they would have probably done it too!Of course this was told to me in confidence so cant disclose it during the family discussions). This has made my in laws feel like they have lost a battle, and moreso my MIL feels she has totally lost her son to me and has turned against us fully. Now every meeting is an emotional episode and a taunt and guilt spree. My MIL even spoke to my Mom and accused her of hatching the whole idea. She was upset with my parents for not ‘stopping us’. I dont know what to talk to them independently anymore and dont feel like it either. But I realise that will end the relationship, so i make some small talks. They only drive guilt in my hubby about being the disappointing son, whereas he is a very loving and kind person.Just that he also loves his wife and ‘gets’ the MIL-DIL conflicts and their implications. He is very supportive towards me and is patient in dealing with his parents, but I know it is hurting and stressing him to hear extremely hurtful and manipulative comments from his own parents everytime they speak. He wants us to make extra efforts to make them feel better about it but it only backfires.

Its gotten extremely messy with relatives calling us and doing the same in the name of love and concern. What could have been simple has gotten very complicated and messy.

So some questions/perspectives i need at this point to tide over this  are:
— Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation?At the very core of it, is it even required?

— Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?

— What does a son do when the parents are, to put it crudely, mean to him and use guilt as a weapon? Any tips on how to deal with it?

— Does the cycle of in laws appeasement for a DIL ever end? Can she ever make choices which are truly independent without the burden of guilt or the disapproval of people around her…

– AP

Related Posts:

“I had written an email about being a DIL in the joint family, I am happy to share my current state …”

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

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

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

Why do Nuclear Families face so much criticism?

It is easy to walk out and wish for a nucleated system, for petty squabbles like this.

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

43 thoughts on ““I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with my in-laws.”

  1. Hugs AP! This sooooo… sounds like our story, except I can raise you two SILs and their husbands who are like Oliver Twist ‘please sir may I have some more’, money that is. So asked DH to reply since his view would help you and your husband more than mine…

    From DH:
    To your husband: Buddy I am proud of you, you have truly become a man. Nothing says man than being the husband of the Mistress of the Manor. Its also more fun and rewarding. You can be anything you want to be without being called JKG. Marriage only gets better with 2 of you on your own. About your questions..

    — Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation? At the very core of it, is it even required?
    NO, there is nothing you can do to make them feel better since it seems your goals are mutually exclusive. You want to have a independent adult life, they don’t. You can only travel together if you are going in the same direction

    — Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?
    We do, NO, relationship has not improved, not in 3 years of staying in the same city. We are instead stuck in a cycle where they go between understanding to blackmailing. And since we are not reproducing…. its staring to get worse

    — What does a son do when the parents are, to put it crudely, mean to him and use guilt as a weapon? Any tips on how to deal with it?
    Have fun, got out, see new places, enjoy with your partner, post FB updates about it🙂
    You have learnt to leave and cleave physically, its just about doing it mentally. Find humor in it, inconstancies that make it amusing, for example your parent ki izzat is hurt by you leaving them but not her parents ki izzat by her leaving them. Sometimes Cat-lady and I can’t look each other in the eye while we are being given gyan cause we are bursting. Laughing make everything easier.

    — Does the cycle of in laws appeasement for a DIL ever end? Can she ever make choices which are truly independent without the burden of guilt or the disapproval of people around her…
    NO, I don’t think it will get better unless the my parents/ her IL grow up. Guilt is in you head. Unless you are actually murdering them, all this separation is not ‘killing’ them any more than its killing her parents. What goes for the goose’s parents goes for the gander’s too. You just have to get over it. From my friend’s experience, it only gets worse after you have children, so take time and learn to deal with it before you add more people to the mix. And when you do, remember this time and play nice🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks crazycatwoman and if i may say, crazycatman🙂 it is indeed reassuring and empowering to hear of similar cases. Ur heartfelt comment shows that forums like IHM are so impactful as total strangers give thier perspectives which make u feel so connected to them. Have fun on ur journey too as we begin ours (albeit with some starting trouble!) 🙂 surely making my DH read this….

      Like

    • Easily one of the best comments I’ve seen here! Sometimes there are situations where “compromise” (I put that in quotes for a reason) and trying gets you nowhere. You don’t like it? Too bad, so sad.

      Like

  2. AP, at the outset, let me tell you how wonderful it is that you have a husband who gets your issues. It’s not every day that I hear about truly supportive husbands.

    Now, getting to your questions:

    Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation?At the very core of it, is it even required?
    I think you’re doing your bit already. I’d say treat them like you’d treat a demanding child. Love them, care for them, talk to them, but don’t go overboard trying to ‘include’ them. It’s okay if they don’t want to talk/eat. They will do so when they realize that their tantrums have no effect on you. If they want to talk about the situation at hand, be polite but assertive. Create a script of sorts, and stick to it when the time comes. Do so over and over again. Soon they will realize that no matter how they approach the matter, your stand will not change. Do the same with your relatives, and feel free to tell them it’s none of their business. Remember that the peer pressure issue is your MIL’s, not yours. Don’t get sucked into the whirlpool. If your MIL’s sister is able to freak her out like that, then she needs to learn to deal with it on her own. Not your problem.

    Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?
    My ex-MIL was a royal pain in the ass – not just for me, but also for my ex-husband’s older brother. They moved out and took up a flat in the same apartment, and we shifted to a different city. They were bitter about the same apartment thing because it was difficult to explain to the relatives, but they eventually started telling people that the house was too small for everyone to live in. Our relationships improved significantly in the long run.

    What does a son do when the parents are, to put it crudely, mean to him and use guilt as a weapon? Any tips on how to deal with it?
    The only trick is to develop a thick skin. There’s no other way out that I know of.

    Does the cycle of in laws appeasement for a DIL ever end? Can she ever make choices which are truly independent without the burden of guilt or the disapproval of people around her…
    Sure, but only if you learn to put your happiness over their approval. Sometimes happiness comes at a price, and you have to decide how much you’re willing to let go of.

    I wish you all the luck in the world!

    Like

    • Thanks anawnimiss for sharing ur story, yes, am trying to develop thick skin. But sometimes the hurtful comments seem to pierce thru and wobble up the perspective!🙂 but i have realised there is no benefit of doubt for them now on. One indeed has to help ones own self. Be it us. Be it them! Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think stop visiting them often, give your relationship more time, go out, travel. With time they will get used to this fact. And also be certain, don’t move back in in any case.

    And yes, I have seen several such cases where son n DIL lives away from the in-laws. My cousin started having issues with her husband due to MIL, they even filed for divorce but judge was trying to make things okey between them and eventually they made some settlements, one of which was that my cousin n her husband will live away from her in-laws. They live in same city, even just few streets away. Now things have gone better between them.

    Keep your spirits high, when they start talking emotionally, try to halt the talks with polite reply and get up n go home.

    Come on don’t care for what people want from you, Are you a goddess to grant their wishes?
    You are doing nothing wrong by choosing your and your husband’s happiness.

    Like

    • Thanks for taking taking time out to comment! Yes, we have now chosen to put our happiness first blatantly n overtly. In india the husband wife reln comes lower rung in hierarchy as per most ppl. Parents, siblings, relatives n then the the supposed most sanctitywala relationship. We are among the first in the extended family to put ourselves first (at least verbally n overtly) hence its currently feeling like an earthquake!😉

      Like

      • There is always a first time AP, and as time goes by, you will find more members following suit. Things will settle down eventually.

        Yes, we moved out to another place in the same city. Did relationships improve? Yes and no. Yes, because not having to see her or hear her voice everyday gives me my much needed peace and tranquility, no because she ensures she drops in from time to time and lets go a seemingly “innocuous” comment which makes me boil – until I decide to ignore her and get back on track again.

        Yes, there was that unsaid disapproval all round when we first moved out. Even now there are questions of “Oh, she is living all alone? How does she manage?” Well, it was her choice. Had she chosen to behave better the 8 years we were with her, things could have been different. Anyway, she leads her life, I lead mine.

        Like

  4. If you want my opinion, reduce contact to a minimum as long as they continue with the emotional blackmail. Let them realise that if they want a relationship with you, they need to start behaving themselves. Indian parents are like little children – they need training on good behaviour. Like toddlers, they seek attention and you need to show them that good behaviour will bring attention and screaming and shouting will get them ignored. Gradually, they will learn.

    As for the extended family, be blunt with them. I don’t know how close your husband is to them, but if it’s just blood relationships and not emotional ones, tell them to back off and stay off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spot on regarding Indian parents behaving like children and being immature even in their 50’s and 60’s. Treating them like I would treat a 4 year old, has worked wonders for me. I would be kind and nice to them (truly in my heart), but absolutely stand my ground on issues. I sometimes turned my back and simply walking away , sometimes telling I cannot speak to them if they throw tantrums, and couldn’t care less if they complain my husband about me (we have a rock solid relationship). I have spent all my time in developing a loving, transparent, and solid relationship with my husband than go about wasting time pleasing and explaining to my in-laws.
      But most importantly, I have stopped appeasing and giving into the demands, stopped reacting to complaints, and started to look squarely in the eye when I talk. In my house, respect will not be given for free, it has to be earned by good behavior, and kindness.

      Like

    • Thanks Fem, I have now taken the mantle in my hand to draw the line with the relatives if i see them adding fuel to the fire! They need to be told to back off. Point blank . The only price i think i will pay is missing a few bday n anniversary parties where the cake is terrible anyway😉

      Like

  5. I live close to my mother-in-law, but have absolutely no relationship with her.

    My husband makes periodic visits to her house, but I don’t ever intent to have any kind of relationship with her.

    We haven’t thought about what would happen were she to develop serious health problems, but I am very clear that she will not live in the same house as us.

    I will not say that it has been easy. My husband’s family has subtly pressured me to develop a relationship with her.

    I have stood firm. I will not interact with somebody who cannot show me basic courtesy.

    I made this very clear to my husband when we married. Had my mother-in-law been a kind, respectful, compassionate woman who treated others with respect, I would have tried harder.

    She’s not. She’s rude, temperamental and emotionally abusive. The important thing is that my husband is not especially attached to her.

    The umbilical cord was cut many years ago. He does care for her and support her financially, but the relationship is not a close one. He feels obligated and duty-bound and only does what is necessary to keep her healthy and financially supported.

    The problem lies with you and your husband, not your in-laws. You need to draw boundaries and enforce them. You are desperate for other people’s approval. Why?

    You are adults, fully self-sufficient. Why then are you allowing people to blackmail you emotionally?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “She’s rude, temperamental and emotionally abusive.”
      And you made the right choice. It’s important that we value the life we’ve been given. And that means valuing our own worth and happiness. And that means not becoming a victim of abuse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Neha for sharing ur story n perpectives. My hubby is indeed attached to them and did share a healthy relationship with them so i guess he will put in some more efforts to assuage the situation, i guess. He is quite a duty bound person as a whole. I totally agree with regarding respect. It is a two way street. And on this street i have not seen it coming my way. I did try to seek approval when the decision was first made, but honestly, the need is now thrown out of the window with a thud! I am just tired of this emotional drama around me n looking to regain mental and emotional normalcy asap!

      Like

  6. — Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation?At the very core of it, is it even required?

    Right .. I dont think you need to do anything different, no one should change for anyone, so my advice would be just be you. You and your hubby do your part as a son and DIL, you treat the in laws as you would treat your parents. SImple. It is up to them to see it that way or not, that is their problem not yours.

    Have fun and enjoy life…

    — Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?

    Yes , I got a couple of examples of a couple living in their own house even on the same road as their parents, and I am sure they have their nightmares too but that is how it is. Parents suddenly lose that power over their kids when they move out and that is what is the biggest problem.

    Relations will only improve if every starts to behave as adults and let others live their life as they want to without interferring. I dont think living close by or far away matters that much.

    — What does a son do when the parents are, to put it crudely, mean to him and use guilt as a weapon? Any tips on how to deal with it?

    Well that is what parents do, and its not just the Son’s parents I am sure the daughters parents also in the MODERN day do the same. I would not use the word MEAN but yeah totally understand that GUILT Weapon. I get that everyday, as my mom is in india and I am in UK.. the same old thing of leave everything and come back to india, you dont need to work we have everything etc etc , I hear almost everyday , because I call her each day But that does not make me stop calling her, I got to do what a son got to do simple.

    — Does the cycle of in laws appeasement for a DIL ever end? Can she ever make choices which are truly independent without the burden of guilt or the disapproval of people around her…

    The ending of the cycle,, Well it should end when a DIL becomes a MIL but sadly that never happens, I have seen come people comment here and in Real life who go on and on about their MIL, but when they become a MIL themself the ydo exactly the same thing.

    I am hoping that since you guys live in your own house you should be making your own decisions and choices, yes the in laws will have their inputs .. SO my advice here is again what my FATHER told me .. LISTEN TO EVERYONE- Talk TO EVERYONE- BUT DO WHAT YOUR HEART PLEASES… no harm in listening sometimes you might get a better choice ..

    regarding the guilt of disapproval well you cant PLEASE eveyrone no matter how good you are that is never gonna happen..

    so my best wishes and all the best and live a happy life.. god bless you both

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aah! Thanks bikramjit! Its all about power and control ur right. I really hope when we become parents we are able to break this power ka sanskaar n legacy of our culture. I am indeed going to follow ur dads advice! The only thing i hope is i am able to shut my ears n mind when i hear sm nasty stuff coming my way😉 cheers!

      Like

  7. Let me turn this around and tell you about how it goes when my mother in law comes and lives with us for a few months every year. I like the way I run my household and any change is okay for a few days at a time and beyond a certain time limit, it becomes very difficult to deal with changes. We are all adults and are set in our own ways. This is why my relationship with my in laws feels a lot more pleasant when they’re in their own home and I’m in mine.

    Like

  8. Don’t change anything, life you life, you are ADULTS. and get to choose what you do, where you live with whom.
    Don’t take guilt quietly, tell them they are causing you undue stress, causing their son undue stress and stress KILLS. do they want to be responsible for that? they need to grow up mentally. tell them that they need to know. they need to hear that they are causing trouble in their sons life.
    Some people know by themselves, some need to be told.

    Like

  9. 1. We (me and husband live separately) and so does my SIL and her husband and all our cousins. None of us live with either of our parents but we are all in the same city within a radius of 10 kims.
    As far as relationship with MIL is concerned, to begin with I never had a problem at all but I guess that’s because though I had an arranged marriage, even before I could voice it out, as soon as the marriage was fixed my husband began looking for a house for “us” to move in post wedding. I do not even know if my MIL objected to the decision etc but since day 1 we have had a a very cordial relation. We visit during festivals and one weekend we visit them and another weekend we visit my parents. So done.
    But, my SIL was in a joint family and later they moved out, but relationship with MIL is on/off. My SIL’s husband though is a pretty chilled out man as in he visits his parents and respects them but otherwise just does not let them go beyond that. So it’s my SIL who gets irritated by all the comments, but we have asked to take it with a pinch of salt.
    No, you and your husband are already doing a lot. I mean going out for weekend vacations, dinners and movies just to convince them for anything is just a little too much. I would have never done all of that. I understand that there will be initial friction, but this is too much.
    The DIl-MIL relationship will only improve when every girl firmly puts her foot down and says that she will NOT move in with in laws at any cost. If they are physically disabled i.e. confined to bed then also help should be hired because the DIL is not a servant.
    This should be the primary point of discussion and the same holds good for the DIL too – some DIL’s will not want to live in a joint family, but when children arrive will expect the MIL to come and look after the kids. Now having kids is a couple’s choice and so looking after them is the couple’s headache, not the in laws. So all women must learn and understand this logic. My SIL has a kid and she takes no help from her MIL. The kid goes to a day care and after that they have a servant at home.
    In your case, you agreed to move into a joint family because “you were not interested in domestic chores”. For that you could have simply hired a maid/cook, you did not have to move in with your MIL, to me it sounds no different from a MIL expecting a DIL to do domestic chores, here you moved in expecting to get rid of that. So once you move out also, stop expecting help. Do things your own way or leave them, but don’t expect any help or crib and sulk about it .It’s both (you and your husband) of your responsibility to manage the house and think of how you will do it and plan accordingly.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This probably may not be of much help. I do know of close relatives whose marriage was on the rocks while they lived with parents/in-laws. They gave a shot at all living under one roof, and when that didn’t work, they gave a shot at living apart but near. They decided to live separately, but close enough that they could help each other out when needed, and things have improved drastically. They actually like, respect and and enjoy being with each other more, now that everyone has a space to be themselves. It did help though,in their case, that this transition was actively encouraged by all the extended family and working on improving relationships was given more importance than social norms dictated by society. No one (at least no one important or close) said that this is a shame to the family or that they are going against the culture. And most people close to them encouraged it. It turned out to be a good solution for them at least.

    Like

  11. — Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation?At the very core of it, is it even required?
    Your second question above (is it even required) is very pertinent. The answer is ‘no’. Do your duties as children – ensure parents get help health wise or financially. Other than that, EXPECT respect. No one will respect you unless you expect it. Don’t appease someone who is wrong or immature. EXPECT courtesy. In your interactions, if they are rude, walk away and do something else, or simply leave. If they are incapable of pulling off a decent visit (where everyone is civil to each other), refuse to engage in visits. Do not engage in unnecessary discussions, explanations, debates, justifications, who is right/wrong. You are very much within your right to choose to live where you want. You and your husband are both adults. Once you understand that and feel right about your decision, you will stop feeling guilty.

    — Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?

    Yes, I did for 3 years. We lived within 20 minutes of my in-laws. We did not have any issues. I’ve always made my boundaries clear. We also made it clear that we will take care and help out parents on both sides as needed. When my m-i-l would give unsolicited advice like, “You should place the TV here, not here.” I would smile and respond “This is where I like it” which instantly discouraged any further drama. If she said, “Wear this saree not this one” to a wedding, I would respond, “I feel like wearing this one today.” Boundaries are important. My mil hurt her leg and became somewhat immobile for 6 months. Both my husband and I were there helping out without hesitation. But I never allowed her to treat me like a child. My mil could not control my calendar. Heck, she didn’t have access to my calendar. I visited whom I wanted when I wanted, cooked and ate what I wanted, arranged my house the way I liked it, dressed as I felt comfortable. These are the perks of being an adult.

    — What does a son do when the parents are, to put it crudely, mean to him and use guilt as a weapon? Any tips on how to deal with it?

    Your husband needs to understand emotional blackmail for what it is. Please understand that there are parents who are mature, not needy, and respect their adult children’s views. So this is not just a “parent thing”. If he can understand this, he will stop feeling guilty. Less guilt, less stress.

    — Does the cycle of in laws appeasement for a DIL ever end? Can she ever make choices which are truly independent without the burden of guilt or the disapproval of people around her…
    This is not a dil-mil issue. It is not about your mil. It is about you and your husband. You made a choice to live with your in-laws, which is intrinsically problematic. Now, either or both of you feel the guilt of leaving (which means the emotional blackmail is succeeding). Both of you need to recognize that 1) you are adults and the architects of your own destinies, 2) you can choose where to live, 3) you have a right to your happiness. If you can do these 3 things as a couple, your mil will cease to be an issue.

    Like

  12. It is difficult to challenge already existing set of beliefs and customs unless in-laws are really liberal but silent criticism and judgements do creep in. Couples with kids also feel shortchanged when in-laws refuse to baby-sit the kids. Young couples are rightfully demanding their independence. Most parents also suffer from empty nest syndrome. But the thing is to stay close and not too close. Like in-laws staying on the first floor while the couple lives on the second.There is just enough mixing and no estrangement. You will have a separate kitchen and your own house to maintain while your in-laws will be on another floor.
    It is a fine balance,a clear give and take and respect for the boundaries drawn.
    I would ask you to move out,to another floor in the same building if possible or close enough that your in-laws don’t feel abandoned. Do not appease anyone,but do not disrespect either.
    Just speak your mind,politely. Ask your husband too to bring his folks around by stating his intentions clearly.

    Like

  13. My suggestion is “Kuch toh log kahenge, logo ka kaam hai kahna, chodo bekar k baton mai kahin beet na jae raina”

    You can’t do anything in this situation.Maximum what you can do is that if your In-Laws are not talking with you and your husband normally then stop talking to them.

    If you try to reason out with them then they are not going to understand it because of their ego and superiority complex (as they are parents and they know best).

    Like

  14. I lived with my in laws for a year and then we moved to our own house a few buildings down the road. Nothing changed, the constant judging, non stop criticizing, guilt about not reproducing not from the in laws but from the relatives as well and even my mother in laws fish monger continues after 11 years of marriage. We now live abroad and my in laws visited us for a month last year. the stress that 1 month caused me made me almost leave my own home. This is despite the fact that my husband is not close to his parents and hardly talks to them. But being in the same house, being constantly judged, told off and laughed at became too much.

    After that my mother in law called my mother telling her how I cook for 2 – 3 days (I have a full time job, no help and I leave home at 6 am). How my husband and I fight all the time (strangely we only fought when they were there) and how I can never have a child because I am so hyper.

    So dear AP there is nothing you can do except develop a thick skin. I just listen from one ear and remove from the other. Nothing they or anyone can say bothers me and trust me they say things that can pierce my heart. We usually have a good laugh now when we see their behavior and open a bottle of wine and have a good bitching session together and move on.

    Oh BTW when they were here we both opened several bottles of wine in our own room to get over the stress.

    Like

  15. Is there anything you can do different?
    Yes, reduce communication to nil. Zero. Nada. Nuffink.(or at least minimal) Until they are comfortable with this decision and can stop taking u on guilt trip. Ditto for extended family. If they call you, tell them nicely that they can take care of the couple if they are so concerned. Both of them are healthy and active and do not need active care. Also use that Kabir line “Boya ped babool ka, to aam kahaan se khaye?” – if you have sown the seeds of hatred, you cannot get sweetness and gratitude in return. Too many times, this debate of care for the elderly by children completely ignores the abuse that children are subjected to while the “elders” have had power.
    If your own in laws have never lived with their in laws, u can cite that information too. But you need to communicate to all concerned that you are NOT going on a guilt trip. And they can stop trying about now.

    What does a son do when his parents are mean?
    The same thing that daughters do – cut the umbilical cord, be responsible for your own emotional health, and move on. Its sad when our parents do it, but we have to take care of ourselves first.

    Does the cycle of in laws appeasement ever end?
    Yes. The cycle is only possible if you are in it. Appeasement depends on you doing the appeasing. No appeasing, no appeasement. No cycle. You are blessed to have a husband who understands. Even if that wasn’t the case, the appeasement is still your problem. You have to stop doing it.

    Like

  16. Why do South Asians confuse western clothes and habits with modernity and liberalism? If you live in a society where western habits are highly valued status symbols, then adopting them is just conformity, isn’t it? And who would be more eager to conform than the most conservative souls? Put it this way, you will very often see wives of Indian industrialists in evening gowns, but I can’t think of women who are more entrenched in patriarchy.

    I wish modernity in our part of the world was more widely understood to be a desire for progress in one’s own society rather than a desire to adopt “western” ways. I don’t mean that you have to wear khadi to be a social reformer, but nor do you have to wear western clothes or drink.

    I don’t mean to criticise the LW, but this is a common attitude (she wears jeans so she must be a liberal) that bothers me. We should learn to see social change as a part of the development of our own heritage and our journey towards a more egalitarian society. It is perfectly possible to be proud of one’s own culture and still understand the need to move it forward. I would love to see more real progressives standing up for their native languages in place of the current basanti-clad guardians of Bharatiya Sabhyata.

    Like

  17. Why do South Asians confuse western clothes and habits with modernity and liberalism? If you live in a society where western habits are highly valued status symbols, then adopting them is just conformity, isn’t it? And who would be more eager to conform than the most conservative souls? Put it this way, you will very often see wives of Indian industrialists in evening gowns, but I can’t think of women who are more entrenched in patriarchy.

    I wish modernity in our part of the world was more widely understood to be a desire for progress in one’s own society rather than a desire to adopt “western” ways. You don’t have to wear khadi to be a social reformer, but nor do you have to wear western clothes or drink.

    I don’t want to criticise the LW, but this is a common attitude (she wears jeans so she must be a liberal) that bothers me. We should learn to see social change as a part of the development of our own heritage and our journey towards a more egalitarian society. It is perfectly possible to be proud of one’s own culture and still understand the need to move it forward. For example, I would love to see more real progressives standing up for their native languages in place of the current basanti-clad guardians of Bharatiya Sabhyata.

    Like

    • Exactly! I too have never understood the correlation of western clothing with perceived “modern and liberal” thinking. It is like judging a book by it’s cover.
      Similarly I am often put off by folks equating professional degrees (doctors, engineers etc) with more knowledge, wisdom, and being more evolved. I have countless examples of (so called) “highly educated” folks living, believing and practicing meaningless customs in the name of the great “Indian culture”, not having an inquisitive, enquiring mind, being oppressively irrational, not being open to newer ideas and way of life. On the contrary I have seen (so called) “lesser educated” folks, some never having had a full formal education, leading and practicing an egalitarian lifestyle, constantly seeking ways to better their life via objective, rational and open thought processes.
      It’s time we stopping judging people by what they wear, their gender, their formal education (or lack thereof), their looks, their skin color, their physique etc and look at the person inside, and how they lead their life.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. You can keep cordial relationship with your in laws ! Maybe not react to what they say ,…like everything they might be criticising you for may not be untrue,unjustified or even nagging ???
    In the same way, you too have issues with them ! They are like this,like that ,too opinionated, too interfering, too this and too that !
    If you cut off from them don’t expect any help when you or your husband fall sick or with children !
    They are parents,…. You will grow old one day,…and maybe an innocuous odd remark from you might elicit the same response,…,too interfering !
    You can create boundaries but don’t use those boundaries to create more disrespect !
    I don’t agree with much of all the commentators have mentioned above !
    Also, you have already separated so half the job is done, the rest of what you do or don’t do will depend on your kindness,niceness or even understanding level !

    Like

  19. A little late to the party, but I wanted to add some things.

    “Is there anything different my hubby and I need to do to assuage the situation?At the very core of it, is it even required?”

    Nope. When dealing with emotionally abusive (and emotional blackmail is being emotionally abusive) people, the best thing to do is to politely set boundaries. Ask your parents not to pick up your inlaws’ calls for the time being.

    As for random relatives calling you guys because they are oh so concerned (/sarcasm), you must tell them to mind their own business. Say it as politely as you want, but you must let them know that you are uncomfortable with them butting into your personal lives–“thank you for your concern, but we are handling the situation the best we can.” Hang up the phone and screen their calls–do not pick up.

    — Has someone lived or know someone having in laws in the same city but living in different houses? How has the experience been? Did the relations improve?

    I live in my father-in-law’s house and I really like it so far. Obviously, he’s a parent and does tend to baby me a little bit–seeing that I’m eating properly and stuff. For domestic chores, we have two full time maids and a full time cook so I don’t have those responsibilities. And while he is slightly traditional (nothing remotely compared to most stories here), he’s never tried to force it down anyone’s throats so there’s that.

    I have been in situations where someone’s tried making passive aggressive comments (or taunts I suppose) towards me (not my MIL), but I shut that down before it even started.

    Living with in laws (regardless of how traditional or liberal) is like living in a house with room mates who are also your landlords. If the conditions on the lease are unacceptable to you, then seek housing elsewhere.

    Like

  20. Enjoyed reading the post and the comments.
    I could not comment earlier as I was traveling.
    I have now settled down here in California for another long stay.

    I have nothing new to say. Others have said it already.Just develop a thick skin and brush off the Mil’s barbs and don’t react. Live exactly the way you want to live.

    There is simply no solution to this problem. It will vanish (hopefully) after one more generation!

    I belong to your parents age group.
    I live away from my children, and in our family, we all prefer it that way. Seeing the writing on the wall, I have planned my future too. I have booked my place in a retirement home.

    The relations with my children have been extra cordial, precisely because of this. The day we all live under the same roof, I know the fireworks will start.

    It may be some consolation to you to know that your problem is common in many Indian families.
    Even in my house in Bangalore, we are not free from problems. In our case the problem is not between my wife and my mother.

    My parents are no more and they never gave a chance for friction to develop because they lived separately nearly all their lives except for the last few weeks of their lives, when due to healthcare reasons they were compelled to move in with us. But by then, they were too old to interfere in our lives and we did not have a problem.

    The drama in my household is between my wife and my mother in law (i.e her own mother) who lives with us.
    There is the usual love and affection of course between a mother and a daughter. But their views on Kitchen management and treatment of maid servants are diametrically opposite and sparks fly over many issues, almost daily.

    Mil is now 82 and in indifferent health. But she is strong enough to interfere in her daughter’s household management.

    I have advised Mil to keep out of the kitchen and lead a retired life, watch all the TV (Bhakti channels and serials) she wants. She is forgetful, burns the food by not switching off the gas in time, particularly when she gets a phone call. She has slipped and fallen on the floor a few times and her thin bony hand looks like it may snap any time if she tries to lift a pressure cooker by the handle. She misplaces the spices and potters about noisily in the kitchen looking in all the kitchen shelves. She needlessly empties containers and shifts the contents to another container much to my wife’s annoyance. Commands to keep out of the kitchen have not worked. She agrees for once and then she is up to her old habits soon. Looks like she is loath to give up her former territory. After all, she was queen of the kitchen during her younger days when my wife was busy with her job and managing two kids.

    Neither will Mil give up her nasty habit of ragging our poor maidservant by following her around the house as she goes about her job and giving needless instructions and nit picking. This angers my wife and they have their daily spats. I sometimes am forced to broker peace between them. I realize Mil is too old to change now. She passes needless comments on the doings of my wife, even me, and our relatives doings and practices. A hair cut on a Tuesday once invited disapproval and unkind comments. It was no use explaining why I had to do it on that occasion. She wont wear anything other than a sari and does not take kindly to my wife opting for the salvaar kameez most of the time. At least when going to a temple, dress up “properly”, she says. “properly” means dressed in a Sari. She stares disapprovingly at the mid riff of my niece who is married for five years now but has not announced any “good news” yet. She does not say anything of course, to the niece, knowing it will not be tolerated either by the niece or by us, but her eyes and facial expressions say it all. After the niece leaves, all restraint breaks down and she pours out her thoughts and blames us for not counseling the niece.

    She just cannot get over her deep rooted caste prejudices. Her BP shoots up when we allow the servant to drink coffee from the same “ever silver” tumblers that we use. She wants special cups/tumblers made of glass to be reserved for them. We have put our foot down and refused to allow any of this nonsense in our house.

    She clicks her tongue disapprovingly when my wife loans the maid servant small amounts occasionally or sometimes gives away something from the house for which we have no use any longer.

    After these spats, Mil goes to her room in a huff and sulks and then soon all is forgotten until next time!

    These are just some instances. I could write a book on her doings and sayings and the goings on in our house!

    My son is nearing marriageable age. (He is 28). Both my wife and I have already decided, he is NOT going to live with us. My son too knows this and has mercifully assured us that he has no such plans. I am sure he will not marry unless he has the means to live separately. He is currently too busy with his career and studies to even think of marriage.

    I am now here in California to help my daughter manage her two and half year old son and also the household. We are here at their specific invitation and for a limited period only. This is probably my last extended stay here. In future they must learn to manage on their own. During this stay, my wife and I will only help them to cope with the pressures of a full time job and the raising of a little kid and household management. We just don’t ask them anything about their lives or pass comments, or give them any advice unless specifically asked. The relation is cordial.

    I wrote all this just to pep you up.

    Be happy that you have your hubby’s support. Many women are not so fortunate. Stick to your ways and simply ignore the Mil and her sayings. Laugh it off if you can, or else at least simply brush it off without reacting.

    Hopefully the problem will resolve itself over time and your Mil will finally give up on you, rather than you on her!
    Regards
    GV
    Camp: California

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gv.
      Most of the examples u gave about your mil are personality traits and really old habits die hard !! Everyone has rough corners and its best to ignore and move on or live separately !
      The funny thing is the traits you mentioned in your mil are even found in young women so I wouldn’t blame your mil entirely ! :p
      A clear understanding has to be made whether its actually intended abuse or an off remark or even just an observation/opinion !
      I guess people are not tolerant these days and take things much more personally than they should !
      I have an aunt who is cruel,a little evil and very critical ! But I learnt sewing from her because she is established master !!A perfectionist ! She is tough but I wanted to learn so I ignored her traits as much as I could !!But yes, I can’t live with her day in day out !
      I am sure I have traits that people may not tolerate !! I guess husband wife relationship is the only one where people tolerate each other so much that sometimes they can’t even recognise abuse in it !
      We tolerate bad bosses,colleagues more than our brothers,sisters and parents ,…..I find it just unnerving and sad !!

      Like

    • GV, the relationship between your wife and MIL sounds like the one between my mother and grandmother. There are a lot of unresolved issues on both sides–my mother still harbors a lot of resentment towards her for not being ‘helpful enough’ when she was going through tough times–but as much as she argues with her mother it’s better than my grandmother staying with her sons and daughter in laws because theyre too polite to snap back when my grandma is being irrational.
      Plus she’s wuite scared of my father, which means most arguments are kept to a minimum when my father is in the house.
      It would be best if she could stay in her own home, where she feels happy, but that is out of the question, becaus her eyes are very bad and she does not get along with any maids.

      Like

  21. Oh my! I didn’t live with my husband’s family, but still spent over a quarter of a century trying to be a good daughter-in-law, then had a liberating wake up call when I realized that in one snap of the fingers, I was entirely disposable to that family. Since then, I’ve enjoyed guilt free distance from their drama. If I lived in a country/culture that had expected me to LIVE with them? Horror! I shudder to think of it!

    My best advice is to take a quiet time with your husband. Hold hands, and remember that this is your one and only precious life. We can’t get a refund on Time, and it’s not a dress rehearsal. Choose to not let the bad choices of others void your choice to love and be happy together.

    Like

  22. A bit late, but just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time out to share their views and experience! I feel a little more equipped to handle the situation now🙂 – AP

    Like

  23. Pingback: “Practically, what can an introvert DIL do to communicate that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  24. Pingback: “My husband would tell me to stay with my in laws for some more time and that he didn’t want any discussions.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  25. Pingback: “I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  26. Pingback: An email from the Accused Guy: ‘I would request all to respond once again after reading the other side of it.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s