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

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

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

Sharing an email.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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American Woman’s response to comments on her email.

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

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

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15 Things That Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

15 Things That Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do [Shared on facebook]

Do read this amazing list – do you agree that emotionally strong people don’t do these fifteen things? Do you consider yourself an emotionally strong person?

I think some of our Indian Family Values might disagree with this list.

Take a look at points 4, 7, 11, 12 and 14 below. Many would consider these irresponsible, because we are expected to be responsible for other people’s happiness.

Happiness is also seen as something that other people give/owe us, for example by sacrificing their own happiness or by their display of respect for us, or by approving of our choices etc.

Are Indian women and men brought up to respect themselves and to take responsibility for their own lives and happiness?

I think many of us go out of ways to teach children to find happiness in what will people say (not all the people, but some chosen, more powerful or higher-in-social-hierarchy people) – when we tell children to score better than their class mates, or when we run (or dance, or create, or work) to win, not for the joy of running, dancing or creating. Even the definition of Success for many seems to involve competition with other people 😦

I think this list is about people who choose Happiness over Success (when success is not defined as happiness). What do you think?

4. They Never Stop Doing Their Own Thing

Emotionally strong individuals do what they do because they love doing it. They don’t plan on slowing down or stopping for anyone who deems their happiness inappropriate.

7. They Know Better Than To Let Just Anyone Into Their Lives

The emotionally strong are emotionally strong for a reason: They don’t expose themselves to people who break down their defenses and crush their morale. Most people in the world are lost and will be more than happy to take you along with them. Don’t let an awful acquaintance ruin your happiness.

11. They Don’t Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

We all do things that we don’t love to do, but we should never do things that we don’t want to do. The emotionally strong understand that and almost always manage to figure out a way to focus on what they love, which allows them to figure out what they need to do, in order to do what they love. Although they may not love every second of it, they like doing what they are doing because it’s bringing them one step closer to what they would love to do.


12. They Have No Problem Saying “No”

If you can’t say “no,” you will get abused. You’ll be considered a pushover and no one will ever ask you for your opinion or take it seriously when you give it. Saying “no” reminds people that they don’t have control over you.

14. They Don’t Feel The Need To Fit In

The stronger you are emotionally, the more independent you become. You don’t feel the need to fit in because you fit in where it matters: the world. People form smaller social groups that are often skewed and unhealthy. Wanting to fit in doesn’t say much more than “I’m afraid to be myself.”

And here’s why I loved this list:

You’re going to be with your in-laws for only a few days in a year so why can’t you live the way they want and keep every one happy?

Is it possible that the ones whose disapproval is dreaded the most are those who are most likely to express disapproval (and occasional approval)?

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

“But, my only motive in life has been my daughter’s happiness which is now in your hands. I beg you, please keep her happy”

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

“Wives..well they are awesome! They will cross heavens to make you and the family’s lives happy.”

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

An email: He says what am I expecting out of this marriage if I cant even make him happy.

Some happy relationship rules. Add yours?

Eleven questions the family elders ask women in unhappy marriages.

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

It’s not about hot hot chappaties.

Somewhere in the blogosphere …

The topic of discussion : Some women make hot chappaties for their family and finally eat alone only when everybody else has eaten.

The comment: But, if a woman loves to give “garam garam roti” to her husband and kids without any compulsion, straight or oblique, then we should not snatch her joy by being judgmental in a superior sort of way. It is not what you do but why you do what you do that is important. / Did I say there is anything wrong in the whole family eating together? It is something to be cherished…but if someone follows a different way, without compulsion ..

Why this bothers me:

1. We all know how much real choice do Indian women have in most matters, so let’s not even talk of no compulsion, oblique or straight.
Is it really okay for a woman to have cold chappaties after the family has eaten ?
Why should one family member ignore their own comforts?
Does she feel this will make her more likable ?

2. It also means that the girl who does not stand in the kitchen making hot chapatties for her family and is perhaps a little less willing to suffer for them, is not as good …

3. But most of all it shows that the men and the children in that family feel no compunction in allowing this sacrifice. Why don’t the sons, the daughters, the husbands and the in laws put their foot down and refuse to let her eat alone?

Obviously she believes that they can enjoy a meal without her?
What in their attitude made her believe that they will not mind her eating alone, after they have all eaten?


The Comment:we should not be judgmental and disturb the harmony that exists.

The biggest myth is this harmony. There is no harmony here, or else we will not have anonymous blogs, emails and comments from wives, daughters in law and girls who hate this system and all that it stands for.

The Comment: At the same time, positive education is needed to ensure that discrimination based on gender, that which is in the mind, is eradicated.

Reminds me of our politicians “I condemn the dastardly acts of terrorists/violence against innocent citizens…We will /not tolerate /make sure this never happens again …
Why?
Read the next sentence!

Comment: Frankly, I feel that this thing about “equality” is being stretched too far in some cases.

How does equality NOT get stretched too far? By accepting a little equality and an occasional inequality?
As in we will allow a daughter in law to visit her parents but only twice a year…?

As in we will allow the first child to be a baby girl, but second daughters not allowed?
Or as in we will permit you to work but we will not help with house work?

The comment continues : Why should it mean only doing what men do?

How many women has this commenter seen trying to do what men do?
And what do only men do that women mustn’t?
Play football? Have careers? Be independent? Drive? Wear jeans?
Enjoy a late night outing? Be self reliant? Have fun with friends?
Refuse to live in a joint family? Love her own parents even after she is married?
Or just wish to sit and eat with the rest of the family 😦

I know of real women, brought up with this sort of conditioning, who are actually annoyed that men do not have to undergo labour pains and go through nine months of pregnancy…why should the woman alone suffer, is the argument.

When I had nausea during the first trimester of my pregnancy we were at a party and this bachelor (from Haryana btw) said “All these problems happen only to city girls, in my village women go back to working in the fields soon after the baby is born.
I did not ask (always think of it later) what the Pregnancy related mortality rate in Haryanawas, but today we know why with this attitude, has Haryana got the worst girl:boy ratio in the country.

So please understand why women say such stuff. I am sure I would have loved it if this guy whose face and name I don’t remember, was given one day of my nausea.

I know you will find it silly, but try telling that to them and they will say that this discrimination exists because God is a male!

You mean, you know for sure that God has a gender!!?
Sita, Durga, Laxmi are male?
Who created a male God? Who decided that God is male?
You will never hear me say any such thing because my God is gender less 🙂

Related Posts:

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An email from a DIL living in a Joint Family: Should I adjust or should I leave?