PC: Painting by Nagaveni Bandaru
No, it’s not a name of the book nor I’m writing a review here. I’m using this medium to put words to my thoughts. When I called up my friend yesterday to let out my frustration, irritation and to get a healthy dose of advice, she suggested me to write this up as all of us are sailing in the same boat. So here are my musings on conjugal problems.
After a decade of my marriage, I still feel the disrupting points between me and my husband arise due to overdose of pampering my mother-in-law showers on my husband and brother-in-law. Stating this has nothing to do with me being bitchy or negative about the relationship I share with my in-laws.
In an Indian marriage system, no matter what, you can’t voice the opinion of having a separate family of your own. It’s equivalent of committing crime. You will be banned and named as Pariah or Evil Witch of the house. You might spoil the relationship to a great extent and suffer hell lot of mental issues, yet, Momma comes first.
You are always a daughter-in-law
Make no mistake here, you will never be a daughter of the house. No matter how hard you try, you will always remain an outsider. “We treat our daughter-in-law LIKE our daughter!”. Note the key word LIKE. But does it really happen? Imagine a situation where daughter of the house throws a temper tantrum vs daughter-in-law throwing a temper tantrum. Were you treated same in situation like this?
While you are outsider and your opinion is never considered important on several aspects, when it comes to taking care of house and housekeeping “This is your house after all”.
Maturity in the house
You need to be matured enough to avoid confrontation with mother-in-law. Well, the other way doesn’t work. They have an excuse that “This doesn’t happen in our family”. My husband gives a free pass on her poor behavior by saying things like “You know how she is”, “You can’t except her to change, she is old”, “Why do you always have to make a spectacle of small issue, why don’t you just let it pass/go”.
I know it’s daunting to try to play a perfect role of wife, mother, daughter-in-law, housemaid, working professional and what not. Do they look in this aspect, No, you always have a room for improvement. Why don’t you try?
Blood is thicker than water
His mom’s wish is his command. If his mother wants him to run an errand, bring a grocery to the house, feed the kid (She is mood to be nostalgic), etc… he always obliges no matter what. Favoritism plays a huge role. If a brother in law/ sister-in-law is self-centered, rude, demanding and uses the family members as a punching bag or doormat to let their frustration, well, it’s their way of showing emotions, you need to take the fair amount of burnt in this drama. Daughter in law should always be in the front and center of his/her Inslutiment (insult + Emotion) and deal with pressure and anxiety on her own. Don’t even get me started on daughter vs daughter in law vs son in-law, it’s better not to open that pandora box.
Initially, mother-in-law’s are used to running a house in certain way and feels threatened when daughter-in-law tries to change things. You can’t make an independent decision of buying things on your own. If you do that, you aren’t inclusive. Well, if its other way round then, “you won’t understand the family dynamics”.
The number one issue mother-in-law seems to have in daughter-in-law is dressing. Sleeveless top, jeans, ¾ th pants, skirts, one-piece dress are unquestionable wardrobe bans. If you shrug off and wear a dress you get taunts like “did you forget to wear a pant?”. “You know mom doesn’t like you wearing sleeveless, why don’t you wear a jacket?”. Sometimes it goes beyond a point like “Your accessory is so nice, why don’t you give that to my daughter, you buy a similar one later”.
Power struggle sometimes seeps to check on your Mangal sutra, toe rings, to doing puja and checking the items prepared on special days.
I’m not good at cooking; can I keep a cook?
Wait, why do you need a cook? Cooking for your family is your prime responsibility. Personally, when I tried explaining my husband that I loathe cooking, I was stupefied by his explanation. “See animals, female one’s find food for their younger ones, it’s in nature, you can’t tell you don’t wanna cook”. My mom is cooking 5 course meal all 3 times a day, we are ready to compromise and take 3 course meal every day. Damnnnnn!!
Conversations in front of burning stove is a different story. “My son’s health is deteriorating eating day’s old stale food” (Because I cook breakfast in the night). “You are typical Malanad girl, you add a pinch of coconut in everything, by eating this food, cholesterol of everyone in the house has increased”.
Even if you whip a delicious meal, you can never be as good cook as your mother-in-law, so don’t even try!
Your child’s schedule is decided by everyone apart from you. From what they eat, what time to play, screen time, potty train age and time, mother-in-law wants a final say in everything. Good qualities of the baby are attributed to husbands’ and his prestigious family, no matter how intelligent, hardworking, well-mannered you are. If your kid sneeze “No one in our family had any allergies, maybe he got from you”. Your child’s complexation, brains and good manners are all dissected.
If you are working parent, these taunts are common…You won’t love your child enough. I took care of your kid, when you were roaming around the world. As if other challenges we working women face aren’t enough.
After all, it’s a constant battle in the home. Favoritism, taunts, making you feel like outsider, well it’s all common. Calling out on elders is uphill battle, in that case you are disrespectful and insubordinate.
Do you hear below dialogs from husband?
1)What’s wrong in what Mom said? Even if it’s wrong why don’t you let it go
2) Why don’t you follow what mom told for once?
3) Explaining his decision – because mom said so, she likes it this way (what to wear for family function, what menu to prepare for lunch and dinner).
4) Husband avoid confrontation with mom, not with Wife.
5) Giving pass on her poor behavior – “She is old, she can’t change. “You know how she is, let it go”…
6) Confiding intimate details
7) Always excluding you in family discussions
8) You should be available on their beck and call. Fetch me water, coffee, switch on geyser, fetch me charger etc….
9) My mom is a perfectionist, you need to learn to live up to her standards.
10) You are unapproachable. You are loud and never listen.
Did you hear any of the above statement from your husband, don’t worry, you aren’t alone in this!!! If you can’t change any above aspect in your marriage for years then as your husband said “It’s time to let it Go”
I don’t have answers on how to solve it. These are just my musings from the limited sample size I had. Are you are wondering, did I face this situation or how I dealt with this sort of momma’s boy? Yes, I just let it go!!!. I have given up on my husband just not on marriage, yet.
These small incidents collectively cause a bigger issue and the reason behind why couples want to live separately. There is thin line between overly loving and intruding in a relationship. Only if all understood that, and only if mothers accept that their sons are not perfect, it would have been so easier to deal with.
How do you deal with issues like this? Do u face similar taunts or issues? Let me know your thoughts and comments.