Monday, December 8, 2014

Ask Firangi Bahu: My Indian MIL is driving me crazy and we are not even married yet!


Sharing a letter from a reader....

"Hi Madh Mama,

I need your help. I am in an unconventional situation. I am currently living with my Marathi Mother in law BEFORE marriage. Actually, we are not even engaged yet. I am a 24 year old girl and I moved in with my desi boyfriend last year. At first, his parents were totally cool.... I had heard so many horror stories so I thought I'd really lucked out. They had me over for dinner all the time and we even went on a big trip to India together which was AMAZING.....After our trip, I decided to move in with him because my lease was up. So we lived in the basement apartment of his parents' house. Everything was going on well except now his parents decided to renovate the basement so we had to move upstairs into their house. And since then it has been absolute hell. Ever since I moved upstairs, my mother in law has continually picked me apart and complained about me, to the point where I feel SO insecure. She tried to teach me how to cook, yet spent the entire time snapping at me when SHE wasn't explaining it properly to me in the first place. I felt so dumb. I refused to learn to cook from her since then cuz she was so mean. She also criticizes my hair, makeup and outfits. She has even gone so far as to control where I am going. I have told my boyfriend and he doesn't understand what I have to deal with when he is at work. When he comes home she is all nice like she gets to see her prized son. My boyfriend and I fight a lot about it. Then he tells me that eventually they will be living with us anyway since he is the only son! I feel like he is not on my side and it's like he just expects me to cope with all this and figure it out by myself. I guess it is made worse that I am home a lot since I finished University and have been looking for jobs. I am already stressed out and financially tapped. I feel like if this keeps going, then I may fall out of love with him and re-think getting married. He has not even proposed yet and we have been together for three years now. Honestly, I feel like I was forced into a marriage with my mother in law. I feel like I am married to her, not him!!! Any advice you or your readers can give would really help me out."


What advice can we give to our fellow masala reader?
How do you cope with living with your inlaws when you don't get along?
Did your inlaws drive you crazy before marriage?

Please comment below...
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41 comments

  1. remember there is only one life and you must make it as happy as possible ,everyone is born to live happily and if that does not happen then you gotta make it happy by taking the right decisions , what your experiencing now is just a sample if you don't take the right decision then everyday you'll have to put up with this i believe you should give a ultimatum to your boy friend if you really want to be with him ask him to move out of the current place so that you both could live somewhere else together ,because you love someone just to be with happily or else whats the meaning in it ,all the best remember life is meant to be happy

    ------ Indian man who wants everyone to be happy

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  2. Do you realize that you are being abused? If you respect yourself please leave this relationship. Your boyfriend is not worthy of you because if he was he would not allow his mother to mistreat you. A lifetime with your boyfriend and his mother would be a lifetime of hell.
    - Rebecca

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  3. Run! It's one thing to put up with demanding MILs if you have a supportive boyfriend. But from your letter it seems as if he is not on your side with this issue. If you do decide to stay, you need to figure out if you are ok living with your inlaws after you are married.

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  4. Yikes! This is definitely a tough one. My only experience with tough MIL's happened before she met me, so I cannot give you any first person advice. It does sound like your BF needs to be try and understand things from your perspective, and that you both need him to step in and get to the root of what is really going on here. Maybe your BF's mom is dealing with negativity from her own family about you and your BF's living arrangement, and she is taking it out on you? That could explain why she is not happy with the way you dress, if she has been receiving comments about it from other people. Or perhaps she is trying (and failing by the sound of it) to express her desire for you to contribute more to the running of the house? If that is the case it might actually be a good thing, because she is in her own way trying to include you in the management of the house. I am really scared about having to visit my bf's family in September, but my bf is consistently reminding me that his mother's including me in the household management is actually supposed to be an opportunity to bond. So until your BF can step in and help sort out the tension, try to grin and bare it and maybe you two will be able to sort it out between the two of you. Good luck!

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  5. I am married to a man whose parents are Marathi.

    You will learn to handle them better as time goes on, but my best advice now is to move out. At 24 years old you do not need to be living with the parents of ANY boyfriend you have. Also, I would not move forward in the relationship or accept an engagement until you feel that you can handle your MIL and that you and your boyfriend are on the same page with regards to your in-laws.

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  6. some people among you take great pleasure in criticising indian men as momma's boy
    well yes we indian men are indeed momma's boy its part of indian culture which has been for millenniums and it will continue to be so
    mother is the true symbol of love the way a mother cares for her child is unparalleled the first word which we are thought when we are baby is mom indians are highly emotional people we love our parents so much especially our mother the umbilical cord may be removed when we are born but the bonding which binds us together exists lifelong she carried us for us 10 months inside her whats wrong if we indian men take care of her in her final years doing service to mother is more important than anything else in india we are thought at early ages mother first father second guru third god fourth this is order it comes in

    she spends every moment thinking about us she works hard for us she goes to sleep with empty stomack just for feeding us she practically lives for us she sacrifices so much for us what is wrong if we give it back and be loyal to her
    she is selfless thinking about only her childs happiness

    do you know in india so many women work in labour under the scorching heat of the sun for less than a dollar a day she borrows money and sends us to school college how could you expect us to be not loyal to this earthly god


    please dear friends i am only saying this to point out to you how our part of the world works please if you think your indian husband gives his mother more importance than remember only a man who treats his mother well will treat his wife well ----its always mother first

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    1. Please marry your mother, so that she will take good care of you all your life.

      From your loving Indian sister!!

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    2. I don't know if I should laugh or barf!!!

      Millie B

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    3. well thank you madam for your lovely kind reply , my mother taught me to be kind to everyone even to the not so kind people so thank you and all the best

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    4. What about the girl's mother? She thinks about her her daughter all the time too. Why don't you move in with your wife's parents?

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    5. WTF is wrong with you? Mother is one thing, wife another... Hey, mummy's boy don't ever marry and please keep being kind with everybody.

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    6. Well Anonymous let me be fair and explain my sentiments. I find it laughable that a grown man find that been a momma's boy is commendable and something to strive for and be proud of. Is one thing to respect, love and care for our parents and another to allow them to run our lives after we become adults and make important decisions for us like who we should marry, what career we should choose, where to live, what should we do with our money and the list goes on.

      I felt sickness to my stomach just by realizing that is this type of attitude and mentality on your part and so many grown ass Indian men that subjugate their wives to suffer at the hands of their in laws. Take a look at the picture above. While is probably from a movie or tv serial, it's speaks a thousand words as this is not so far fetched from what a big majority of bahus endure on a daily basis at the hands of their mother in laws. They are abused, under appreciated, belittled, you name it. There are good Indian mother in laws. Mine is a wonderful, loving and caring woman who I adore but more often times than not I have heard nothing but horror stories from Indian and Western bahus alike. They are interfering, abusive, domineering and have this "Queen Be" mentality that is hard to change because like you stated - "They are number one" and you will never put them in their place even if needed.

      A good friend of my husband dared to fall in love with this girl that of course was not chosen by the mother. They went along with it and agreed to an engagement. The girl got so fed up with his parent's meddling that she ended up calling off the engagement. Of course it was her fault. Two chosen wives and two divorces later and the man still cannot see that the problem lies with his interfering parents especially the mother. My husband have tried to tell him to put some distance between his life and his parents but he refuses. All in the name of culture.

      And no one takes pleasure in criticizing Indian men been momma's boys; is a reality that we are well aware of. Is a not so flattering known fact. Parents sacrifice, that's what they are supposed to do for their children. Do as much as they can to give them a decent life and education. This does not give them the right to rule yours and your wife's life. My mother also thought me kindness but that doesn't mean that I am going to tolerate and turn a blind eye to ignorance, abuse and injustice.

      Millie B

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    7. Dear anonymus, your arguments are so typicall for (typicall) Indian men!
      I heard/read it so many times…
      I am going through that kind if situation now, my MIL swore destroy my.marriage, and probably she will.
      I hear daily from my husband "my mom lovesme, she gave me birth, i love my.mummy…"
      He refuses spent time with me coz he cant leave her alone for several minutes!
      Every single day is fight "my mom told, my mom.did, I have to take care if my mom on first place…
      It is nightmare for me!

      Put yourself in wive's shoes;
      Your wife refusing live seprately, and you must live with your MIL.
      You are free maid for family, must clean,(what you doing wrong of course in MILopinion),you have clean, wash.
      Daily you are insulted, MIL doesnt forget remind you how worthless you are.
      And how great her doughter is.
      Her doughter is Qeen of the galctic, and your only right is serve her.
      Also you must give dowry before marriage.
      So aftee that, you can be free home worker.
      Everytime you alone with MIL,,she will show true face.
      Will be making intrugues.
      Of course to your wife she will say thst you are the one who offenced herYou should FORGET your mom.
      Imagine that!
      No.more mommies.
      What your wife will do?
      She will say her mon.loves her, her mom is always right, all fault us yours.
      Whst more-her mom is so much more important than you!
      You are just to be free service.
      Impossible, huh?
      Can't be, you are a MALE!

      You are not able give any arguments, except "my momy loves me", just your selfishness matters?
      Not even by second willing to see other side's eyes.


      I agree with first advice-marry your mom!
      Stay in her tomb forever, dont waste any girl's life!

      I dont know wheter and when that things will change in India, but I suppose many generations must pass.

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    8. I do not agree with your comment anonymous, Im going through hell because i have a very difficult mother in law to be.

      I totally understand that mothers should be respected,i understand the point of your comment, but sometimes , im talking about 80% of Indian mothers in law don't respect anybody, and yet they wanted to be respected and adored by everyone who is not old like them, kiss their feet etc...

      The good thing is my fiancee(he is british indian) doesn't take her side all the time, he is very fair with both of us.
      the thing is that i cannot understand why they are so demanding , irrational, difficult , disrespectful human beings , specially to their future daughters in law.

      Also i see my future mother in law watching those crappy indian soap opera , in which always the mother is the matriarch and nobody can say anything to them, but they can be the most nasty person in the world.
      and the daughter in law is always the bad one.

      She is not a good person, but i still put up with all her issues, and her attitude, specially when we have people over, family etc, she always show the "other face to them" and she bosses me around for no reason.

      That's the reality of Indian mothers in law, i even hear from my Indian female friends that their own mothers in law are all monsters...and they treat them like if they worth nothing.

      Im not Indian, Iam an american woman who loves this british indian guy so much, that i wont give up because some old sick woman with no respect for anybody wants to get in her own ways.


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    9. And by the way, some of this Indian mothers born in wealthy families( very wealthy) and they work nothing,so don't be fooled by this guy saying that all of them are angels from heaven, this ones are the worst nasty human beings in earth because they think they can step on you and treat you like a doormat.

      I am not kidding, i have seen all this from my female Indian friends, that they suffer everyday of their lives, mothers themselves, working hard to keep their kids and husbands happy, even if the husband don't give a damn because he is the typical Indian mom's boy,plus this women they have to put up with all the BS of the mother in law being a stubborn old ,closed minded, queen bee wanna be, etc...
      I ask for respect to all the Indian or not Indian wife's that marry Indian guys..
      respect to the ones that are good people.
      those ones who deserve to be treated with love and respect.
      This vicious circle of BS has to stop now.
      That's why i will raise my kids with my future husband and not let her get involved in raising our kids, because i don't want my kids to be backwards like her.
      My advice to all the ones who are planning to get married to and Indian person is :
      Don't let your Indian mother in law take control of your life and your man, even if you have to fight everyday as i do, don't let her do this to you please, specially is your man loves you and respect you like mine, if he does not respect you and he takes sides with her, then he is not worth the effort.
      Keep strong and don't loose your identity, fight for what you want.

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    10. "mother is the true symbol of love" She describes an abusive and evil human, and you call her a symbol of love. This weakness is why India struggles. Where the hell are the men? All crawling on their knees before an abusive mother.

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  7. DLW - Sorry you are going through this. I have a couple of things to say and hope that I don't come across as insensitive so please forgive me if I do. I'm assuming that you are not Desi.

    First, I think that the loss of financial freedom carries a lot of problems especially when you are depending on your boyfriend and his family. I think that once you get a job things will hopefully get a little better. As an only son he is indeed expected to support his parents even if only partially so if you decide to stay with him keep in mind that what you are experiencing now may become a big part of your life in the future. Are you really willing to do this long term?

    Second, are you also willing to continue with future MIL constant criticisms and put downs or are you strong enough to put a stop to it. Your boyfriend should also support you on this; this is also something to think about as if he doesn't stand up for you now chances are he won't do it in the future.

    Also consider that you living with them before marriage is considered a big society no no and his parents might not be fine with this but are putting up with this situation because of their son. Joint families are not for everyone; even some Indians are now moving towards establishing a nuclear family after marriage. Can you guys get your own place?

    I never had problems with my in laws because boundaries were established from the very beginning. We also live in the US and they in India but I can tell you that joint family living is not for us (hubby is Indian and I am Latin and we both grew up in joint families). Remember that this is their house after all and unfortunately they set the rules and what is expected and what is not. You mention that she controls your comings and goings; don't let her.

    Take what your going through into consideration if you are planning to make a future with this man. Not been pessimistic, just realistic :)

    Good luck,

    Millie B

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    1. This is fantastic advice. I think Millie has covered all the angles and is being objective. I have heard stories of MIL's who act just like this and son's who respond the same way. The son doesn't want to see his mother as the overbearing woman who is passing along the tradition of DIL-molding and the MIL would never let her son see her as anything more than the mother/goddess he's been raised to believe she is.

      Her interactions with her son are going to be drastically different from her interactions with you. It is your boyfriends responsibility to step in and intervene with his mother and it is your responsibility to not allow it to happen. You don't have to stand there and take it while she's bashing you verbally. You are a free adult, you can walk away.

      I gather that may seem hard for you right now. I know you have a lot going on. But I promise you that if you don't do something to stand up for yourself now, this will not get better. If your boyfriend can't be supportive of you now, then what kind of husband do you really expect him to be? He doesn't have to take sides in this, he just needs to stand up for you and not let his mother mistreat you which he doesn't seem to be taking very seriously right now.

      If this continues and she continues to sour your relationship with your boyfriend, can you really have a happy marriage? Or will things continue to fester and build up and trouble you later on? Also, have you discussed what the expectations are in the household for you after marriage? Traditionally the emphasis has been put on the new DIL for keeping the peace and not causing trouble for her new family. Be careful if that is what is expected from you. That kind of ideal means you would have to absorb all of this treatment and possibly more after marriage.

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    2. Millie, i really love your answer , well done! I have one question:
      How did you do it?
      I mean his parents are in India and you guys are living in US, usually his parents have to live with you two.
      What kind of boundaries did you put before you got married?
      I am Latin as well, but you know in our culture we don't live with our mothers in law for many reasons that you know i guess.
      Im going through hell now.. I hope i can contact you so you can tell me how did you do this.

      Thank you!

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    3. Hi Anonymous - I meant to respond to this earlier but life got super busy. Sorry for the delay and hope that this reply gets to you somehow :)

      You are right to say that in our culture usually a married couple will go on their own after marriage. We have a saying "casado casa quiere" which means married want their house.

      It is just not healthy for a married couple, especially a young one to start their life with a gaggle of people living under the same roof but certainly not with the in laws particularly the mother in law. Not hating MILs is just a fact. MIL will continue to do things for their son the same way things have been done so when the new DIL start doing things her way and not the familiar way for MIL conflict and unsolicited coaching and advise begins. A competition to see who does it better start and there is where the conflict lies. Is like animals marking their territory. Sorry for this poor comparison :)

      Parents DO NOT have to live with their son. It is nothing set in stone; is something that older generations hold on to. Even in India things are changing. Both of you need to be on the same page though. After hearing about this, one of my first discussions with my husband before marriage was about me not wanting in laws to move in with us just because this is how things have been done. He was like "neither do I". Unless there is a real emergency there is no need for in laws to move in. I always advise against it unless like I said, there is a real emergency and then only temporary.

      I'll be honest with you and say that when it comes to my husband and I, we really don't care about following societal rules and honestly can care less about people getting upset or offended if we don't do what they think is expected of us. Indian and Latin cultures expect married couples to have children. This is a big one in both cultures as I am sure you are well aware of. Well, this October we will be married for 11 year (together for 13) and we have no children. We just did not want the headache and responsibility. Is not right for us and not what we wanted and quite frankly we just don't have the patience. My side of the family was fine and understanding with this but his mother started with the "when are you going to give us a surprise" even though she knew we wanted no children at all. After many times of this going on I had a talk with her and said "you know that we don't want children and yet you keep asking about it. Please stop, this is not going to happen and actually is starting to get a little upsetting and frustrating that you are not getting or are refusing to get this". While I was kind and gentle about the conversation as to minimize damage, my first and utmost concern was with what we have decided and wanted, not what she wanted because at the end of the day it is our life not hers.

      This is how I believe all things should be approached. You also need to address these issues not right before getting married but as soon as you guys start to get serious. If you are not both on the same page, reevaluate the relationship and be honest with yourself in what you are and are not willing to compromise on. The same goes for him. Take other people's wants, opinions, choices and beliefs into consideration but make sure that yours come first along with your partner.

      Don't fall into the guilt tripping and manipulation that both of our cultures are so famous for. The people that want to stay in your life will come around or at least be more accepting. Others, let go. Good luck,

      Millie B

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  8. Sounds like she has decided to terminate the relationship, maybe because someone in the extended family has brought up honour issues, but there bipolar behaviour is meant to drive a wedge between you and your boyfriend. I have a crazy MIL, she tried that same trick, but my husband saw through it quick enough. I asked my own mom for advice and this is what she told me :

    Don't make your husband stand in the middle, your MIL wants him to choose between you and her, but it takes two to play that game. Meaning that if I don't play it, she fails at it. My husband saw through her act quickly as I said, because she was not subtle, and we don't live with her so she had a limited timeframe on each visits to make it "work" plus she has tried the intimidation method with her two other DILs so DH had his brothers to tell him tales and help him.

    The best you can do, is ignore, develop a thick skin, and walk away from conflict when you can. reconnect with your BF by going on date nights, and don't bring his mom up. Chances is that she will step up with the nasty behaviour to the point she can't no longer hide it from your boyfriend, then let him handle it. If he doesn't and side with his mom and start fighting with you again, walk away, you'll know where he stand then.

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    1. Great advice !!!
      You are lucky to have such an amazing mom, who really understand your situation.

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  9. I think you are lucky to be getting a picture of your married life before you have committed. I would move out. Then I would seriously speak with your boyfriend. If having his parents live with him after marriage is something he feels strongly about (as many, many Indian sons do) you need to know that BEFORE you get married. You are going to be living in a joint family. That is hard for Indian women...much less for women from outside the culture. Again, move out, gain some perspective and thing this through very carefully. It does NOT automatically get better after marriage...if anything it can become more intense because as the DIL the expectations rise. And wait until you have kids! I do wish you all the best and hope you take some time to think this through.

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  10. If they problem is that he doesn't know how his mother is being while he's at work, maybe you should secretly video tape her so he can see first hand how she is being. If he doesn't see her behavior as a problem or won't talk to his mother about it, that's going to be a big problem. You need to have a very serious conversation about what you expect out of this relationship, how you are not okay with her treating you that way, and if he can't or won't even try to change it there's nothing much you can do. Don't try to start a fight with her, just let your bf handle it and try to stay neutral with her.

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    1. The video tape is a great idea, especially so she can see his reaction to how his mother behaves. That reaction would tell her whether or not the relationship was worth continuing. But she must be careful, he may view this as being too obtrusive and offensive. Either way, this could tell her a lot about her boyfriend that she may not already know.

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  11. Looks like your BoyFriend is not understanding the situation. Show your Boy Friend this post. Ask him to read it completely and also ask him to read what people have to say about this. If he understand then he will change else take the right decision.

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  12. Sounds like a tough situation. Like another person said, this is a good example of what married life would most likely be like. You need to have an in depth conversation with your boyfriend. It's obvious that you're coming close to your boiling point and you need to discuss this before you blow up.

    If you make your bf choose between you and his mother it could backfire in the long run. Respect his family, respect his culture but don't belittle your own needs entirely. Think long and hard about what you want. Sometimes love is not enough.

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  13. How do you cope with living with your inlaws when you don't get along?
    - I have never met them or lived with them. I know I will not live with them. And I know for sure that my husband will deal with them, if anything arises.

    Did your inlaws drive you crazy before marriage?
    - N/A because I never met them. They seem nice over Skype!

    What advice can we give to our fellow masala reader?

    - Honey, you are quite young now for marriage according to western standards.. Unless you are mature beyond your years and have a soul connection with the guy without a hint of doubt, I would highly recommend waiting this out.

    - The guy has no right to expect you to become an Indian bahu overnight. In fact, most Indian women have issues with their MIL as well.

    - I would set up a date to discuss this - like in - hey, I have something important to discuss. When is a good time for you? Is Wednesday evening good? Let us meet t this restaurant for dinner or whatever.
    Pick a date and time. Write down the points. Discuss with the guy in a calm manner. Away from his mom. Explain how she acts when he is not around.

    - If he does not support you, sorry to say, what is the guarantee he will after marriage? People almost always show what they really are. Do not expect him to change overnight.

    - It is your choice if you can put up with his mom and him as is or you wish to leave.

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  14. Forgot to add, also,

    - There is no need to rush for an engagement or marriage just because you are living together. First, sort out issues between you and the guy before you solidify anything.

    - Please move OUT of that house.

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  15. I think some of the issues between the FB and the MIL are cultural and things that are often misinterpreted. Indians like to criticize and think nothing of telling somebdy they look fat, they should wear this instead of that, they should do it this way instead of that way, etc. To the westerner in the relationship it can come across as extremely rude and critical. Don't be afraid to speak up, push back and explain how things work in YOUR culture. I don't know where the original poster is living or how long the in-laws have been in that country, but it usually doesn't matter for the older generation. They do not adjust to another way of living and expect everything to be done the Indian way. As the FB we usually have to meet them more than half way to build the relationship, but you can also use this to teach them more about you. The other issue in this situation is the fact that the Indian partner is not putting in the effort to bring the two sides together. He has made a choice to be with a non-Indian and it is his responsibility to support the OP and help her to understand his family's way of doing things as well as explain to his family that they aren't always going to do things the way they expect. They need to be a team and have a serious conversation about what she needs to feel comfortable in this situation and how they want to live their life. If she is not able to speak directly to his mother, then he needs to speak to his mother because this is not acceptable that she feels she is being treated badly and he doesn't support her. Even in the most loving of families this is not an easy experience and takes a lot of time, effort and patience.

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    1. "Indians like to criticize and think nothing of telling somebdy they look fat, they should wear this instead of that, they should do it this way instead of that way, etc. To the westerner in the relationship it can come across as extremely rude and critical. Don't be afraid to speak up, push back and explain how things work in YOUR culture."
      This is sooooo true. A great gem of information & insight into Indian culture. I would add to this that Indians HATE to be criticized themselves & HATE to be told what to do - especially by foreigners. This would make a great topic for a post on inevitable culture clashes.

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    2. This statement and advice couldn't be more right:
      "Indians like to criticize and think nothing of telling somebdy they look fat, they should wear this instead of that, they should do it this way instead of that way, etc. To the westerner in the relationship it can come across as extremely rude and critical. Don't be afraid to speak up, push back and explain how things work in YOUR culture."

      My MIL and Mostly my SIL love to critize me constantly. Half the time it's the only thing they have to say to me. I promise you , it only gets worse after marriage. Have your BF explain to his family how things work in YOUR culture. You need to discuss and resolve these issues now, before marriage. Because if you can't resolve them now, then forget it getting any better.

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  16. Both you and your boyfriend need to move out of the house and find your own place together. This will give you the best chance to see if you can make it work. If your boyfriend does not want to do that then he is not putting you first. Moving out will help to establish a boundary with your mother-in-law. Overtime, respect will come back again if your boyfriend stands up for you.

    Indian mother-in-laws are like toddlers, unless you set the boundary and let her know what is acceptable behaviour, they will keep pushing until you snap. You must set the boundary!

    My hubby and I spent five years not talking/calling or visiting his mother after she pushed the boundary so badly. Once we had out first child she was willing to mend the relationship. You would not believe how much my MIL has changed, now she is as quiet as a mouse and I actually think she likes the fact that I am foreign.
    Natasha

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  17. @Alexandra

    Indian sons love their mothers and Indian sons also love their mother. Indian mothers love their daughters as well, but they are partial to their sons. They are also possessive about their sons. There is no denying this fact. Men plead guilty to being partial to their mothers.

    This is how the marriage actually pans out for a Indian man. Men seriously believe that since their mothers love them, they are also going to like their wives automatically. Call it naivety on their part, or immaturity but that is what most men believe. Then, one fine day he realizes that his mother is talking to her in a strange, aloof tone. He is confused, then it strikes him, she is talking to his wife through him. Why?? no answer. His wife locks herself in her room, and talks to her mother on phone Why?? no answer. Later, he realizes that she is taking tips from her mother to tackle her MIL. He also realizes that his own mother does not like her Why?? no answer. Most of the time, women keep quiet and want men to guess what they are thinking, something which drives men nuts.

    One day, there is a loud explosion. War has begun. Ok, they have have problems. The MIL and DIL are supposed to be sworn enemies. How could he forget this basic fact, so stupid of him. This happens so suddenly, within days of the marriage, that he is completely caught off guard. This happens because, Indians do not talk about their problems but prefer to let things linger. He tries to talk to his mother/wife. Both are not willing to listen to him. He realizes that if he intervenes, it will add fuel to fire. He lets things be. He tries to bring them together but their differences are intractable. When war starts, it does not matter who fired the first short, you have to save whatever is left, for that you have to save your sanity first.

    Now, comes his relationship with his mother. After marriage, the change in his mother's behavior is so sudden and drastic that he gets the shock of his life. It's like touching a naked electric wire. It takes him sometime to understand what has happened. Then comes the state of denial that his loving mother cannot do anything wrong. It is is more like breach of trust for him. The main problem is it is supposed that after marriage a man does not have an independent thinking. There is a hidden agenda in whatever he does. Either his mother or his wife is speaking through him. Thus, his integrity is compromised and so does his credibility. Not because of what he did or didn't do, but on an assumption. On the outside nothing has changed. He is still with his family, but unknown to him, how people look at him has changed.

    It is not a brief in defence of Indian men but I would like to say that Indian men are not the all powerful lords of their household that they are made out to be nor they are in a position to judge who is right or wrong, the position which is thrust on them time and again, which they hate. They are victims of the system that oppresses everybody. Just because they do not leave their houses does not mean that they do not feel alienated. Feeling of alienation living in the same house with your own folks is most traumatic.

    What is needed is perhaps pre marriage counselling for the entire family. Indians have pre conceived notions and expectations from everyone and they behave accordingly. The MIL and DIL have to be on the opposite sides. They cannot be close because they fear that the other one will get the advantage. It is not a relationship but a battle. Indians do celebrate marriage and family but they are simply not prepared for marriage and that include men also. We believe that marriage just happens and works out which it obviously does not. With this confusion, if you throw in sexual ignorance, then another set of problems start for the couple. We need to work out our marriages more than the marriage expenses. It does not absolve the Indian man of his responsibilities. He should be on his toes all the time and more proactive after marriage.

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  18. 24 is way too young to be dealing with these issues. If you need some help from the bloggers to make your decision your surely not ready. It helps to stand up for yourself too. Just tell the MIL to her face that she is being rude and you dont like it. If you are silent she might think she can bully you more. There is a line between respect and clinginess. If its real love like someone protrayed this woman who sacrifices it shouldnt be afraid to tell you about your weakness and negatives even if you may not like to hear it. And come on motherhood is great but everybody has an agenda and parents do cling to their kids so that they will have an emotional support.And these are mothers who are possesive and cant let go. They wouldnt accept the same from their inlaws iam sure. So stand up for your self and noones going to care. And as for living with in laws before marriage i dont see it and you need some space to know each other before you can handle elderly people. They are pretty much babies who seek attention. Especially in the same space its going to be hard. Some parents have the maturity let go without a fight. And the bf or husband should be the one talking to them .
    Personally, i feel its our responsibility to support our parents (both in laws and our own both are family) when they are old and have health issues. (some people were dismissive of the idea of living with the in laws not sure if they will say the same about their parents); They didnt disown us when we threw temper tantrums or had teenage troubles.Some arrangement to be around them not necessarily sharing the same space. And they should also respect the choices their children make and try to be understanding.

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    1. From your last paragraph, one should then deduce that it is also not wrong for the woman to bring in her parents and take care of them. Will such an arrangement be acceptable to Momma's boy's?

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    2. I'm married to an Indian and we have both agreed at the very beginning of our relationship that we would support both parents when they get older. There are daddy's girls and mamma boys. We happen to be both. Communication is key to a happy and successful marriage. I feel that because we discussed this first hand it has made a very smooth process.

      - an American married to an Indian, living part time and supporting full time parents from both sides. (And very lucky that the parents get along lol.) NK

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  19. Its not indian mother and son issue. Its a worldwide phenomena. Some mothers have a hard time letting go of their children especially the boy. Some fathers are possesive of their girls they will even threaten to take the guy down if he hurts his kid. Like the father of the bride movie where the girl when she announces her engagement appears to be a kid talking to the father. So its not just indian parents; i have seen foreign guys who r clingy to their moms too. And parents being picky of their partners kids. so it depends on the family dynamics and not the country. As someone mentioned firangi or not the national sport of old people in india is to criticize be it their kid the neighbour random person on the street grandchildren or their in laws evereyone gets their share

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  20. My husband always says if/when we live in India I will need to tell someone each time I'm going out, as each time he himself goes on trip, he makes sure someone always knows where he is, for safety. You can interpret this as control or concern, agression or affection, or a little bit of both.

    I would say in an intercultural relationship there is no reason to favour one culture over the other, you need to come up with your unique blend... and if after 3 years you feel your boyfriend is less committed than you and you are disappointed, then trust your intuition.

    24 years old is not too young to take responsabilities - I got pregnant at 22 ;) - Padparadscha

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    1. I guess some people are more mature than the others. so i agee age is not just the number but how much responsibility one can handle. But what is true is that if you keep quite people will take advantage of you so one has to talk for themselves when necessary. Especially if it looks like the partner is not speaking up you have to for yourself. Abt the telling someone when you head out of the house, its true we dont just walk out in india without saying where. And also it is very common if you come back with shopping bags for people in household to crowd around you and see stuff together. :P things you dont want to show in public you hide quickly :P. Worse is when grandparents learn to use mobile phones. When i was in university undegrad i was in the univ dorm and visit my grandparents who lived near by whenver i could. If i tell him i will leave arnd this time, he will keep checking where iam i used to get so annoyed and do get so annoyed if someone does that to me now. I tease it as geo location system :p

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    2. I agree with you it is important to speak up and have people respect your boundaries. But at the same time I think having a sense of humour and being optimistic (while preparing for the worse) can get you out of many tough situations.

      It seems to me the parents of the bf's letter writer have a plan. First they made the couple come out of the basement and into the main house. Perhaps it means the letter writer has been promoted to wife to be status, and the future MIL, seing the young woman stopped her studies and is not working, is trying to help her and teach her wife survival skills... Why should a woman become perfect simply because her son is going out with a woman ? As the parent of a grown up girl, I know it is very difficult to try and motivate grown up kids and it is easy to lose your temper with the best possible intentions :)

      Loved your story about shopping - will keep it in mind if ever I buy saucy underwear in India (Padparadscha)

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