Sharing an email.
Subject: Thoughts on how my life improved_Publish this to thank all the readers for their support.
I had written an email about a year back about being a DIL in the joint family:
I am happy to share my current state and how the quality of my life has improved as a whole.
We (Hubby and me) have slowly worked things out and turned the tide around the house. As discussed in my previous post, I was struggling against the gender discrimination in my marital home.
There came a time when my parents returned from US (after visiting my sister) and visited my town as well, on the way. I informed my inlaws about them being in town. But against my hopes they dint bother inviting them home. This hurt me badly. My parents on their part sent lots of US chocolates for my inlaws even though they were uninvited to their own daughter’s home. The inlaws accepted the sweets without even a thank you. I embarrased them further by telling that my parents have enquired the health of everyone at home and sent their regards for the same (in a sarcastic way). Their attitude started having a profound affect on me and my hubby and we realised my shoddy existance in the house, the scant respect for my parents etc
This attitude of theirs made us (hubby and me) more united,more rebellious.
Finally there came a time when my dad visited my town yet again and had to stay in a lodge (because he was unwelcome at my place). I found it ridiculous that the in laws,who have taken loads of dowry from this man, the same man who even provided the plates and spoons you eat in everyday, is not even eligible to share a tea with you and meet his daughter. Hubby said enough is enough and slowly and gradually we stopped participating in the inlaws kitchen and started our independent life upstairs. We cooked what we wanted, we ate out when we were lazy, slept when we felt like and wore what we wished.
It was awesome and liberating. Of course there were many awkward moments with the inlaws, where the whole family had food in one kitchen and just us in another.
But it was worth it. The inlaws were cold initially but gradually warmed up to us. It was a clear case of them doing things wrong and facing the consequences
We would meet and greet them, would visit them and talk to them but never get lured by their hints of asking us to come back and depend on them
Eating together can in many ways enable inlaws to control their child and child-in-law’s life. Every time we wish to eat out, we need to inform them, every time we come home late(for dinner) we need to inform them, we need to participate in the kitchen chores and this makes us stay before their eyes and less time together/any other activities of our choice.We are bound to a routine and little chance of exercising any deviation from the set routine. If after a tiring work week we wish to unwind by going out for breakfast,a spontaneous long drive later, a fun cooking activity of trying new recipies etc are discouraged by this eat together culture. Basically we can’t do anything unplanned, exciting and thrilling.
Eating a snack outside becomes a crime. Not to mention rising early on weekends to cook and slog out for the whole family. Cooking (for 7-8 people 3 versatile meals a day) becomes the primary activity of life.
We can as well meet without having to compulsorily ‘eat’. The family was very rigid in terms of the ‘bahus’ slogging and everyone else enjoying. Father in law proudly claims that the family has to eat atleast one meal together a day. If that is the case why does discrimination creep in, in terms of who cooks that one meal. Why does he (along with his son/daughter) shy away from cooking? Why only eat together? Why not all cook together, work together and then eat together. I was considered the house breaker who changed the son, took him away and broke the family.
But by moving out of the kitchen, I have rediscovered myself and really enjoying my marital life. It takes one firm strong step. My funda has been ‘be polite’ but ‘be firm’. Learn to say ‘no’ in a smiling way.They may blame you , say all sorts of nasty things but it is only so much they can do. Rise above it, sometimes without reacting to it, in a calm and composed way. Do what you believe is right, but be nice to them.They also have their own insecurities.They are also scared of the society .They also will not go out on a war with the son cause they also need him and value his relationship with them. But they ‘try’, try to see how much the controlling can happen ,and raise the bar each time we are quiet.
As a result of this, my whole family has visited our home multiple times.
They also go visit our in laws and have a cup of tea with them. We also hinted to our in laws that if any uncomfortable vibes are passed during any of my family visits then we may leave the town or shift to a neutral home where both sets of families are equally welcome. Fearing this, they treat my family well. When my family visits, we all visit my in laws first, have a cup of tea and then move on to my floor where my parents spend their rest of the time.
Every mature educated couple unfortunately goes through a vicious cycle after marriage.The cycle begins with the parents of the boys trying to play around with the bahu by placing expectations on her shoulder, inch by inch, level by level, and see how she deals with it.Usually in India, the bahu is new,shy,coy bride and is testing the waters so does not resist initially.This encourages them and her discomfort increases. At this time she is not even on a completely comfortable platform to discuss these issues with her husband because they are also still getting to know each other. Mutual trust is still not strong enough for her to liberally complain against his own folks to him. When she finally does, it is a bit of a surprise for him also, he has never seen his parents in bad light before, never felt his parents can be wrong. But if he is a mature guy, he slowly sees all the discrimination, all the wrong. He takes time to come to terms to it, validate it, and agree to act against it, but things start going out of hands by than. And his struggle to gather guts to fight his parents, the actual showdowns,the emotional blackmail are very stressful for the couple, especially him. This is because for her, she knows her wrongdoers easily, but for him its his own people,who have always wished him well till he gets married.The people who behave irrationally are your own people, you have to fight for justice and risk losing all ties with them .
Once the showdown happens, ultimatums given/received the marriage and also the relationship with the in-laws reach some stable state.
All this I have written about is true if husband is a fair,mature guy. I don’t even want to think what happens otherwise.The sad part is,every couple goes through all this, reinvents the wheel each time. Most in-laws try to fit old marriage templates to new modern women. There is struggle, friction as a result. Its high time new customs, relevant for today’s youth are popularised.
We need powerful mediums for that.The religious leaders (who are of this generation) should speak out about such things. The media also needs to grow up to cater to the new lifestyle. I don’t see a single popular soap where the bahu is working in a challenging profession and the Indian families adapting to it. We need to telecast everyday lifestyle changes in positive light.This would solve the major stress problems every couple invariably goes through. I hope to see such soaps/films which educate the society to rise to the modern day demands rather than spewing patriarchy nauseatingly.
IHM’s blog is the first step which has achieved this purpose in a fearless way. Thanks IHM for your efforts in solving the major concern the Indian youth is facing.
Say it Loud, Say it Clear – Dew Drops