A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents and will have to request and hope for her husband’s permission to do so.

“Why shouldn’t we be allowed to continue to love and take care of our parents after marriage?”

Legally, all Indian children – sons and daughters, are required to take care of their elderly parents.

This comment by Sara gives an idea of what actually happens in traditional patriarchal families.

Story of a daughter trying to take care of her parents.

No. Daughters VERY much WANT & LOVE to take care of their parents, since they are more emotionally attached to their parents than their brothers are. But  the husband & in-laws oppose this – they want all of their DIL’s resources (money, work) solely for themselves. A married woman does not have the freedom to spend on her parents & will have to request & hope for her husband’s permission to do so. Sad part is that parents themselves teach this to daughters saying “take care of your marriage – don’t ever cross your husband or inlaws, staying married is the most important” blah blah.

My mother is a widow & I am the only daughter. Inspite of this my mother tried to instill the above said “values” (yikes!!) into me. Somehow thank God my brain completely repelled it – she was such a loving, caring, sacrificing mom, and I simply couldn’t stand the thought of orphaning her because of some stupid “cultural” “values” or any other BS. When I finished my education & started working, she was even suggesting that she can join an old age home (it was under construction then) which was being built by a missionary after getting me married since it was “inappropriate” to “interfere” in a daughter’s husband’s wish (Daughter’s wish is to take care, but that doesn’t figure anywhere). It was APPALLING to say the very very least.

When proposals came, I was frank that I would like to keep my physically fragile (and very docile and soft) mom staying with me. But this sounded like asking for the moon for almost all the suitors. Only 2 families had agreed – I rejected the first one as they kept changing their talks suspiciously and also because I would have to resign my job & relocate. I got married to the second one who was in the same city. Later that turned to be a nightmarish marriage that lasted 5 months, during which he wanted my mom to turn over ALL her saving to him, and also wanted me to give him all my salary, since that is the “norm” and I’m even more obliged because he has “so very graciously consented to allow a wife’s mother to stay under his roof – something which, according to him, even the biggest fool on earth wouldn’t have allowed.”

To cut a long story short, after five months of violence (I mean hitting, punching, slapping & death threats, not just verbal/emotional violence), one sudden morning it took a radical turn, and I had to either slip out & run away from that house or get killed. During the few precious moments I got, I whispered to my mom that he is going to kill me & I’m running away & “stand in the hall near the exit door, and keep the door unlatched, run away if he tries to hurt you or if he is moving towards the door”, and ran for my life with my office badge & bag hoping he won’t kill my mom. By God’s grace a lot of friends helped me & God Himself helped my mom. We are alive now.

Now, that’s the story of a daughter trying to take care of her parents.

Another colleague is an only daughter. Her husband was acting ok for a few years – till she helped him pay off all his educational loans. After all his loans were done, he showed his real colors. Her husband’s words were not much different – he hit her & when her father questioned it, he said “I should have put you folks in your places right from the start. It is my biggest mistake letting you guys in my house. You don’t deserve to stay here.” (If this is how a wife’s father is treated, don’t even imagine how her mother would have been treated if he was not around.)

Not just that, as school kids, me & my friends would occasionally talk about this injustice – Why shouldn’t we be allowed to continue to love and take care of our parents after marriage? Of course, we were kids & we never got any solution for this. We just felt it as grievous injustice against women. (But even our moms shut us up if we asked them about this.. that left us confused & clueless).

Only one of my friends had her mom’s mom staying with them (and that too it was only after her mom’s dad passed away), and her dad used to taunt her mom & grandmom over it. Her mom was a lecturer & was earning more than her dad (who kept switching between jobs & miscellaneous businesses) – 20 years back!

It was a “good family” as per the standards then – which means parents never fight in front of kids (no matter what bruising/bleeding/war-of-words goes on behind the kids backs). Inspite of this, the taunts were noticeable by the child. Imagine what would have gone in between her mom & dad which she did not know then!

Of ALL the friends I ever made since the age of five till I completed schooling (not many close friends in college.. and not much time to chat about this stuff.. but I believe my college-mates would be the same too), only one girl had the view that girls are meant to completely detach from parents & bind with their marital families. ALL the rest were typical loving girls, lovingly bonded to their parents and wanted to take care of them post-marriage too. This includes only-daughter girls, girls who had only sisters, and girls who had brothers too (a few in this category didn’t feel so fiercely like the others.. that probably would have been because of “cultural value” drilling done by the parents.. but still, they sure wouldn’t turn their backs on their parents when they needed them..).

Note: Posting from my mobile. Will add Related Posts and links as soon as possible.

An email from the Accused Guy: ‘I would request all to respond once again after reading the other side of it.’

Sharing a comment from The Accused Guy where he attempts to give ‘the other side’ of the story. 

The comment was made in response to this email: “He became more distant and sometime would verbally abuse me, call me names and then slapping and wrist twisting started happening.”

Please note,

1. The ‘only son’ in the email is not ‘only child’. 

2. The ‘only son’ is raised to understand that he would provide for his parents. (Which is why we Indians pray, fast, bless, sex select etc).

3. The only son’s parents in this email are expected to provide for the other adult child, the married daughter (possibly to ensure that she is treated well by her in laws and hence Stays Married).

4. The average male child does not question this, though sometimes he might expect his wife to demand from her parents what his parents do for his sister. This seems to transfer the victimisation to the daughter in law. 

This is not questioned or seen as evil although this is the biggest reason for India’s Skewed Gender Ratio.  

5. Violence, physical and verbal, in the email, is being tolerated as a part of conflict resolution. 

6. Indian women (and men) feel they must marry the first person they are in a relationship with.

In case of a break up, men risk being accused of ‘using’ the woman [Link]. Women risk being accused to having been used (and hence dishonoured and no longer marriageable).

And here’s the comment from AccusedGuy.

After reading the blog post, I would have reacted the same way as everyone. But this is what one sided stories do. So I would request all to respond once again after reading the other side of it.

Which is as following:

Me and “XYZ” were together for around 6 years before marriage. We first expressed our love for each other during college days. Of course I was in love with her because I hadn’t seen anyone so innocent and pure of heart. Hence our relationship started.
Start of relation was very bubbly-bubbly as every relation is but with time I observed that that innocence started to disappear (Only for me) and I was bombarded with jealousy, insecurities and expectations. This was first time relationship experience for both of us and being naïve about it, we left things on time to improve.
Things didn’t improve even after a couple of years of relationship (Mostly distance relationship during college projects), I decided to talk to “XYZ”. But before any kind of relevant talk, I was immediately tagged as “someone who used her for a couple of years with no intentions of marriage” (which was automatically assumed since we were in “relationship”).  I tried to talk to her that cheating her was never the intention but continuing a relationship which is full of issues is also a mistake. But she never agreed to split and assured that she’ll do everything to correct her limitations and I didn’t want her to hurt her like that so we continued our relationship.
After college, we took our jobs. She was in Gurgaon and me in Noida. We met occasionally on weekends and spent 3 years like this (having major fights all the while). One fight got so worse that we decided to take a break for a couple of weeks from each other and re-think our relation. After that time we sat together and I communicated to her that we shouldn’t be together because we can’t resolve our issues. She again disagreed and told me that she’ll make all the adjustments but insisted on maintaining the relationship.
After that it’s correct that I had feelings for some other girl. But “XYZ” was aware of that before marriage. We talked about this and I assured her that no external factor will come between us (I have maintained that always and have fulfilled that to this date) but I still maintained that getting married was a bad idea because we can’t resolve our issues. But again I was accused that I wasted her six years and now was simply ditching her for some other girl.

So we got married.

After marriage everything changed.
“I’ll do everything to correct my issues” changed to “you push me for everything”…
“Lets resolve our issues” changed to “my parents will talk to you on this issue”…
“let’s stay together” changed to “we should split up” …

Parent’s issue:
Before marriage I told “XYZ” that since I am the only son to take care of my diabetic parents, they’ll come live with us. And “XYZ” seemed fairly OK with that. After marriage, before my parents were to visit us, I asked “XYZ” if she has any concerns then I’ll love to address them but she didn’t discuss anything that night… But a few days she started saying that she talked to some of her friends and she’ll like to discuss some issues.

Conversation was as following:
XYZ: Who’ll pay for their expenses?
Me: Since I am only son, there’s no segregation of money. So it doesn’t matter who pays. Even if it does, I’ll be happy to pay for my parents stay and eatables.
XYZ: What if parents leave some part of their wealth to your sister?
Me: Then it’ll be their wish. But I can still pay for their stay and eatables.
XYZ: fine. What’ll happen to us? Our alone time?
Me: We come back from office at around ~7 PM. we can join them till dinner time.. after ~9 PM we can have our alone time till we sleep (usually ~11 PM).
XYZ: fine. But I want to control kitchen my way.
Me: Sure, adjust with mum till she’s here after that you can resort to your ways again.

When parents came, she was friendly for a day or two but then she started ignoring them. Didn’t go to their room until I asked her to come along or didn’t left our room till it was exact office time during morning. I found this odd and asked if she has any issues with them. Her reply was “It takes time for me to accept and love people. So don’t push me till it happens itself”. To me, it wasn’t lack of love it was more about lack of respect that she chose to ignore my parents. [IHM:Link] That became one of our constant issues even after my parents left. Things kept getting severe on this front every time my parents visited afterwards.

I never asked/pushed her to do “Seva” of my parents and I did expect her to atleast respect my parents enough to acknowledge their presence.

Physical Abuse issue:
I’ll not defend myself here because I believe under no circumstance it should be a resort. But I’ll just add complete picture to this.
We were never good at resolving our issues and mostly it would turn into loud arguments and heated shouting. One time during such shouting I slapped her. But the moment I hit her, I realized what I had done and said sorry to her. Next day too I felt so bad that I called up mother and confessed that I slapped my wife and I was really sorry for that.
XYZ didn’t take it lightly and accused me of physical abuse. She made it a family issue and finally I apologized to her mother also for same.

In our subsequent fights, she started hitting me(Not on face but all over various body parts in her fury). I pointed that out to her that is this not physical abuse. Her response was “come on you are a guy, “itna lagta be hai tumhe??”.
First time I twisted her arm, she took a jadu and beat me with it. After her anger dissolved she said “Come on, deere se tou mara tha”
Another time, during the argument I made a gesture of raising hand and she scratched skin out of my arm. Later she said “itna bi ni lga tumhe”.

And yeah Kut*a, haram**ada were commonly used to address me during these fights.

Bangalore:
A couple of days before I was to travel to Bangalore, we had a fight. But on last day, we put that behind us and hugged. I asked her to join me as soon as she can so that we can settle our new life their together.
4-5 days later I reached Bangalore, it was her birthday so I called her and wished her (No call from her prior to that). During another call later that day we again had an argument. Next day I called her and her response was “pls stop interfering with my life and leave me alone” So I didn’t call her after that. She had medical issues, she left for her home town (without telling me).

Now it’s been around 50 days..

Related Posts:

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

Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

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

“I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now…”

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

An email from Pakistan: “There is a feeling among my parents that I don’t want to spend on them.”

Loving husbands who spend day and night to create harmony in Patriarchal Joint Families.

“My husband would tell me to stay with my in laws for some more time and that he didn’t want any discussions.”

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

The Men in Our Lives – Priya

From the modern, Indian woman to Shravan Kumar.

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

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

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

So why do some men compare and compete with other men?

What do men need liberation from?

Not touching feet after a year of marriage is disrespect to MIL?

“Practically, what can an introvert DIL do to communicate that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?”

Relationships – Making Someone Happy – By Priya

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

And here’s what seems to complicate it further…

An email from Pakistan: “There is a feeling among my parents that I don’t want to spend on them.”

Patriarchy‘s control on men is more difficult to identify and fight against because the control permits what many view as privilege, and because patriarchy is largely viewed as favourable to men.

The fact is, Patriarchy permits some men and some women – and only when certain conditions are met, – to control the lives of others – in many big and small ways. 

The way women are raised to see Get Married and Stay Married as their only purpose in life, men are raised to become Providers and Protectors.

This enables further abuse. Becoming Protectors involves being Controllers (egos and honours are a part of that) and being Providers is made possible or easier by keeping the Provided For in dependence. This makes it seem that Patriarchy benefits men – but not having control over their lives is not a privilege.

Please note, sons in patriarchal societies are mainly valued when, 1.)  they are Providers, and 2.) they can provide obedient daughters in laws who provide male heirs. 

An unemployed male child is still valued if he is obedient, or provides an obedient dulhan hi dahej hai, and male heirs. This is also why Patriarchy is homophobic. 

Sharing an email from a young man in Karachi.

Hi IHM,

Subject: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on patriarchy at your IHM blog

I am from Karachi Pakistan and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog especially the posts related to patriarchy. An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

Last night I was really feeling depressed after going through an emotional abuse session from one of my parents. I was confused and was not able to sleep. After reading your blog post, I became aware that this is common in our part of the world as well. I can relate to every world of your blog post with my life. Kudos to you for sharing your thoughts  and reducing the overall anxiety of your audience.
After reading your blog, I have decided to challenge the status quo and start introducing change that could get me out from the constant emotional abuse and allow me to save for my future.

Also, I would appreciate if you can ask your readers to suggest practical and realistic steps that could be taken, especially for saving for the future and for convincing our parents so that they can understand why it is important to save now. Most of the comments shared their set of problems but very few actually discussed some steps that could be taken keeping in view the highly emotional nature of the problem.

I have tried working with fixed budgets for monthly expenses and for savings, but in this case, there is a feeling among my parents that I don’t want to spend on them. I find it very difficult to convince them as to why it is important to save now.

Thanks,
Raheel

Related Posts:

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

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

The Men in Our Lives – Priya

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

So why do some men compare and compete with other men?

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

Sharing this comment by thoughtpower in response to the previous post.

I think patriarchy harms men as well but many people don’t even realize so and are happy with current setup.

I would be eager to know comments from readers of this blog.

Some challenges a man faces:

1. Expected to be breadwinner and cannot choose career of his choice
2. Cannot choose to be home maker
3. Not suitable for marriage unless he finds a job.
4. Cannot watch emotional dramas or display certain emotions
5. Cannot wear ” colorful clothes”
6. Expected to shoulder unfair responsibility as elder son
7. Not accepted if physically weak
8. Looked down upon if they choose certain professions.
9. Expected to do all the work outside home.
10. Unfair labels when he chooses to treat wife as equal partner
11. Unfair expectations to keep pleasing parents
12. Not allowed to be a doting type of father
13. Earn/study more than his partner
14. No say in aesthetics of house decoration
15. Expected to learn driving and drop/pick others even when a female family member is equipped to do that
16. Struggle in reporting sexual harassment
17. Limited career opportunities as male sex workers because female sexuality is repressed.
18. Looked down while expressing dislike for sports/violence/cars
19. High expectations due to male stereotyping on how to win over a girls heart and so called Mardangi.
20. Decision to not have kids gets difficult due to unfair burden of carrying family name
21. Financial success as chief barometer of a man’s success
22. Paternal leave for longer duration looked down upon
23. Cannot marry a woman older than him
24. Patriarchy effects men and women in different ways. Deep rooted belief in some women that patriarchy doesn’t affect men at all.
25 Father of daughter expected to shell out his hard earned money to son in laws or as dowry.
26. For someone really interested in good relationships, being too close to relatives on the spouse side looked down.
27. If only parents were as happy with happily married sons as they are with happily married daughters. Treatment of daughter’s spouse versus treatment of the spouse of the son.

Related Posts:

So why do some men compare and compete with other men?

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

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

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

“I couldn’t tell him that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl.”

What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

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

“About household financial status… his parents have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons.”

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

Loving husbands who devote their days and nights to maintain peace in the family.

“The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household”

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

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

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

Why are these dads such a threat to patriarchal social structures?

‘Angry Mob cut off man’s sensual organ for attempting rape of a girl.’

Emma Watson to men : Gender equality is your issue too.

And maybe it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man?

“About household financial status… his parents have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons.”

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

Why I can’t take gender stereotypes seriously.

Hasee toh Phasee : When a Bollywood hero is an Emotional Dhakkan.

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

Do you think it is natural for boys and girls to use different kinds of toys?

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“I don’t claim to be a spokesperson for all the men on this planet, but…”

So why do some women judge other women?

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

What kind of life and future can a woman expect with a man who has made it clear to his parents that he would not marry her without their approval?

How does the email writer benefit from being married ‘into this family’? (because she would not be marrying the man alone)

Sharing an email.

I am an American white girl with a Punjabi Sikh boyfriend. He told his parents about me from the very beginning. They were open to the idea and agreed for us to spend time together to see if we wanted to get married. We wanted to marry. They refused. I was confused. It was too late. We were already in love!

For months, he called them and tried to convince them to approve our marriage. They cried, they yelled, they threatened to disown him. They told him to never come back to India. He was the reason for their new sicknesses. He was the reason they were now bedridden. “What would society think? She won’t be able to cook Punjabi food. She will take you away from us.” They repeated all of this on a daily basis. Somehow, some way, he got them to agree to meet me. We were so elated. We flew to India bearing smiles and gifts. I adorned my best salwar kameez. I was polite and demure. I looked through all their first daughter’s wedding photographs. I did everything any other Punjabi girl would have done in my situation. Then a neighbor came over and gave his two cents on our possible marriage. He was very opinionated and very negative about me. His mother began crying and refused to speak to me. My boyfriend cried. And then it was all over. We changed our flights and flew home early from India…defeated. Why would the words of one person be enough to change everything?

This was almost one year ago. Since then, my boyfriend has cried and begged. He’s pleaded his case to them to PLEASE agree to our marriage. He made it clear to them he will not marry me without their support. He will not leave them behind…ever. They refuse even to this day. They continue the emotional blackmail on a daily basis. They have X, Y, and Z health problems now, where as before he met me they were in perfect health. They’re bed ridden. They’re dying…..because of HIM. They continue to send him profiles of other “suitable girls”, even though he protests. He says fine, then I will never marry ANYONE if you don’t let me marry her. They said fine, don’t. It appears they called his bluff too.

At this point my boyfriend wants to give up. He’s completely brainwashed by them. He believes their health problems are his fault. He believes their unhappiness and my unhappiness is his fault and his fault alone. He thinks he’s a loser. He can’t go on seeing his parents “suffer” like this anymore. I asked him who is going to be there for them when they die? He says he knows no one will. That he will die alone.

Why is he so blind to the clear manipulation and control of his parents? Why is he not able to see through it? Why is he not able to stand up against them? I know he desperately loves me, but he’s willing to lose me for them. I just don’t understand it. Now he is willing to make everyone miserable for the sake of his parents when if he married me we could at least try to be happy and hope they will come around. I can’t imagine that they would disown him forever. They have no one else. Their elder married daughter no longer speaks to them already. My boyfriend claims this is why he cannot abandon them- because she did. He feels completely responsible for them in every way. He tells me he has tried every thing he can to convince them to allow us to marry and there’s nothing left in him. He said if I think if anything then I should go and do it. I can’t think of anything I can do to change their minds!! I just wish I could show him the light of love. 😦 Help!!

IHM: If there was no emotional investment, would the situation appear different to the email writer?  

Related Posts:

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

Please watch Queen, what kind of future was Rani being offered? 

What would you not change for love?

 ‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

“If you are lucky you will get an American son-in-law, and if unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law!’

American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

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

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

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

An email: “this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.”

This issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws is also an issue of bias between a much wanted and valued, prayed and fasted for Indian male child and the generally unwanted Indian girl child.

Those who avoid having girl children, frequently value the male child as a Budhape ka Sahara, expected to provide financial support and obedient daughters in law to the parents . 

Girl children are not expected to do either and the only way they can traditionally repay the parents is by Getting Married and Staying Married, preferably Happily Married (only to someone the parents approve of).  

Because Happily married daughters are seen as well brought up, sanskaari or empowered or ‘lucky’. The parents of Happily Married Daughters generally maybe considered fortunate, sensible, matured, sanskaari and successful.

Happily married sons risk being seen as Joru Ke Gulaam (JKG), neglectful of their parents. Parents of happily married sons risk being looked upon as uncared for, by others and by themselves. (parents who have no male children are free from such expectations)

But how does patriarchy expect to see happily married daughters without any happily married sons?

Same way it sees ‘peace and harmony’ in silenced voices, unhappiness, injustice, cruelty, denial of human rights and freedom, and gender bias.

Sharing an email.  

Dear IHM

Gender issues and bias against women never seemed to really touch me until my marriage. My upbringing was such that both career and family were made equally important. After, completing my studies, I got landed with a cushy corporate job in a big city. My parents supported my decision to move to this city.

After a few years of working life, I met a guy. We fell for each other and decided to marry. While my parents approved of him and respected my choice, his mother refused of our match. Reason, after showing my horoscope to a pundit, the latter told her that while I will get along well with her son but I won’t get along well with her.

Somehow, my hubby along with his dad managed to convince her and she agreed. Unfortunately, my father in law expired only a few months of our marriage. Mil refused to shift with us. I had to quit my job immediately to be with her as she couldn’t stay alone. After a few months my hubby too got a job in his hometown and moved with us.

When we were finally settled, my hubby brought the subject of me starting with my job again. She bluntly refused saying that she does not want to be a maid to us plus she cannot stay alone after her hubby’s death. I loved my hubby a lot and made this sacrifice for him.

But her tantrums didn’t stop. She never allowed to us to go out alone, parties were not allowed, movie dates were not allowed, visiting relatives were not allowed…..Worst, she would get furious even if talked with each other in her presence, many times she would come to our room to sleep since she used to get afraid in the night! We were newly-weds who slept with their mother in between!

I sacrificed my desires as well. She demanded a child soon so that she could get busy with the grandchild.

We understood her situation and conceived. She became all the more controlling and dictating now. I was advised bed rest for one month due to chances of abortion but she told me that doctors don’t know much. The more you will work, the better your chances of having a normal delivery.

She started playing dirty politics. Would say something to me and something different to hubby. Used to treat me like a maid behind his back and showered false care in front of him. Foolish me, I never complained and never shared with even hubby. Kept on enduring all abuse because I wanted to make the marriage work.

Pregnancy and delivery both were a nightmare. Only used to share with my mom. But enough is enough.

My mom expired and I went through one of the worst periods of depression. I couldn’t take it anymore. The desire to make the marriage work finally lost its battle and all I wanted was a divorce.

My hubby got extremely distressed and spoke to his sister, who’s in a similar situation. Her MIL too is a widow. She’s working in a highly reputed company at a good post. She advised us that the only solution to the problem is that I start working and we keep a full time maid. We all spoke to my MIL and she had to agree.

By this time my kid had turned two. I got a job and started working. We kept a full time maid for all the work. Things improved. Although, she never allowed us alone time but at least she stopped treating me like a maid. Time passed and I got promoted. I now used to get a little late from office. Where earlier I used to be home by 5:30, I started arriving around 6:30.

Problems started cropping up again. Our maid used to leave by 5 pm and against half an hour, she now had to keep the grandchild for full one hour. I spoke with my boss and worked upon a solution from working from home. I had to visit office for just one day in a week and just required to remain online during office hours on Skype.

Now she asked the maid to leave to cut down expenses. Due to work at home, my job suffered and I got fired. Even the job solution didn’t work. To engage myself I have now started spending time on my laptop. Once I got fired, the maid treatment started again.

I could have still understood her expectations for having a typical house wife as a daughter in law had her own daughter not been working. Hers is an arranged marriage. She takes special pride in describing her daughter’s achievements. She loves to narrate how she prevented her daughter from marrying the boy of her choice because the boy’s parents were not ready to let her continue her career.

Had she married that boy, she would have turned into a ‘typical housewife’ by now, she describes flaunting her choice of groom for her daughter. My sister in law has two children and her MIL keeps her two kids for 12 hours. And my MIL couldn’t even keep my child for just one hour!

I understand I should not make comparisons, each person is different. But if I am understanding her, atleast she can let me be me. If she expects me to do household chores, I have no qualms. Its my work, my responsibility. But when I am doing all my duties, have sacrificed my career, my desires, why can’t I do what I enjoy doing. Now she is having problems with me spending time on the laptop and not spending time with other ‘bahus’ in the locality!

She now has problems that I don’t go to kitty parties, I don’t mingle with other bahus and waste time on the internet! Her daughter doesn’t go to kitty parties because she is a career woman. I never neglected my duties even when I was working. I used to make chapattis, pack three tiffins (hubby’s, son’s and mine), make breakfast, get my son ready for school, prepare dinner…

My SIL knows no cooking, does not help in any household work, does not even looks after her kids, shouts at her MIL (many times her MIL calls my MIL that her daughter does not treat her well and makes her feel like a maid!) Her ‘saat khun are maaf’ only because she is earning in lakhs per month, while I earned peanuts compared to her! Every time she gives this excuse, if hubby or me say anything.

But why does she fails to overlook, I was also earning good. In fact we both would have been doing well in our careers had we not compromised with our careers due to her. We are now living in a small town, the place is not meant for service class or professionals.

This time when my SIL visited us on a festive occasion and dropped her six month old baby with us to take care as she can’t stay up late in the night with the baby and her MIL wasn’t doing well, I lost it! My blood literally boiled over. This time my MIL had no problem in keeping such a small baby and she refused to take care of my 4 year old child during that one hour in the evening.

I thought a grandchild would make a difference in her behaviour. But she never took interest in my child.

Why such a strong bias! Why such difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. When we raise our daughters to become career conscious individuals, why do we expect our daughters to be perfect
home makers?

This injustice and biased treatment is eating me up. Since we cannot live separately as my hubby is the only son, I have stopped speaking to her. We do not interact other than the basic communication. But the bitterness is still there, hatred is still there. Its affecting me, affecting my relationship with hubby. I have not mentioned here about her manipulations, dirty politics, bad mouthing about me, my parents to my hubby and SIL.

I love my husband but I hate his mother. And after rendering all this mistreatment to me, she wants to prove me guilty to my hubby and other relatives and seek their sympathy. I have lost my hair, my weight, my health due to this. Is there any way out? Will she ever understand and acknowledge what she is doing? What should I do? I am clueless and losing the desire to live.

I cannot divorce my husband, living away from her is not an option. Hubby asks me to ignore and focus on my hobbies. At times I do and at times I lose it and sink into depression again. How to kill this hatred, this bitterness from my heart. I know the damage cannot be undone but how to forgive and start living?

It’s a long letter. But I really felt good writing to you. Would appreciate if you take up this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen, what kind of future was Rani being offered? 

Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? – Indusladies.com

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

To an Anonymous DIL

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

“Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.”

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

Do you think Indians would value sons the way they do now – praying, fasting and sex selecting to avoid having girl children, if there was no expectation of living with and being cared for by a future daughter in law?

What if the parents knew that they could not control or choose who the son would marry or live with? What would change? 

Sharing an email from an American woman.

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now, ever since I have been dating (now engaged to) an awesome and caring Indian man. Even though I am American, I find some of the topics mentioned on here to be universally relevant and interesting, nonetheless.

I am writing to ask if you could share my story on your blog as soon as you get a chance with your readers so that I can get their opinions/truthful advice.

My situation is as follow:

I am engaged to an Indian man who has been residing here in the US for the last 6 years. He has lived here since he was 24, now he is 30. I am 26. We are getting married in less than a year, and he is honestly an awesome and caring person, whom I care for very much, no doubt! 🙂 I have only met his siblings thus far, and they are awesome and all living outside of India now. His parents are living in India, and I have yet to meet them, but speak to them often on the phone. They seem very sweet, kind, and non intrusive. Everyone, including him, is actually very westernized and liberal-minded, and mostly not very traditional at all, as they reside in a big city. They also have several other family members around them, like their own siblings, nieces and nephews.

Awhile back, we were speaking about different things in life, and a topic came up. He mentioned/asked me how I would feel about his parents living with us when they become old, or maybe even before then, I do not quite remember the conversation to be honest. All I remember responding is how I truly feel about it, which is basically that I do not feel comfortable living like that and am not a believer in that sort of family set up. I believe you marry your spouse and share a home with your spouse, and that’s it. Marriage can be hard enough as it is, never mind adding in other family members into the equation. I am marrying one person, not 3 people, simply put. He is not insisting that this happen, he is simply asking because while no discussion in the family has been spoken yet on this topic, there is a possibility they may just stay where they are or live with his older brother. (He has 1 brother living in the Middle East not far from India and 1 sister here in the US.) I think he basically wants to be able to welcome them into their home if they need it, not necessarily that he is demanding it. He just wants to know they’ll  be taken care of later on, which I suppose is fair.

Now I know this is seen as a “cultural difference”. Indians live with their sons in their old age. My genuine question is why? In my European culture, daughters are actually the ones to care for their aging parents, as they feel more comfortable with daughters versus daughters-in-laws. Americans hire full time care takers for their elders but people remain in separate house from their kids, or in some cases, the same house to cut expenses. In my personal experience, my grandmother lived until 95 years old with a full time care taker and in a house of her own. My mom stopped by everyday for an hour, but lived within 5 minutes of her so that as relatively easy. We do not “abandon” our elders like some people think we do.

Now since I am my parents’ only daughter, I would technically be the one responsible for them in their old age, but simply put, I do not want them living with me either, and that is not to sound cold or callus, but everyone, including elderly, need their own personal space, and mostly, their own privacy. I have already discussed this with my parents and they agree. While they want to be nearby to me, they themselves do NOT want to share a house with my and my future husband, as they know they can be just as well taken care of in a separate house than in the same house.

I genuinely would like to hear people’s thoughts on this and how to handle this with my fiancé in a fair manner. I definitely cannot live with them on a full time permanent basis for the rest of my adult life. As I said earlier, I do not even want my own parents living with me. I just want it to be me, my spouse, and my future children hopefully. My future in laws have been to the US once on a vacation and will come for our wedding in less than a year. So they have not been here very much. Logically, it does not make much sense. We are of 2 different cultures, and things may be uncomfortable for us both. Financially, it definitely doesn’t make sense, as a non US senior citizen is not entitled to medical care or any medical benefits.

I believe this arrangement would cause a big strain on our marriage. My fiancé knows how I feel and that I am uncomfortable with it. He laughs at me and doesn’t really understand where I am coming from, he is a man after all, and they just don’t understand certain things, especially if this is a cultural phenomenon. This just worries me slightly and this is really not an issue you can force on someone. I just wish he understood where I was coming from a bit better and had a but more common sense for all things considered. I do not see many elderly Indian people living in the US permanently anyway, and I am not sure he has even thought all of these logistical issues through.

The bottom line is this: how can I handle this fairly, so that he is not very upset and at the same time, I’m not living in misery? And second, why would people in their 60s (by that time they would be) want to live in a foreign country permanently in their old age? If they wanted to live here, I guess they would have done it long ago. And 3rd, why he is discussing this with me when he has not even discussed this with his siblings or parents? Lastly, please do not misunderstand me to be cold or heartless. I hope they are well taken care of also. They may just have more things in common with their other daughter in law, who is also Indian and also has her own relatives residing there also.

Any advice is appreciated and respected. Please reply.  Thanks so much!!

D.M.

Related Posts:

This email reminded me of  – “If you are lucky you will get an American son-in-law, and if unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law!’

American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

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

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

100 per cent of the elderly surveyed stated that their daughters-in-law abused them the most.

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

An update: ‘I am told that I am very wrong since I think of money, but is it not an important factor here?’

An update from “another frustrated daughter-in-law married to a good son” who wrote this email two years ago: An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

Hello IHM,

It has been 2yrs since I wrote this email, I wanted to update a bit.

Situation has not changed much, in fact it has become worse. My worries for the future, and my constant bringing up this topic has caused a lot of misunderstanding between us, I talked even to my in-laws but they instead of understanding me told their son that he needs to think of his duties towards his sister and parents, they told him to keep me under check since I am acting like a selfish daughter-in-law.

I saved every penny that I earned till now, unfortunately the company shut down and I lost my job, it has been months and I still have not been able to get one more and this has worsened the situation. I begged my husband that he has to support me, we need to pool up money and think of securing our future by buying something for ourselves. Even though he seems to agree at times, a phone call from his parents his thoughts go back to the way they were.

He now blames me that I am selfish, that I am not adjusting enough to live with his parents hence bring up the topic, he says all my problems are self created.

I feel very down that my husband instead of understanding the need for securing his and my life for the future is more worried about what his parents might feel, he continues to spend on them and his sister but thinks that I should earn and get what I want since I am one of those feminists who talks about equality of women.

If I cannot expect a little support in this matter what is the marriage for I do not understand, if they think it is just about feeding me even my parents would have done it. Should I give up thinking about future just because my husband does not? Or if I do should I do it independently? Then why am I even married? Why wife takes a backseat when it comes to parents and siblings? Why is it that it is never about ‘us’ as a couple in a marriage?

I am told that I am very wrong since I think of money, but is it not an important factor here? Am I not being exploited by all of them? Is it not just money for them too? Wouldn’t they have understood the point I am trying to make otherwise?

Sorry about the rant, but just very worried and disappointed with the man I am so in love with. He despite of understanding and loving me thinks his only responsibility in life is to be a good son.  😦

Related Posts:

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

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

“…being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not…. He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car.”

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

My wife will inherit my family’s property, her brothers too will share their property with their respective wives.

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

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

“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

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?

Haryana panchayat cuts off married girls from parents’ property

Should couples’ assets be treated as joint property?

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

Reply from the Indian mother in law.

Do Indian men benefit from being married in exchange of dowry?

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

“…being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not…. He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car.”

Sharing an email. Do you think these questions would have been raised if the couple was Indian, and in a traditional arranged marriage? Why or why not?

Hello IHM

I read your blog and have found it interesting. I thought it might be a good idea to write to you to ask your opinion.

I am currently in a relationship with an Indian man with whom I do not share a common background with – different religious, cultural, familial and even economic backgrounds (at least in terms of expectations). We share racial and educational backgrounds, however.

It has, at times, been a bit of a “is love enough” and “have I chewed more than I can bite” relationship for me. But given the fact that we are generally happy, I have ploughed through the intermittent drama. I am not particularly popular in his family and he in mine.

What this email has to do with is his money behaviour with regards to his family.

His parents had split when he was a kid (around 10). He has a couple of sisters. And he had to man up when his dad left – being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not. His mom brought up her three children on welfare. He is very protective of his mother in ways I am not of mine. I am also surprised by how un-independent his mom and sisters are given their family situation.

So, the thing is, my partner does not live in the same city as his mother and sisters, the elder of whom is married with a child. His mom and younger sister live together. The house they live in is paid off. However, he still pays bills at his mom’s place. He sends money home. He is about to buy his mom a car (which his younger sister will use as well). [The reason they need a new car at all is because his elder sister swapped her crappier car with his mom’s citing “it will be economical for mom to run a smaller car” after her marriage, which is fine, however, she has not fronted up with any money for the new car].

Both his sisters work. His mom does not work. His mom babysits his elder sister’s child while she works. [I sometimes feel like his mom is being slightly exploited by his elder sister.]

We currently do not live in the city where both our families live because we both find our families very overbearing and we believe that this is for the best.

My partner is not currently working as he decided to take time off to start a business. While not over the moon, I decided, well, you are young, we currently have no responsibility and I make enough to pay the bills, so go live you dream. However, I had not realised that his birth family was his responsibility. [When he was working, he paid his share of the bills and I really did not keep tabs on what he did with his money].

So, for the past six months, I have been paying all our bills. He used all his savings for the business. I transfer spending money into his account (part of which he uses to pay his mom’s bills, etc.) He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car. He has started looking for work again however, it has not quite worked out yet.

He has not told his mom or his sisters his current financial situation – they have what my other friend described to be close but superficial relationships. However, his mom/sisters, I do not really believe, care where the money to get them stuff comes from. [I.e., while my parents love me visiting them / taking care of them, they also tell me I have to look after my own interests and save a bit of money and put it away because who knows what would happen. However, his mom never asks him to take care of his interests. No one ever demands, however it is there subtly, like in the case of the car being un-usable and no one making a move to do anything about it. ]

I am beginning to find myself getting quite uncomfortable. I find my partner’s behaviours very irresponsible. While I love him, I am beginning to ask myself, what do I gain from this relationship? I feel like I am more likely to actually achieve some of my personal goals (or on a grander scale) on my own than with him.

And I find myself uncomfortable with the situation even if my partner found work tomorrow. While I have no problems with my my partner looking after his mom, I would like for it to be reasonable [I.e., actually figure out how much her cost of living is (I do not think my partner actually even knows if she is able to meet her needs without his help) and make sure that is met (and maybe a bit more) versus giving her large sums of money randomly. Also, if his mom decides to give her stuff away, then he not feeling responsible for replacing them. [Also, I also feel his sisters need to take responsibility for her too]. But they are not a straight talking family and everything is read between the lines.

I have brought these issues up with my partner, however, not very effectively, I believe. I tend to come off as being petty.

Am I being petty? I think I would be pretty peeved off if my partner got upset with me wanting to buy my parents a present or something. But I do not maintain my parents’ living standard. So, it is not all that difficult to treat them every so often without breaking the bank. And I would never get them gifts if I was broke. Am I just generally not a nice person?

I sometimes get a feeling that he feels I am able to look after myself and his mom/sisters need looking after. I find the scale and the lack of thought for my needs and wants quite challenging. It is not, like, him and I are loaded. Or my parents are so well off that this is a non-issue.

I would like your and your readers’ opinion on my situation.

Related Posts:

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

An email from a Mother in law.

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

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?

So why don’t Indian women fight for their own ancestral property rights?

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

An email: I cannot bend to my FIL’s greed … but I don’t want to break up a family (mine) …

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

“What if I let go the gold and money, not that I am rich, but they won’t give me a divorce easily…”

“Do my parents have two different standards and expectations for my brother and for us?”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM

Reading your blog and the comments that you get has helped me understand and articulate a lot of my own thoughts and beliefs.

I am writing to you to get your and your readers thoughts on something that has been bothering me for the last few weeks.

I have been brought up in a very liberal nuclear family. My parents have always treated us (me, my sister and brother) the same. In fact, my brother did more housework growing up as me and my sister used to order him around (he is the youngest) hehe 😀

We never ‘could’ and ‘could not’ do things just because of our gender and the rules were the same for us. I am married now and live in a different city than my parents and inlaws and we follow the same tradition in our home. My parents have always been supportive of my sister’s and mine off-beat decisions like keeping our maiden name after marriage, or not having kids (in case of my sister).  Needless to say that I am very proud of my parents and I even sometimes tell my hubby that I was raised by two feminists.

Now the thing that is bothering me is this-

When I was talking to my brother last month he said that the parents were upset with him because he told his fiancee that he will bear half of the wedding expenses. When I talked to my parents about this my dad said something on the lines of – didn’t I spend on my daughters’ weddings? I got very upset and hung up on him.. Then my mom called and said that they were upset because my brothers is an arranged marriage and these things are delicate and should have been discussed at the parents level. Huh? She went on to explain that the girls parents had called to ask if my parents were upset about something, and thats why want to pay half of the expenses.. I really am at a loss at understanding these dynamics.

Also, at the time of her wedding my sister was so upset about the un-sharing of expenses that my BIL came home with a cheque.. which my father vehemently refused to take saying that it does not matter who pays etc etc. At the time of my wedding I was so blinded with excitement that I knowing ignored the matter relating to expenses (something I feel guilty about now)

Also, my brother after getting married is going to live in the adjoining flat (my parents idea). This flat was barely furnished and now it’s getting done up as per my brothers and his fiancees choice. My parents gave some money to do up the place as wedding gift.

Anyhow, coming back to my original question, I am scared that my parents are turning into typical boy’s parents with big egos. I don’t understand why they got upset as my brother is going to spend from his own savings. So does this mean that they feel they have some right over my brothers money? They sure haven’t bothered about what I do with mine except giving lectures about virtues of saving and occasional investment advice. Nothing else has happened after the said incidence but I am disturbed. Actually I feel a little cheated. Do my parents have two different standards and expectations for my brother and for us?

My mom says that i am making a big deal about a nonissue but she still maintains that my bro should have talked to parents first. Am I reading too much into a minor event? Should I just let it go because as my husband says.. “at least they aren’t forbidding him from doing it”.

I would be really glad if you could share my email as really need some objective views on the matter.

Thanks a lot
A