“My Mil never likes to cook. They have maid at home who does most of the cooking cleaning stuff.”

Sharing an email. 

Do you think there are some expectations here, from the mother in law? If yes, then are those expectations fair?

What if the mother in law had a career or any other interests, or health issues, and there were no other relatives, …female relatives, who could come and cook for the couple?

Who doesn’t seem to be feeling any guilt in this email? Why is that so? 

Hi IHM

I frequently visit your blog.I am an avid reader of your blog. Almost all the topics touches a chord some where.

I m writing about a problem to get suggestions and inputs from bloggers here.

I work with a MNC married for one and half year. Now I am carrying three months. Initially all was good and we both were so happy. My Mil came to take care of me.

First few weeks I was not feeling like eating. Then slowly as pregnancy progress I took interest in simple daal subji chawal but served hot. This is difficult for my Mil.  She never like to cook. They have maid at home who does most of the cooking cleaning stuff.

I work in shifts so can cook only one time.

Now also due to weakness I found it is exhausting to stand and cook. But the truth is I don’t like her food. Sometimes it is good but most of the time she serve cold afternoon food.

And she won’t cook until you feel hungry.

Now I am feeling hungry too frequently.I need small stuff but in regular three four hr interval.

All these needs are not getting fulfilled.most of the time I eat office canteen food or outside snacks resulting severe gas and acidity.

Now I am cooking little things for my self but get tired soon. In all these my husband feels bad that I don’t like his mama’s food. His side is she could not cook now, still she is trying. So I should not complain. In reality I am not complaining for food. I started cooking but I complain of tiredness.

This could be a minor issue but at this time I feel like I m not getting enough nutritious food.

Otherwise I can eat all types of food. Don’t complain much.

Can anyone give valuable suggestion please.

Related Posts:

‘How I am going to manage two toddlers, work, home, chores etc etc without any physical and moral support from my in laws?’

If I made Baghban.

“After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

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Ten more ways to be better wives and daughters in law.

Question 1: Why are misogynists so eager to tell women how to be better daughters in law and wives?

Answer: Because Patriarchy can’t survive a day without men’s wives and daughters in law sacrificing their lives, dreams, freedom and happiness to feed it.

Question 2: How does Patriarchy define Equality, Positive Attitude, Respect, Advice, Sensitivity and Communication?

The answer lies in this link (from The Times of India) shared by Sandhya .

10 ways to be a better daughter-in-law

The nagging, meddling mother-in-law is often the cause of worry and the central idea that can help better the situation is to have a positive attitude and to show respect to the older

Quotes from the article in blockquotes.

Positive Attitude

“The older woman is probably just trying her best to fit into her role as a mom-in-law.”

IHM: The problem here is not a lack of Positive Attitude, but Patriarchy, which demands that women fit into ‘roles’ of daughters, wives and mothers of sons/mothers of daughters; depending (emotionally and otherwise) on their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.

Advising people to change to fit into Patriarchal roles doesn’t seem to have worked till now, and never will. Who is made happy by these Rules and Roles? People, including mothers of Indian Budhape ka Sahara, need lives of their own, freedom to pursue their own happiness and freedom to have and to live their own aspirations, self reliance, including financial self reliance (i.e. equal share in whatever they and the father in law have made together).

Obedient, sensitive and respectful daughters in law who give up their lives, peace of mind, personal freedom, happiness etc for their family for patriarchy are likely to grow older with similar expectations from their daughters in law. They are also more likely to see sex-selection as a traditionally and culturally accepted method for ensuring mothers-of-sons are rewarded with obedient daughters in law, while mothers-of-paraya dhan have to pamper their Sons in law. Why not everybody be themselves and didn’t try to fit into patriarchal roles.

Equality

“Try to treat your mother-in-law and your mother equally. For example if you give your mother a birthday gift, then give your mother-in-law a gift for her birthday too. If you have children, then visit your mother and your mother-in-law with similar frequency.”

IHM: If equality means exact same rules for everybody then what makes us make different rules for Indian sons in law?

From what I understand,

1.The daughter in law’s parents send gifts for her in laws.

2. The daughter in law’s parents in law have a say in when the grand children are born.

3. The daughter in laws parents pay for the expenses when her in laws’ grandchildren are born,

4. The grandchildren carry the in laws family names,

5. In patriarchal Joint Families the grand children live with the in laws, where generally Indian daughters’ parents can’t come and stay with her.

Sensitivity

The fact that the lady has spent a significant part of her life raising her son may make her a little sensitive when another person becomes the centre of attraction of her son’s life.

IHM: But don’t all mothers spend a significant part of their lives raising their children? Aren’t daughters raised by mothers?

As mentioned in the point above, the problem is not ‘Sensitivity’ the problem is Patriarchy.

Respect

Treat your mother-in-law with respect. Consider her older and wiser. She may have been through a lot of hardships in her life.

IHM: This is what I meant in the first point. So it is to be accepted, in fact expected that more than 50% of Indian women ‘must have been through a lot of hardships’? And we should to continue to preach the Rules that have made this possible – rules like ‘Consider her older and wiser’. If older was automatically wiser, why did we reach this point?

Those who lead content, happy, fulfilled, independent lives and mothers who enjoyed motherhood and had children because they truly wanted to have them – women who may not have faced any hardships – they don’t deserve Respect? Why do women have to have suffered to be Respected? Maybe there is a problem with the way we define respect? Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

Women who do not give birth to male children, do not need this Respect from their Sons in law?

Expectations

Though most daughters-in-law are welcomed into the family with open arms, do not get disheartened if it does not happen. Give them time to know you better.

IHM: This would be easy if she has a life of her own (can’t stress that enough). Friends of her own, her own family, a career and some time spent away from those who are not welcoming her with open arms can make ‘giving them time’ easier.

Friends and acquaintances, most Indian daughters in law are discouraged from staying in touch with, are a support system that make the ‘hardships in her life’ easier to deal with.

Be attentive 

If she prefers to sit around being waited on hand and foot, then enlist your husband to help prepare meals and clean up.

IHM: Why does a healthy adult expect to be ‘waited on hand and foot’? Because when she was going through many hardships in her young life, giving up her happiness and personal freedom, she was told that’s the way it has always been, that’s a woman’s destiny and she was promised she could expect the same from her male child’s spouse. Why ask the daughter in law to continue the patriarchal tradition of sacrifice, unhappiness and misogyny?

If waiting hand and foot is really considered necessary the son could do that and of course he could request the wife to help if and when she can.

Information
Try to keep mother-in-law informed; call and let her know about important events. Keep her in the loop...

IHM: If there is communication, information is automatically shared; if there is a wish to keep some information private, that should be respected. Sometimes information is withheld to resist interference, control or ‘remote control’.

Advice
Your mother-in-law has years of experience. … She is only trying to be helpful.

IHM: Whose advice do people avoid taking? How often is advice given as a command? Who would you never ask for advice?

What makes some of us insist upon giving unasked for and unwelcome advice, so much that we are hurt if our advice is not sought or followed? What makes us believe that our advice is needed? Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?

Children

Allow your mother-in-law to take care of your children. For them their grandchildren are more important than their own kids sometimes. If she wants to, let her spoil them a little.

IHM: All mothers in law may not wish to take care of their grand children and that’s fine too. I think it would help if we talked more about  parents raising their own children and letting the children parent their children.

Continuing to ask the Indian daughters in law to ‘Please Adjust’ reinforces the traditional belief that it’s okay for in laws (or ladke wale) to have unreasonable expectations from their daughters in law.

Communication

Try and talk out things with the family. If something that someone said hurt you, do not keep it bottled up inside you. Discuss with your husband and your mother-in-law any slights or snubs and how it makes you feel.

IHM: Communication sounds like a good advice. One should also be clear about what is non-negotiable.

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”

Sharing an email. What would be the traditional advice for Troubled? Do you agree with that advice? Why or why not?
Dear IHM,

If possible, do put this letter up on your blog so I can know the opinions of your readers.
I’ve been married for three years and I have a one-year-old daughter. My husband and I had a semi-arranged marriage, meaning our parents introduced us but we dated for a while – about six months before getting married. In that time, we really got to know each other and I had no qualms about making the decision. After marriage, too, I was very happy with him as he’s understanding, supportive, and gets me. I adore my FIL but my MIL is a bit of a dicey customer. She works for a women’s rights NGO but is quite patriarchal herself even though these characteristics come out only when my husband and FIL are out of earshot. I was aware of her nature somewhat before marriage but didn’t give too much thought to it – my father paid for the wedding and since he’s financially way better off than my in-laws are and he was very particular about the sort of things he wanted done, I did not object. However, I didn’t like my MIL demanding that he pick a very expensive decor, give gifts to her relatives etc. It’s true that my dad offered to pay for the wedding, but it was with the understanding that he’d do it the way he wanted to. My view was that if she wanted some things done, she should have paid for it. She’s all the time concerned about what all her relatives will say and is constantly trying to impress them. I didn’t make this into an issue because we live in different cities and I wouldn’t have to put up with her for long stretches. Besides, my father wasn’t feeling financially pressurized because of this, so I let it go.
After marriage, my husband and I decided to wait for a year before having kids. The subtle and not-so-subtle questions started then, with my MIL even hinting that I could be infertile even though my husband told her that we weren’t trying. I didn’t make this into an issue either though I was pretty pissed. I began noticing that she’d all the time try to put down my mother as an ignorant person who doesn’t know to cook or follow traditions etc. This was very strange to me because both families have known each other for a while and were supposed to be atheists. I knew only after marriage that my MIL prays, goes to temples etc and likes to follow some traditions – I have no issues with this but then she started acting like my mum and I were people with no ‘culture’ etc etc. It was all very irritating, especially because my mum is an intelligent lady who manages her life pretty well and my MIL is so influenced by her numerous relatives that she hardly thinks for herself.
Things came to a head when I became pregnant and my mum and she ended up in my house at the time of delivery. My MIL was quite angry that I chose to stay with my husband (not in my in-laws place, we live in our own house) and did not go to my parents’ place as is the custom. My husband and I had explained to her our reasons for this. She was angry with my parents that they ‘let’ me do this and thought they were not going to pay for my delivery as is the custom. Actually, my father had already transferred money to my account saying it was his present for his grandchild – I did not object to this as he’d said I could invest it in the child’s name and he was doing this out of his own will. He’s made such gifts to my brother as well earlier. Later, I came to know from my mum that in one of the instances that my in-laws had met my parents, my MIL was very rude and my father slipped in the information that he’d actually transferred this money to cover costs for my delivery and then she became cordial again. I was furious when I learnt about this – with my father as well as my MIL – and I returned the money to him as I didn’t want a price on my self respect. I spoke to my husband about this and he in turn questioned his parents. They gave him the impression that all this was a misunderstanding etc etc and that everything was fine. But my MIL was furious with my mum and me for daring to tell the truth to her son.
The delivery itself was very complicated because of these reasons. My MIL was being really nasty to my mum and I was witness to these unpleasant face-offs. She’d be all sugary when my husband would come home from work. I didn’t want to tell him all this and cause further trouble, so I kept quiet. But my days in the hospital were a nightmare. My MIL insisted that I wasn’t producing milk, even though I was producing colostrum, and created a big drama about how her grandchild was being starved etc. She used to literally yell at my mum in front of me (but not my husband), saying she doesn’t know anything about pregnancy/delivery etc and she was the only one who knew everything and so on – though my mum had two normal deliveries and brought up her kids herself. My MIL had two C-secs and her kids were brought up by her mother for the first five years or so. I put up with all this because I thought my husband would stand by me but I realized that he too was getting influenced by her opinions and acting like my mum was an ignoramus. Apparently (and I came to know this later), she’d been telling him that my mum was rude to her, treated her badly etc while it was the other way round.
My husband has a soft corner for his mother because she’s a heart patient and has suffered major health problems previously. Also, she still babies him a lot. But I never expected that he’d be irrational when it came to dealing with her. My MIL caught a cold when the baby was really small and I didn’t want her to handle the baby and infect it… but she made it seem as if this was my way of ill-treating her whatever. To my shock, my husband sided with her and said I was being ‘inhuman’. We had major fights in this period because of issues like this and after suffering through a long labour and a C-sec, I went to bed almost every night in tears. My MIL wanted to do religious things with the baby when I’d made it clear that I was not cool with this. I really couldn’t put up with a lot of her childcare suggestions which were all based on superstition and nonsense. I could have tolerated it if she’d been nice otherwise but I couldn’t take it in combination with all the ruckus she created. Finally, my husband and I decided that we wouldn’t side with either set of parents and that we’d remain a single unit that’s cordial with both sets.
After the parents left, my husband and I talked to each other sensibly and rationally about all these issues. He has come around and understood that his mother was at fault for many of these episodes. The soft corner remains but he does not behave in an irrational way just because she says something. He has been very supportive in raising our child and he has also taken steps to keep his mum’s influence minimal. However, I find it very hard to forgive him for all that happened at the time of my delivery. He saw me go through so much pain and yet, it was his mother he was concerned about when all hell broke loose. I don’t think I can ever forgive him for it, especially because I put up with all her jibes and comments earlier thinking I shouldn’t bother him with such trivialities when he didn’t show me the same concern. I feel like my relationship with him has changed and I’m not able to regard him with the same respect that I used to have. There is no problem or something between us now, but I just feel a little cold inside. Like something has died out. I’d like to know what your readers feel about this situation and what they think I should do about it.
– Troubled
Related Posts:

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

An email: “…before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents’ rights over the child.”

An email from a Newly Wed Wife. “Now they don’t like me.”

Who should read this email?

An email: “Is it safe to assume he loved his culture and tradition more than me?”

And,

The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters…

“Lets keep our pretty saris to times when we just have to eat, pray, and love, cause we are tomorrows’ MILs.”

Sharing a comment by Anonymous to ‘The sari is the best way of showing global companies that these are Indian women managers?‘ 

My response in italics. It’s possible that I did not quite understand the comment in some places. 

Anonymous: Firstly lets dig deep into our history and try to figure why sari alone describes indian-ness in women.

IHM: Sari/dhoti describes Indian-ness only for some Indians, and only when women are wearing it. If it was really about Indian-ness they would be asking Indian men to wear dhoti and turban [etc] too.

Anonymous: Could be because it covers the full body, from your head-to-toe blah blah, and dates back right from the time when women did not even have the freedom to go veggie-shopping.

Centuries rolled and saris got “westernized” along with women. Now we have the munnis and the sheelas and their fans who love to show their bodies in their saris n strut it. I do it too.

IHM: The traditional sari covered less and there was no concept of covering from head to toe or of wearing a blouse or petticoat in most parts of India.

Today, sleeveless blouses are seen as modern and revealing, and some ways of draping the saree face criticism for showing too much skin, but women in villages in many parts of India, wear backless blouses, or blouses that are not covered by a ‘pallu’ – that’s their ‘traditional’ dress, so nobody notices. 

So skin showing doesn’t really seem to be the issue, it seems to be more of a fear of women being able to choose what to wear and gradually going ‘out of control’.

Anonymous: My point here is the current sari is in its modern form as well just as the Indian women are. So arent we contradicting ourselves here by saying that saris are traditional.

IHMMy mother is 72 and she (and other women her age and older), have been wearing the current-sari the same way for the past 50 years. There are some who wouldn’t approve of my mother’s sleeveless blouses, but she hasn’t changed (or modernised) it for the past 50 years. 

The saree is worn in different ways by different people in different parts of India  (and generally the wearer has little choice in how it is worn). Since not allowing women choices is a part of our culture, maybe ensuring it is worn in certain ways is seen as the ‘traditional’ thing to do?

Anonymous: Moreover saris are not even conducive to today’s age and climes. so whom are we kidding! Lets keep our pretty saris to times when we just have to eat, pray, and love and certainly not when we have prepare reports and give out presentations. and lets keep it that way cause we are tomorrows’ MILs.  🙂

IHM: Are ‘we’ tomorrow’s MILs?  Do you think today’s generation of men and women should see themselves as tomorrow’s Fathers in law and Mothers in law? That’s only possible if everybody gets married and has children, and those daughters and sons get married too…

And why is keeping it that way better for tomorrow’s MILs?  Would you say that the future MILs  control what Indian women wear in future? 

 

An email: “…before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents’ rights over the child.”

Two mothers in a Jodhpur hospital gave birth to a boy and a girl baby around the same time it seems, and now the families of both the babies are refusing to accept the girl baby, both are fighting over the male baby. (News in Headlines Today on TV) Another baby-girl was found in a dustbin.

Do you think any amount of dramatic and half hearted efforts can make Indian parents want to have daughters if we continue to think like the mother in law in the email below?

IHM,

I just happened to read your blog and found that very useful. I have been going through a dilemma ever since i got married. I got married into a very so called modern family. My MIL treats me very well. But her treatment towards my parents disgusts me a lot. She always thinks she is superior to them.

She behaves very weirdly whenever they come and implies with her actions that she has more right be it on the house or on me.

On every occasion now and then, she keeps reminding me that daughter’s parents have lesser rights and that i should show more inclination towards my in laws which irritates me a lot. She fails to understand that the more she tries to distance my parents away from me the more closer I become to them and my relationship with her is the one which gets affected.

I am pregnant and before the child has actually arrived she has already given me a lecture about paternal grandparents rights‘ over the child. She spends maximum time with us but still is not satisfied.

Even I have to fight a lot if I need to visit my parents.

My husband is neutral about these issues. I feel better not discussing it with him. I don’t understand what to do.

How can we make people of such age about their inappropriate actions. Will they really understand or take it to their pride?

Related posts:

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

Better than mothers?

Can you be equal if you are not allowed to make equal contribution?

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.

Dheeyaan dee maa rani, bhudhaapey bharey paani

An email: My brother leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match.

How would you respond to this email?

My parents, or rather, my mother, is on the lookout for a match for my elder brother who is about 27. He has met several girls but is finally starting to like one now. He had a serious girlfriend of 4 years in college but they broke up. When he meets girls now, he tries to figure out if they would be a good match, but in the end he leaves it to my mother to decide if the families’ minds will match, and whether they are of similar thinking as our family.I am confused at this situation. Shouldn’t my brother at 27 be able to form his own decision about which girl he wants to marry? But if I mention this to my mother, the response I get is that she can understand people better since she is more experienced. This makes sense to me as well. Is this the right approach though?If she were to not play a part, and something goes wrong in the future, she may be blamed for not taking the initiative to get to know the other family. I feel like her decision is a security as well as a hindrance. What do you think is the right approach? I don’t think that she will be ‘marrying’ our family because my mother doesn’t want them to stay as a joint family for more than a couple of years.

My mother wants them to stay with the family for the first couple of years because she wants the new daughter in law to learn how to handle a house. It sounds logical at first but also old fashioned.

Thanks for your time.

Related posts:

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

An email from an Indian Husband… and a Good Indian Son.

An Email: “I really like this guy, but I’m not sure I can handle his parents’ hatred or begrudging approval.”

Kyonkee Husbands bhi kabhi Sons the.

One hears about men “caught between the woman who raised them and the woman they have to spend their life with.”

I have met mothers who seem to want to protect their adult, married, sons from their spouse’s lack of consideration and ‘attempts to dominate’. And I have met wives who want to undo the damage caused by a neglectful mothers.

One mother said her son complained that he missed hot chappaties because his wife was working and he wished she would work from home. He told his mother that he wished the younger woman was like her, well read and intelligent, but also an efficient homemaker.

Does he sound like he was caught between two bickering women? His mother did demand the daughter in law changes her job, I blogged about it here, but at the time I had blamed only the mother.

Another son complained that his wife couldn’t keep the house as clean as his mother did and wanted the mother to teach her how to run a house (in this case he was unemployed and had lost the mother’s savings in poor investments, but I am sure one doesn’t need to be unemployed to object to incompetence). The incompetent wife is under the impression that the son had an unhappy childhood because the mother was busy making a career, he missed being served hot meals.

Does he sound like a victim? He says the quarrels between the two of them make him go crazy and perhaps he needs to be ‘strict’ (this was meant to be a joke). He reminded me of Ruchi’s husband.

A third son I know had complained to his mother that the wife was not capable of taking good care of the children. I know that in this case his mother advised him to participate in child rearing. This same man also complains to his wife about his mother’s lack of interest in cooking during his childhood, but the wife hired a cook so she could give more time to the kids (who were anyway doing great).

Obviously these are just a few cases, but I am sure there are many more such husbands and sons.

In the first half of a two-part series, clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu advises men on how to keep mother and wife happy.

Do take a look. (Thanks for sharing Kavitha)

Here are some parts I noticed.

“… if a man is unable to take decisions alone it reflects upon the mother. Such a relationship could become overly protective and hamper growth. “

“…you both are going to raise children together, send them off into their own lives and grow old together…”

“Respect is the most vital element… Your mother loves you unconditionally and will ignore disrespectful behaviour, but a wife has expectations and cannot forgive transgressions…”

What do you think?

Related posts:

The Invisible family member in the saas bahu post..

Ruchi’s husband.

My dreams are more precious than yours.

[‘Kyonki Husbands bhi kahbi Sons the’  translates to ‘Because husbands too were once sons.’ ]

An email from an anonymous Confused Wife.

Hi IHM-

I recently discovered your blog and cannot thank you enough for talking about the things you do. I know it’s your blog and not exactly an advice column in a newspaper, but I cannot think of anyone more qualified to offer me some advice on my situation. Please feel free to post about this if you so desire; I’d love input from others who are/have been in a similar situation:

I fell in love with and decided to marry a guy. Our families had no problems with the match. Neither of us is/was living in India, so we didn’t get to know each-other’s parents well before the wedding. Hindsight’s always 20/20, but had I known them better I would have happily called off the wedding. Happily remained single for the rest of my life even….it’s not as bad as everyone makes it out to be, and I know I had a ball! It was definitely easier than having such a tough choice on my hands.

They are extremely traditional and two-faced and interfering AND passive-aggressive. And really, really proud to be the ladke-waale. No daughters in this house either, and maybe that explains some of it. The husband and I both moved out for college and have never lived with our respective parents since then. We’re both extremely independent and open-minded people. Except I’m a rebel and he seems to have a mortal fear or confrontation where his parents are concerned (and only then which makes life so much harder for me)!

Now regardless of how his parents behave with me, I’ve decided that since I don’t stay with them and never will, I’ll learn to live with it. Love is blind and all that. I know I can live without my husband, but don’t want to. I know there’s plenty of other fish out there, but I’m not interested, at least for now. I live continents apart from them and will only see them at most for 10 days in a year. I’ll put up with their crap for those 10 days not in the name of sacrifice, but because I cannot let them make me give him up. Just like I cannot let them make me give up anything else I have or like. They would like nothing better than to be able to say to their son – “See? We knew she wasn’t the kind to love you and stay with you forever. Parents hi hote hain jo kabhi bachchon ka saath nahin chhodhte..

So that’s the piece I’m OKAY with. And if that was all there was to it, I wouldn’t be writing this email. Here is what I’m not okay with – my husband is a certified mama’s boy. I never saw that side of him until we went to India for our wedding and saw him around his mom. When she’s not around, he’s as liberal, open-minded, independent, and rational as I’ve ever seen a man be. But somehow she has total control of his spine which turns into dough when his hands make contact with her feet. If he *thinks* about something, he reaches a fair and logical conclusion. But when she’s around, it’s as if he can’t think for himself and blindly agrees to everything she says. She knows it and likes it, and as she’s told me, is mighty proud of it too. And THAT is her biggest weapon. That is what she derives her power from. That is what she uses to cause arguments between us for the silliest of things (that he later apologizes for, but still that’s so much unpleasantness). That is how she gets away with insulting me when he’s not around and later telling him it meant something completely different and she only said it out of love. The husband says I should just not visit them at all; simply stay with my parents the entire time I’m in India. If I’m still around by the time we have kids, I’ll remember to jump with joy when he eats his words but even otherwise I feel we’re only evading the problem that way, not solving it.

I know what she’s doing and know how to undo it. I have to wait for some time to pass so he’s out of her force-field and then I have to reason with him. I can make out from my husband’s mood after his phone conversations with his parents, what she must have talked to him about. It affects the peace in our relationship and I have to explain things to him like a child and make him see reason. And then, everything is okay. All this makes me a little less in love, and him a little less attractive to me. How can I be attracted to a guy who gets manipulated over and over AND OVER again by the same woman, all because he owes her some infinite imaginary debt for raising him?!!

On bad days I feel like there’s no cure for being a mama’s boy, and really how many times will I do this? How many hours of my life will I spend just undoing things that she has all the time in the world to do over and over again? She’s never worked, has servants to do all the housework, has no hobbies, no friends, and all the time to sit and plot. I don’t. She doesn’t have a great relationship with her husband (both of them are really into morality and “sacrifice” and not so much into love). Why should my husband be the surrogate husband (aka mama’s boy) for her benefit? And should I even be concerned about this or should I call it quits and leave them all to their miserable existence? There’s my love and passion and relentlessness of one side, and about 30 years of history on the other with liberal helpings of guilt that was fed to him with every meal.

A lot of times I try to talk to my husband about it but he brings up how she’s “sacrificed” so much for him and gets really defensive. She knows when to pull out the waterworks and he feels guilty for making his mom cry.

I’m not really a manipulative person like her and could never be. So the only way I can do this is by COMMUNICATING. Tall order since passive-aggressiveness sort of runs in the family. The husband acknowledges it for himself and has been working on his communication skills. Has come a long way too, to his credit.

On good days I wonder if there’s a fix for this that’s just not occurring to me. Because the REST OF THE TIME we’re great together and I really enjoy his company. We connect very well, share a lot of the same interests, and are curious enough to try at least once the ones that we don’t share. We get along great with each other’s friends, have big dreams and ambitions for the rest of our lives together, but every time we talk about the future I wonder, “Will I really last until then?” Already I feel so exhausted with all the WORK this marriage has become.

It dampens the joy I get out of being with him. It completely killed any joy I could have derived out of getting married to him on our wedding day (uff the drama)! And I have a feeling it’ll continue to do so and every happiness will be tarnished just that little bit. Every problem will get amplified just that little bit to make me wonder if my marriage is worth it.

I’ve never dealt with anything like the freak-show that is his family. And his mom is just.not.ready. to give him up to some random woman he fell in love with. She’ll keep reminding him of all that she’s done for him, and expecting me to be grateful/beholden to her for it all. It’s probably never occurred to her that had she raised her son to *not* be who he is (to the extent that he is her doing), it’s not like I’d have still married him. It’s not like I was given away in child-marriage. I don’t owe her anything for raising him, least of all my freedom and independence. I believe everything you do for your kids should be out of love, not sacrifice and definitely not out of a desire to use it as a potential trump card in every situation where you want to put down your D-I-L.

Should I stay with this guy or should I not? There’s nobody else whose babies I’d rather make and yet I wonder, what if they’re boys and what if they grow up to be mama’s boys as well? I’ve read enough about it to know it’s a vicious cycle, and don’t want to be guilty of inflicting more mama’s boys on unsuspecting women.

I’m not asking you to make a decision for me; I’m asking for guidance and advice. You seem to understand people and their motivations really well. I know I haven’t given details on what exactly they’ve done or how they’ve behaved with me, but it’s been two years since the wedding and I still have nightmares about it. We don’t even celebrate our wedding anniversary because of all the unpleasant memories.

Thanks so much for listening,
-Confused Wife

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Related posts:

From an anonymous dil, wife and daughter.

To an anonymous daughter in law.

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

An excerpt from an unpublished comment in response to, ‘From an Anonymous  DIL, Wife and Daughter‘ :

The biggest and most funniest thing is that it is a tussle between TWO WOMEN RPT TWO WOMEN. No feminists mentions this. This reminds me of an old saying in Hindi — Woman is the biggest enemy of another woman. Mother-in-law and newly DIL fighting over a bone. Pity the poor husband.

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Why do I feel there would have been no saas-bahu post if it wasn’t for an invisible member?

Because no bahu would need to worry about what the saas thinks she should wear, eat, cook, drink etc … if there wasn’t a man who quietly conveys that he would not like it if she did not.

He has the society, custom and tradition by his side. He and the society forget that he is the reason why the daughter in law is in this relationship.

And it’s supposed to be a partnership.

Who should be held responsible if she feels, “...petty things seem impossible to handle and everything looks like its going to collapse…“? [More here]

Here was a girl working, studying, meeting friends, living a normal life.. and then suddenly everything changes. It doesn’t have to.

Times are changing. Whether we like it or not, women are beginning to have choices. They are realising that there’s more to life than getting married to a man who doesn’t think they are an equal partner. Soon, it’s not going to be possible to force a young girl to live an unhappy life.

If we want families to get along, or even stay together, we better make it worth while for the one member without whom it would be impossible to have this family system.

If we do not acknowledge that the system is biased, and if we do not change it fast, husbands will increasingly find themselves having to choose between a divorce or moving out with their spouse to make their own homes. (And nothing wrong with that either).

Maybe then Live-in relationships will find favour because they might free women from one-way-relationship responsibilities?

Traditionally husbands could live in reasonable comfort while remaining  invisible.  Infact they were discouraged from ‘interfering‘, which basically meant they must not support the wife. This generally made a new family member feel isolated. Today it should not be difficult for a middle class husband to imagine the wife’s discomfort – more so if they have had a similar upbringing, studied in similar schools, read similar books – how would he like to live with her family in similar circumstances?

I know of this man who stopped his wife from objecting to being bullied by his mother. He even convinced her to apologise to his mother sometimes. He  claimed to be stressed and fed-up with the situation at home, but continued to subject the equally (or more) fed up and stressed wife to it. His younger brother joined in finding faults with everything his brother’s wife (bhabhi) did.  The siblings said everyone is their house must obey their mom. Then the younger brother got married. He moved to first floor, made it clear that his wife was ‘modern‘ so she could wear whatever she liked and they went out whenever they pleased. I wonder how the older brother felt when he saw this? The family accepted the situation, they knew this son always had a mind of his own, while the elder one was the dutiful, obedient one.

I think the younger brother learnt from the example of the older one. He realised it was not possible to have a happy family unless his wife was happy. He refused to stay invisible.

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*Bahu – Daughter in law

Saas- Mother in law

Bhabhi – Brother’s wife

From an Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

This post was selected by BlogAdda as one of the top posts for this week’s ‘Spicy Saturday Picks’.

Blogadda's Spicy Saturday Picks

I am publishing this comment and my response to it, from ‘How Important is it for a girl to get married?’ because I agree with Ramit when he says, ” IHM This topic that has been raised by Anonymous, needs a separate post in itself so other girls can relate to it too and get a few pointers to stand up. It’s high time they need to stand up… Unbelievable that India has put men on the moon and our mother in laws even after migrating to London are still living in the 15th century! Utter crap!

Here’s the comment.

Dear IHM,

I am a 24 yr old newly wedded girl. got married 4 months ago and moved to the UK with my husband. i know this is a problem every indian DIL faces and I guess I am falling in to it too. my family is very liberal and they do not really believe in following all the customs that the entire world harps on. My inlaws on the other hand are super duper orthodox and for them every custom under the Sun is important no matter how inconvenient it is for the other person. My MIL like any son’s mother thinks that I am the luckiest girl on earth because her son decided to marry me. because her son is in the UK and he is the only one in their family to be living abroad, whereas in my family, every second person is in some part of the word other than India so to me its not a big deal at all! in fact i refused to marry this guy because he is not in India but since everyone in my family insisted that they know this guy very well and I got convinced after speaking to him a zillion times that he is genuinely good at heart.

Now my MIL has a typical characteristic trait of pointing out everything. Even if you miss a small safety pin that was supposed to be given to her or her daughter from my parents’ side, she does not waste a single moment in pointing it out and making it obvious that she is unhappy because the “custom” has been broken. Her daughter is the world to her. I am the world to my parents too but she is a little weird. During the entire wedding, she was not anywhere near us. Kept insisting my SIL stays with us all the time coz she is the daughter of the house. And made sure my SIL and her husband were served everything properly. She does not care if anyone else is not properly taken care of, but with her daughter no chance! So much that once they had their invitations ready, they sent it to my SIL first got her approval and then bothered to send it to my husband coz his approval was not necessarily important though he was the groom.

Somehow, the wedding went on very well with the help and support of a lot of family and friends. Now when I was moving to the UK, I’d left all my jewelry, silver and gifts at my parents’ place. Somehow I was not very comfortable leaving them with my inlaws coz my MIL tries to find fault with everything she sees. In some piece she will think the design is not good or she will say that we should never buy gold at a jewelry shop but make sure we get it made by a goldsmith etc etc. So since I would not be around, I did not want my mom to listen to all her nagging everytime she met my inlaws. Even though my mom asked my MIL if she wants her to get all the gifts and all and leave it here. I did not want her to ask about the gold though.

My question # 1:

Is it not my choice about what I want to do with my things? Do I have to seek my MIL’s permission for everything I do to “my” stuff? Each and every piece of that jewelry has been bought by my parents. None of it is what my inlaws gave me. The stuff they gave me is with me here. But do I have to take her permission before deciding what I want to keep with me and what I don’t? My parents will definitely not need my jewelry. They have enof of their own.

Now coming to it, she has spoken to a common friend of my family and his family recently. She has very conveniently told him that she has no idea what I have done with all the silver items (including 2 sets of thali and glass gifted by my parents) I had and all my jewelry. She tried to convey that she thinks I have given even the thalis and all to my parents and they are happily living on it. The thalis and glasses are as a matter of fact with me and with her proper knowledge coz she was pissed off when I said I want to take them with me. My whole point was I did not see any sense in keeping them safe at home when we could make proper use of it everyday over here. )

Question # 2:

Is it right on her part to speak like this about me and my parents in front of a third person? Is she not kind of insulting me and my parents?

Now the more interesting part, my SIL’s husband does not have any family of his own. His parents passed away years ago and his elder brother and all are only for the sake of being there. So all that my SIL had are at her parents’ place. So she has a valid reason to leave everything with her parents. Now for everything my MIL has one excuse that since my parents dont know all these customs, she is trying to tell them the customs.

I had no intentions of having any ill feeling towards my in laws but this is making me very very sad. I wept all of yesterday and as soon as my husband came home, he realised something is wrong with me. He managed to get me spill out everything (and i am cursing myself for it), spoke to his mom, my mom and tried to convince me that his mom is only trying to tell us the customs and all. He is otherwise very understanding. he knows how his mom has a very weird character and tells me the same thing but when it comes to this particular issue, he says it was a casual talk between my MIL and that common friend and he took the liberty to call up my parents and speak to them about it. What I dont understand is if this ‘casual talk’ was a month ago, why did that man call my parents now and speak to them? I am a new DIL and so I am not supposed to question anyone. All I am supposed to do is keep quiet and see my parents being nagged every now and then because they did not some custom about a piece of haldi or a saree that was supposed to be given.

Question # 4 :

Is that all my parents are supposed to do all the time? Keep giving things to me and my husband? They do give us a lot but is there no break to it? Do they have keep giving us gifts all their life? They have already done enof for us, is it not our turn to make sure they have everything they need and care for their wellbeing (including his parents). Is a piece of jewelry and a set of clothes the only way to show they love us and care for us?

Question #5:

My parents still dont have an account of how much they might have spent for my wedding coz his parents wanted a grand ceremony because they were not taking any dowry. I’d already told my parents that I dont mind staying single all my life but I don’t want them to pay a single penny as dowry. I am beautiful, educated, had a very very good job and I am self sufficient in all ways. There is no need for someone like me to get married by giving dowry etc. My husband also was very particular that he did not want anything as dowry. So since there was no dowry in question they wanted the event to be a grand one. My parents wanted the same thing and so they made sure everything was remarkably exotic much against my wishes coz I dont see the whole point in spending so much money on something which lasts just a day or 2. Is a simple ceremony not worth enof to get married?

I am soo disappointed now that I can’t express it in words. I wanted a family where human values are more important than customs. Thankfully, to my husband all that matters is human values and feelings but I am very disappointed by his parents coz I realised that for them customs play a higher role than human values.

I wanted to spill it all out coz I am just not able to take it anymore. I am a regular reader of ur blog and all I could think of was you when my mind went completely blank.

Please help me.

From
Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter.

* * *

And my response.

Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter I was thinking maybe this should be published as a post … it’s such a typical situation!
At 24, and when you are married, you should be left alone and not suffocated with such controls!

I am amazed women achieve so much despite such cruel and horrible circumstances. Just be brave, remember that you are absolutely justified in wanting to be free of such controls, and you are NOT WRONG in expecting your parents to be treated with respect and basic decency. Malicious gossip against a DIL’s family is not something a girl can be expected to respect. And what you do with your jewelery is upto you, even if you do sell it or give it away she can only express an opinion – no matter what our conditioning tells us, it is wrong to to try to control another adult’s life. She is also trying to control her adult, and married, son’s life.

The sons grow up and are conditioned to believe that since mothers only want what is best for them, it is fine if they also want to monitor their entire lives.

This is where Joint Family and patriarchy are so wrong.

And don’t feel guilty if common sense tells you this is wrong, just because somebody is older or is a spouse’s parent, they do not automatically become right.

Expecting your parents to keep spending is wrong; discussing them with anybody, least of all mutual contacts, is not going to build bridges. Discussing you is immature and cruel, and I think if they really care for the son’s happiness, then it is essential that his wife is shown respect… your MIL does not seem to realise that no man can be really happy if his wife is treated like this. Happy wives make happy families.

Don’t feel guilty – you are right, and tell your parents to be stronger, I always say, Strong parents have happy daughters.

Don’t give in to such controlling, keep your jewelery where ever you prefer to keep it.  And quite definitely not with your MIL. Not even if it means a lot to her (Why should it mean a lot to her?). Not even if it makes her feel you love her like your mother. Not even to please your husband. Keep it pleasant but be firm. Maybe just smile and change the topic.

You could tell your mom in law or husband that even if this is done in every next house, you do not like such indulgences in petty gossiping. Convey that you may find it difficult to show respect to  your mom in law unless she (and he also) show the same respect to your parents.

No harmony is possible unless their is justice. Bitterness and oppression can not bring peace. Be tactful, remain polite and respectful, keep your cool …. but do not accept such treatment.

I wish you (or any human) didn’t have to go through this, but since you have to …

Also ask your husband to remember you also have the same feelings, how would he like to be treated EXACTLY the same way by your parents? If parents love their children, shouldn’t they be nice to their spouse too…?

He cannot keep speaking to his mom on your behalf – she will start calling him a JKG. he just has to very clearly let her see that he will not allow his family to treat his wife shabbily, when a husband stands by his wife, nobody from his family bothers her.

Take a look at this post,

No jeans for an Indian Daughter in law.

Two more posts by Unmana you may like to read,

In-Law Advice: What Husbands Should Do

In-Law Advice: What Wives Should Do

***

Response continued,

@Anonymous DIL, Wife and Daughter, Of course human values are more important than any customs … in fact the only purpose of all customs is to bring us together and make us happy, ‘customs’ by themselves are of no other value, don’t get bogged by all these thing that you forget that these are the best years of your life, remind your husband also.

I fear sometimes elders use customs to show they know more or know better … I feel bad for them, maybe they feel you know more in some other ways so at least here they can show some superiority .

Newer customs will be brought in by newer generation … we  will  change with times, so will the customs.
You will be fine, be brave … hugs, God bless, IHM