“I am tempted to ask- does she mean girls who have no brothers should send money to their parents as well?”

“I am tempted to ask- does she mean girls who have no brothers should send money to their parents as well?”

But why just girls who have no brothers? That implies that brothers are the primary budhape ka sahara, while married daughters might be allowed to contribute if there is no male child. (also implies that, unlike a married son, whatever a married daughter earns rightfully belongs to her in laws, and the only way for a daughter to support her parents is to not get married.)

Only when all the children – sons or daughters are provided equal opportunities for self reliance and are expected to be equally responsible for care giving (etc), would Indian parents (and hence the society and the legal system) begin to view girl children as individuals and equal citizens with rights and responsibilities. 

Sharing an email. 

To Move Out or Not to Move Out

Dear IHM,

I am a young, urban Indian woman, married to the man of her dreams and living in a big city at his parents’ home.

My husband and I are well settled in our careers, having got our education from the best institutes in the country.

My in-laws are nice people. They never tell me what to wear & what not to. If I tell them I’m going to meet a friend, they never ask me which friend. They have no problems with my husband & me partying late into the night on weekends, sleeping in till late the next day etc. My MIL doesn’t expect me to enter the kitchen as she herself hates to cook. They have no problem with me visiting my parents’ house (they too live in the same city and my visits are not too frequent- probably once a month for 3-4 days of stay).

When I got married, I had been living in an apartment in a big city for 3 years. My flat mates & I used to run the house like our own. We were in-charge of things- grocery, bills, maids, daily menu, having friends over, house parties etc.

We were both very clear that we do not want to stay with his parents. But as luck would have it, we had to move to his parents’ city soon after our marriage.

Though everything seems picture perfect and easy, there’s something amiss.

My wavelength doesn’t match with my in-laws. They are preachy; they hail boys who send money to their parents and sons & daughters-in-law who live with their parents.

An incident which someone may deem small has changed the way I look at my mother-in-law. Soon after our marriage, my husband and I told my in-laws that we will split all the household bills with them.

To which, my mum-in-law said that my husband can transfer her the monthly HRA component of his salary for which she would give him slips and he can claim tax benefit. And let me assure you, that is a LOT of money. A lot more than what we would be spending if we had simply split the bill. We could easily live in a rented apartment & pay bills in that much money.

She added, “Children should have the habit of giving some part of their salary to their parents”, something which she has repeated several times after that.

I was disgusted more than hurt at her asking for that much money. We had just started our life together.

My in-laws are financially sound people- the sorts who take foreign trips every year.

We are two daughters- me and my sister and I know my parents don’t expect any sort of monetary support from us until and unless in case of an emergency. They have never asked me what I make or what my husband makes- it is if we have told them that they got to know. My sister & I have been raised as ferociously independent and free-thinking women.

My MIL is very keen on knowing our (and the entire neighborhood’s) salary packages- keeps asking us when we receive our hikes & what’s our ‘salary package’ now. Whenever my salary gets revised, she wants to see the salary breakup. In our initial days of marriage, she had told us to open a joint account with her so she can control our spending. I was appalled!

I have realized that I just don’t get along well with my MIL and never will, as we are so different. Her patriarchal views infuriate me. I can’t have a long conversation with her, as things she says make no sense to my rational mind. After work, I avoid talking to them and hence sit in my room, pretending to work or go for yoga/ run. It’s like I am a guest in this house- how can I feel at home and completely happy when there are two people in the house I would rather not talk to.

I also feel my MIL is abnormally curious about how much we make.

All things said, I miss being on my own. Something as simple as deciding the menu when guests come over to no one questioning me the amount of shopping I do with my money. Having a glass of wine after a long day at work, to deciding to skip family dinners just because I’m in no mood for it!

My husband understands my feelings. He agrees that the way his mom thinks is pathetic at times.

He also knows I will never get along well with her and doesn’t expect me to. The thing is, we feel we can’t even separate from them because, well, there is nothing wrong! It’s not like we had an argument or a clash with his parents.

I just wrote this piece as I am sure there would be more women out there who feel the same way and I would love to hear what they have to say.

Related Posts:

An email from a Mother in law’

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

“When my first pay check came, my MIL made a huge drama about how I am not informing them about my finances…”

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.<

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

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

Reply from the Indian mother in law.

A daughter in law’s legal rights in her in law’s house are the same as her husband’s rights. Whatever is his, is hers.

Should women be given a share in residential property of the husband, including inherited and inheritable property?

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

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

Cabinet clears bill: Equal rights in Marital property, Easier divorce.

“My wife often rakes up property issues, or rues the expenses on my father’s ill-health.”

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

“So I had a fancy wedding and moved to a business family ready to stay with in laws.”

Sharing an email. 

In ‘Astitva’ (a Hindi movie) an Indian woman turned down her would have been father in law’s offer to find her some job in the same family business where the son also worked. What made it possible for her to turn down that offer?

My answer at the bottom of this post. 

Also, what can give any woman the confidence to turn down any such offer that she does not want to accept? What can make anybody trust their own judgement?  

How easy are these choices for most women seeing that getting married, making the marriage work, family and parenthood have traditionally been viewed as almost solely a woman’s concerns? 

What do you think could the email writer have done? What would you recommend now?

Hi,

I came across this blog a couple of days back. It is funny how I arrived on this page searching for “woes of an Indian daughter in law” on a search engine. Funny because I never really thought I would have to look for a solution to such grievance ever in my life. I grew up in a family where we were continuously taught to focus on how to get a good career which shall lead to an independent(financially and otherwise) life. Never really bothered much about learning to cook or do household chores. My mother was an academician and evidently those values were instilled in me and my sister since a very young age. Both us eventually got through good colleges, completed MBA from Tier 1 school and landed up with good jobs.

My sister went for an arranged marriage settled in a different city with completely non interfering in laws. All these years, I had been dating this guy (who did his courses from the same B School) until last year when I decided to get married to him. By then, I had switched 2 fancy corporate jobs, lived independently, managed my own investments and was fairly satisfied with my life.

My husband decided to join his father’s business in our hometown despite having the opportunity to crack MNCs in campus. It was his decision (not sure if influenced by his parents) and I respected it.

When the time came to discuss our marriage, it was understood that one of us had to quit and move. His being a very established business, I was given an option to join family business (after all they were not asking me to be a housewife). Discussions went on for months and finally I gave in. He has been the best thing to happen to me, I could have made that SACRIFICE and I did for the sake of our marriage.

So I had a fancy wedding and moved to a business family ready to stay with in laws. There were so many who warned me against it but I thought nothing could really impact me as long as I’m working and I have my husband by my side.

Days passed, I joined work but realised slowly how my work is not acknowledged or appreciated as much as I expected it to be. My mother in law is a very quiet lady, does not socialize much and is totally obsessed with her children. She sits at home entire day, constantly seeking attention from every family member and reacts vehemently when others do not reciprocate. I tried to manage her mood swings for months giving her company during the evenings, managing her fights with the domestic help. I was uncomfortable but I thought she does no harm to me, so I should be more considerate.

My father in law is a complete extrovert to the extent of being an absolute braggart, sometimes even lying or creating false stories of his fake glory. It was always hard to digest because I grew up in a completely different environment.

Now months have passed and things have not changed, only gotten worse. They have relatives coming in from the village who would stay for months and comment on the way I dress (Oh, the bahu in jeans or a suit minus the dupatta?), would want to evaluate my culinary skills and also question me on the knowledge of customs/rituals. My in laws are extremely traditional, they never really forced me to follow anything but the expectations are very clear. Both of them are in the habit of chewing tobacco, which I absolutely detest. There are many other things that makes my day to day life unbearable but I have no other option.

Although my husband is extremely supportive, I hate to share these problems everyday with him. He is torn between me and his parents. Another house is out of question as long as we stay in the same city (log kya kahenge?) and moving to another city is very difficult for him since he has been managing the business for 4 years now. Corporate options are limited in this city and even if I move to a company here, it leaves me with the same house and same set of people. My husband and I dreamt of a very different life and I truly feel am transported several decades back in time, away for the progressive world.

Regards

Related Posts:

1. A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.

2. 18 questions for young women (and men) of ‘marriageable age’.

3. What would you not change for love?

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

5. An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

6. Please watch Queen.

7. “Someone ate without showering, someone didn’t bring mithai! These are trivialities, not social problems.”

8. “Although my in laws maintain a facade of being content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything…”

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

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

And the answer to the question I asked above: Only one thing – she valued her happiness and freedom more than she wanted to get married.

“I remember the first time I got slapped was when I bought some pasta home for $2.00 when the similar thing could be bought for 40cents.”

Many of us view with suspicion, essential information about abuse and control that can save lives.

Basic information about recognising abuse [Recognizing Emotional Abuse], how it begins, the absolute non-negotiables, the need for support systems (etc) are treated as modern or western ideas.

Patterns in abuse – like isolating a victim, demeaning them, violence, threats, keeping a victim in dependence, controlling their personal choices, not valuing their happiness, being disrespectful to them –  are treated as ‘adjustment problem’ 😦

Sharing an email. Do you think information about healthy relationships and  how to recognise abuse could have helped the email writer in some way? 

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and have drawn courage and inspiration from many posts.

I would like to share my story with you with a hope that you and your readers will be able to provide a general guidance.

I come from an upper middle class family. There was constant reminders from family and friends that there is no male child or varis and that there is no need to invest in educating girls but to save money for marriage. None of this deterred my parents and they raised us well, without compromising in any form. My dad strongly believed that girls should be independent and for such girls marriage-alliances will not be an issue. Love marriage was discussed several times at home and my parents always said that who we choose to marry is entirely our decision and they will respect our choice. I still remember their words, “If you choose to marry a rickshaw fellow, we will still support your decision out of love for you but it is up to you decide if you will be happy with him for the rest of your life”.

I lost my mom when I was 18, and since then lived/studied in hostels. I finished my graduation and soon moved to Australia for further studies. Life was very tough in a foreign country without family and friends. It was then that my (future) husband came into my life at a time when I was lonely and lost. He stood by me in difficult times and with him I began to feel secure and stronger. We were very much in love and my dad didn’t oppose my decision. My husband and I come from two different parts of India, he is a North Indian and I am from South. Our language, culture and many things were very different, but at the time these things hardly mattered. Soon he talked to his parents about marrying a South Indian. I didn’t hear the actual conversation but I thought his parents would be happy with his son’s decision. (They are both well-educated post graduates). My MIL came to visit us after a month. We seemed to get along well and I had a feeling she liked me. The alliance was agreed by making a ‘roka’ ceremony and she went back to India for wedding preparations.

I believed all was well and happy that I would be marrying the love of my life with blessings from both the families. Contrary to my thoughts, my uncle called me one day pleading with me to forget about love and marry someone in our community. I soon sensed something was wrong and upon insistence he told me that my in-laws had some connections with the Police and they sent some policemen to my house to arrest my dad and whoever else was at home. [IHM: Warning Sign 1] Luckily, my dad wasn’t home but unfortunately my uncle was and they arrested him without giving out any details and jailed him overnight threatening that he will be in jail forever if he doesn’t convince me into forgetting the boy. My in-laws wanted the alliance to be broken from the girl’s end so they don’t have to hurt their only son. I was furious when I found out and put my foot down that I will not get married into such a family. But my husband stood by me and told his parents that if he gets married at all than it will only be me else he will remain a bachelor. Finally his parents had to give in and apologised to me, my dad and uncle and twisted the whole story saying that they only asked the police to enquire about family. Anyway with a lot of convincing and persuasion and of course drama, my wedding took place. I consoled myself that we will soon go back to Australia and in-laws interference will be very less. Oh boy how wrong was I!

Not even a month after marriage, there was constant nagging from my MIL to bring my husband’s only sister to Australia which he obliged and she was here to stay with us soon. I never had any issues with her and we got along fine. There was drastic change in my husband after marriage, [IHM: Warning Sign 2] he was constantly irritated with me. He would very often tell me that marrying me was a very bad decision as he didn’t know his ‘worth’ before and now he knows.[3] Had he wished, he would have got a fairer, good looking bride.[4] I didn’t believe him at first and thought he saying just joking. I started getting a complex that I am not good enough for him and maybe he really deserved someone who is better looking than me. I wanted to make up some way for my looks and make him a happy husband. I blindly followed whatever he asked me to do. [5] Our finances were merged and I no longer had any control over my salary.[6]  My husband would do all the banking transactions and I was given $50 as monthly expense. Even simple chores like buying groceries were (currently) handled by my husband. I remember the first time I got slapped [7] was when I bought some pasta home for $2.00 when the similar thing could be bought for 40cents. The physical abuse only put fear in me and I taught myself not to upset my husband ever again.[8] Just not the financial independence, I also realised very soon that I didn’t have any more friends of my own. [9] For some or the other reasons, my husband would turn me against my friends sighting trivial things. The only women or friends I was allowed to talk was wives of his male friends. I gave up all my friendships to make him happy as I thought I’ll have to live with my husband not with friends. You could be wondering what happened to my family all this while, I was too ashamed [10] to discuss with anyone, as I didn’t want people [11]  to think my husband is bad. I remember when we got groceries, I would ask for deo and he always bought men’s deo only and used to say there is no difference between men’s & women’s deo and I should use his to save money. I once got a beating in return for saying ‘get women’s deo and we both can use it if there is no difference’. Every time he hit me, he would apologise and convince me that I get a beating because I have done something wrong and he is only disciplining me and it hurts him too when he is hitting him. Mentally, physically & psychologically I surrendered to him. I think that is my biggest mistake ever.

There was so much pressure from fellow couples as most of his friends started having babies and it was our turn. I got pregnant [12] soon and the whole pregnancy was a very difficult one as the baby wasn’t growing well and I had gestational diabetes. Also there was continuous stress as my husband would not let me have maternity break for more than 6 weeks after childbirth. In my workplace, I was only entitled to 6 weeks of paid leave and if I wish to take it longer leave, then I had to go without pay which was not acceptable by my husband. Every time we had a discussion, he would strongly disapprove. I thought my child is my solace and didn’t want to let go of precious time with newborn. Well after lot of convincing, my husband agreed to 12 month maternity leave. My happiness didn’t last long as soon my in-laws arrived and the real trouble had only begun. My boy was born premature & I had several complications while delivery. My mother in law took control of the whole house including my son. She would only give him to me for feeding, I wasn’t even allowed to put him to sleep. While I was at home, both my in laws would tell me how bad I was for their son and how he has missed out on the opportunity to get a fairer beautiful bride. Now my task was not just making up to my husband for the lack of looks but also make up to my in-laws by being an obedient ‘bahu’.[13] What was supposed to be a year after year visit became a permanent stay for my in-laws in Australia. I started a full time job after 10 months and found going back to work therapeutic. Against my husband and in-law’s wishes, is started making friends at work whom I wouldn’t discuss at home. For my ill luck, my husband got a full time job in the same company. As it was an issue of pride for him at work, he started loosening up a bit. He no longer controlled me in what I wear. I started having choices in buying clothes that I’d like to wear. Once after a fight at home, I discussed my issue with my colleagues/friends and they were shocked to know the truth. They slowly and steadily started brain washing me on how I am being abused by my husband and in laws. Talking to them made me realise how naïve I have been all these years and how my thoughts got clouded into believing that all this while I was making up for not having fairer skin.
I successfully persuaded my husband to allow me to have a credit card and access to banking details. I was allowed to buy anything under $10 without seeking his permission. I was also allowed to go out for lunches with my colleagues. In all this while my mother in law was taking in charge of the house. She didn’t want me to do washing as I wasted too much water and soap. I was restricted only to do dishes, cleaning & occasional cooking. I let her do whatever she wished as I wanted to avoid conflicts.[14]  Then came a time when it was my son’s first parent teacher meeting at school. I put in extra effort that morning for the meeting to look presentable. To my surprise, my husband drove me home instead saying I don’t deserve to go for the meeting and he will go with his mom as she knows better since she is teaching my son at home. I was flabbergasted, as parent teacher meeting for a kinder going child is not about study, it is more about getting to know the parents. No one cared for what I wanted, my husband said he was only being logical.

Four years were gone by and I got pregnant with second child. Unlike last time, this pregnancy was smooth. A girl was born, happy and healthy. I was very thankful for a complete family. My in-laws/husband were unhappy though as the girl was darker skinned, in other words, darker them me. I would get constant reminders again on how only if their son choose a fairer bride, they wouldn’t have to go thru having dark skinned grandchildren as theirs don’t look like north Indian at all. I couldn’t take insults anymore and gave it back to them (mind you my sister in law has got a permanent skin condition called Vitiglo and it pains me to hear that above all it is my in-laws who are judging kids for looks when they have their own kid with such condition) Once during such argument, my FIL kicked me out of my own home calling me ‘bloody south Indian’.

I was waiting in garage for my husband to return with a three month old baby and my son. I waited there for 4 hours before my husband arrived. He was very upset for his dad’s behaviour and went to confront his dad but was replied with a tight slap across his face for questioning his father. I eventually had to get my sister in law to interfere and explain to her parents what it will feel like if her in-laws treated her the same way.

Even though we never talked about it, there was unease and constant nasty undercurrent at home. The environment got toxic and it took a toll on me. Within a month, I was admitted to the hospital with a brain stroke. At thirty two years of age, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and stroke. I managed to survive the first episode of stroke without any physical damage but my life hasn’t been the same since. I had a second stroke in another 6 months and doctors strictly warned me to change my lifestyle as they couldn’t put a finger on what is causing it except for stress. I have since been on medications that are for lifelong. Have had two major surgeries accounting to poor health. I am now on the verge of a life in a wheelchair as my legs have completely gone crooked. I look for happiness and strength from my children and haven’t given up on full time job. All my health problems are brushed away as minor issues. My Mil doesn’t even have the curtesy to ask me about my health. On many occasions, I wasn’t even offered a glass of water after returning from hospital stays.

My kids love me lot but they are totally controlled my MIL. She decides what the kids will wear, what they eat and when they sleep. I am only an entertainment segment when I get to play before bed after finishing the house chores. My Mil is a control freak, I am not even allowed to put clothes for charity without consenting permission from her. She has got this weird desire/habit of saving, only brings vegetables at the end of day that are sold on special price and half of them are rotten. We never bought fresh veggies. I am not allowed to even throw away stale food without her permission, just to quote few examples of her freakiness.
Just recently my MIL got sick with flu and was admitted to hospital. She has since been discharged and made a good recovery. But for last 3 weeks, I have been too busy attending to house, kids, work and in laws. I have been working around the clock meeting all their needs. My husband hasn’t offered to help me in any way and last night we had a fight over how I am not doing enough for his parents. I couldn’t take it anymore and I blasted with all the anger. I told him how I can never forget the fact that my Mil didn’t even offer me water when I was sick, how they do not want a darker skin bahu and how happy their life would have been if a Punjabi bahu came home instead. I didn’t hide the fact that I am looking after his parents only to please him. I told him that whether it’s my parents or his, there is always going to be a conflict and it is us as a couple who need to make adjustments and compliment each other instead of looking for flaws in me alone. Yet again I was silenced with a slap.

I have had enough and can’t take it anymore. I cannot keep battering my self-confidence for the sake of a man who hasn’t got any respect for his wife. I don’t have the heart and feelings anymore for his parents.

Please give me some thoughts and please don’t ask me to leave him as it is not possible. I have tried in vain several times to get this parents to live separately. I don’t see that happening. For my own sanity and health, I am coming out in open requesting you to please read my letter and offer some words of wisdom.

Thanks in anticipation.

Related Posts:

Recognizing Emotional Abuse – Priya

Women and Friendship – Building a Support System – Priya

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

What makes some of us resent abuse victims instead of supporting them.

Can a woman marry and change an uninterested man into a loving and responsible husband?

“I think most problems in life are when we look for approval and validation outside of ourselves.”

Changing Someone (or oneself) – Priya

Is your relationship healthy?

“Can I really marry and live with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive?”

Sharing an email.

I’m 27 years and a couple of months old and it suddenly seems that everything about my life is turning upside down. i’ve been blogging for over 10 years now… been a reader of your blog and have been in touch with so many of the people who read it..

However, one thing I have been and still am is a confused soul…  I’ve so far had a lot of freedom given to me by parents, some of which was after a lot of hard won arguments and simple rebellion which they then accepted. I have a huge family, full of well meaning aunts and uncles and cousins and grand some thing or the others that very obviously love me but would probably adore me a little more if I were less frank and a little more subtly manipulative about getting what I want…
It’s always been a strange phenomena to me that being publicly (and by that I mean before anyone who doesn’t actually live in the same house as you) sweet, quiet and submissive to some degree lets you get away with doing whatever the heck you want while putting yourself out in the open makes people restrict you even when you haven’t technically or overtly broken any rules that society and family had set for you… I’ve always been very “moonhphat”,  but at the same time I’ve tried to be a “good” daughter.
What is completely freaking me out now is the sudden shift in the rules now that I’ve agreed to see a boy my family’s picked as a “perfect” arranged match. my parents have changed their attitude completely… but that is not what I need advice about… its about the Boy…
He’s from a “good” family, well educated, has his family business that he took over a few years ago because he lost his father at a young age. I’ve spent a total of 9 hours talking alone with him over three separate days, and we managed to talk very openly and frankly about whatever things we wanted to… however, it seems that he is a very very different person from how I am.
The first serious conversation we had, was about  how he had found my blog and spent two whole days reading through the last 10 years of entries on it. How it had made him supremely uncomfortable that such a huge part of my life, my thoughts were online for the world to see, and comment. how i had written about my previous relationship, about my friends, about family, about my ideas and ideals.
He asked me whether I would continue that after marriage. His second serious question was, “What am I supposed to say if an aunt/cousin/assorted family member finds your blog and reads it and says this girl has been in a relationship, this girl is so combative…” Then he told me that his sister had read it and was equally disturbed by it.
I told him that it was nobody’s business but mine what I’d written and why on earth would anyone bother going through over 300 posts spread over 10 years???
Then he tells me that he is a very private person and doesn’t like it if “outsiders” are told about his family life… and he qualified it with a, “but my best friend is a girl and I tell her everything thats going on in my head… I just don’t feel comfortable with the fact that a million strangers can read your blog and know intimate details of your life.”
Anyway… since throwing my drink at his face and storming out wasn’t an option… I chose to simmer down and think about what he had said… my blog is now set to a private invitation only setting, not because he says he is uncomfortable but because of the idea that random strangers would judge me on the fact that i was a wreck after my college relationship failed.
The next time we met, he said that the girl in the blog was “disturbing” because all information that he had got from various family sources said that I would be a “good wife” because I was a “family oriented person” and the “life of every gathering”, whereas my blog has some of the darkest, most depressive and frankly combative things in my head…  I told him its my venting space… when I can’t let out how I feel any other way, I write… and about half of that ends up on my blog… so the blog has my rants about my ex, my ideas about feminism and independence and family, how disappointed I feel sometimes that my family is still following hidebound traditions even while they give my generation the leeway to make our own decisions.
It is not the blog of a “sweet bahu” who will “carry the family together”. Its the blog of a woman who thinks of more than just the menu for the next family get together…
What I am worried about here is the fact that both sets of families are extremely interested in seeing this match go through… but can I really marry and live my life with a guy who is so uncomfortable with the fact that I am open and expressive? That I am NOT exactly a “sunshine and rainbows” person…
The good point about this guy is that he seems to be sensible enough to ask me flat out what I feel.. he seems to accept that i am independent, i have a fairly combative head but at the same time i would do a lot for the sake of my family…
Thankfully both families are giving us time to think, even though every second day someone or the other asks if we are ready to say “yes” yet…
I’ve known of the existence of this boy for a little more than 10 days now.. and apparently that is more than the “arranged” people in my community usually get before they atleast have a roka… the formal engagement and marriage thankfully are months after the ‘roka’.. but i don’t want to agree to anything just yet because i am genuinely worried about how someone as free as me is supposed to deal with somone who is uncomfortable about a blog spread over 10 years…
My best friend pointed out that since the boy has never been in a relationship previously, the fact that I was “in love’ with my ex and am not a virgin is likely to remain an issue and an insecurity for him.. the fact that I have a circle of male friends, and a large circle of friends, may be a problem for someone whose life is not as open outside of his family.
So now I don’t know what to do.. when I discuss this with my parents all they say is that you anyway lose touch with friends after you get married, and that I should not tell the guy about my ex…. I didn’t have the heart to tell my parents that he’s already read my blog and knows most of it…
What do I do??
A confused soul

“When my first pay check came, my MIL made a huge drama about how I am not informing them about my finances…”

One reason why education for girl children became acceptable in traditional Indian families is that having an income improved a paraya dhan’s marriage prospects – because like Prem’s family in Dum laga ke haisha, many Indian families started believing that dulhan ji dahej hai (The bride is the dowry).

If a daughter’s self reliance was the goal then Indian women would not be prevented from choosing careers that might make it difficult for them to serve the in laws and spouse, and they would not be pressurised to stop working if the in laws wanted that. And they would be encouraged to save and invest. And they would not be forced to go back and adjust when they are unhappy.

But the idea that the in laws own whatever the daughter in law earns is only an indication of the general sense of entitlement that the ladke wale have. She is expected to have been raised to accept complete control, sometimes including her relationship with her husband, and generally what she eats, drinks, when she sleeps or wakes up, what she wears, and even whether or not she needs to see a doctor.

Sharing an email.  

Hi!

Let me start with my story… I want a guidance and direction.

I have been married for more than a year and it was an arranged marriage. I was staying with my husband FIL, MIL and younger SIL. After two days of the wedding my MIL told me that they were facing a lot of financial problems.

Before marriage I was told that my FIL lost his job and then my MIL had taken care of the family by picking a job. Slowly I learned that the job she was referring to was that of a Maid. (I do not have any problems with any kind of jobs but it was shocking to me as a completely different picture had been portrayed to me).

I also came to know about the Loan which was taken up by my husband and family, they have a habit of taking loans very often. The property they showed as theirs was in the name of my FIL’s sister (FIL and his sister do not get along).

I was very naïve and accepted it as my fortune and offered all the support to the family. I joined back to work immediately. My husband was giving all his salary to his mom who runs the house. She made it very clear that the family has no savings and the salary earned by my husband is spent completely. I decided that I will put my salary in savings for our future which was also agreed by my husband. When my first pay check (after marriage) came, my MIL made a huge drama about how I am not informing them about my finances and only speaking to my husband!! She also cried and banged her head saying she is so helpless because her husband never earned and her DIL is not giving her a respect.

I am earning about 20K and she straightaway asked me to give about 10K to her for every month. My husband also told me to do so and I agreed.

One day she asked me how much I was saving because she wanted some more money for a festival and when I told her that it was in a fixed policy she made an even bigger drama. [Reminded me of – An email from a Mother in law.]

My SIL is suffering form seizures and she is a college drop out. My MIL  has never allowed my Husband or his Sister to take any decisions on their own. My FIL lives in a shell (He is treated worst than a dog by SIL and MIL). Both MIL and SIL have anger issues and they get into a fit of rage whenever something does not go as per their wishes. MIL is also very manipulative and is full of cheap talks. My husband is typical momma’s boy, who has never seen the outside world. He has no guts and he has always been reminded of how his mom has raised him with so many difficulties.

I have always been a positive girl who truly believes that happiness and peace are the most important things in the life and I could not find both in their house.

My MIL did not allow me to cook or do any work on my own, I can do something only when she orders. E.g. If I start washing dishes in the morning then she will tell me to stop that as she has some other work scheduled in the kitchen at that time. But on other days, she will shout at me and will ask me to wash vessels at the same time every morning.

She has always accused me of various things: That I have separated her son from her; that I complain about them to my husband and demand for a separate house; that I lie to her; that I don’t share anything with her about my family; whenever I used to be late from office she questions me about my whereabouts; and I had seen my FIL following me in the morning time as well as hiding behind a bus-stop, to follow me coming back home in the evening time.

I was really tired of all the accusations, lies and me living like a paying guest in their house. All my stuff was always checked in my absence, I was not allowed to keep my cell phone with me once I was home and it was checked daily by my MIL.

I did not talk much to my husband as well, because whenever I have told him something innocently he has told it to his mom and she has twisted it and used it against me. She believes that the whole world is against her and it revolves around herself and her daughter. Even if someone laughs within a half kilometre radius of her, she is sure that they are laughing at her or her daughter or her son.

Finally I decided I have had enough and left the house. I came back to my parents’ place. My father spoke to her… she said sorry… my father said that he will send me back. I pleaded but he did not listen. I left the next day for office and searched for a new accommodation, my father called me back saying he won’t send me back. Now it has been two months since I am at my parents’ place. My uncles and father are now forcing me to go back. They are using every manipulation and emotional blackmailing. They are saying that if I don’t go back then I will be blamed and it will bring shame to the their family.

I am really scared to go back and I can not live in their house. My father is only worried about his social status. I would rather live alone than live in that hell.

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Dulhan hi dahej hai

Are schools right in enforcing such strict boundaries between interactions between girl and boy students?

Sharing an email from Priya.

Dear IHM,

I was wondering if you would be interested in doing a post on this recent event:http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/cover-story/With-Baby-gone-our-lives-have-been-destroyed/articleshow/45972495.cms

This girl (and her mother) were shamed for befriending/giving a male student a hug and the girl committed suicide. My heart goes out to her and her family for suffering such a sudden and unforeseen tragedy!

Articles such as this describe the school’s apathy towards this tragedy:

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/cover-story/The-day-after-Monalis-death-goes-unmourned-at-school/articleshow/45961373.cms

What are the thoughts of the IHM blog community on this?
Some questions in particular:

1. Are schools right in enforcing such strict boundaries between interactions between girl and boy students?

2. Is it even the school’s perogative to tell someone who to be friends with and who they shouldn’t be friends with? Should it be left to the student and the parents (in case of minors) to determine what level of ‘freedom’ and ‘openness’ they’re comfortable with.

3. Are teachers/principals in the Indian school system bullies? Unlike the West where bullying is a problem among students, I feel that in the Indian system the teachers themselves are emotionally detached disciplinarians who sometimes pick more on the weaker kids with complete disregard for their feelings and self-worth.

4. Has the notion of ‘counselling students’ in Indian schools progressed beyond yelling/hitting/humiliating and punishing kids?

5. Why is it that repeatedly in cases like this (and others of sexual abuse etc) that the school is more concerned about ‘being right’ than ‘being human’?

6. Just so we examine both sides of the coin, do parents actually expect schools to take strict disciplinary action if their kids are seen getting too friendly with the opposite sex? If this school didn’t report incidents like these and ‘nip them in the bud’, would parents (not of the girl in question, but in general) consider the school (staff) irresponsible? Are schools like this merely pandering to Indian parents with seriously backward ideas? If that is the case, can schools even realistically be expected to follow a different approach?

7. And lastly, an open-ended question – thoughts on how best to handle situations like these, both at school and at home?

Thanks,
Priya

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An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family

 

“I thought the situation will improve but now my husband started behaving like a remote-controlled device of his mother.”

Hello IHM,

I’d like to thank you immensely for your blog which has truly been the guiding force for the women oppressed by the Indian Patriarchy. I read it daily and I believe you and the contributors can help me with issues pertaining to my married life.

I have been married since last 2 years. It was an arranged marriage and we had met through an internet matrimonial website. The engagement period was 8 months long. Things were really good initially. He was loving, caring and kind. He had mentioned that his family was “traditional”. After two years, I now understand what Traditional means i.e. backward and oppressive. But at that time, I was naïve and had these expectations of happy married life.

My in-laws consist of his parents and a (elder) sister-in-law who is married with two kids. After our marriage ceremony and honeymoon got over, his parents started living with us and the worst nightmare of my life started.

They are really backward with religious superstitions about menstruation, bathing etc. I was forced to take early morning baths and then only to enter kitchen, of course, to cook for all of them. I’m an IT professional and I’m working, so my workload increased drastically. I had to cook twice, daily. His mother is extremely rigid and dumb and it’s impossible to have any rational conversation with her. She is so fixated in her beliefs and rituals that she doesn’t even seem like human, she is rather a patriarchal animal. I was isolated during my menstruation and I found it very humiliating. But for my husband, it was all “normal”. Letting “everyone” know about what is occurring in your privates for few days is apparently “normal” for them! I come from a liberated, well-educated family, so all this non-sense was extremely hard to cope with. I tried to adjust for few months but later, my parents had to intervene. My parents spoke to my in-laws and they finally left to live at their house, which is in another town.

I thought the situation will improve but now my husband started behaving like a remote-controlled device of his mother. He forced me to adhere to the rituals which his mother had designed for our house. I cooked daily, kept the house and I’m working as well but if he got annoyed because of arguments, my failing to call his mother/sister, he started giving silent treatment to me. Sometimes, this silent-treatment used to last for 10-20 days. During this period, he’d cut-off all the contact with me, despite living in the same house. He even refuses to eat meals prepared by me and behaves like a stranger.

The sister in law stays in another town but when she comes to stay at my place or when we need to visit their place, things get really nasty. My husband is very “attached” with his sister, so she brainwashes him over petty matters which result in fights between the two of us and again, the silent treatment starts. After each stay with his mother/sister, I have to tolerate this mental torture for months. Once, their effects fade, he is really nice and caring person but I never know, when his mood might change because of a petty matter.

It’s been 2 years since I have been dealing with this emotional abuse/silent treatment. I’m fed up and I now know that chances of him or his family changing are nil. I’m 33 years old and I have a desire to start my family in future. But considering the sorry state of situation, it seems like a distant dream. Is there anyone out there who is subjected to this sort of emotional abuse? Can anyone guide me? What should I do?

An emotionally abused wife

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‘I feel that arranged marriages are for extroverts, and there is no place for us introverts here.’

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM!

I am writing to you today, because you have fantastic group of readers who give genuine opinions. I am going through the “meeting the guys” stage in the arranged marriage process. And frankly it has been a very confusing experience for me. I said yes to go via this arranged marriage route, because I work from home, and I really do not have a life where I am meeting new people. So, this seemed like a good idea to meet someone.

First of all, I am an introvert. It takes time for me to open up to people. Even in normal life, if I meet a new person I tend to be very quiet around them, and only when I become used to them slowly I open up. This is more from a social perspective, as in I can talk and be all confident in the work setting. Because I know what I have to talk, how to present, what is the agenda. I even have no qualms about talking on sage with thousands of people, it is only when I am meeting new people on a very social level that I just need time.

I feel that arranged marriages are for extroverts, and there is no place for us introverts here. I cannot bare my soul to every tom, dick and harry I meet, I cannot be all frank and myself with everyone, but it is expected. It is expected I get all chummy with not only the guy, but his family as well, right from the moment I set my eyes on them.

Also, since it is 2015, I thought that arranged marriage is a way to meet people, get to know who they are, how they are, and then over the time if you feel comfortable you get married. Even my parents are comfortable with this. But, now that we are meeting guys, it is very apparent that a girl asking for time is somewhat shocking and really not that common.

I met a guy this Monday, and we went for coffee. Quite frankly it went ok, nothing too great, but then that is obvious, as what does one talk to a total stranger apart from work and general stuff? I just came to know that this person got engaged tuesday evening!

I really do not understand this.

If I were getting engaged on a Tuesday, I would be preparing for the engagement on the preceding day, not meeting other guys!

Now it feels that I am the only one who thinks that marrying the right person is more important than marrying at the right time.

It seems like I am stuck in a race, get the first person who seems okish and get married, you can get to know them later.

I am a bit disappointed frankly. I thought we were past this, at least the people of my generation.

So now I am left wondering, is this generation really all that different in their closed mindset about the marriage issue? When will we start valuing the person we get married to, instead of valuing marriage as an institution? Is it even possible to find someone who values me and wants to marry me because he wants to marry me as a person?

Related Posts:

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Are these the eight reasons you would give in support of Arranged Marriages?

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“Is this really it? the only person I’ll ever find? A sweet guy who has no interests?”

Response from Conflicted Banker and when Arranged Marriages are not really ‘arranged’.

“Why didn’t these women find life partners by dating?”

But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person… aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?

“My suspicions were correct. He contacted me yesterday and asked me to get back together!”

***
More drama has happened since my last message to you and your readers. We broke up about two months ago and haven’t spoken to each other since. Recently a friend of my ex bf contacted me and I found out my ex is “torn from within” and has been working on changing his parents stance against our marriage. He said that things are finally looking good and that my ex will be calling me as soon as it’s finalized in his family home. He said he did not do so yet because he doesn’t want to keep hurting me by getting my hopes up if they end up standing firm against us. This is all news to me! I thought he was done fighting and done with me! I’ve since tried moving on in whatever ways I could. I’ve been reading your blog’s history religiously to gain more insight and have seen a therapist. Now that my ex bf may come back with a proposal I’m suddenly really nervous!!! When we first met I was naive, he was naive, and we both thought we would all live as one happy family. The hell that they have put us through has shown me who they really are. The stories I’ve read here on IHM have also shown me what life likely would look like if we were to marry. My question to you all is, if you were in my shoes, what would your new demands and/or compromises be? If you are married now, what do you wish you would have voiced from the beginning? Is there a way we could make this work if he does come back?
My first request would be that I do not agree to live with his parents… at least not in the beginning of our marriage. I think given their ill treatment of me in the past and his inability to totally put me first, I am completely nervous about that sort of living arrangement. Also, I now think we should have, and deserve, time alone together to be as a couple before inviting anyone else into our home. If he can’t agree to this then there is NO DEAL.
What other suggestions would you give to me?
And then: 
My suspicions were correct. He contacted me yesterday and asked me to get back together! I told him I would take some time to consider it. When we speak next we will discuss what our expectations are, what we are willing and not willing to compromise, and if it’s possible at all to move forward together.
I would like it to be shared on the blog to get everyone’s perspective on what my reasonable expectations could be. Or any warnings for my possible future if I continue. Honestly, after reading your blog (and, of course, my experiences with his family) I’m very nervous to marry him!! How can I be sure he would put me first? If I were viewing this situation as a friend I would tell my friend to be very cautious. That her demands (whatever they are) must be met or else walk away. 😦

‘My question is, what do you do? What do you say when the majority thinks this way…’

Sharing an email. How do you react in similar situations? Do you attempt to convey that you disagree? Would you argue? If yes, then do you manage to convey why you disagree? Do you ignore, or pretend to agree or get into heated arguments?

Just wondering how do most people react to something that seems obvious to them but something that many others don’t seem to be able to see.

The email. 

Dear IHM,

I’m girl in my early twenties, raised by very liberal parents. I took it upon myself as a task to develop myself thoughtful, considerate and non-judgmental as I possibly could. I honestly never really realized how much gender inequality existed in our society until I started to notice the atmosphere around me – the girls in school, in college, the way people when they were talking about girls. Let me just share few examples with you.

For starters, I knew this girl in school (say A) who would proudly boast about her dad’s position and family wealth, and their nice big house. One day when our very close friend was leaving the country we had a get together at her house. A good time was being had, but ‘A’ showed up rather late. When asked why she was late – her dad never let her out of the house to meet friends and gave her an earful for wanting to come here, she was only allowed here because a close friend was leaving – that too with younger brother in tow. That was when I knew I she may have had a lot in terms of ‘status’, but she had close to nothing in terms of freedom. The thing that got to me most was – why is everyone so okay with it? How is it that they pretended this was and okay and acceptable?

I know another girl who left Grade 11 to return to India to get married. All was cute and lovely for a while after she married. While I kept my judgment to myself quite a few girls made it a point to congratulate her, tell her God had surely blessed her, how cute the couple looked, and how gorgeous her wedding dress was.  A year later she got divorced. Now she’s continuing her studies.

However the one that really opened my eyes something that happened very recently. The father of a friend of mine recently passed away. The family is survived by my friend, his brother, mother and his younger sister. As my friends came to hear of the news, they all showed signs of feeling sorry and having pity – but all unanimously (and disappointingly) ended their statements the same way – ‘Oh so he has a younger sister huh? Oh so he now has to work for her marriage’ *understanding tone of voice* *concerned, caring look*. While I silently nodded outside inside I was aghast.  Honestly the first time I heard it, it took a while for me to understand they were actually serious. Note that sister (the liability who needs to be married off) is doing her MBA. Also, that they are upper middle class. Note from the four people who made this statement all were ‘NRIs’.  By this I’m not emphasizing ‘NRI’ here, what I am emphasizing is that this mentality prevails among social class that has supposedly settled into a more ‘developed’ society. Two from them are girls – one of the tem is currently pursuing her Masters degree, she’s amongst the brightest in class. The other is the so-called ‘modern’ Indian girl. She drinks, she smokes, she parties. The other two were brothers but with vastly differing personalities. Yet both had the same reaction to the personal ‘burden’ he now had to carry. Also note that one of the brother’s has worked and studied in the UK for more than 5 yrs and considers himself ‘modern’.  I rarely have anything to say when I hear such things, because I never expect these things to be said in today’s world by people from my generation.

There are countless examples – a man responding to a woman in my office who just said her younger sister got engaged ‘Oh, so now your Dad can finally relax!’ (this was said inspite of there being an unmarried boy too in the house).  Some guy friends who are either married or in serious relationships find it quite okay to make jokes or share stories of times they argued/ outwitted the girl’s parents openly in front of our circle, while the girls would never retaliate in the same way, they just keep quite. Guys who make jokes on dark or ‘black’ girls. And it goes on and on. There’s a lot more to say, but it’s pointless.

My question is, what do you do? What do you say when the majority thinks this way and  anything you say to counter them will just get you looks of bewilderment in return, or blank responses of ‘but that’s our culture’, or ‘you’re trying to be too western’. How do you convince the majority that a culture that is misogynist and expects it’s people to follow strictly defined gender roles is one that needs to undergo some change at least? Especially when you’re often the only person in the group who seems to think differently.

I’m sorry this email is really long. But sometimes it feels like no one really gets it. Everyone is comfortable under the ‘traditional’ umbrella, and no one really gets why the system is unjust. I’m writing this because I know that you, IHM are one of the few people can understand my point. I also want to ask you – do you ever come across such things in social situations? And how do you tackle it?

Apologies again for the long email. I know many of your readers often email you about genuine problems, while mine is just a rant. Thanks anyway for listening.

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