Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Indian Mother-in-law DECODED: fears of a foreigner coming into the family

The average Indian Mother-in-law would have never imagined that she may one day welcome a foreigner into her family by the marriage of a son or daughter. It is an extremely frightening concept for even the most modern of Indian elders - because it requires them to do some adjusting

An Indian woman of our parents' generation would have had to do a lot of adjusting already, as she became part of her new husband's family; as it is a common cultural occurrence that the women bear the brunt of "adjusting". She would have had to "adjust" to her husband, as well as her inlaws, and her inlaws' family - which after marriage would be her first priority. The most coveted position in the Indian family tree is that of an elder - because you have the most control, only due to your age. Many women use the position of Mother-in-law to demand the respect or power that they have always wanted or needed.

Building a relationship with your Indian mother-in-law is just as important as building a relationship with your husband. Along with marrying an Indian man -  comes his mother. You can't marry one without marrying the other. The umbilical cord is never cut between these two, no matter the distance. That is why many new Bahu's (daughter-in-laws) struggle with finding a place in BOTH these people's hearts, along with juggling endless responsibilities. 

For a Firangi Bahu, there can be many road blocks. Cultural, generational, language....not to mention all those not-so-nice stereotypes that many conservative Indians have about foreigner's moral character (no matter how well-traveled they are)...

For this post, I had to consult my dear Indian mother-in-law, as to what her initial fears were about welcoming a foreigner into the family. Some of these fears are also from the extended family, and the community, as well.


Food
What will they eat? Will they eat separate dinners? Will she learn how to cook his favorite foods? Will she learn how to cook our favorite foods? 
Note: A huge misconception about foreigners is that "they cannot cook food as well as an Indian"; or "you can tell when it is cooked by a foreigner" - totally wrong! 

Language
Obviously, one is most comfortable speaking in their mother tongue.... 
What if we don't share the same sense of humour? What if she misunderstands me? What if I can't express myself properly to her?

Respect
Will she respect us? Will she have different ideas of what "respect" is, culturally? Will she take our advices and suggestions?

Future plans & where do we fit in?
Who will take care of us when we are old? Will they allow us to live with them? Will the daughter-in-law take care of us? How involved will we get to be in our grandchildren's lives? Will our relationship be less close to her due to cultural differences? Will we ever feel comfortable with her?
Note: It is a common cultural custom that the eldest son MUST take in the parents when they are elder. This is practically non-negotiable.

"Breaking up" the family
As we all know, in Indian families, there is a constant sense of togetherness...ALL the time...and foreigners may prefer their "personal space". It is even sometimes looked down upon if you have your own individual interests, outside of family (this is considered a luxury). For needing more time alone with your spouse, you may be accused of separating the family. That is why it is extremely important to make extra efforts to "include" your inlaws.

Priorities
What are her priorities? Will we be just as important to her as our son? Will she only give priority to her family? Is the family unit important to her? Is her work her only priority? Does she understand her many responsibilities? 
Note: Indian women are traditionally expected to put her husband and his family first. Western women are often seen as being "too individualistic".

Cultural customs
Will she want to learn about our culture? Will she dislike certain aspects of our culture? What Indian traditions will they choose to carry on in their lives/grandchildren's lives? How will they function with all these cultural differences?
Note: The daughter-in-law is seen as "the keeper of the flame" which means "the keeper of traditions" - a foreigner may not know or understand all the traditions, which will require extra effort on the elders' part to teach them these traditions, providing the foreigner is interested in learning (some aren't)

What will others think?
Will everyone gossip about us? Will people say bad things about my parenting since my child chose to marry outside our culture? Will people think my child hates our culture? Will people be mean or rude to me at public events? Will people laugh at us?
Note: Many Indians are extremely superstitious of the "evil eye" from others. They feel if people talk badly about you, actual bad things can happen.

Lack of control
Doesn't my child care about our opinions? We've known him longer - doesn't he want to take advice from us? Doesn't he value us?
Note: Many times, when an Indian son/daughter picks their own spouse, it is seen as an public act of "defiance" to the parents. Since Indian children are typically more protected and babied, they are expected to consult elders before ANY big life decision, and it is a big shock to the elders when they don't (elders may feel that they are not needed or a sense of uselessness)

Disappointment
Why can't he find an Indian girl? Aren't there so many Indian girls to choose from? Why does he want to make life more difficult for everyone? What will their children look like?

Marriage should be forever
If they fight, will they get a divorce? No matter what, marriage should be forever...do they have the same ideas of the permanence of marriage as we do? They have all different boyfriends and girlfriends before marriage - how will they stick to just one person for life? What if she gets bored and rejects us?
Note: In Hinduism, once a couple is married, they are to be married for the next seven lifetimes, so there is NO splitting up! And foreigners get a bad reputation for being divorce-crazy, but I think foreigners in general are less inclined to tolerate bullshit. But in Indian culture, there is still a great social stigma attached with divorce - it is seen as a failure on behalf of the whole family. Usually if there is a marital problem, an elder will step in to guide the couple with tips and suggestions. 

Ruining the "bloodline"
Will they cause other family members to rebel? Will everyone start marrying foreigners now? How will this negatively affect the entire family?
Note: This one is probably the most ridiculous one. We had one relative who claimed that I was ruining their "perfect Brahmin bloodline" (Hey, I didn't know there was a specific Brahmin blood type! LOL!) And by the mere introduction of me into the family, would cause ALL future generations to rebel, and "god knows what will happen next, maybe someone will marry a Chinese". Well, we have been together for 8 years now, and I'm still the only foreigner in the family (unfortunately...hee hee!) Everyone else is still on the dutiful arranged-marriage path! So, no, it really didn't have any effect on anybody.

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So there you go, Firangi Bahu's & Firangi Bahu's to-be! This is what you're up against!

My mother-in-law had many of these fears, and some she still has. Sometimes if I fight with husband-ji, she thinks I will just immediately leave him and get a divorce (never!) So she constantly threatens husband-ji to treat me nicely...which totally works in my favor! ;) Most of her other initial fears are completely gone.

Most of this advice is for foreign girls marrying into an Indian family. For foreign boys marrying Indian girls, it is a bit different. The elders' main concern would be "can you (financially) support our daughter" (even if she plans to work, it is seen as the male's job to earn more & provide financial security); that you intend to be faithful to their daughter; and they may have fears that you will "take their daughter away" from her culture, forever.

As your inlaws get to know you better (a.k.a. most likely after marriage) most, if not all, of these will disappear. Keep in mind that these are valid fears for your Indian inlaws, and that the concept of a foreigner coming into the family is a HUGE adjustment for them. Many of these fears have nothing to do with the actual person - it is more a fear of the unknown. Remember, this is uncharted territory for a lot of Indian elders.

My advice? Be patient with them...and be gentle with them...and try not to take ANYTHING personally.

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What about you, dear readers? What initial fears did your inlaws have? If you are Indian, what fears would you have of a foreigner marrying your son/daughter?


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33 comments

  1. Oh Alexandra, the stories I could regale you with. I am Indian married to a white American man. When I first told my parents I was going to marry my now husband, they were not happy because in my family of "all those who don't have a 4 year degree are worthless", having an Associates degree in a "worthless" profession is akin to social suicide. I have no doubts at all that my parents may have had to "lose" face because of their son-in-law's "lowly" occupation. I also have no doubts that my parents would have preferred that I marry my Indian doctor ex-fiancee because being a doctor and earning a lot of money makes up for being a gutless, spineless, mama's boy.

    Despite this, my husband is also venerated because he saved me from that fate so despicable to Indian women, that fate worse than death- spinsterhood! This is expressed in the form of - "you must make food for your husband, he is back from a hard day at work" (because of course my work doesn't really count) or "poor thing, he is sweeping" (didn't you know men aren't supposed to do "women's work"?).

    I apologize for all the quotations, but this topic gets my blood boiling.

    My in-laws on the other hand were worried that I was marrying my husband for the citizenship, especially because we went from dating to living in together to getting married in the space of one year (we got married on the first anniversary of our first date).

    Thank you for letting me vent. I can write a book (or two) on this topic.
    Raina.

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    1. It is so interesting what different cultures and different families value - what they give importance - for example, the "4 year degree" as opposed to a loving spouse who is a match made in heaven. After all, the degrees, education and other resume-builders does not equal smooth sailing...
      LOL.....the sweeping thing is so funny....it reminds me of my dad a bit. After our family dinners, my dad loves to immediately get up and wash the dishes, he finds it therapeutic. Well, you can imagine the horror in my inlaws face to see my father washing dishes after our family dinner. The first time they saw it, my FIL barked at my MIL to go help him, and then my dad shooed her away!

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  2. 7 years later my MIL still hangs to these stereotypes about western women, both DH and I I decided that it was hopeless trying to please her, she doesn't want to. She doesn't even want to talk to me on the phone...sigh

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  3. I feel like non-Indian spouses should form a support group so we can share stories and laugh over the ridiculousness of what is our lives with Indian in-laws. The stories I tell my friends and non-Indian family make their jaws drop. But I'm just expected to take it and love my Indian family as though I were born into it. I wish I had known before I got married the extent to which I was marrying into a culture that is not mine. We dated for a long time before marriage but his culture was hidden because I was kept a secret and I didn't meet the family until we were engaged. Now I see it for what it is and if anything have a negative view of Indian culture. Some parts I love, (mainly the dress and food), but overall from what I see of his family there is an overwhelming amount of self-imposed drama. My husband told me that one of the first things that attracted him to me was my calm and quiet demeanor. He hates drama, and subconsciously I think he searched for a life partner who would bring a sense of peace and calm to his life. One of the few things that does get me furious is the way his mother tries to tell me how to live my life. Her intentions are good, but I do take things personally and it has definitely made it difficult to be close to her. We take a few steps forward and a few steps back….one day maybe she will accept me for who I am and I'll stop being insulted by her Indian MIL instincts.

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    1. It is hard...only fellow Firangi's can relate, others have nooooo idea! We are expected to adjust to an almost unattainable standard...to the point where others who are not in the Indian lifestyle think we are crazy!
      Dating and marrying is different too, I noticed. We also dated for 5 years before marriage, even I lived in my inlaws house before marriage, but certain cultural things only came out after marriage. The things that I don't like is the patriarchy and the strict gender roles. There is a lot of self-imposed drama in our extended family, which I am mostly away from in distance, and I tell you, the things they fight about are borderline retarded. Like food. LMAO!!
      My MIL also tells me how to do things but lately I've been more receptive. I think I am more receptive because I have also learned how to set boundaries with her and say no to her without having a fight. I used to take it really personally, and I used to think that she was being critical. It was hard for me because my parents never give me advice. The unsolicited advice is sooooo annoying!

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    2. Hi there.i am an indian, my husband belongs to a different caste than me.oh boy cant begin to tell you how difficult it has been to adjust with my in laws.they have been prejudiced against me since the day we got married. My sil had the guts to tell my husband how unhappy he is with me after visiting us for a week.my mil and fil act as if i am tormenting them.in fact i have in all my capacity tried to just nod sweetly and say yes.

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    3. @deepika - that is awful. Best to keep them at an arm's length, far away. Of course they never consider that they may be the cause of so much stress!
      Caste stuff is just ridiculous to me, it is not as if the so-called higher caste has some different blood type, and they should stop acting as such! Bleh.
      What is tormenting your inlaws is their own attitude. Some just like drama!

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    4. I'm an Asian married woman marrying an Indian man and I have to agree with a lot of comments here. My MIL, brother-in-law, and FIL are visiting us from India for a few weeks and not a day has passed without some sort of drama. One time we had company over and after the guests had left my husband swept the floor which prompted the MIL to cry. She cries every other day about god knows what. Some times small things or distant event would trigger the crying spell. My husband sometimes comments that his mother is only faking her position on being a feminist. She is self judgmental and critical of others. I once sniffed a chutney bowl and was told I should have scooped a spoon from the chutney to sniff instead from the bowl directly. She is very nice woman who means well but sometimes I feel like if I have to live with her in the same house I will eventually go crazy.

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  4. In my opinion, we need more divorces in India. This may seem strange since it's "bad for the family" etc etc., but think about what divorce symbolizes. It means your well being comes before anyone else's. It means you're not willing to put up a show for anyone. That you live life on your own terms. These are huge cultural mindsets that need to be adopted in India as soon as possible.

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    1. Hahahahaha Bhagwad, you are so progressive! ;P
      I think....Indians should stop placing such importance on what "others" think and unrealistic societal standards, such as the choice to get/stay married, have children, etc.

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  5. @Alexandra

    Some of these fears are not unfound, but true. There is wide disparity in communities living across India. Customs are different, food is different, vegetarian non-vegetarian a whole lot of factors that influence day to day life. Among brahmins in north and south, non veg food is considered strict no no. Among Bengalis, married women must eat fish as a sign of auspiciousness. Mentalities are also different. Certain communities are loud some are sombre, some are business oriented some have an intellectual bend of mind. As long as the couple live by themselves, there is no problem. But in a family set up there is a problem. Cultural and religion are integral part of Indian life. You cannot wish them away. Imagine tamil girl marrying a punjabi. They have nothing in common despite being hindus. No matter how liberal we are we have the fear of the unknown. I Though I wish there are more inter cultural marriages in India.

    BTW, Firangi Bahu on Sahara TV is facing the same problems as most firangi bahus. She is now resembling the much harassed heroines of Indian soaps. I wish instead of this regressive mindset, serials have a storyline closer to reality. She said that "It is true that Indians considered foreigners as characterless, but just as not everyone is good in India, not everyone is bad in the west". I almost felt sorry for her. But, misconceptions about foreigners are so deep rooted in India, that it is difficult to change them.

    Hey have you read Chetan Bhagat's novel "Two States" (The movie Three Idiots is based on another novel of Chetan Bhagat). It is a story about a punjabi boy marrying a tamil girl. It is most hilarious and enjoyable. It brings forth the cultural clash between north and south india.

    http://nitikesh.yolasite.com/resources/Chetan_Bhagat_-_2_States_The_Story_of_My_Marriage.pdf

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    1. I have tons of Indian readers who email me and comment, who are in intercultural relationships, with one being North and the other being South, and it is truly like they have married a person of a different country! It is quite amazing, actually..
      It is hard with the misconceptions against foreigners, I feel as though the addition of me into our Indians-only family has made some leaps and bounds, but we are only one family. If people only stick to their own communities, then what will they really know of others? Even our cousins who come to the US to study, are only friends with fellow Indians; and fellow South Indians, only!
      I have not read the Chetan Bhagat novel but I have heard of it and it is on my to-read list. But I am not able to find it in the bookstores in the West, I will have to purchase it on our trip to India this year. I'm really interested to read it!

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  6. Great post Alexandra; I am always fascinated by mother in law topics regardless of the culture.

    I have to say that I have been lucky as I was blessed with a great mother in law. Yes, she is Indian but I think that the fact my husband has always been very independent and self thinking had a lot to do with the way she is with him and his way of living. I think that she realized a while ago that no matter what, her son will make his own decisions and choices.

    Another thing that helped me with my relationship with my mother in law is that I never considered myself to be a gori or firangi wife. I never called her mom (my mom died when I was young and that is a title that only belongs to her) and I asked her kindly not to call me bahurani. When she talks to my hubby she asks “how is my bahurani doing” which I find adorable but with me, I am Milagros or Millie and this is who I am.

    I remember there were a few bumps at the beginning. Some were mine as I listen to some desi girlfriends and their “OMG an Indian mother in law and two sisters; they are going to make your life a living hell” so I went in with boxing gloves on. Hers I think was “where do I fit in my son’s life now”. There was no tug of war or marking one’s territory when we met. She has her home and we have ours. There is always a place here for her. She has her own bedroom and bathroom when she visits and she feels at home here but this is our house and this is how we live.

    I was always very honest with her from the beginning. I reassured her that we truly loved each other (we will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this October) and that she had nothing to worry about when it came to him and me and that we will take care of one another. There was never her son this and that; it was us as a unit.

    I think that a big mistake sometimes non Indian daughter in laws do is that they try too hard to fit in and be accepted. They go out of their way to do everything Indian and in the process unfortunately, lose their identity. While at the beginning I tried to learn Hindi I had to give it up; such a hard language to learn. My husband wondered why I was even doing it; all his family is fluent in English.

    There are better ways to honor their culture than to reinvent oneself. Simple things like having a Latindian Super Bowl theme; yes that was my menu last night when the Broncos lost miserably to the Seahawks. Trust me, Gobi Manchurian and Latin Beef pie go surprisingly well together :)

    I am more mindful of the no beef or pork when they visit although FIL will happily eat both MIL is more traditional that way. Husband knows that if he wants a steak we just need to go out. I always make sure to have flowers in her room and her favorite Body Shop toiletries when she visits. Ganesha is right next to the Virgin Mary. She appreciates that more than me trying to be someone that I am not.

    And while I realize that most Indian mother in laws get a bad reputation from being interfering, controlling, domineering and territorial not all are. Proof is my mother in law.

    Millie B

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    1. Millie you have a rare thing indeed: an Indian family who is willing/able to see life beyond their religion and culture. Furthermore they are willing and able to accept such a life into their family. You are very lucky! I think the loss of identity is something that all DIL deal with regardless if they are Indian or foreign. The DIL is expected to simply let go of who she is and live for her husbands family. While I conceded to certain things early on in our marriage to please the Indian side of the family (Indian ceremony etc) certain things I put my foot down VERY firmly. One of them was, I kid you not, my NAME. They wanted to refer to me by a Hindu name since they made it very clear they did not care for my given name. I said absolutely not, my name was given to me by MY parents and although it may not mean anything special in your language, in MY culture it means something beautiful and it is WHO I AM. My husbands name was not easy for my family to pronounce, but they got it after some practice. They would never dream of insisting they call him by a "Western" name to make it easier for them, because it would be considered rude. My Indian family is quite mild when compared to others so I do have that to be thankful for. However we still have a lot of kinks to work out!

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    2. Hi Kai - Your name is beautiful. I can actually relate to that. His mother wanted to call me Bindiya after marriage and I just said absolutely not. I almost felt like saying okay but I will call you Carmen. Hehehe!!!

      You know, I think one reason sometimes Indian mother in laws are so out of control is because of their sons. They cannot say boo to their parents or stand up to them if their lives depended on it. Especially the mother. I am not talking about been disrespectful but setting boundaries; standing up to their decisions. Grow a spine you know!!!

      Some are such mama's boys. I work in an office when we see lots of Indians. I find it laughable when a grown ass 30 year old man has his mommy call us on his behalf. Seriously???

      I'm happy that you found a nice balance with your Indian family. Once respect and love is established the rest will fall into place.

      Millie B

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    3. Thank you Millie, I'm quite proud of my name and was used to receiving compliments on it…until my Indian family that is! And yes, the mama-boy syndrome can be mind-boggling! My husband (a doctor) still calls up his mom to find out what homeopathic medications to take for his ailments. Last time he got a rash from an insect bite instead of applying topical cream and taking Benedryl like any other person he called up his mom in a panic…I was astounded. I'm bound and determined that if I have a son he will not be so dependent on me. The "Little Buddha" syndrome ends here!
      Kai

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    4. @ Kai & Anonymous

      It is not Indian boys but Indian girls also "Mummy girl". The constant telephonic conference between DILs after marriage and their mothers can put any Indian momma boy to shame. This goes on night and day for years after marriage. This is done openly but no one talks about it. Everything from what the girl has eaten to whether her husband sneezed is told to the mother by the girl. Hourly, weekly and monthly updates are taken. Strategies to handle the MIL are minutely discussed. Invariably, what flows is bad advise and interference. Strangely, this is not frowned upon. If a man sits next to his mother she must be advising him against his wife. Nobody thinks that she must be merely inquiring about her medicines. If a wife openly sends all information to her mother, it not interference. The truth is most Indian girls too cannot say no to their mothers. Just like an Indian MIL thinks that she has a say in her son's life in the same way the mother of the girl thinks that she too has a right to interfere. This interference goes on till the her other girl gets married, a new front it open where she can carry out her activities. Till then a man can only grin and bear this interference.

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    5. This sounds very unpleasant for the husband! Either way (girl or boy), I firmly believe the ties should be cut at adulthood. This doesn't mean not talking to your mother or no longer being close. It means they remain in your life to offer love and guidance but NOT to interfere or meddle.

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    6. You are absolutely right. The common link here is "the mother in law". It can be bad on both sides but I think it gets as bad as you allow it.

      Millie B

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    7. @ millie - really excellent advice. Very well said. I agree with all your points, soul sister! ;)
      xo

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    8. Right on Alexandra :) I could never relate really to any of these issues as my MIL is a doll but I have seeing the good old Desi monster in Law in action through friends and other family members.

      Brenda

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  7. Wow, a lot of great insights here. Thanks for sharing from your experiences. I can only imagine...

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  8. As a Tamil iyengar woman who is married to a tamil iyengar man, I find your blog fascinating. It has been interesting to learn how someone from a different culture would fit into ours.

    But I absolutely disagree with this paragraph.

    "Building a relationship with your Indian mother-in-law is just as important as building a relationship with your husband. Along with marrying an Indian man - comes his mother. You can't marry one without marrying the other. The umbilical cord is never cut between these two, no matter the distance. That is why many new Bahu's (daughter-in-laws) struggle with finding a place in BOTH these people's hearts, along with juggling endless responsibilities. "

    I think it just depends on the individual. I do have a good relationship with my mil, but I would never consider her my best friend and my husband is ok with that. He has always been an independent guy and while he loves his parents, he has always had a normal and healthy relationship with his parents - before and after moving to the US. We did not have a traditional arranged marriage and we dated for 4 years before we got married, so there was some initial friction between us, but I think my mil has realized that there is no better person for her son. And I have an American friend whose bf talks to his mother 5 days every day.

    I don't know why I am writing this comment. I guess I was a little offended when you generalized all Tamil Iyengar men to be momma's boys, when my awesome husband is not one :) I am always the one who forces him to talk to his parents once every couple weeks.

    ~Suji

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    1. Hi Suji - is funny that I'm also the one asking my husband if he has called his parents. I ask him less now because he kind of snapped at me telling me that he knew when he needed to call his parents and needed no one to remind him. He loves his parents but don't find the need to call them all the time. He says to me "honey, they have nothing to talk about. Is always complains and how expensive everything is".

      Millie B

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    2. Hi Suji,
      Welcome to my blog & thanks for reading & commenting!
      This post was more of a generalized topic, not specifically talking about Tamil Iyengars but rather Indian men in general and the relationship they have with their mothers.
      I find the mother-son relationship quite fascinating. It is the same in Western culture, but in Indian culture I find it to be more enhanced because there is more of a sense of togetherness with the families, and also the whole concept of respecting elders and not talking back to them. I think every man has a unique closeness and connection with his mother - maybe it is similar to the father/daughter relationship in a sense. Either way, it is a topic that fascinates me.
      Sorry if it offended you. I wanted to give advice to the foreigners coming into Indian families, and to recognize that they are marrying into the family, and also to respect and not compete with the mother/son bond.
      My hubby does not phone his mother too much, but there is an unsaid connection between them which I think is very sweet. As a mother myself, I understand it and respect it.

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    3. @Alexandra

      Indian men of our generation were caught between a strict father and a little too loving mother. Indian families of our father's generations were more like companies where the man is the CEO responsible for managing the affairs of the family. There were more like men driven families bound by duty. Sometimes, it is difficult for children to understand whether their father love them or are duty bound to them as explicit display of love never takes place. Today, families feel like families and not companies. Although, some parents overdo the' friend' thing and children go out of hand.

      All Indian men love their mothers and after marriage do find it difficult to adjust after marriage. If is difficult to put someone on an equal footing with your mother with whom you have spent the most part of your childhood. I think it is unfair with wives but it is difficult to relate to some other women who is not your mother. Very difficult to put into words. This happens because most Indians little or no experience with the opposite sex. Today, things have improved with free interactions between the sexes in cities but serious understanding is something difficult unless you get into a relationship which is still a strict no no. We also feel that just like our parents, everything would just fall in place.

      Indian marriage involve a lot of abrupt adjustments. Girls are taught that men are evil and suddenly they have to be intimate with an unknown man. Sex does comes as a nasty surprise to most women after marriage. Men are slightly more experienced but still feel awkward. While the couple is coming to terms with their personal feelings, the MIL DIL wars take place. Indians have to grow up very fast after marriage. It is like jumping from high school to PHD without completing your graduation. Our society does not wait for people to make transition from childhood to adulthood. Everything is unsaid, people learn automatically by magic. Grow up or perish, or learn by trail and error.

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  9. The last year of my life flashed infront of my eyes as I read your post. :P

    I agree, the fears are expected from them and can only be subsided only after they get to know the new member of the family. In Nepal, the family customs are similar and I faced a lot of similar concerns.

    I assured my parents that they need to accept the relationship with confidence. After that, what the society says or does should not bother them much. Easier said than done, but it's working on most people. ;)

    ~K

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    1. Yes, it is hard because there is a true societal pressure, everbody always in your business at all times, even if you're just walking to the corner store...people are more blunt, they will outwardly give unsolicited advice.
      My MIL had to deal with such comments when she married my FIL, but luckily there was no outward sign of their intercultural-ness.....but now with us being intercultural + interracial, people stare a lot more. So she has had to re-live her fears of being judged, and in a sense: face her fears, again.
      It is a work in progress!

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  10. In glad to see I'm not the only one. I've been with my Fijian boyfriend for 4 years dating. I've met the family and all but lately lots of drama which makes it uncomfortable for me to go to the family dinners. I feel like there is a family dinner every other week. Sometimes I want the weekends for ourselves especially because during the weekdays we are busy working and with our own schedule. Unfortunately this is a topic we get into nasty fights about just because I insult his mother to his face because she can be very evil at times and do little things to upset us. He ends up getting mad and never takes my side. While we are sitting at the dinner table his brother will say "white" jokes and its awkward. When I tell my bf he understands then we have a conversation that we won't go as often until things change.. Well that last for about a week until his mom calls crying for him to come over then all of a sudden everything we agreed on gets thrown out the window. Our fights are at the point were he tells me to just stay home and he doesn't give a sh*t if I go or not. To me that's mind boggling I'm his gf of 4 years marriage is in the future plan. It's a serious relationship and I don't get how he's okay with his family speaking Hindi while I'm sitting there when they all speak PERFECT English as they were all born in Canada... It's just rude and the fact that he stands up for them and is okay with going to all the events and worshiping the ground they walk on while I'm at home upset. How do I go about this? I had people tell me to just pull myself away and not go to the family events and instead work on myself and do things for myself instead of being around the negative people but then I've also had people tell me to just go and put a smile on and just ignore the negative and enjoy the family time since my own family doesn't get together as often. I mean don't get me wrong my family is close we get together for my siblings children's bdays and holidays but its not excessive where my mom calls me every second day to talk about the same thing. Or try's so desperately to force us all together, she throws the invite out and if we come we come and if we can't make it she doesn't GUILT trip us about it. My boyfriends mom now calls my boyfriend only while I'm at work so she can get all the answers out of him and she now tells him about the events and makes him say yes to it then she emails me and says your boyfriend said yes so save the date in your calendar. And the worst part is my boyfriend doesn't even tell me first even when I aka what him and his mom talked about. It's driving me crazy. Will it ever change? Do I need to do something? Should I go to events or not? Please advice would be so good right now. I'm at the point where I'm questioning if this is the right relationship for me. If you reply I can give you an email address and I would love to chat because I honestly have no one to vent to. It's just bottled up and I'm unhappy as the days go on. I appreciate it and sorry for the vent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a tough one. I have consulted my husband on this. This is what he said....
      "I feel as though what you described - his family is being purposely rude and trying to drive you out of there. They seem to be disrespecting to get you out of there OR see how much they can control you.
      It seems that your boyfriend's priority is his family. He HAS to stay to his parents not to disrespect you - he has to set boundaries. If he is not willing to do that, then it will get worse."
      I would also not go to any of the events until you can sort this out.
      My email is madhmama@gmail.com

      Delete
  11. It's been a few years but I can't help and wonder, what did you decide? I hope it worked out okay for you. Many things you mentioned I can relate to. Sitting in a room with everyone speaking no English, even though they could speak English...

    ReplyDelete

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