“I wish I was more sensible at the age of 22 before eloping and spoiling my life.”

Where would you begin understanding, questioning and challenging when,  

1. Not giving dowry needs to be explained,
2. Violence is not seen as non negotiable,
3. House arresting an adult is seen as an option,
4. Choice marriage is termed as ‘eloping’ (or ladkee ghar se bhaag gayee),
5. Choice marriages and divorce are both seen as bringing shame to the family,
6. Not wanting to live with in laws (only by women) is seen as selfish,
7. But when they live with the in laws, they are blamed for increasing expenses like electricity bills
8.They are expected to earn but not keep, invest, save or spend what they earn.
9.But parents of sons expect a share (or full control) in what the couple earns.

And most importantly, when
10. Caste is an issue for a daughter’s parents, not misogyny in the prospective groom’s family.

How common is this? 

Sharing an email. Bold emphasis mine.

* * *

Good afternoon IHM,

I am a 24 year old girl from India, currently living in the UK with my husband. Earlier last week I searched on Google about ‘Divorce in India’ and landed on your blog. From Last one week I have gone through each and every post written on state of Indian women in India, particularly the ones about daughter-in-laws.
When I was 18, I met my current husband. Like most other Indian parents my mom was very upset as my boyfriend was from different caste and discussed with my brother, maternal uncle and maternal grandfather. My phone was confiscated and was under house arrest for few weeks. I literally begged to let me marry my then boyfriend.
My boyfriends parents came to my house, but I was scared to take any stand. And then they (my current in-laws and husband) kept taunting me that I am incapable of taking any stand. And I must say I was totally blind in love or ignorant, I ignored most of the relationship No’s as recently mentioned by A Twenty Something on your blog.
After four months, I decided to elope and get married. My boyfriend’s father were fully involved in getting us married.  After wedding my husband was immediately sent back to the UK by his brother and father. Meanwhile my family proposed to get us married in the normal way to get society’s approval.
My family asked them about dowry demands and they kept saying no. Despite openly saying no my mother-in law had eye on getting loads of dowry, as she kept suggesting. But never said in front of my father-in-law. He also kept demanding a lohe- ka- tukda (car), but always in humor. As I felt guilty of eloping and getting married and was always against  dowry, I didn’t convey these to my mother. Also my husband seemed supportive of me.
My MIL expected me to do all the house chores, and kept taunting me, insulted my family on certain occasions. I decided to ignore, as everyone told me about her nature. During reception though my mother gave clothes to me and my husband, but nothing which can be termed dowry, as I married against their will. And my mother didn’t liked my in laws also, so she decided to keep that money for any future troubles in my life.
My husband came for two weeks for the receptions. He left and I lived with my in-laws for two more months. During which my MIL taunted me on everything from electricity bills to phone bills blaming me that everything increased since I came to live. I couldn’t watch TV as she watched her daily soaps from morning 9 to evening 5. I couldn’t use internet as that increased their bills. I couldn’t even fill Sudoku or crossword in the newspaper as it was my in laws right (or whatever). I couldn’t go out to meet my friends or invite them over. They were always grumpy. I wasn’t earning then and was busy sorting my passport and VISA.  My MIL taunted my SIL and me saying if she had married both her sons into her community she would have got loads of gold jewellery.
After coming to the UK I was unemployed for 6 months. My in laws have a rule of sons and DILs calling them everyday. Everyday they would ask him about my job (and never me) and kept telling him things like it might be difficult for him to manage alone etc. That never instigated my husband to fight with me. He was always supportive. I got a job. For six month he had complete control of my salary. My in laws always asked him about our financial details and taunted we are earning a lot. My FIL would convert that salary into INR but we were earning and spending it in GBP. My FIL also kept taunting my husband that he at that age has to work and sons are not able to take care, though no one asked him to do so.
Every time I went out and wanted to buy anything for myself my husband would say you spend too much. So after six months I decided I will keep my salary and transfer household expenses and part of joint savings to my husbands account. Though he initially denied and kept saying it will spoil the relationship, I was adamant because his parents have tortured me enough for money, I didn’t wanted to go through that again. He agreed though but may be he got bitter inside and divided savings as well.
When we went to India after a few months, when I was at my mother’s place and he bought land without informing me, on his mother’s name. He also told our financial arrangements to in laws who were upset and I was told that I should give all my salary to him and then he should give me pocket money to meet my expenses.
I was also given advice by my MIL that ‘aurat to dab k rehna chahiye‘ to which my FIL and husband agreed. When I asked my husband why he didn’t involve me in purchase of land he said, “You have divided our finances and made a dividing line in this relation. You shouldn’t be concerned where I spend this money and on whose name.”
I have always told him about my in laws humiliation towards me and my family. And my husband says he cannot say anything to them. After reading your blog I realised he is a Shravan Kumar, and scared to be termed JKG by his parents, who have that mentality.
There are numerous restrictions on the daughter-in laws like, no mehendi on any occasion, calling in-laws daily (otherwise they can go to the extent of insulting and abusing me and my family). Not wearing black and endless orthodox nonsense, not staying long with my mother, my family not doing enough to please in laws etc. My mother hates them so much that she doesn’t even want to talk to them despite living less than a mile away.
From last 3-4 months my relationship with my husband has only gone worse to the extent we both are thinking of Divorce. Despite of differences with my in-laws I never asked my husband to stay away from them or whatever.
I think my husband has got no stand on anything, can’t differentiate between right or wrong and will never take a stand for me even if his parents insult me. But will always be quick to ask me to stop talking to my family if they insult him. His reply on asking why his parents insult my family is when two families get in a relation thoda upar neeche hota hai (some highs and lows can happen). I asked what if yeh thoda neeche (the same lows)  was from my family’s end to which he obviously has no reply.
I am so over this relationship I regret my decision of getting married into this family and also thinking of divorce. My husband has been groomed to treat women like jutis and its deep seated. He sees his father as an ideal who is similar and has been controlling my MIL from many years. My MIL is a bitter and greedy woman and never had cordial relations with anybody except my husband.
I have shared everything with my mother and she supports me. She has always asked me to stay quiet where needed but stand by if something is wrong. I think I have brought shame to her and my family once by eloping. If I divorce than they will have to go through it again. I am also not sure if talking with husband will solve this as he is very rigid about understanding where his parents are wrong. Also he has been brought up with the same chauvinist mentality. I have started hating him for not being able to take a stand. He has never been violent towards me except for once where I made it quite clear if he beat me again I will leave him or call the police.
In your blog I have seen there are many other cases like me. I wish I was more sensible at the age of 22 before eloping and spoiling my life.

Another Confused Wife

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An email: He will be one of those 40 year old men lving in parents basement with a wife he never really wanted.

So 36 Biradari Panchayat in Baghpat wants no ‘love marriages’ ( i.e. Choice Marriages) and some political leaders are silent and some others insist that choice-marriages are permissible “if the parents approve”.
They don’t say that ‘semi-forced arranged marriages’ are permissible without the couple’s consent. Not eloping is seen as consent?
It seems our political leaders are taking no real action or stand  against these biradari/khap panchayats because they fear losing the votes of parents like A’s in this email. 
Hi IHM,
I am an avid reader of your blog but have never really posted. I am male living in USA. I am contacting you regarding a friend of mine who is undergoing some difficult circumstances with his family. He is male, 30. His family dynamics are very similar to the stories often published in your blog. To protect his identity I refer to him as ‘A’. I have known him for over a decade and sympathize with his position.
This guy has been living in some seriously repressive family, to be honest I am not sure how he does it, I need your advice as I feel he is close to breaking point & something serious is about to happen. I would like to help him without thrusting my view point but it is not exactly easy to do this.
First off his mother is extremely manipulative. She is over-protective, obsessive and constantly worry about how to steer the entire family in a direction which she wants. She is a master manipulator of circumstances, as a result of this A has lived in almost constant depression and stress although somehow he has managed to graduate and keep up at a decent job.
Unfortunately his father is colluding with her and the siblings rally around her to manipulate A.
The mother had already manipulated the elder brother into marriage. He too caved under stress, she broke him down just as A was broken down. Today the elder brother is childless two years into marriage and goes through regular cycles of rage & depression on what he has done. He is lost between leaving the wife and staying in the family. The mother never got along with the brother’s wife because according to A the elder DIL never accepted the mother’s controlling behaviors. The mother has tried all sorts of underhanded tactics to leave the elder brother but it never materialized. Today the parents are super nice to her face but curse her behind her back.
She was at the center stage when A was getting married, he never wanted an arranged marriage, it was thrust upon him & he caved under pressure. They went back to their homeland and got married under stress. At that stage he revealed to his parents (just before his marriage) that he his only doing it out of pressure but his parents laid some serious guilt trips on him, he once again caved under pressure. They did ask him but he felt the pressure is too great, his father turned his face away from him saying he should do what he agreed on. His mother giving him a choice yet pressurizing him at the same time, he felt extremely guilty for refusing and went ahead with the marriage.
Part of A’s predicament is that his issues go beyond marriage. The mother is controlling every aspect of his life, his marriage, she has even convinced him to stay in the family home basement. The parents are spending a load of cash to get a nice place constructed – but isn’t this just more manipulation? Handing out candies to eventually control him? So in this manner the parents have really controlled 80 percent of his life his marriage and his living situation. I feel A has been brain washed extensively and I am aching to see him being emotionally abused like this. Tomorrow the mother will control his career, his wife & any children… it will never stop.
After A came back from marriage and the fog lifted he realized what has happened. He started getting help and finally calmed down and studied his circumstances. He realized the guilty patterns and why they are occurring. I helped him a lot to see the family dynamics and realize what is really going on. He has spent time in rage and confusion. The parents are unwilling to accommodate any of his wishes, they manipulate him, guilt trip him and use the siblings to exert their point. The mother I have to say is domineering and fully planted herself in the life of her children pulling the strings as she pleases. As long as A and the siblings do what the mother wants everything is good, otherwise she goes around playing her games.
He is seriously thinking of calling off the sponsorship (his family made him sponsor his wife) & then run away from his family. That is a drastic move for sure, I don’t know what to tell him, if I were him I would be thinking like that too but there is too much at stake, family ties, a wife and uncertainty regarding the future. He says the marriage is not consummated, the wife is quite young finding another suitor will probably will be not an issue. He feels if he does not do this he will be one of those 40 year old men living in parents basement with a wife he never really wanted. Jeez what a situation.
Kindly post on this on your blog without any names mentioned. I would request A to read this with an open mind. I thank you for having an open platform like this that deals with these issues.
An Update.
Hi IHM,
There is a small update on this situation, I have come to know that he only has about 6-8 days before the sponsorship process is complete, after which the wife will be coming over. I can safely say once this happens there is no way for him to get out of this toxic environment as he will be legally bound by the Canadian laws. The parents are well aware of this and they have brain-washing, butterring and stroking his ego to stay in the marriage, they actually bullied and guilt tripped him before the marriage. He knows this now but is paralyzed by uncertainty and fear.
I have tried to talk to him objectively as there is quite a bit at stake, however he is quite distraught and leaning towards running. At the same time he is afraid of running too as he is unsure of the long term consequences of this. It seems he is losing no matter what he does. It appears to me atleast that everyone around is happy for the marriage at the cost of him.
– What would you say to A?

Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.

Here’s a judgment I agree with, because it implies that a wife is a partner, not a baby-making machine.

‘In a significant decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week ruled that the right to abort a pregnancy in a marriage rests with the wife and not husband.

A woman is not a machine in which raw material is put and a finished product comes out. She should be mentally prepared to conceive, continue the same and give birth to a child. The unwanted pregnancy would naturally affect the mental health of the pregnant woman…” said the court.

Stressing that marital intimacy between a couple does not automatically translate to the woman’s consent to child bearing, Justice Jitendra Chauhan said, “Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.”’ [Link] Thanks for the link Brown Vagabond.

I wish this judgment and what it conveys was understood by families of women like Sita. (All names changed)

A friend (and a social worker) told me about this woman in her twenties who lives in a village in Haryana.

Sita’s parents had first arranged her marriage into a family where she worked all day and wasn’t given enough food.That marriage did not last. When the parents arranged a second marriage for her, their biggest worry was that she may not conceive because her first husband had raped her violently.

In her new home she works all day, but she is given enough food to eat and her husband is kind to her. (Although my fried noticed that Sita has not even seen the local market, because the family does not believe in their daughters in law stepping out of the house).

Now she is pregnant and her mother in law took her to a city hospital where they said since she is the ‘size of a ten year old girl‘, she must have a caesarean section in the eighth month, although the baby is growing well and there are no other complications. Sita’s mother in law, Kaushalya is excited about raising a second  grand child.

Kaushalya has raised the child of her first daughter in law too. This little boy has little attachment to his mother, who my friend was told, is a bad mother. My friend shopped for gifts for this mother in law saying this would make them treat Sita kindly. She was excited about meeting them but came back disappointed, because Sita is so stressed, she fears she might miscarry.

Sita is worried that she won’t be allowed to take care of her baby, her mother in law believes her ‘age and experience’ make her better qualified for caring for this child. (Sita is expected to cook, clean, wash the family’s clothes etc). Sita’s husband, though kind to her, is an obedient son. Sita is also upset because he will not be with her during or after the baby’s birth. Kaushalya told my friend he is the most devoted of all her sons.

This is not one rare story. Take a look at the pregnant woman in this advertisement. In another case the daughter in law was sent to her parents’ home as a punishment for general incompetence, and the mother in law raised the grandchild. This daughter in law was called back when the family started arranging a marriage for the second son.

I have blogged about another set of grand parents who raised the grand child, because the mother was only good enough to give birth, here ‘Better than mothers?

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

Silent O’s email reminded me of Anon’s comment on ‘Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.’

Anon said, “The point is I have a wonderful marriage because of the man I married. Everyone tells me to forget in-laws, but can I forget them? They are an integral part and it hurts me when they pass stinging comments. I think I am paying price for a love marriage.” (Click to read).

Hi IHM,

I’m writing to you because there’s no one in my real life that I can talk frankly to about this, or get an honest, unbiased opinion from.

I’m almost 27, have been working for 6 years and currently live by myself. I like a guy, whom i got to know about 5 years back. He has been studying/working abroad for more than 4 years now. We like each other but his parents do not approve of the match because we belong to different castes. They are totally against it. This was always expected to an extent but we had assumed they would budge if this was told to them after he had established himself in his career, proved himself, and so on. But that’s definitely not the case. He’s visiting India, and will return in a few weeks. He’ll come back next after probably 9 months.

I had talked a bit about the guy to my mom a few months back and mentioned that his family wouldn’t approve easily. My mom was concerned about that, understandably. And later when she asked me, sometime last year, i told her that his parents wouldn’t approve and that was it. We haven’t talked about it since, she assumes that I’m fine with it being that way because she doesn’t know the details. I haven’t updated her about the recent events either (him visiting, actually talking to his parents about it)

Also, things in general have not been very normal at my home. Sort of dysfunctional. Dad used to be a drunkard, is even now to an extent, and that created a rift in the way things are in my family. I have a younger brother, and we (mom, brother and me) are close but don’t talk much to my dad, cos he just wont, and wont take any help, or change or even listen out and he is just very short tempered, to say the least. That’s just the general pic at home, a bit about where i come from.

I really like this guy, totally trust him, am sure things will be good if i choose to be with him. That is, things will be good for the two of us. But I’m not sure if i can handle his parents’ hatred or begrudging approval (that is if they do agree, this will be the best it will get) or if I can put my family through all this.

My family and extended family have been behind to get me married ever since my elder cousin got married earlier this year. But I don’t know what is the right thing to do here. It’s overwhelming for so many reasons. What would you suggest that someone do in such a case – one set of parents dead against the match? The best it will get is ‘fine, go get married to her if you want to, we don’t approve of it’. Which the guy is fine with, because he doesn’t see any reason in their disapproval. They wont agree to even meet me;/my folks just to meet once.

It’s not that I intend to get married within a deadline, or let others decide when/whom i should get married to. But am I holding on to something that i shouldn’t be? Should i let go, accept that things are for the good, and try to go on from here?

Am I even considering everything that a girl ought to be thinking about? What do you think? Please let me know.

Thank You for reading through:)

-Silent O

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

Pallavi shared this link.

‘The interference of parents in the married life of their daughters has become a major cause for playing havoc with the lives of young couples post marriage, the Delhi high court has said.

Daughter are supposed to become paraya dhan once they are given away in kanyadan, and any Indian man and his family would be justified in wanting a divorce if a woman’s  parents forget that.

Why I’d worry about any such biased and generalized statements. Because they encourage Indian parents to continue to disown their married daughters. Happily-Married-Daughters bring approval of the neighbours’ uncle’s nephew’s third cousin’s grandfather, so even if a married daughter is unhappy, she is advised to please adjust, or die trying. Having no one to turn to, makes her less equal and exposes her to abuse, exploitation and harassment.

Also, even if the parents were interfering in the case mentioned, it does not mean that this is becoming a trend. The idea that a woman’s parents have no right to support her once she is married, and an adult male needs to be mothered all his life, is changing and this change should be welcomed.

I wonder why there was no mention of ‘parental interference’ in these cases.

1.

Allegations that the mother-in-law kicked the daughter-in-law with her leg, told her that her mother was a liar, poisoned the ears of her son against the daughter in law, had been giving perpetual sermons and threatened her with divorce. [link]

2.

Bombay HC held that in-laws’ insistence on sari can’t amount to cruelty under the Hindu Marriage Act. [My response here.]

Deciding what an adult son’s adult spouse wears is not interference?

3.

Another mother “filed an affidavit that the daughter in law works 8 am to 8 30 pm, but does ‘no additional work’ at home.

Was this seen as interference?

*

And just how much do an Indian daughter’s parents interfere for it to have ‘become a major cause for playing havoc’ with their daughter’s marriages?

In Haryana a son beat his wife in the presence of her parents, for wearing jeans when she went shopping with them.

‘…the police promptly dispatched the battered woman … to her in-laws house, terming it as a “family matter”. No case was filed.

Promptly dispatched to her in-laws house, a paraya dhan‘s rightful home once she is married.

*

Bollywood went out of it’s way to show loving a married daughter could lead to breaking her marriage.

How would you see this scene from ‘Phagun’ (1973)  if Waheeda Rehman was the husband’s mother and not Jaya Bhaduri’s?


Related posts:

No Jeans for Indian Daughters in law.

Can’t end marriage over sari.

Loving sons who devote their days and night to maintain peace in the family.

(and many , many more)

To an Anonymous DIL

DIL = Daughter in Law, MIL = Mother in Law

Dear Anonymous DIL,

Your comment in response to this post was heart breaking. There’s no telepathy needed, you get close to ANY Indian DIL living in a Joint Family, and she is dying to confide in someone about how unhappy she is, how she is frustrated with the way her husband behaves, how oppressive it is to be totally dominated by her in laws and her husband. It makes me both, angry and sad.

Many women say he changes when his parents are around. He becomes stiff, as if he feels guilty he is close to his wife! He can go out alone, no problem, but if he has to go with his wife, he must take permission.

It can be a stressful life for an average girl who wants an ordinary life – and things so many of us – and all Indian men, take for granted – some free time, a satisfying job, some friends, some recreation and most of all, some FREEDOM. Instead a lot the time and energy is spent in fuming over real and imagined insults, there are misunderstandings and resentments, competition, rivalry, jealousy, backbiting…and terrible frustration. All avoidable! Men cannot even imagine it because they never have to go through it. And their wives need not either, if they understand and support them.

What aggravates the trauma is that the girl has no scope to grow, to be creative or original because newer and better ways are totally condemned, anything can only be good if the elders have been doing it. Not a very healthy atmosphere, but we try to pass all this off as ‘inculcating of family values’ and ‘samskars’.

Many daughters in this country are raised to be just good daughters in law, they grow up prepared for a tough life in a joint family, still it is unbearable for them!

When my daughter was born I was advised to drink FIFTEEN Kg of DESI GHEE! Thankfully I had the common sense (and good luck) to smile the advice away. I was also advised not to drink water to avoid gaining weight. I had faith in PREGNANCY by GORDON BOURNE which protected me from all such advice. Just a normal healthy diet was what I followed. In a joint family, this, which affected no one as much as me, would have offended many!

What does one do if one is trapped in such a situation?
Why not create an id and/or start a blog your husband does not know of? Yes, I am suggesting traditional Indian style deception, you know Krishna, Drona and Yudhishthir have used it. You DEFINITELY need a space of your own, if nothing else then just to rant. If you had an email address I could have emailed this reply! No body’s family name and honor will come to any harm if you don’t use you own name. And you will get to speak to like minded people! And frankly if a DIL speaks about her in laws, in India, it is nothing new or scandalous, I am yet to meet a girl who lives with her in laws and does not complain about it. WHY don’t we see girls more than willing to live in joint families? Don’t we care how they feel at all? Why are so many of them complaining? There has to be something wrong with this system? When I was younger I thought they were being unaccommodating, selfish etc but over the years I realised that this system is totally wrong and it gives too much power to some humans over the lives of some other humans. And what kind of power! It is so outrageously unjust and the worst part is, this control is couched in ‘sanskar’.

For those who disagree with me, try and imagine a boy doing what a girl is expected to do…obedience, sacrifice, going nowhere without permission, living under supervision and control, expected to forget your own parents, no independence – everything. Boys, can you live like that? I know I won’t wish it on an enemy.

Imagine, an adult is required to take permission to go and shop, to watch a movie, to cook a favourite dish, and WORST to meet her own parents/friends! A friend of mine, who is a doctor lived in a joint family for a while. She said everybody was nice, there was no criticism or nitpicking, “but when I go home after a tiring day, sometimes I just want to pick a Pizza on my way home, take a shower, wear a long, loose T shirt and flop on my bedroom floor, watching TV and eating Pizza.” But this LUXURY she could not afford. Her husband who came back home with her everyday could though. She had to politely supervise the dinner, when he could say he did not want to be disturbed because he was tired. Doesn’t it sound more a case of if it’s MY child he is tired, if it’s SOMEBODY ELSE’S child she is cranky! Her husband sometimes went out alone with friends, when she wanted to do that there was the same taking permission protocol. When she was offered a job in another city it was understood that she would refuse. She was needed at home, why else did the guy get married? But let’s ask, WHY did this girl get married?

Why shouldn’t all young couples live in their own houses? I know many couples who are taking good care of the parents on both the sides, but they live in their own house with their young children.

Anonymous DIL, it is not right that he supervises your blogging. If he was fair about it, you could let him read it, maybe advice (not command) like an equal or a friend, but no more. This is just not right because you are not a child, you are an adult, and you have a need and a right to interact with the world. This supervision is control of the worst kind, because it is done so self righteously, using excuses like family honor, values and tradition. In India family values value everybody except the DIL. I am rambling because I feel so helpless! Why can’t the rest of us see how wrong it is!

Anonymous DIL, have you tried talking about this to your husband? Your in laws are not alone, so actually whether you stay with them or not, will not really affect them, unless it becomes an ego issue. (Don’t let it become that!). And it will mean so much to you! After enjoying living alone here with you, is it not possible that your husband will realise that it’s nice to have a home of your own? Do you show him how much you love living life like this? Maybe seeing how happy you are will make him see it isn’t such a bad idea to live on your own? Convey this to him; let him know you do not want to live in a joint family again. Do you fear his reaction? Still do it.

If nothing else works TAKE UP A JOB. Getting out of the house for a few hours every day can be a huge break. You are qualified; don’t waste your education over so called ‘petty issues‘ which can actually cause a lot of pain. But what if the family does not allow you to work? I think this is one thing you will have to fight for. Put your foot down, find a job. And keep what you earn. Buy gifts, smile, be pleasant BUT keep your job and your money. I believe they will get used to it.

I hope you wipe your tears and realise that there is nothing wrong with your wanting some space, And decide to fight, I feel you can and will find positive solutions.

Hugz.

Also read No Jeans for an Indian Daughter in Law.