​Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.

Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.

I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced.
I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.
Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?

 

Hi IHM,

I’m 30 yrs old working as a Software Engineer in USA. I’m an only child and my parents have gone out of their way for my education and dreams. They raised me with great pride. Growing up I figured I wouldn’t get married because most guys only want to look after their own parents. And if I did get married, I wouldn’t live with my in-laws. I got married about 5 months ago to someone from different cultural background and broke all my rules. And I had never dreamt in my life that that would be the undoing of my life.

My husband is born and raised in USA. When I met him he came across like a level headed, calm, liberal, and progressive. What I did not realize or chose to ignore until I couldn’t anymore that he is a complete mama’s boy. His dad is a recovering alcoholic and growing up his family was dysfunctional. He had told me that we would be living with his family from the beginning, and even though I didn’t want to, I agreed thinking that’s what you do for people you love. His father is sick and they need financial support. I did tell him that that’s not what I want long term, so maybe few years down the line we should get our own place. He agreed at that time. This is before marriage. Initially, everything was great. I used to think that I lucked out with the in-laws if I marry this guy. Things changed quickly.

His parents, as I’m realizing since the wedding, are the typical patriarchal type. Neither completed school. MIL won’t live in jamai‘s house; a bahu is solely responsible for the entire family’s happiness; bahu is also at the bottom of the ladder in the family and has to prove herself; bahu has to respect no matter what; after marriage sasural is where the bahu belongs etc. etc. My MIL made sure to tell me that she’s not like typical Indian MIL because she doesn’t expect me to cook for the whole family or give her foot massage (what decade is she from?!)

There was a LOT of drama from his mother, sister, brother-in-law even before our engagement. This led to huge fights with by husband (boyfriend at the time) because he saw just their point of view. Fights that involved name-calling, yelling and basically making me feel like I’m a horrible person. His family never tried to even ask what the matter was, nothing. Assumption and judgment. And everything was my fault.

I tried to break up, but I was weak to not stand by that decision when he begged me to not break up. Red flag ignored.

Anyway, we ended up getting through and getting engaged. I had already started resenting his family but kept thinking that if he stands by me, then I’ll be ok. I need my partner to be my rock.

The drama didn’t end there. Things like my MIL getting angry that I texted her about my mum’s birthday outing just a day before (and she couldn’t make it. Her opinion is that if I respected her then I would have let her know a week ahead on the phone) leading her to yell at my mom (who was visiting at that time for our Roka ceremony) on the phone, and us having a show down at my place. My husband supported me during that time, somewhat. He still validated his mom’s opinion and actions, which is where it started to go downhill. I agree that I should have been more mindful, maybe I should have called her as soon as the plan was made. I apologized for it. But how is it ok for a MIL to yell over the phone at my mother and tell her that she hadn’t taught her daughter anything? Who gave her the right to yell? And she left telling my mom that I had “issues” and that she has none. So, her actions were justified and it was because of my behavior that she acted that way. See the trend here?

You must be thinking why I didn’t break it up? Indecision. Thinking it would get better after marriage. The many stories from my mother about how much crap she had to deal with. I just figured I could deal with it and I’m strong. My parents basically left it to me. I wish they had put their feet down, but they didn’t. I try not to put any blame on them. Ultimately, it was my decision making or lack thereof.

My husband isn’t a bad person. He helps around the house, kitchen, around the home. He is supportive of my career up to a point, he doesn’t think I should move away if I got a good job offer because he might not be able to shift (because of his family) and he should be my first priority always.  I found this out post-marriage. Different things were assured before.  Name calling and yelling has always been an issue with him during arguments. I have given him many chances thinking don’t abandon the ship just because there is choppy water. But I think I’ve had enough.

Fast forward to wedding planning, his mother hardly contacted my parents for any wedding discussion. Even getting back on dates was an issue, and my husband would just let it be saying “My mom is like that only”. Red flag ignored.

They wanted us to show them “respect” by giving the close relatives tokens of welcome. And, I’m sad to say my parents did. Even when I tried my best to stop them. In return, there was no show of respect for us. We don’t expect gifts, but my MIL’s behavior throughout the wedding was that of her attending the destruction of her world (son). No appreciation for the effort my parents put in to find a place for them to live in, checking in on them when we could, sending them homecooked food etc. etc. All we heard all the time were complaints. They didn’t show much respect for our culture but expected 110% so that they wouldn’t have to hear anything from their relatives! They expected the ladki wale to be at their feet, serving them because they are ladkewale?

On the day of the wedding, immediately after the pheras, my MIL forced me to put on the lehenga she had picked out for me (mind you, didn’t even pack the chunni). When my mom asked her if it was necessary since she had bought my benarasi with great love and would like me to keep it on, she snapped at my mom in front of her relatives saying “Do what you want! No respect for us”. Everyone in the hall noticed it. She made my mom cry, on my wedding day for a stupid lehenga. Rest of the night my MIL acted as if it was the saddest day of her life. My parents had also bought our traditional groom wear for my husband, but his mom didn’t let him wear all of it. Just the kurta under the “designer” sherwani they had got made. So is that not disrespectful towards us? My mom then has full rights to create a scene too like my MIL? But she didn’t. Were my parents sad about it, yes; did they lash out? No.

And what I’m about to write about is probably the day it solidified in my mind that I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My parents, husband and I had gone to visit my dadi since she could not attend the wedding. My dad developed a fever on the way back, so we dropped off my husband at his maasi’s house (he didn’t even want to come to his “sasural” because his parents weren’t with him) and we came back to my house. My dad went to the doctor to get medicine. Within the hour, my MIL calls yelling at my mom that I had disrespected her, I had hurt her by not stopping by (ok, I agree maybe I could have taken 2 minutes to do that and that’s my mistake), how embarrassing it was to find her “married” son come home without bahu, that people have been talking about how I’m not very bahu like, my mom had not taught me anything, and on and on she went. And then she also dared to ask my mom why she was so attached to me especially since I had been living abroad for the last 12 years. What mother asks that of another mother?? Do you love your child less because she lives somewhere else? Or is my mother to prepare mentally that I’m to go away and serve another’s family so she shouldn’t be attached to her child?

I called my husband and demanded to know why his mother thought she could yell at my mother, and he simply defended her.
Later I came to find out he was there the entire time that his mother was yelling at my mother and he lied to me saying he wasn’t there. He justified her behavior, he defended her act. They both blamed it on me and my parents.

No apologies, nothing. And, now I’m living with them. To see them every day is a reminder of everything my parents and I have tolerated. My parents don’t even want to come visit anymore because of my MIL’s actions. I have been called names during fights with my husband, labeled as “selfish”, that I don’t like his family etc. etc.

I have tried to forgive and forget, but I have been unable to. I’m still hurt and my parents are too. I keep thinking that something is wrong with me that I can’t forgive yet. I have been made to feel bad that I can’t forgive, by my husband, who says it’s a mental choice, if one really wants to forgive then they can in a snap. I don’t think so, but I have no one to back me up.

My parents still try to maintain good relations with my husband, and he thinks it’s because he is a great son-in-law. In his family, I have realized that they believe they are wonderful people with perfect manners, and if they act rudely then it’s another’s fault. His mother and sister make decisions for him and don’t even communicate with me. He lets them and if I protest, then he doesn’t understand why it’s wrong because it’s his family. I literally feel like he’s married to his family.

I have ruined my life. The person I thought I was marrying turned out be another family puppet. He has no backbone to call out the wrong when his family does wrong. He will defend them for everything. And sadly I got to see the worst after the wedding not before.

Now I’m at a point where I want to take the control of my life back. I want live by myself, with or without the husband, I don’t want to serve his family or even call them my family. I used to take pride in being a feminist, always fighting for equal treatment. I’m not sure who I am anymore. Every point I feel selfish because it’s not aligned with what my husband/in-laws might want.

Mentally I have decided to separate in a year’s time (my parents are supportive of this decision) and do my best until then. I don’t see myself ever fitting into their mentality, lifestyle etc. I don’t want to have kids and have them grow around my husband’s family. And I don’t want to stay in this family because of kids.

I’m not asking if I’m right or wrong. I know this might not be as bad as what some of you have experienced. I simply ask for support. I don’t think it’s right for my parents and me to have to tolerate and put up this kind of family for the rest of my life. There is no point in counseling because (1) I don’t want to waste my energy and time and time (2) he had made it clear, it’s him and his family together or nothing.

I think I have chosen, but not acted upon it yet.

Like I’ve said, I just ask for support. Please do not judge me. I can’t find that kind of support here because Americans don’t know what it is like to be an Indian DIL.

Am I crazy? Am I really self-serving? Is name calling verbal abuse?
Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive?

Just wanted to clarify/add some things.

– I wasn’t fully aware of the extents of the traditional mentality my in-laws have until and after the wedding. I’m sure I must have had seen signs that I ignored, but it didn’t hit home until those words were spoken.

– After coming from the wedding, I had told my husband that I could not live with in-laws who disrespected my family. It really upset him and he called me “selfish” and walked out of the apartment where we were living (moved in with my in-laws after a few months). We had a huge fight where he involved his family and threatened me that if I did not come and settle the matter with his family, then we will end it. I regret not having the guts to end it then. I regret that I let him treat me like that and I went to apologize. I regret sitting and listening to their patriarchal view. I have so many regrets and I feel helpless. 

They complained about my parents not being attentive to them post the pheras (even though it’s not true and I have witnesses), about the bloody lehenga, how in general we didn’t show them sufficient respect etc. etc. I just sat there listening like a coward and did not do anything. I did not stand up for myself or my family. I am so ashamed of myself. All through this my husband just sat there. In his silence, he showed whose side he was on. I did not tell my parents about this until months later after keeping it to myself. I blamed myself for all of it and still do.

– I wonder if I’m in an abusive marriage. It’s not explicit with physical/verbal abuse so it’s so hard to gauge for me. But there is always an undercurrent of tension I feel at all times. Fights almost always involve name calling and yelling especially if it’s about his family. I don’t respond well to yelling at all, so I shut down which makes him further angry. I’m not an angel, I have yelled back too when I reached my limits. Almost anything I say where I don’t want to do something with his family, results in “you just don’t like my family”, “you never want to do… for my family”, “are you telling your mother how depressed you are here?” “if you love me unconditionally, then you should do/accept/act…” “you’re selfish” etc.

And, then comes a honeymoon phase, where I have given into his/their thoughts/opinions, and he showers me with hugs, kisses, and care.

Is it somewhat bipolar in nature?

He doesn’t expect me to cook, clean or wash for him. I can dress as I want, go where I want, meet whoever I want. Yet I have to conform to how he and his family wants to live.

– Even though I said I will wait for a year. I’m not sure why I would do that. I tend to dilly dally a lot. Sometimes I think this year, before the 1 yr anniversary. This is significant because it will bring me no joy. I don’t even want to look at my wedding photos/videos. They only bring back bad memories. Why would I celebrate, esp with his family, 1 yr of the day I wish never took place

Am I beyond help? I’m scared of what his family will do… make me pay for things/rent (since we are renting a house right now) / insult my family and me some more.

From,

Your blog is my support group.

34 thoughts on “​Sharing an email I received. Please help and advise.

  1. Yelling, blame shifting, gas-lighting, sequestering you from your parents’ support are all forms of abuse. Yes, you are in an abusive relationship. I don’t see the point in waiting for a year unless you need time to get your legal and financial ducks in a row. Every day is precious. You are worth as much as anyone else. If they make you feel otherwise, leave. I don’t understand why you don’t consider yourself abused. Your instinct tells you you are. listen to it.

    He cooks and doesn’t expect you to clean after him? So what? I guarantee you, if his family is as patriarchal as you say it, you still do more housework that he does. He deserves no medals. And that’s no reason to stay.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Same pinch
    so nothing has changed in last 16 years it was the same story in 2000 for DG now it is 2016 for you.
    I just did not have the patience to ready every sentence.
    You asked who gave her the right to yell at your mom?
    Answer: Patriarchy that pitches women against women
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/desi-womens-friendships-explore-the-dynamics/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/desi-in-laws-wedging-a-psychological-warfare-against-bahus/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/401/

    To begin with here are your rights in any relationship
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/your-rights-in-a-relationship/

    When hurt anger sets in thus thinking is clouded, learn new skills:
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/assertiveness-learn-to-say-no/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/feeling-and-expressing-your-emotions/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/dealing-with-in-laws/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/ask-before-marrying/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/desi-sons-victims-of-their-mothers/

    Yelling and name calling is verbal abuse and it comes with heavy emotional toll.
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/emotional-abuse/
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/how-abuse-begins/

    whatever has happened has happened you can’t go back and change anything. Work from here on- couple’s counseling is a suggestion. If he comes along good or else go alone for your own sake.
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/all-about-relationships/couples-counseling-faq/

    There many more resources on this blog and GGTS.
    To say Americans will not understand please try to understand abuse is abuse no matter what the cultural context is. Name calling, yelling, threatening, humiliating etc are not acceptable no matter what. Embrace the fact you are a human and have inherent human rights to live in peace is one for the starters.

    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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  3. The thing we as Indian women keep telling ourselves is “not that bad”. The other day I was having a conversation with a friend about her in laws, who she said were “not that bad”. She always says this when she’s talking to me, because my position on my in laws is that I’m not crazy about them and I guess she wants to differentiate herself from me. I told her that my in laws were “not that bad too” but the problem in India, is that the bar is so low. So anyone who is not actively harassing us or demanding dowry or something is seen as someone we should be grateful for. But really, if you apply normal standards – would we normally hang around people who make snide remarks to us or try to push us into doing things we are not comfortable with or are generally moody? In a regular social setting, we’d put a distance between these people and ourselves, but because these people are our in laws we already forgive a lot of stuff that would normally had them cut off. So in fact we’re already extending ourselves just being around and being cordial (as they are as well. why more is expected is a mystery).

    My point is, your in laws are way worse than mine and you are fully justified in not wanting to stay around the toxicity and the drama. I would tell your mother-in-law that if she keeps yelling at your mom your mom will stop communicating with her and if she keeps yelling at you, you will do the same. And if you’ve decided to leave and you are in a financial and logistical position to do so, then do so in less than a year (once you’ve settled all that has to be settled in terms of practical matters, and I’d do that before informing your husband, though I’d inform him that you are not going to put up with nonsense from him or his family for much longer).

    Also, with regards to living with in laws and then getting a house later, I think a rule of thumb for Indian women should be the reverse. Say, “Let’s live separately, and we’ll consider living with them later if the need really arises”. Half the time, the husbands don’t want to live together once they’ve tasted independence, and once the in-laws get to know you they don’t want ot live with you either (or at least that’s the story in my case).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bride,
      Your comment is spot on! When my sister was going through a mentally abusive relationship, my relatives would say, at least he does not hit her, when he did hit her, they said at least he is not a drunkard and is not having an affair. I was like WTF??!!
      Why do we have such low standards and high tolerance for abuse??

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  4. Dear Letter Writer,

    You sound like a strong woman and a feminist to me!🙂 Feminists are not immune to making the wrong choices. Hugs and love to you for displaying courage and reaching out for support in this difficult situation.

    Abuse, whether verbal/emotional/physical/financial, is not always easy to recognize and tackle. Especially when the abuser is a family member. Guilt, isolation, fear, self-doubt on one hand and affection for the abuser on the other are only some of the feelings fighting for space – no wonder it feels like a trap. I faced abuse from a family member 2 months back and am still struggling with those feelings despite severing all contact.

    I feel that it would be a good idea to keep your parents and trusted friends in India in loop all the time, and also to build some support here in the U.S. May be some good friends you can confide in? I agree that one could feel culturally isolated in America, and that could hamper confidence in taking a legal action .
    I recently read about this U.S based organization that supports South Asian women in a culturally-sensitive manner. They offer a range of services from support groups to help with legal matters. http://www.sakhi.org/programs/services/

    I hope this is helpful.

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    • @Kank,
      Just curious, does one who speaks against personal oppression becometh feminist just because they happen to be born female/woman. Whatever happened to collective resistance.
      Feminism I thought is a radical thought that “women are humans and deserve to be treated like one no matter what their caste, class, religion etc. affiliation is.”

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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      • Dear Desi Girl,

        Can a woman’s oppression in a personal sphere ever be strictly considered personal oppression? To me, gender based oppression, no matter how personal, inherently has a systemic or structural element to it.
        The letter writer, despite pursuing a relationship with “a level headed, calm, liberal, and progressive” man and actively laying ground rules about the living situation with her in-laws post-marriage finds herself being abused. She questions and blames her decisions at several points retrospectively, but one cannot ignore the systemic ways patriarchy works in placing a woman (no matter how successful) in such a situation – men who choose to put up a “liberal” exterior because they are somewhat aware of more women espousing equality of the genders is one of them. Women of color in western societies being excluded from the feminist movement and being judged for making certain personal choices, say , wearing a burkini, or having an arranged marriage is ironically another. Do we have the right to say a woman cannot be a feminist because she chooses to be married or wear a headscarf ? A headscarf-wearing married woman could be fighting with her family for her right to education and a career post-marriage and in doing so, isn’t she speaking out against patriarchy by default?

        That said, I have come to learn more about feminism from you and IHM through this blog than anywhere else. Always a fan!
        🙂

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        • Being born woman/female and standing up against personal oppression never maketh a feminist. Personal is political only when identified and resisted as a collective oppression within the confines of a system; a system that dehumanizes and objectify certain members just because they share certain characteristics be it gender, caste, class, religion or so on.

          Dropping “F” label on any woman who speaks against personal oppression just weakens the collective struggle because when we picket and sit in none of these personal crusaders come and support us. In these many years in the west, I am yet to see a middle aged desi woman to come and walk with me at the Take Back the Night or protest violence against women in general. Yes, many have used the domestic violence shelters feminists run in the town and that is what we run them for but we too need support.

          Fighting personal battles doesn’t maketh a movement. Women and families have for times immemorial fought against dowry deaths but it only made impact when they united and protested together for a change. Before Shashi Bala many had died and many parents ran pillar to post to get justice, until Satyarani Chaddha sat in and others joined in http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/after-34-years-a-measure-of-justice-in-india/article11729701/

          The issue of one white feminism and feminism of color was resolved long back again. There are many feminisms no one owns any one. Personal choice of wearing a head scarf or practicing a misogynist faith is one that individual women have to deal with at their personal level. To me it doesn’t matter if one wears a head scarf or a spaghetti colander on their head it is just like sporting short bob, shoulder length hair, pig tails or a top knot as long as it doesn’t effect their job performance and delivery of results. It will bother me if someone try to sell me their brand of God or fairy tale.

          Thanks for acknowledgement.

          Peace,
          Desi Girl

          Like

      • @Desi Girl,
        Yes, just because she is fighting a personal battle does not make her a feminist, but that does not mean she is not a feminist either.
        Even feminists are after all folks with personal lives and personal struggles. and a lot of times these personal struggles make them the feminists that they become.
        Also, just because you are not out there picketing and doing walks, does not make you any less of a feminist. The definition of feminism is believing in equality for all and demanding equality for all, Even if your contribution towards the feminist movement is only on the personal front you can still be a feminist.
        An i personally believe that to bring about a societal change and an attitude change these personal life struggles by each and every woman will be a lot more important than any number of walks/pickets we hold.

        Like

        • @Priya,

          “Every time a woman refuses to be a doormat she is labeled feminist.” Who said that I do not recall but that is how it is playing. Did I deny feminists are not people with families or personal lives? How “personal becometh political” mentioned in my previous comment did not ring with you.
          Personal struggle propagating lasting social change devoid of collective identification and resistance is false consciousness.
          Women like all other oppressed categories have gone from personal to political only through collective resistance.
          Definition of feminism has moved from equality to equity long ago.
          Yes, arm chair feminists have been quite a bane to the movement.
          You are entitled to personal views please carry on.
          Peace,
          Desi Girl

          Like

  5. The issue is not whether they are bad or you are good. It is just a matter of incompatibility.

    This is an important decision of you, and its ok to take your time over making it But once you have made the decision to split, what’s the point postponing? What’s so holy about a year? You are just prolonging the agony for all of you.

    While the above is a mark of support for you, I do have a problem with your attitude too. Why do you have to apologise for what you are? ” He is supportive of my career up to a point,” Does a man ever say that of his wife? Who is anyone else to be “supportive” of your career or lack of it thereof? And what is “up to a point”? Does that not sound lame? Aren’t you defending him for being a prick? He does not “expect” you to cook clean etc.? Meet whomsoever you want? What is he? A giver of your life? Your freedom? A very wise friend once told me that no one ever “give” anyone else their freedom. It is ours by right. Don’t be grateful to him for not “expecting you” to do this or that.

    Don’t make excuses for your decision. Don’t let yourself go on a guilt trip. Yes, life is hard. Separation can be hard. Face it head on. The moment you go on a guilt trip, you are on the trip for life.

    And while you are at it, see if you can take a meditation workshop or retreat. You may need it to make yourself stronger to face the ordeal.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Quotes from the LW-
    “Later I came to find out he was there the entire time that his mother was yelling at my mother and he lied to me saying he wasn’t there. He justified her behavior, he defended her act. They both blamed it on me and my parents.”

    “I keep thinking that something is wrong with me that I can’t forgive yet. I have been made to feel bad that I can’t forgive, by my husband, who says it’s a mental choice, if one really wants to forgive then they can in a snap. I don’t think so, but I have no one to back me up.”

    This isn’t about forgiveness it is about betrayal and lack of trust.
    Your husband has shown you by his words and actions that you can no longer trust him.
    Your husband’s parents have shown you by their words and actions that you can no longer trust them.
    Once trust has been broken it is nearly impossible to restore.
    You have not ruined your life you have simply made a mistake.
    I divorced my first husband after 6 months of marriage for similar reasons. Was it embarrassing, humiliating, horrible, and hurtful? YES. But I really could not see myself living with or having children with someone I could not trust.

    Years went by and I married again. My MIL and FIL are lovely and treat me as their own daughter. One of my SIL’s and her husband tried giving me the bahu treatment insisting my husband divorce me. (This was even after I’d paid for her & her deadbeat husband’s rent for 6 months- not even a “thank you” for that.) Why does SIL hate me so much? Because she thinks she should have been the one to choose my husband’s wife. I suspect that’s what is going on in your situation to some extent too.

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  7. If your parents are supporting you it means something is really wrong with your marriage, and you’re not exaggerating it in your head. I think you should end it if you cannot adjust with their sense of values, lifestyle and thinking. In my opinion, it’s not about who is right and who is wrong, but about what is right for me and what’s right for you. No use bringing a child into this world who’ll get incongruous values from his/her parents. Your in-laws and husband may not be cruel and abusive in the legal or even in moral sense in the eyes of many, but if they hold on to values and traditions that you cannot live with, then you should end the marriage. If you’re clear about it right now or at any point later, then end it. It’s not like you’re being forced to stay in the marriage by orthodox views of your parents, financial dependency etc. There is no reason to look at divorce as taboo. It’ll save precious years of yours and your husband’s lives.
    But before that, please do give it much thought and efforts. Try to see things from their point of view, draw a line at things that absolutely go against your moral judgment and tell them about it clearly and without alternatives. Even if you do something just for the sake of their peace of mind, tell them so. Make it absolutely clear to your husband that decisions about his and your married life will be taken only and absolutely by you two, advice and solicitations by family and friends are welcome. Where you think you were wrong, like calling up your MIL, apologise (but don’t be servile) and be careful not to repeat it. If she calls your parents, then call her back and tell her where all she was wrong in complaining, where she was right and you can change that. Better still visit her and tell her that, instead of calling. If your husband yells during arguments, stop replying but don’t shut down. Tell him you will talk again when he’s not yelling. Please do a lot of introspection. It’ll dig out points where you may be wrong and clear your mind about your views on the situation. And allow room for your husband to do the same, coz there might be situations where he finds your opinion unacceptable to him. I’m not married, but I saw peace in my home when my parents started doing this. I see my father adjust sometimes for my mother and vice versa. The fights are over, though they both express their displeasure with the other’s decision to me or to each other but always politely. My father has stopped yelling and when he does my mom replies back calmly as if he never yelled but never shuts up like you. This makes him lower his voice automatically, coz one can’t keep yelling at someone who’s not shouting back. Dilly dallying, resenting internally, grumbling etc. and not actively taking steps to better you situation is not good for either you or your husband. He’s also stuck between his commitment to his marriage, his love for his birth family and the values and habits he inherited from his parents. It takes time and huge efforts from the person themselves to change long held beliefs. If you want to stick around with him till he does this for some of his opinions, then stay. If you can’t, and want to give your time and efforts to other things in life and all this is hampering that, then leave. People say it’s all complicated but in my personal experience, it boils down to the fact that we all have 24 hours in a day, and everybody is ultimately interested in their own life and their and their children’s happiness.
    And there are many articles on this blog where you will find prudent advice on divorce proceedings in comments. All the best ahead!!

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  8. Hi, It sounds like you did know from the start what was about to happen but kept thinking positive. i think you should accept that fact and move on.
    Your words:”I don’t even want to look at my wedding photos/videos. They only bring back bad memories. Why would I celebrate, esp with his family, 1 yr of the day I wish never took place.” sort of indicate that you want to get out as fast as possible.

    If you have tried talking to him in person about your deep feelings and he has chosen to ignore them for the sake of his family, then call it quits I’d say.

    But if you have not done that, then try to take a weekend away and convey your resentment and anger and see if he would try to accept your feelings and work towards a common ground such as moving to another apartment.

    AS it is now, it is never going to be a happy marriage.

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  9. Am I crazy? No, you are being driven crazy by your crazy husband’s family.
    Am I really self-serving? No.To be honest, every living creature IS SELF SERVING. So, to me it is not a bad thing.
    Is name calling verbal abuse? Of course, yes.
    Why do I constantly feel like I’m a horrible person for not being able to forgive? You are not a horrible person. It is just the guilt and conditioning acting out.
    I wonder if I’m in an abusive marriage.- If the marriage includes your husband’s family, yes.

    Don’t wait for a year. Take action now. The longer you wait, you will justify staying with sunken costs/time logic.

    For your parents side, I highly recommend that they completely and utterly cut contact with your husband’s family. They should not be putting up with abuse. If you want to be in touch, you go meet them when you please without informing anyone.

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  10. As you said, these people are uneducated and all they have is this weird notion of “respect” that they cling onto.
    About your own feelings, I can recommend the following course of action: instead of feeling angry or hurt, try to shift to compassion. As in: they know so little and are so desperate that their only way to communicate and feel happy is to enslave you and yell at you. I believe these people must be very, very unhappy.
    You, on the other hand, have an education and a brain that has been trained to look at the bigger picture. The lehenga thing is a perfect illustration: your MIL picked it, with great care i’m sure, and felt sad (which might have translated into “offended”). She wasn’t able to recognize that it was YOUR wedding day, just that her son was “stolen” from her. Poor woman…
    Now I don’t think they can ever change their mindset. So leaving is the best option. Especially since you are in the US where it is more common on simpler to do.
    The only explanation you owe your in-laws and husband is incompatibility of characters.
    Be free and live happily.

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  11. I would say, leave him and start afresh. The situation may improve a bit but would require tremendous effort from your end. And will simply not be worth it.

    There is a lot waiting for you, go ahead and embrace a new future!

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  12. IHM, if the letter writer wouldn’t mind, could you pass my email address onto her? I would love to connect with her and talk. I’m an attorney, qualified both in India and in the U.S, if that is helpful. If not, I live on the east coast and would love to be a friend.

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  13. Dear LW,
    Hugs and lots of support to you from this side of the world. I am Indian and have grown up in patriarchal surroundings, so I can say I understand your predicament.

    1. You are not wrong in wanting things that you want. More so when it is directly related to your own life.
    2. Name calling is abuse. It is confusing at first. But if your instincts don’t like it then it isn’t right.
    3. Your in-laws are no doubt abusive to you and your family, but so is your husband. Putting you down by treating you badly and not respecting your decisions and opinions is him considering you below himself. And yelling at anyone is unacceptable.
    4. Your husband helping out in chores and not restricting you in any other way isn’t him being generous. It is a pre-requisite in a relationship. In any relationship.
    5. You are not crazy. It is OK to be selfish, unless it intentionally hurts someone else.
    6. Self serving is what we all should be. If we don’t take care of ourselves and our needs we will become exactly like those that are expecting others to make them happy.
    7. Your situation is very clear. You can’t live with his parents and he can’t live without them. Though morally we feel obliged to take care of mean parents when they can’t do it themselves (physical disability etc), you don’t have to bear their nonsense right now when they are perfectly capable of caring for themselves. And right now them seem to be causing quite a stir in your life. So rest assured your decision to separate stands justified.
    8. Do you doubt your decision/love your husband still/want to give it a last chance? If yes, then I’ll say have “the talk” with him. Get him out of the house and into private surroundings in which neither of you feel outnumbered or intimidated, where you will not be disturbed. Tell him right away that you will walk away if he gets aggressive or abusive and follow through. Have a calm talk. Explain to him what you are feeling. Talk about relationship counselling, if you think it’ll help. Also your parents would need to be cared for when they are too old to care for themselves. Would he be OK with you helping out or them living with you?
    9. If you want to follow through you decision, then my best wishes to you. Get your finances and other things in order,consult a lawyer who will help secure yourself. And once you feel that you can safely separate without further delay, tell him. And leave immediately after. There is no point in staying with someone you’ve already broken up with mentally.
    Good luck for your new life.

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  14. 1. Question: You don’t know whether you are a selfish if your decision goes against pleasing them.
    Answer: Being selfish is not saying “I do what I want.” Being selfish is saying: “You do what I want”. So you are not selfish. Indeed you are moving away from selfish people.
    2. Do not be under illusion that this man loves you. He never did. He only wants you. There is a huge difference.
    3. Don’t wait for one year to get separated. Initiate the proceedings now.
    4. The kind of abuse you are suffering is called “emotional abuse”
    5. 30 is the new 20 (I am talking about age here). So you have lot of life to live ahead.
    6. Asking bride’s family to distribute tokens of welcome ( I assume that means currency notes in envelopes or small wrapped gifts) amounts to economic abuse & punishable under both Domestic Violence Act 2005 and Dowry Prohibition Act. And you have so many witnesses other than your family to it.
    7. Technical point: If you file for divorce before 1st anniversary, it will be easier to get divorce. After 1st anniversary, the court may take 3 to 5 years to grant you divorce. It is difficult to get divorce if your marriage completes 1 year.
    8. Do not fall for his promise if he says: “Take back the divorce petition, I will leave my parents for us.” He will never ever fulfill his promise.
    9. Train you mind to fall out of love with him, if you haven’t yet.
    10. No one can force you to pay the rent of the house your in-laws are living in, if you are filing for divorce and moving away from them. If they ask for it, file a case of DVA (economic abuse)
    11. He and his parents are not entitled to have your & your parents attention just because you took pheras. Everybody in this world is free to live and disconnect from whoever he/she wants to.
    12. If they insult you or your family, then it is their shame, not your or your parent’s shame. So if they insult, let them show their class. [And well, if you can record it, then you will have an easy evidence to get quick divorce on basis of cruelty.]
    13. Bad judgment is not a crime, and not even a shame or a bad quality. The best of us commit it many times. So don’t think that you lost anything just because you could not judge your hubby & in-laws in advance.
    14. Just hold you head high & move on, because then you will have the pride that you have the ability to move away from bad people and situations, as well as you will take pride in the fact that you are not emotionally dependent on anyone.

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  15. You’re not crazy, this IS abuse. It is natural to want and hope for a good marriage and to hope that things change for the better – don’t beat yourself up over it. You are a strong woman for recognizing that wrong was done to you and your family and wanting to end a toxic relationship.
    Engage a lawyer ASAP – it sounds like you are in the US – several states have community property laws and if you live in one, you are entitled to half share of all property acquired since the wedding. Get together documentation of any property (like the house you mention). Ensure that your bank accounts are secure – unfortunately community property works both ways, so your earnings since the wedding are also shared. Make sure you have access to any safe deposit boxes and banking instruments so you know and have a record (of monies paid into investments for example).

    My prayers for strength and healing.

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  16. WOW, just WOW.

    I gotta say as an Indian-American also born and brought up in the States that your husband’s actions makes me really ashamed to be an Indian-American. As Indian kids born abroad I always felt we are supposed to lead by example and provide better (even though we have to fight off some traditions, undesired cultural expectations) but sadly I kind of realize kids born abroad can also carry this patriarchal mindset and side with their parents (no exposure to other cultures?). I feel so sorry that you were treated this way and it kind of makes my blood boil. But as others have said I think it’s better if you try to stand up for yourself since it’s vital for your mental sanity. You can’t really live in a toxic relationship like that. Like really fuck “I’m a DIL now where I have to be subservient to my husband and in laws”. Worst of all, your own parents are suffering as well. I really don’t know what to say but I just want give you a big hug and hope you will get support.

    As a side note, the marriage process is hitting up soon for me. I was somewhat warming up to the idea but hearing that even kids born in western countries also do not stand up for their significant other..etc makes me lean on to never getting married. It’s overrated and is a crapshoot nowadays as well.

    Hang in there!

    Like

  17. Your story sounds familiar to me, to an extent. My younger sister was in a similar relationship where she was married to a mama’s boy and his family basically had issues with everything she (and my family) did. She endured for a year, tried her best to make things work. Things deteriorated and she went into depression. My mom put her foot down, brought her home and sis filed for separation few months back. She is much happier now, without the guy in her life.
    I do agree that adjustments happen in a marriage, but in your case, you seem to have married the family, and not your husband. For the marriage to work, it is necessary for both the partners to have a backbone and make their own decisions, but looks like your husband does not seem to have one. Something that my mom had told me before I got married has stuck with me all these years of being happily married: “marriage should ALWAYS be for better happiness. If it is not providing an atmosphere where you can be happy, then it is not worth it”. Seriously, there are better people to be associated with in life, and better things to do in life. I hope you get out of this abusive relationship. And it is abusive, in case you need a 3rd party confirmation🙂
    Hugs to you.

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  18. Why the 1 yr time frame, every day is a gift, live it, enjoy it. Who knows what will happen 1 yr form now. If you have the means and capacity to support yourself you should not waste even 1 day in a toxic relationship. Not 1 single day.

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  19. Hi writer,
    I understand what you are going through. It’s a stage where a decision has been made but something is holding you back. You should thank God it’s not a child as it would be devastating for baby to be separated from the father. Separate yourself from these people. They are not your family.Your husband is not your family. Your family is your parents who got you this big. Do it for their respect. Better hurry and get on with your life

    Like

  20. Hi,

    Thank you to everyone who has commented. I’m the LW of this email. Thank you soo much for your words and the strength you gave me through them. Between the time I sent this email to IHM and it being posted, I mustered the courage to separate from my husband and file for divorce. It has been the most challenging time of my life up till now, both emotionally and mentally. But like all of you said, it will never be a happy marriage for me. Something finally clicked in me and I did it. It hurts, it feels like someone ripped my heart out but I know this is RIGHT for me. I’m working on being self-compassionate, self-loving and just getting through. A rocky road lies ahead, and I take comfort that I have a group of people here to reach out to.
    So thank you to all those who commented and supported me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear LW,

      I am so happy to read that you have taken control over your life. Like many other readers, I was wondering what is stopping you and why have you given yourself a year to step out of this. But now, I know you will be fine. He and/or his family might try different things to get you back. Be strong and do not step back into that toxicity. Life can be beautiful when one is free from such drama. Best wishes.

      Like

    • You won’t believe how incredibly happy I am to read this😀 Your heart deserves much much better person … I am sure you will grow stronger from this experience. Also, the road from here would be smoother, you have left behind the rocky path after all… I wish you my very best and hope you will find happiness and love🙂

      Like

  21. Same here! Been through all this and much more in my marriage of around 8-9 months. But officially and happily single now! Suggest you to get out of this mess ASAP! You can reach out to me at novemberlee@gmail.com if you feel like talking more on this. Take care. God bless.

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  22. So your husband was born and raised in the US but you say that both the in-laws haven’t completed schooling and the FIL is a recovering alcoholic. This may not exactly be relevant to your situation, but I am really curious as to what these folks did to earn a living and what kind of a background they come from ? Wasn’t there anything about the situation that rang alarm bells pre-marriage ? I get it it is not necessary to be highly educated to make a living, say for example, you could work for a relative who runs an Indian store/restaurant or something, but wondering if there was something amiss which should have rang alarm bells earlier.

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  23. LW, you did the right thing for you!
    Kudos on recognizing that things were not going anywhere and ending it before things got worse. Being in abusive situations can kill your spirit and make it progressively more difficult to see straight. Yes, this did not work out, but the trouble is that lots of things in life do not. Having the courage to admit that to ourselves and getting ourselves out of that situation is what proves to be difficult. How many of us stick on to the marriage, job, degree which makes us miserable because of the fear of feeling that we failed? You have managed to move out, thing will be better. At least in life, you know someone who will always stand up for you…. you!
    Try and see if you like https://www.reddit.com/r/JUSTNOMIL/
    They are your people.
    All the best!

    Like

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