Friday, January 22, 2016

Ask Firangi Bahu: "My future Indian Mother-in-law pretends like I don't exist!"

Sharing a letter from a reader...

"Thank you for your wonderful blog. It helps me to feel a little comforted in my situation. I am an American dating an Indian. We have been together for almost two years now, and although we have progressed as a couple, we have had no progression in terms of his Indian parents...particularly his mother. 

He and his parents moved to the USA about three years ago, as he was attending college. I have never been formally introduced to his parents, but I have tried in my own way to somehow, just somehow, show them that I am a good person and that I wish to know them. He has told them that he has a girlfriend, and they reacted poorly - telling him that he was ruining his life by dating me (by the way, they do not even know me at all). His mother has seen pictures of me so I know she knows what I look like. 

Once, she came into my workplace and I assisted her but she acted like she didn't know who I was (I have a feeling she knew as she has seen pictures of me). She also deleted and blocked me when I tried adding her on Facebook, and I have even given a gift which she never thanked me for. It seems as though she uses every small opportunity to treat me with disrespect. 

It hurts me greatly and especially hurts MY mother, who wants me to be loved and respected because she feels I deserve that. My mother loves my boyfriend. 

My boyfriend and I have talked about marriage potentially in the next couple of years, but I am unsure if this problem will ever be resolved. When will this woman ever act decent toward me? His mother has acted so poorly toward me that I do not even wish to have a wedding if we get married. An Indian wedding is all about bringing families together, but I have felt no sense of family by his parents and the fact that they do not even want to get to know me as a person speaks volumes. Not only does this show they do not care about me, but they do not care about their son as well because if they did, one would think that they would care to know if I am a nice, safe person for their son to spend his time with. Sorry if any of this sounds disrespectful, but being in my shoes, I feel very wronged and pained. Can you offer any advice?"


Dear readers, what can this bahu do?
Have you ever experienced a FROSTY Indian mother-in-law before marriage?
Do you think it is common to treat a son's foreign girlfriend badly before she's *officially* welcomed into the clan? (A sort of hazing???)
How can this bahu address her mother's concerns as well?
What can the boyfriend do to encourage a more welcoming relationship between his parents and his girlfriend?
How do you build a relationship with an elder who pretends you don't exist?



  1. this is certainly inhumane and i hope she gets some good sense in due course of time
    i am an indian bf with polish gf
    my parents like my gf a lot
    especially my mother adore my gf blue eyes and she tells me that she wants grandchildren with blue eyes

  2. Many Indians experience this even AFTER marriage. Mostly because it is expected of a daughter in law to wait on them, serve and sweep like a maid. And a firangi bahu is a double whammy because you've robbed her dream of having a perfect daughter in law by her standards. Or maybe there's some other reason entirely for disliking you. Just keep making efforts to get closer and don't give up. Because if your partner loves you a lot and is willing to stand up for you no matter what, things will fall into place eventually.
    This isn't generalisation or anything, just what I've observed in most cases all these years and not ALL mother in laws behave this way.

  3. I love your blog Alexandra. It teaches me so much of how other people are in the same leaky boat as me. Its comforting. My Indian mother in law pretends I don't exist AFTER 2.5 years of marriage..... Any solutins for that? :D

  4. I think the LW should confront her boyfriend about her future MIL's behavior. She should be up front about how she feels disrespected and see if he can talk to his mother on her behalf to address the nonsense. If he is not willing to stand up for you, run the other way. Also, she probably hopes by treating you in this way that you will eventually go away. I can relate to the above comment of robbing the MIL of her dream of a DIL by her standards. I have been married for 4.5 years and I still get the sense that my MIL is not happy with her oldest son's choice in marrying me because I was not what she envisioned for him. Overall, I think she recognizes that I am a good person, devoted wife and mother--but at the end of the day I am not Indian and her son did not marry into a family that was known to them. I really feel this still bothers her to this day. But oh well. It is her problem to deal with it.

  5. You don't need to 'prove' yourself to your boyfriend's mother.
    There really isn't anything you can do to 'prove' that you are a 'nice' person to his family. You are not their choice for his wife & therefore you will not be accepted & treated as such.

    You said it yourself right here,
    "I have felt no sense of family by his parents and the fact that they do not even want to get to know me as a person speaks volumes. Not only does this show they do not care about me, but they do not care about their son as well because if they did, one would think that they would care to know if I am a nice, safe person for their son to spend his time with."

    What you don't realize is that your bf's mother views her son as her 'possession' who must do what she wants to be loved & accepted by her & the rest of his family. Not all Indian parents view their children as possessions, but many do.

    If you continue your relationship with your bf & even if you marry him, at some point he's going to have to choose between you and his family. Don't think things will magically change if you marry him. This sort of indifference or even outright dislike towards daughter in laws can continue on for years, if not indefinitely.
    Will he choose you over his family?

    I'm lucky in that my Indian Mil & Fil adore me.
    But my husband's sister and her family refuse to accept me because they feel for some reason they should have chosen his wife for him. I've given them gifts & money, made various friendly overtures, ignored their horrid behavior to me. They've continued to spread nasty rumors & gossip about my husband & I for 5 yrs, my husband & I finally had to cut them out of lives completely.

  6. You need to give this TIME. They have only been in the US three years...barely enough time to settle in. Then the son does something totally off the radar - goes and gets a firangi girlfriend! You are just dating. Focus on your relationship with him. It will have to be really strong because down the line he will REALLY start getting pressure from his parents, will be given pictures of girls for an arranged marriage, will have the emotional blackmail, etc. Make sure your relationship is STRONG. Understand that many of us had to wait years AFTER marriage before our relationships improved with the ILs. Have patience. Almost all is forgiven when the grandkids come along!

  7. Does your mother in law speak English, thats very critical to decide whats happening

    Her caste determines a lot of her behavior
    In many merchant and landlord castes, she will get a dowry of US-$500k for her son

    Her caste also determines her diet
    In general, brahmins and upper castes are vegetarian
    in general, dalits eat beef and pork

    Indians in India, wont marry 90% of other Indians due to caste restrictions

    In India, for a hindu to marry a person from an abrahamist religion, will entail
    social boycotts, riots , honor killings etc

    Orthodox Hindus are insistent that their daughter in law be a virgin

    For most Indian hindus, marrying an Indian christian will entail social boycotts of the entire family - being a white christian has some advantages over Indian christian - in the Indian caste system, lighter skin is a very strong marker of higher caste -

    and many Indian families will accept a white person, to get a fair skin grand child , which is a very strong marker of higher caste

    Upper caste Indians have a strong and recent genetic overlap with White, they both have a high % of the paternal gene marker R1A ( Aryan gene marker )

    this is Hema Malini, a brahmin bollywood actress, and Indian families want to get a daughter in law who looks like that

  8. As an Indian, I can tell you that an Indian MIL will never accept her DIL - Indian or non-Indian whole-heartedly. There are very very few MIL's who accept their DIL's. Even if the marriage is an arranged one and the MIL hand-picks her DIL, the latter will still never be perfect for her son. Be glad that your boy friend's mother is showing her true colors at this point, rather than being very nice now and being rude and confrontational later on after you take the plunge. This is a huge red flag for you. How your boy-friend deals with this is critical? Some Indian men ignore both. Many side and sympathize with their parents, often citing that their parents sacrificed their lives to bring them up. As if the girls parents did nothing to raise them.

    1. I see red flags in this marriage all over. My MIL chose me ( she was behind my mother for 3 years to get me married to her son. what an irony). And now she doesnt accept me because everyone in my and her family loves and respects me for the way i live, dress, behave, cook, clean and maintain the relationships in the family. She cant not digest the fact that her family is pointing fingers at her for being critical, unappreciative, manipulative, horrible cook who always burns the food and who constantly create drama. So i agree, no Indian MIL will ever accept her DIL- indian/ non-indian/ arranged/love marriage. Simply because she just wants her son to get married, give her grandchildren but to never have a loving and caring wife. She just wants a maid for her

  9. First, back off. You are trying too hard.
    Second, your bf should formally introduce you and be with you the first couple of interactions with his parents.
    Third, many Indians receive this treatment in arranged marriages as well. They are acknowledged but nothing they do is approved of.

    I would suggest relaxing and being myself. I think important thing is your bf is there to support you and doesn't leave you alone to deal with his parents. Indian parents not approving of their son's gf and all the behaviour is pretty normal.

  10. I am the one who sent this in. First off, thank you Alexandra for bringing attention to my letter. I appreciate it. I should have added that my boyfriend's parents have spent the past 20 years living in many parts of the world besides India (Europe and America). They are not new to the more modern world. I should also add that my boyfriend has apologized to me for the way his mother is, but says there is literally nothing he can do to change her and that I should just let it go and know that he won't leave me even if his parents do not approve. I guess I can take comfort in knowing that he has told them he is dating me and has not left me even against his mother's will. His mother has told him that she isn't asking us to break up. I guess my post was more to get an opinion on whether she is being wrong or not. How do I deal with this? It is hard just "letting it go," how do I rationalize this kind of treatment and not let her bring me down and feel bad about myself? I usually just feel very angry and when I think about her, I just cry. I get mad at my boyfriend a lot also as he refuses to tell her she is being rude, he just listens to her and tells me he is sorry but there isn't anything he can do. As an American, this is extremely rude behavior on her part.

    I do agree with the person that said that she is probably acting this way in hopes that I will go away. I hope she knows we are in this relationship for the long haul and if she doesn't accept us, she is only hurting herself and robbing herself of happiness.

    1. Dear LW,
      How do you deal with this?
      After being married to an Indian for 15 yrs I can honestly tell you:
      You're Bf's mom doesn't know you, she has chosen not to want to know you. That doesn't mean you are a 'bad person' or not worthy of her son. You're just not your Bf's mom's choice for a daughter in law.

      Sift through the archives of Madh Mama's "Ask the Firangi Bahu" posts, the treatment of MANY daughter in laws whether chosen by the Mil or not is horrid. This is just part of the 'package' of marrying into a Desi family. My Indian in laws are continuously talking crap about each other, I've just chosen to ignore it and NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY - because it really is CRAP.

  11. in short: she don't like u getting married to his son....she don't want to become she trying to show her disapproval...u got typical complicated indian mom there...just be careful ..try to sort out with u r BF...i'm sure he will say as time proceed everything will fall in place.

  12. Hi there, I was touched by your letter as I feel I went through a very similar experience to you. I have now been with my Indian hubby (who is now more Australian) for 18 years. Unfortunately everything you describe about your boyfriend's mother is fairly typical behaviour for an Indian MIL. Her behaviour is also not about you directly, but about her wanting control over her son, so at this stage of your relationship it really doesn't matter if you are nice or give gifts etc.

    If you do decide to get married, the situation with your MIL will not change. However if you and your boyfriend do definitely want to get married, don't waste time waiting for approval from them, just get the ball rolling, do it your way and make it special.

    Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend was waiting a long time for his parent’s approval, which never really came so after six years of being together, we decided we would just get married in a garden wedding with only a small number of guests as we wanted to create our own nice memories. My Indian MIL and FIL reluctantly attended but our relationship with them broke down soon after (due to their inexcusable rudeness) and we (hubby and I) had no contact with them for another four years (by our own choice). Then after ten years of being together we had a first baby (now have three kids), and the relationship with my MIL and FIL got mended. My husband made it really clear to them that the 'rudeness boundary' could not be crossed. I do believe in the end that my MIL realised that she was actually the one missing out and not us.

    Looking back over the years, it took a long time for my husband to develop a really strong backbone which allowed him to set adequate boundaries for his parent’s behaviour. In our case we had to disown them for a period of time, but once we had kids, they softened and were willing to meet us at the same level. My MIL now only treats me and my hubby with respect when she visits, BUT it has been the longest of journeys to get there.

    In light of my experience, I unfortunately see a red flag in something you wrote in your comment above... 'I get mad at my he refuses to tell her she is being rude'. I believe that if your boyfriend cannot stand up to her, then he is not standing up for you. If you want a future with him, he needs to lead the way otherwise nothing will change and you will remain miserable.

  13. If I read correctly you have never met your bf's mother. I think we all make ourselves miserable by the way we react when things doesn't go our way. It is disappointing not to be appreciated by your bf's family if you dream of perfect harmony, but if your bf comes from a dysfunctional family, don't let that family interfere in your relationship.


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