Please note the difference between the support/response that a married Indian son and a married Indian daughter get from their families.
One set of parents wants their child to Stay Married no matter what (they expect nothing more), while the other expects to control their child’s life, and marriage (and possibly finances).
Traditional patriarchal norms justify, romanticise and facilitate abuse, and make it difficult for abuse victims to notice that they are being abused.
Not surprisingly, Indian women seem to believe they need to Stay Married much more than Indian men do. And more men seem to feel they need to control their wives, no matter how unhappy it makes them, and their relationship as a couple.
Sharing an email.
I’m desperately in need of guidance with the issues I have in my marriage and this is my story:
I got married almost a year ago and my husband works in USA. So after my marriage I spent only a week with my MIL but a week was more than enough for her to create problems. There were issues with dowry, my attitude, customs which my parents didn’t follow, etc etc. Me and my husband didn’t even go on our honeymoon because my MIL wanted us to spend time with her. There were too many issues already and not wanting to create new problems I asked my husband to cancel our honeymoon plan. In that one week, she called my parents daily complaining that I didn’t explain to her about the weight of each piece of jewellery which my parents gave me. Also, she expected me to leave my jewellery in their house [From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.] and tried to communicate it to me in a political way (which I didn’t understand as politics is never my area of expertise ).
She instructed my parents that whenever we leave to USA/come back to India we have to go/come from their house (Airport is a 30 minute drive from my parents’ house and my In Laws’ place is a three hour drive) and I can be at my parents’ house only for a few days. A lot more added up and there was too much tension when we finally left for USA. My MIL lies a lot and it’s so frequent that 1 out of 10 of her statements would be a lie. Anyone can easily find out that she is lying but my husband justified that that’s how his mother is and she won’t change. He helped a lot by supporting me emotionally so I was happy that he atleast understood the problem.
After we came to USA, we started our own life and things were good at the beginning. We had our arguments and fights but we worked on it and were happy. We talk to our MIL in Skype once a week. Initially my husband was a little angry with her saying that she created so many problems for unnecessary reasons. She tackled him by saying that she is facing medical issues and that she has gone through so much trouble to raise him. Eventually my husband started talking to her. She used to find fault with whatever I do, the food I prepared, the dress I wore, the way I spoke. Nothing was good enough for her son. After three months into my marriage, my husband went through a minor surgery in his leg. On the first day after his surgery, we skyped to my MIL and the first statement which she said looking at me was that I should comb my hair, dress well, wash my face and be fresh all the time. For God’s sake, it was11 pm and I had admitted my husband in the hospital that morning and there was so much work that had to be done before I brought him home. Also, this is not a TV serial to wear all jewels and make up even when I sleep. My husband’s immediate response was to tell me that his mom is right. My MIL wouldn’t have known how much work I did from the morning but I expected my husband to know better. I took care of him very well but the following days became a nightmare.
He became very demanding asking me to follow whatever he commands and I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I thought that going through the surgery was stressful for him and I did whatever he asked me to do. My MIL was talking to my husband daily since he was at home. On the first day when he spoke to my MIL he told her that she had found him a really good wife but just two days later he told my MIL that he doesn’t like me. I knew he was depressed so I tried to console him but my MIL used this as an opportunity and started slandering me. I was sitting next to my husband in front our laptop and she started shouting at me saying that I didn’t know how great she was and used this time to tell me how my parents didn’t give dowry as her son so much worthy, how I didn’t give my jewels to her and told my husband that she will make sure I behave appropriately. My husband demanded me to apologize to her and I did that too but I’m not sure why I apologized. My MIL used to give ideas to my husband about what food to eat and I had to follow the schedule.Once I didn’t have enough ingredients to cook a particular food which my MIL suggested and so I was asked by my husband to walk to the store in October’s cold night. That was the final straw and I couldn’t take more than that. I called my parents and cried explaining the situation. They couldn’t help me much other than consoling me. All these drama continued for few weeks.
My husband resumed his work and situation became little better. My MIL gave lots of ideas to my husband saying that she wakes up early in the morning and does so much work at home. This led to my husband insisting I do the same. Every evening my husband comes from office and starts questioning me on what I did the whole day and even if he finds a small mistake he would start scolding me saying I’m idle at home. He expects me to be a perfectionist so I cook perfect meals, clean and wash but he never stops complaining. My MIL insists on coming to USA saying that she wants to stay with us for awhile and would teach me how to take care of the family. So whenever my husband finds a fault with me, he would say that if MIL is with us she would teach me everything. I feel alone and depressed. I keep myself busy by involving in painting and volunteering in a few organisations but my husband always commented that there is no point in all that because I failed to impress my MIL and him.
Now I’m facing new problems. Even if we have a little argument my husband goes on without talking for weeks. Whenever I tried to convince him he asked me to promise that I would be 100% obedient to him. It felt weird when he asked me of such a thing. My mom is also a working woman so she had a totally different attitude towards life. She insisted I be independent and had always told me that I should think and decide on my own. My husband’s concept of 100% obedience makes me feel oppressed. To solve the immediate crisis, I said yes to him but not even in my dreams I expected him to implement it. He gives me orders for even washing clothes, cleaning the house etc etc . He told me straightaway that he doesn’t want me to give any suggestions for him and wants whatever he expects to be done. He finds fault even in the smallest of chores I do and I’m not supposed to voice my opinion about anything. I tried my best to do whatever he says and I clean everything I could get my hands on. But he never stopped complaining and says that I’m not an ideal wife. He often says that he doesn’t like me anymore. He eats the food I prepare, uses the dresses I wash but he doesn’t talk to me. I find this is a recurring pattern nowadays. He doesn’t talk for weeks together and not talking to one another is very common in their family. My MIL doesn’t talk to any of her sisters, brothers and she doesn’t talk to her IL’s family also. Also, she dominates my FIL totally and he is treated like trash.She gives ideas to my SIL also and their family is facing similar issues. I tried talking to my husband saying that we can solve our differences only by communicating it to each other but he says that there is nothing to talk about and his expectation is for me to do whatever he commands.
I don’t know how to handle all the lies my MIL says and my husband’s reaction to it. Please share your views and suggest how do I handle this situation.