If only, one woman can make the world a better place to live in for her daughter-in-law, a joint Indian family would be a better place to go to. Show her that you have accepted her, and she will love you back whole heartedly. Take at least one step forward, and she will give you all her love and kindness, unconditionally. Give her time, let her adjust, let her feel comfortable, and then see the difference that she creates to your world. Let marriage be a beautiful thing to happen and not a burden that needs to be dragged till the end of an innocent girl’s life.
My intention is not to scare anybody. It takes a lot to leave a home you were raised in to go to a brand new house with brand new faces but going to a house full of people just to feel lonely is almost every Indian daughter-in-law’s story and this is my story.
27 years of my life I lived on my terms and conditions, was loved by everybody. I was my mom’s lifeline, my dad’s princess, my siblings’ confidant, a little angel, a punching bag and what not; until one fine day, I was married off and my life took a drastic turn. I packed my bags with my favourite set of earrings and the little black dress I wore for my Conti party and with a heavy heart, I told myself I was going from one home to another. But then, things changed.
I became a wife, a daughter-in-law, and tons of new relations were added to my name, just because I agreed to change my surname.
In our society, be it love or an arranged marriage, you face the same issues, because you love the boy but you get married to the family. As soon as I got done with my saat pheras, I was expected to change and adapt to the lifestyle of a new family, people I didn’t even know much about — accept their values. I was expected to change my name in the wedding hall itself. As an Indian daughter-in-law, you lose your identity in just a moment’s time and nobody cares about how you feel in that moment. If you don’t do that, you’ll be looked at in a bad light forever.
My question is — does getting married mean that you are now somebody’s slave? Nobody will tell you the “rules” of your new house (you are expected to learn them all by yourself OVERNIGHT), else all you will hear is: “This is what your parents taught you”. And you are humiliated in front of all — close and distant relatives — because of course, you deserve it.
This is what I left my parents’ home for. I get married to your son but I am never made to feel comfortable toadjust to new situations, new circumstances, new environment and everything else that is new to me. My parents taught me to take baby steps in life, you on the other hand, taught me how to take a short cut to everything. The situation is even worse in case your in-laws are the “wear only suit” types. Mine are. Early morning it has to be suit, bindi, bangles, payal and what not, and in case you’re missing one of these, expect to get another lecture on ‘sanskaars’.
If you do not take a dupatta, then people in the family start feeling uncomfortable. Strange, isn’t it. Am I the only female in the family with breasts and aren’t my clothes enough to cover them? And in case you get into a serious discussion or try to answer back, EVER, get ready for your own character assassination along with your entire family’s insult.
Rules are very different for a daughter and a daughter-in-law in the same family. A daughter can wear anything that she likes, but a daughter-in-law cannot. She will be snubbed the moment she tries to wear something of her choice. If a daughter has her period then everybody in the family is asked not to disturb her, as she is “unwell” and she’s given a hot water bag and medicines every two hours, but when the daughter-in-law has the same problem, she is made to work. Our body functions don’t change after we get married do they?
I am zapped and I feel lost, I sometimes wonder if my parents would do the same to my brother’s wife.
A daughter can go out and work and have the career of her choice, because it is HER life, she has to be independent. But if a daughter-in-law is working/wants to work, she will have to face humiliation every single day of her life. And for those working moms who have kids, all I can say is May God give you some strength! The fact remains that you will remain an outsider for your husband’s family all your life, the family secrets and the money matters will all be discussed behind closed doors, but you’re asked to ‘feel comfortable’.
Another very strange thing that happens here in India is, the moment you get married, the next big question people ask you is to give them a “good-news”, especially women!! And these women already have kids, are they not aware of the fact that it takes nine months to bring a child to this world? It’s not an automatic process, it’s a responsibility that I’d take when my husband and I are ready. How difficult is that to understand!
Lastly but sadly, you may have an amazing and understanding husband, but will he ever hear any problem that you are facing at his place — NO. He will also ask you to ADJUST. There is no problem in adjusting from a woman’s point of view (that is what she does all her life) if only the adjustment is for a week, ten days or a month even. But if you have to permanently live with your least understanding in-laws, and a “mamma’s boy”, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge I can’t share with my parents.
I can’t tell them how alone I feel in my new house and not home sometimes. I can’t tell them how I feel like calling them up with tears welling up in my eyes and saying — I miss you terribly, take me home.
I am forced to bid goodbye to my freedom and independence everyday because the poor husband is also not at fault because he’s stuck between two women he loves the most in his life. A husband might be supporting enough, but he will give up in front of his parents and hence you will be the one feeling secluded and left out, because you are new in the house and you need to ADJUST to everything!
Indian mothers-in-law fail to understand that the bahuis not a villian, here to take away her son. Also, dear mother-in-law when you got married to somebody’s son; did you have the same intention back then, of taking a son away from his mother?
I am sure your son’s heart has enough space to accommodate the both of us. And if you are so possessive about your son, then you shouldn’t have ever gotten him married to me. At that time you wanted a “homely, convent educated, beautiful, fair, tall” girl. You were the best person ever with a modern thought process and such a caring attitude, over those pre-wedding phone calls. But you changed drastically as soon as I entered your premises.
If carrying forward the family’s legacy was the only intention, then your son could have adopted one kid and raised the child well, you didn’t have to ruin my life.
Why am I asked to minimise my visits to my parents’ place? Why can’t my husband be allowed to come along? I need to accept all his relatives whole-heartedly, but he has all the rights not to do the same. Why? Why do I need to forget my parents, they are also ageing, they treat me well, they still love me and will always do unconditionally, and so will I! They need me as much as my mother-in-law needs her son.
If only, there was somebody who could give me answers to these questions. I cannot object, I cannot say anything; I ought to obey because at the end of the day you have an age old saying that goes like — “ek chup sau sukh” and “apni izzat apne haath mein hai”. I’m still looking for a solution for my unborn daughter…
There is no end to the list of these atrocities that newlywed women face in India if they live with their in-laws, but my point here is that, why do we cry over feminism then? Majority of the problems that women face is courtesy women. Blessed are the ladies who get a loving family, caring in-laws (maybe, times are changing), but still there is a long way to go in our society. People may be carrying post graduate degrees, but how many of them have actually brought about a change in their thought process? Why can’t a mother-in-law make the life of her daughter-in-law a little better than what she had to face herself.
This story was originally published here.