Thursday, August 15, 2013

The psychology of the Indian Mother-in-law

(My MIL, 25 years ago, before she was a MIL)

The typical Indian MIL (and mother, too) is quite a complicated person. An Indian MIL from Mother India itself has a lot of cultural baggage, and it is YOUR JOB to try to understand where they are coming from.
Indian MIL's will feel extremely hesitant and awkward to build a relationship with you before marriage, especially if you are foreign (we scream "divorce"!!!) Building a relationship with them is a PROCESS and you have no choice but to be patient. Your efforts will eventually pay off  because in Indian families, respect is earned from the elders, not just simply given for free. Many Westerners can be discouraged by this, and bitterness can build.

A Western MIL will typically form a friendship with you before marriage, regardless if she thinks that you will be a permanent member of the family. She will not be as involved, in fact she is typically more detached. She is there if you need her, but in Western families, there is a clear set of boundaries and a respect for personal space. Many Westerners are not used to their Indian MIL's helping out all the time, and can find this "too aggressively involved" for their tastes. A Western woman will have grown up thinking that she is in charge of her life and household, and many get discouraged when they realize that you're going to have to SHARE that role with your Indian husband's mother...if not now, then eventually.

(Respect the mother/son relationship)

Indian MIL's are a completely different ball game. The concept of boundaries do NOT exist in Indian families. When you marry an Indian, you marry the whole family. They view marriage as a merging of two families, not just two people getting together. Not only that, but when you marry an Indian man, you belong to their family and their family should be given the top priority. Indian MIL's are extremely protective of their children and it is crucial to get off to a good start (do everything their way first - then bend the rules later). They can continually baby their children for life. (Example: when my MIL first came to visit us, she mixed husband-ji rice/pickle and fed him by hand! I nearly vomited that she was hand-feeding him at the age of 30!!! But then she fed me too and I thought it was really sweet. But definitely not for every single day...I'm a grown woman here....hahaha)

(Feeding me is ok...but only once in a while!)

As a Westerner, you're not going to be the subservient DIL that your MIL always dreamed of. It will take a lot of patience on both ends, but the effort will HAVE to come from your side - not theirs - in the beginning, at least. Many old school conservative Indians will have trouble adapting to the change so you will have to do most of the "cultural work". Besides, if you are a foreign girl, you are marrying into THEIR family - a complicated Indian family dynasty. If she is the mother of a son - she will put her son on a pedestal and think that she is important just because she has a son...talk about "little emperor" syndrome!!! Many Indian parents see their children (especially sons) as an emotional investment because they are expecting to be taken care of in their old age by the eldest son. The umbilical cord is never cut...

The Indian MIL of that generation (50+yrs) will have sacrificed so many things for the family as a whole - her own independence, her own natal family, even her career, not to mention many of her hopes and desires. As an Indian woman, they are expected to sacrifice and think nothing of it. For a traditional Indian woman, their needs come last, and they may have lived that way their entire life. That is why they complain so much - it's because they believe their lives are out of their control. Are they really out of control of their own lives? They may have been their entire lives...they most likely lived in a joint household with so many people to take care of before themselves. Many women of that generation believes she is not worthy inside and lacks confidence (a result of patriarchy - women are inferior, men are "a gift from God"). At the worst, she could have been treated like a slave by her inlaws and had to work her ass off everyday, until her inlaws died. Many women look at becoming a MIL as a chance to never work again - because being a MIL is the most powerful position in a household - and the cycle continues... Even within the Indian family dynasty, sometimes the only time a woman can express dominance is towards another (younger) woman in the family - hence the drama between MIL vs DIL, or SIL's. Way back in the olden days, a woman could not even decide what to cook/eat for lunch - the exact ingredients/measurements were given to her and she was to cook whatever they told her. Women nowadays have many more freedoms, but we are still dealing with a generation that is conservative, not to mention a traditionally patriarchal culture (India). Many MIL's want their DIL's to suffer like they did, so they can understand what they went through. But many MIL's also want to stop the cycle. And YOU can help stop the cycle by understanding your MIL's past, empathizing with her, and forming a new, healthy relationship. Especially if you're a foreigner - you have this chance to start fresh because you're not Indian (in that way, foreigners have it easy because they can pick and choose what traditions work for them)

(Maya at 10 weeks - future roti eater!)

For an Indian MIL, the merging of cultures can bring up a lot of concerns. They will be wondering what, if any, cultural customs that you will be keeping/losing within your family; how the Western DIL will adjust to being in the Indian family; how you will take care of her son, and most importantly - if you will be taking your son away from her, his family, and his culture. I consulted my MIL on this issue, and she said that they typically fear that the introduction of a foreign wife who will lead the son astray from fulfilling his responsibilities to his family - making the wife a priority over the parents. She said the concerns are based in fear and inadaptability - because if the son gets a divorce then the MIL will get blamed by family, friends, and society.

In the Indian family dynasty, the wife is often referred to as "the keeper of the flame" (which means keeping traditions), so naturally with the introduction of a foreign DIL & the possibility of a half-Indian family...is a lot for the MIL to digest. Indian MIL's are notoriously stubborn and hard-headed - and the mere addition of a foreigner tells her that she's going to eventually have to adapt to her DIL too - even if it is as small as explaining Indian customs (that she's never had to explain before), or as big as celebrating Christmas. Having a Western DIL is going WAY out of her comfort zone...it's uncharted territory for many elder Indian women.

(Us getting stared at by other Indians again!!!)

Not only that, but many conservative Indians care too much what other people think (a very Asian mentality). All of her friends and family are going to be asking constant questions about "how it functions"...forever! Not to mention getting stared at like crazy when you're out in public. This was extremely uncomfortable for my MIL as she is naturally quite shy. It was very hard for her because everyone in the neighbourhood, family and friends know me since I'm the only foreigner that ever existed in this group (even in the freakin' neighbourhood!) Not to mention, it was extremely awkward for her to explain that we were secretly engaged, living together as an unmarried couple abroad. She got so much judgement from others that she refused to discuss me and called me "Madhavan's college friend" (which irritated the crap out of me!) even though I had his name in Tamil tattooed on my arm, that everyone gossiped about! Oh yes, not only are we a South Whindian couple, but we are both totally tatt'ed up...notorious, I tell you!

AFTER you get married, you can really focus on building an open relationship with your MIL. It is easier than doing it before you're married. When I got married, I felt like I unlocked the key to my MIL's heart. I was finally like a daughter to her...after so many years of waiting around, like a person banging on the door outside a locked house. It felt great and well-earned.

--------

The best way to try to understand your MIL is to try to ask questions about her background. That way you can create a safe, open place to get to know each other. And knowing more about her will help you understand her behaviour. She may not reveal everything right away, but just keep asking (I still haven't learned all of the family secrets, even after 7 years! But I'm getting there, thanks to my excellent eavesdropping and persistent questions!)

Important Questions to ask your Indian MIL:

-What was your relationship like with your MIL?
-What were your duties and responsibilities as a DIL?
-What did you struggle with as a DIL coming into your inlaws house?
-What was your relationship like with your SIL's?
-What did you have to sacrifice as a DIL?
-What can I do for you around the house?
-What makes you happy? (Hobbies, interests OUTSIDE family)
-What irritates you? (you can learn this by listening to the constant complaining!)

Personality qualities of the typical Indian MIL (positive & negative):

-doting
- loyal
- loving
- emotional
- involved
- helpful
- knowledgeable
- hard-working
- influential
- nurturing
- hard exterior but soft heart
- people-pleasing
- passive aggressive
- sacrificial martyr
- very emotionally dependant
- protective of children
- likes to complain
- overbearing
- can be controlling / possessive / territorial
- cares about family reputation
- bossy
- can be manipulative
- can be competitive for son's affections
- may always say "no" at first; or disapprove (being persistent can break through this)


(We are big foodie's...when we get together, we gain 20lbs each!)

Ways you can win over your MIL:

- ask her questions about Indian culture (and her specific regional culture)
- ask her to tell you stories of her childhood, her natal family, her grandparents (get to know the ancestors)
- ask her cooking questions / let her teach you how to cook / compliment her cooking
- watch movies together / take her out to the cinema
- go for walks together in nature
- always find a way to include her
- don't get in the middle of her relationship with her son = don't compete (you won't win!)
- don't openly disagree with them (disagreement=disrespect)
- treat her son like the "little emperor" that he is (don't be afraid to show affection to him in front of her - they secretly love this)
- ask her for advice on anything - friendships, life, her son, caring for your baby (this will make her feel included and important)
- phone her often & tell her about daily events in your life (inclusion)
- send her gifts (books, beauty products, perfume, movies ...bribes disguised as attention really does work!)
- try different international cuisines (this will help her find new discoveries in eating non-Indian food - try Mexican vegetarian food)
- give her books to read about other intercultural families (Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth is a great one)
- watch TV shows together & discuss (news programmes, Satyamev Jayate, Sasural Genda Phool, Real Housewives shows - anything that gets you guys talking)

-------------

P.S. The MIL/DIL relationship is a women-only arena. DO NOT get your husband or FIL involved. Don't complain to them. Men just don't get it... (Women, and especially Indian women, are too psychologically complicated for men's tiny brains to handle!!!)

*****You have a better chance with your Indian MIL if she has a good marriage with her husband. That way, her needs will have been met through her marriage and she won't put unhealthy attachment/investment on her children. If a son is the ONLY source of attention/affection for the MIL then you're going to have serious problems!!!

At the end of the day, this is the woman who has given you her son. If she didn't exist, your husband wouldn't exist. You have to appreciate her, at least for that.

Many Indian women of that generation have had difficult lives. There was always some kind of struggle for them, some kind of hardship - you can tell just by looking at their faces. Respect her struggle. Empathize with her as a woman.

**Disclaimer: I can only speak what worked for me within my family (it may help some, but it may not work for others)**
SHARE:

168 comments

  1. My mother told me that one of her patients son married a western women. They told her that the lady addresses her in-laws with their names instead of "athayya" and "mammaya" (MIL and FIL). Also she heard that the in-laws were supposed to call ahead and plan before they visit their sons house.

    These two were so bad for my mother. I understand the first one. I hate addressing D's dad with his name. I feel less respectable, but I have to follow their culture. About calling before- I told my mom everyone does that in US no matter if it is Indian/ non-Indian.

    I think small things like this make it difficult for older generation. They have not been exposed to different culture, so they are less flexible.
    Indian parents like to be free at their children's house and they worry if that would be possible be with foreign DIL/SIL. Because western culture is known for not living with parents especially in their old age.
    -R

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, the first name thing was a major faux-pas that I also did too! The planning ahead thing I'm not so picky about, I love it when people visit me. But many Western women can't stand that!
      My husband calls my mother and father, "aunty" and "uncle" and they got used to it, I think they kind of like it!
      I think my MIL was very uptight at the beginning but she has really loosened up a lot. The more I include her, the more she gets comfortable.

      Delete
  2. Recently got some advice from an American guy married to an Indian woman. As a father of 4, he was telling us about his experiences as we prepare to be parents ourselves. He admitted to having felt out of place within the context of his wife's Indian family and how sometimes she seemed to prefer the presence of her mom over his. And that he had not expected, at 40, to be told what to do by anyone.
    However, at the end of the day, like he said, it was his wife's family that was there when they really needed help with the birth of multiples. They left their lives behind, stayed back one after the other in a foreign land where they were completely dependent on the very people they had come to help, for an entire year. And he said that while he'd like his kids to learn many American traits, he felt like this idea of being part of a family, of doing things for your family just because and being there for them as much as you can - not just as much as is convenient to you - is something he wanted his kids to get from their Indian side.
    Now I know that not all American or Canadian families will not help their kids with their grandchildren and also not all Indian families will help with the same. So certainly this is a generalization. But broadly speaking, this is the big difference in the cultures. They expect because they also give. That has always been the way.
    And that's why I love how you say that as the person marrying into an Indian family, it is good to try and understand their side and win them over before finding the right balance and the right lines to draw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Indian mothers especially are the most nurturing of all. My own MIL came to stay with me postpartum and helped me a lot, although I wanted to do everything myself. I suffered from postpartum anemia so she made sure to cook me all spinach and lentil things. It was very thoughtful of her. She was also suffering from health problems but she really cared for me and looking back I appreciate that.

      Delete
  3. Hi sister - this was a nice post and I tried many of the techniques you mention here but nothing really works with my MIL. It is her way or the highway after 6-7 years and I'm over it. I am now refocused on doing things that I am OK with instead of habitually trying to please her. The MIL has UNQUENCHABLE desires... so I recommend a more self protective approach. See my comments as S_Bee on the following blog post featuring an all too common and unfortunate topic. http://www.americanpunjabanpi.com/2013/07/how-to-foster-better-relationship-with.html#disqus_thread

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My next post on the MIL topic will address what to do when it isn't working. Indian MILs have to also make an effort, it can't only come from our side...I am glad that you put your foot down and make the necessary boundaries, you have to protect yourself. Does she have more respect now or has she reached out to you since? Or if not...she is one hard-headed lady!!!

      Delete
  4. Cute pics! I especially like the one where your mother in law is feeding you...classic! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Amelia! I secretly love it when she feeds me ;)

      Delete
  5. I loved the way you have written. Recently married, I cannot connect to your perspective but many points for my MIL do match.

    Thanks again for painstakingly writing them

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks & congrats on your marriage! :)

      Delete
  6. I think I lucked out with my mother in law. I was pretified before meeting her because my desi girlfriends put the fear on me about MIL and SIL by telling me horror stories. The first meeting was not perfect though as I was introduced to the "Indian standard time bs" and I was not happy that I sat alone in a restaurant for over an hour for the entire family to arrive so we could meet for the first time. Up to this day, dear hubby never hears the end of it :)

    My advise is set boundaries from the beginning, discuss things with your significant other first (MIL tried to play us both at he beginning so we agree to talk to each other first if she was to come up with any stories or questions about anything). It also helped that my husband is not traditional at all so he never allowed them to intefere at all in any aspect of his or our lives. I sometimes joke and tell him that he is not Indian at all as he does not behave like a typical Indian. My culture is not that different from India culture so that helps a lot. I am also a very honest and straight forward person. I never feel that I have to be political correct with her and I've never been; I think she appreciates that. I can talk and gossip with my MIL like there is not tomorrow (is draining at times because all these aunties are so dramatic but entertaining nevertheless). She told me that she tells me more secrets and trusts me more than her own daughters. She feels that she can be herself with me and I certainly can appreciate that. Honesty and boundaries from the very beginning are key.


    Mille B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mille,
      Yes, I totally agree with the boundaries part. It is difficult to set boundaries without offending, but I think it really helps.
      Me & my MIL have a very open relationship too. It's very refreshing. I like the relationship I have with her, although we've had our bumps in the road.
      Your MIL sounds so sweet :)

      Delete
  7. I like some of the things you have mentioned in this post, and disagree with a lot more. You make the Indian MILs sounds so negative! And the irony is that the DIL always breaks up the family, not the other way around. After all, the DIL comes into the family, she is the new person, it is because of her that her MIL and FIL's expectations and dreams are shattered with her son. Therefore, if a girl really loves a guy, she HAS to make the effort (and all of it) to win his parents hearts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mentioned both positive AND negative traits of the Indian MIL, just like everyone has both positive/negative traits.
      Secondly, the DIL does NOT always break up the family. A lot of DIL's bend over backwards to please their inlaws because there is immense pressure on them.
      FYI - when a marriage occurs - BOTH spouses are "the new family members". Not just the DIL. The DIL is not a piece of property that is to be handed over.
      Funny how the girl has to do all the work if she "really loves the guy". No wonder then why "she is breaking up the family"! Everybody has to do all the work to get to know each other, not just the DIL...

      Delete
    2. Thank you for such an amazing piece of work. You are truly very beautiful. Your reply in this post is spot on! A DIL can never break up a family that has good structures to begin with. I am an attorney and when I married my husband 2O years ago I had already obtained my law degree from a prestigious University. Notwithstanding my education background I was treated with extreme coldness by both MIL and FIL.... don't even get me started on older, uneducated, manipulative and greedy sister. It was years of hell for both my husband and I. I was lucky that my husband stood by my side through everything. I tried being humble, respectful and was literally a servant to my in-laws. I cleaned their toilets and entire house without any help... I was still treated like an outsider. If there is a hell both my husband and I are sure his parents have condos there. I have vowed to never treat my DIL or son in laws in the way I was treated. My husband is extremely ashamed of his parent's bad behaviour and I would never want my son to feel that way about me.
      "*****You have a better chance with your Indian MIL if she has a good marriage with her husband. That way, her needs will have been met through her marriage and she won't put unhealthy attachment/investment on her children. If a son is the ONLY source of attention/affection for the MIL then you're going to have serious problems!!!"

      Sadly my in laws did no have a great relationship with each other so my MIL did cling to her son.

      Delete
    3. Hi Anonymous, You sound just like my SIL. Wonder whether your name starts with S.
      Alexandra, that was a great post. Even though a south Indian married to a south Indian,been 7 yrs, I find difficulty the way I am treated in our house. "little emperor" syndrome is always their problem. Wish you happy life.

      Delete
  8. I will repeat again, the family is fine BEFORE the DIL enters it, and when/if there is a breakup, it is not the MIL's fault, it is the DIL who is at fault for CAUSING the fight. I have seen this happen first hand in families and ironically they ALL happened to be GORI DIL. Its' just the white woman and her mentality and her constant tussle to be equal to her MIL. Anyways, I'm not here to argue. I wish you and your family the best. Maybe you're not like the typical foreign DIL, in that case what I said above doesn't apply to you. Good for you. Have a nice life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi anonymous,
      Not sure what you mean by "causing" the fight...and I also don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to be equal to your inlaws. That is how many Western women were raised - everybody is equal, there is nobody who is inferior or superior just because of their gender/age.
      You're right, I'm not "the typical foreign DIL", mainly because our family works all TOGETHER in getting along with each other. We believe in every argument, there is no right or wrong person, and we are all entitled to our feelings, we communicate, and then we get over it - none of us are going anywhere so we have to get along! We are all equal members of our family who each bring different strengths to the table. We all talk to each other with respect and are very open.
      I'm grateful that my inlaws respect me as a person, as I respect them. Not everyone is that lucky, though...
      Thanks for the well wishes, I wholly intend to continue to have a nice life :)
      Have a nice life too!

      Delete
    2. Wow, anonymous! You are just exemplifying all of the judgmental and controlling stereotypes of the Indian family, (which by your use of the word "gori," I suspect you are Indian). News flash to you: a daughter-in-law is not only EQUAL to her mother-in-law as a human being, but in terms of the relationship with the male in question, (husband/son), she is MORE important. She will bear his children and be his life partner, meaning her needs, thoughts, and preferences are absolutely of higher priority than his mother's. If a family is broken up as you claim "because of a daughter-in-law," there was a lot of dysfunction to begin with and it is not her fault. (Truth be told, the son and his new wife are probably better off without the drama and craziness that will ensue.) If his parents learn to show respect and acceptance to their daughter-in-law without trying to change or manipulate her, there may be hope for the relationship. If not, well, to quote the Bible, "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

      Delete
    3. Dear Annonymous,
      In india more families are broken by MILs than by DILs. My SILs MIL criticized her cooking after 7 years of marriage and my husband felt bad, but when my MIL criticized my cooking after 7 days of marriage she was just telling me her preference. Both the complaints were the same - my DIL does not cook the way i do. And to give you an idea of the background, i had an intercultural marriage and did not even know for sure what they ate whereas my SIL and her husband belong to the same caste, sub caste and city of origin. Any more similarity and she would have married a cousin.
      Difference is in perception - daughter is ours and daughter in law is an outsider. Such women should keep their sons tied to their apron strings. Why get their sons married in the first place? And the reality is what someone else has remarked - the daughter in law does not cause dysfunction in family - the family was dysfunctional lng before the daughter in law came into the picture...

      Delete
    4. True .. Not sure how many understand this .. Always it is hamara and never apna
      .Meaning DIL is never considered a part of family. Complete hypocrisy.
      But when it comes to their daughter things are different.

      Delete
    5. Sometimes it's the in-laws and their mentality and upbringing of their children. My ex-husband and I are both Indian. I was brought up abroad but I'm very cultural. My ex was raised in India. Ex-MIL and Ex-FIL live on separate countries for years and continue to do so but show normalcy to anyone else that the father is working abroad and mother is homemaker. Ex-MIL latched onto her son and always saw me on the wrong, even when I'm showering them all with gifts. My Ex-SIL only contacted me when she wanted some expensive brand name stuff or health care advice cuz I'm a medical professional but rest of the time she ignored me. Recently found that my ex had a girlfriend of >10yrs that he still loves and wanted to marry but she was sleeping around so MIL forced him to marry me. He was still connecting with her even after though. I told his parents when he started evading questions. Guess what they said.. that I was the one who was making up stories and started harrassing me, even telling me I should give our child up for adoption. That my ex never had a GF. What shut them up was that I backed up my accusations with solid proof. They haven't appologized and neither has my ex. The whole reason it's come to becoming ex's... I couldn't stay when they treated me ND my child like garbage and forgave their son for his faults.

      Delete
    6. You are right about complete hipocrisy. After I delivered my baby, my ex-MIL spoonfed her son and also told me that I had to breastfeed as long as possible cuz she breastfeed all her children for 6 months even though my child wasn't getting enough and was on my breast 24/7. With my ex-SIL, my ex-MIL got her grandchild started on formula at less than 2 months old when there was no need and the baby slept all through the night. Difference was that I am a working mom, and my ex-SIL is a stay at home mom who never worked in her entire life and only learned to cook after marriage. On the other hand, I worked, cooked and was doing it since I was a teenager (perks of growing up abroad). My ex always supported his mom. When I challenged why the difference in attitude, he said my Ex-SIL and I are different people and she can choose what she wants to do with her baby and I have to jointly decide with him about our baby. Should have known what a dysfunctional family they were from the beginning. Now my ex-MIL told him never to see our child and he has not even inquired about our child for the last 1yr. Maybe that's for the best as I don't want the same to happen with my child learning from that family. Sorry about the rant. At least a non-Indian knows that she/he wants to be in the relationship for love and will support each other. With Indian marrying an Indian, you don't know who they value more, their parents or their spouse even in the face of injustice.

      Delete
  9. Hi There! I came across your blog yesterday and really got hooked on it. I've read a good number of your posts. :) I am a non Indian married to an Indian man (married for 2 years and together for over 4 years). It has been a unique, never boring, and rich experience. We've had our ups and downs just like anyone else. This particular post is very interesting and good for someone to read if trying to make sense of their current or future indian MIL.

    My own relationship with my indian MIL is pretty good. We talk at least once a week about a little of everything. While our relationship is good, I know that she fears that someday I'll leave her son if we ever have disagreements that she is aware of. It hurts to be aware of that as I don't feel I have anything about me that she should worry about as I value my marriage way too much, my own parents have been together for almost 40 years (their marriage was also intercultural), and an older sister with a long, stable marriage and 2 kids-I've had good roles models within my own family so I don't really know any other way than what I've observed from all of them. I also sometimes think that she is slightly disappointed that her son did not end up with a couple of Indian girls that they had in mind for their son who are part of their family friends. However, my husband wanted to choose his own partner and decided early on that a love marriage is what he truly wanted. Plus, he was concerned about going the arranged marriage route as he felt that the families would only be after him for his money and that did not sit well with him.

    Even though I'm not the girl that she envisioned for her son, I do think she is grateful for how open-minded and inquisitive I've always been about their culture. I think she also appreciates learning a different viewpoint in life that is different from what she's known. All in all, we get along really well. It'll be interesting to see how the dynamic changes once my husband and I have our first child. Did your MIL change towards you after you had your daughter? If so, how so? I'm just curious as my husband and I are trying to start a family and I'm just curious to what I can potentially expect. Keep writing! I love reading what you have to say. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for coming over and reading!
      Congrats on your marriage!
      I agree, it's never boring :)
      That's nice that you have a good, steady relationship with your MIL. My MIL still says "don't get divorced", I think she is deathly afraid of it too (even though nobody in my family is divorced)...so then she warns my hubby not to piss me off (which is good to have her on my side...lol!)
      I think my MIL actually prefers having a non-Indian DIL, she is the only one out of the whole family of Indians who gets along with her DIL (me!) and others can't understand why she is not having any Saas-bahu drama, especially since I'm a foreigner! And she says that she has never gotten so much appreciation in her life (by me saying "thank you" all the time)
      When my hubby was born, they did an astrological chart and it predicted that he would marry "a girl from the North"...but nobody thought it would be so far North & West! LOL!
      I think it is definitely true that MIL's appreciate when you make an effort for their culture. That has been my biggest helper in our relationship.

      That's wonderful that you're planning a family :) how exciting! My MIL came to stay with us for 3 months postpartum and helped me alot. She was slightly more bossy than usual, which was difficult with my hormones. We also had differences in caring for the baby - feeding, bathing, etc. It was difficult for me to share the baby, I had to learn to share the baby with her. My MIL is retired so being a grandma is her job. All in all, we had a rough patch but we got through it, I shared the baby with her; and she learned to also give me space in my developing bond with the baby. It worked out. She used to sing to the baby all the time which was really sweet. And she cooked all the meals for me, which was a HUGE help. I'd like her to stay with us again when we have another.
      Good luck on the baby-making ;) He/she is gonna be sooooo cute!!!!!

      Delete
    2. cant help saying "awwwww"....!! love your relationship with the MIL....i think you come across as an extremely mature, wise and loving person.

      Delete
  10. Wow what you wrote is well written!!!!! I've been panicking for 2 whole weeks now and yet I'm still freaking out. I'm marrying into indian an indian family. My bf just recently told his mom we are living together and she's coming to our place this Sunday!!!!!! I'm worried she won't like me cause 1. We are living together before marriage. 2. I'm not indian. 3. It's going to be our first time meeting each other at our place it's gonna be weird!!! I haven't prepared myself for this but only cleaned our place up. I made a list of thing to have around our place for her and now it's getting cold making sure there's a couple pair of warm socks around. Also she loves to read indian newspaper do I went to go pick oh some. For some reason I feel like she hates me already

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! How did it go? Probably the first meeting would be really formal.
      Yes, you are going against the grain by living together, and she probably knows you're not Indian already, and her main priority probably would be making sure you're taking good care of her son.
      It will take time to build a relationship. Try to find small things in common.

      Delete
  11. Hi
    I married to Indian and my husband's parents are too much emotionally attached with him, they got only son and always wants he listens too them and all the time against me. I want to be good with them but my mil such a drama queen all the time crying in front of my husband and don't show any affection to me or my parents, all ways want to know what is happening in our lives. She is a big liar as well, problem is I can see this but my husband can't see all this for him his mother is his world.

    I try to help them and it seems useless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Sorry to hear about your situation. That is really disappointing to hear that your husband is siding with them over you (totally brainwashed) but again quite typical if he is the only son. In conservative families, the wife always comes last....but I would really sit down and talk to him about his priorities. He is married to YOU first. Second priority is your children, and third priority is both your parents. He is an adult and if he wants to be married then he has to learn to put you as first priority.
      It is easier if you are living abroad or separately from his parents. You can't change people but you can lay boundaries down within your marriage of things you will or will not tolerate.
      Stay strong.

      Delete
  12. Your blog is fascinating, and a true gem for other non-Indians married to Indian sons. I just had a somewhat disastrous 6 day visit from my in-laws and after they left I googled "dealing with Indian MIL" out of sheer desperation. Your blog popped up and what a relief to hear others dealing with the same problems! I have no one to turn to because there are so few mixed Western/Indian couples out there and everyone in my immediate family and friends thinks what I go through with his family is outrageous and insane. I have done everything my husband has asked of me to placate my MIL and protect her feelings. I kept the relationship secret for almost 8 years (including moving out all my things from our apartment for a day when they came to visit). I had an Indian wedding, I stood by him with their constant family drama. However, I reached a saturation point when she tried to lecture me, down to the smallest detail, about how I should live my life. When she saw I wasn't having it she then went to my mother and told her to yell at me to get her to do what she felt was right. (We do not yell or raise our voices in my family, completely the opposite of my husbands family) My mom was hurt and shocked and had to spend the rest of the trip listening to her lecture her on how she SHOULD have raised me to better take care of her son. I'm sad to say, based off my experiences I definitely have overall negative feelings about the Indian culture. As a feminist, I am unable nor willing to change who I am to please her or fit standards of her culture. As a feminist, I also feel a great deal of sympathy for the way she lived her life as a servant to those around her, without any life outside of her husband and children. I strongly feel that if Indian MILs had the chance to nurture a life outside of being a wife and mother, (career, volunteer work, hobbies ANYTHING) they would not obsess so much over their children and be so emotionally dependent. The rift between us is both cultural and generational, and I fear it is far too wide for us to ever be as close as I would like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry to hear that. I would also be incredibly offended. That type of lecturing is very offensive in Western culture, but it is not in Indian culture. When the elder gives a lecture, you are just supposed to nod your head and say yes, (basically to stroke their ego that "they know best" when they totally don't) and then do whatever you were gonna do anyway! The minute you disagree, voices are elevated and it is seen as disrespect. I can totally agree. It is hard for me to keep my mouth shut, as I have never been told what to do, or given the oh-so-annoying "well-meaning advice" that my inlaws constantly give me; but I have learned how to tune it out, much like my husband does! LOL
      But seriously, that is really offensive that they would drag your mother in to it and also criticise her. Your inlaws also have to adjust to Western culture and realize that things like that are extremely rude. I feel as though your husband needs to step in and buffer the situation. If not, let it cool down, give it time, take a break from the inlaws, until you can face it again. I have had fights with my MIL where we did not speak for months.
      I totally agree, as a feminist it is a hard pill to swallow. When my MIL tells me stories of her life I just want to cry sometimes, and she did not even have it that bad. Many of the elder women have never thought for their own well-being, if they even go for a walk then they do it for their husband's health. That is why they have so many health problems! If you can, eventually, you can encourage/nurture your MIL's interests outside of family, slowly. And she can relax a bit - having a foreign DIL can bring her a sense of freedom, away from the traditions that had imprisoned her. It will get better - trust me. Just let some time pass....and then help her to nurture herself, as a woman.
      Also her idea of "taking care" of her son will be different than the way you love your husband. It is he who has to convince her that he is happy & fulfilled.

      Delete
  13. as a muslim going into a Sikh household having left her own family for him trust me keeping the MIL happy is hard- im so confused on what to do- I feel trapped and on edge like if I don't do enough or do it right I constantly get compared to her 'perfect' indian daughter in law. my MIL is very men do what they want but women have to do what their husbands want, coming from a fairly independent lifestyle previously im finding it hard to balance my social and home life- I feel scared to even say I want to see my sister or my friends at the weekend because I get made to feel I don't do anything but go out to socialise and she is like I should only go out with husband as he comes first- im trying to bite my tongue but at the moment I feel like my spirit I used to have as a fun and smiley person is being stomped on and i'm becoming a small, weak willed person who is scared if she doesn't eat her dinner quickly so she will then be able to clean the cooker afterwards or wake up early enough to make everyone tea that I will get shouted at . I am making excuses to not see friends who are a bit annoyed that I haven't seen them for months . she told me off yesterday because she said before me their was never any fights between her and her son and im causing them I don't know what to do

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the comparison - I totally can relate! You are also an intercultural marriage too! Your rift sounds very generational too - as many Indian elder ladies, after marriage it is always the family, and nothing else - no friends, no personal aspirations - those are insignificant. Nowadays women have so much more freedoms and it is good for health and spirit to socialise and meet friends. I feel like you or your husband need to convince her that those are your needs, you are a "modern" girl and it is perfectly fine to have a life outside the home, and it does not mean you are not dedicated. You have to do this for your own sanity, I'm sure your MIL will have a fit but at least you can attempt to set up some boundaries. The problem is clearly your MIL as I feel she has gone into this relationship with expectations of being "the grand MIL". She will push you around as much as you let her. Get help from hubby!

      Delete
    2. LOL....these Indian MIL are manipulators...plain and simple. My Indian MIL told me I was the reason she didn't get along with her other DIL....who is Indian, lol. Live your life the way you want...the only person you have to answer to is your husband....and he can adjust to your needs. If push comes to shove, tell her off...I did and I'm much happier for it. Life is short and the more timid you appear to an Indian MIL, the more she will walk all over you.

      Delete
    3. i m an indian woman. born and brought up in india. married to indian. let me tell u, i ll not put up with such bullshit. you have only 1 life to live. dont let others tell u what u shld nd shldnt do.

      Delete
  14. I am so happy I read your blog. I am an Indian rather a south-indian having lived my first few years abroad in Africa and then India and for the past few years the U.S, so you can imagine the different cultures. I just got married to an North Indian whom I met in the U.S . Had to go back to get married and wooohhhhh...a north indian MIL...quite an overwhelming experience. After reading your blog, two things- one I feel I am not alone, two there is so much hope to better the relationship and make things better for everyone. Thank you for the tips and experiences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading :)
      OMG a North Indian MIL ;) That would be hard....in that regard I'm glad I have a South Indian MIL!
      There are so many differences between North and South, it is just like as if you are marrying a different country. I am glad you can relate....it will get easier, I promise....forgive & forget, and have empathy....and any small thing in common that you have with her you can make into a bonding experience - like a love for cooking or movies or books.
      It takes time though, it took me 8 years! Just be patient...
      xo

      Delete
    2. hey thanks for writing back. Actually I shared your blog with my mum and in fact you proved to be a teacher. Thanks. I am more relaxed now and as you said, I am doing the efforts of calling her up often and talking about her son or a recipe . I guess she likes that and she also likes when I comment on her pictures on facebook. ha ha ha. Anyways I loved the photo of your grumpy cat...hilarious...

      Delete
    3. @anonymous - I'm so so so glad, that really makes my day, to know that I helped in any way!
      It is hard to move on after past hurts, but life keeps moving and we must move with it...we must all find a way to co-exist...
      One thing I have learned about Indian MILs is that all they want is to feel INCLUDED....a bit of attention will go a long way! You're on the right track... ;)

      Delete
    4. The world is round! I am a north indian who had an arranged marriage with a south indian (my family is very open minded, they wanted someone who was well educated and open minded). We siblings were given the same opportunities to study and work. My mother in law can understand and speak hindi to belittle me and my family. Otherwise she has a "language problem" to the extent she doesn't understand yes or no also. She doesn't need help talking to the watchman in hindi though! Before marriage they "did not want anything at all" after marriage I was told they expected a big car, jewellery for the entire family to start with! I should cook only telugu food but nobody will tell me how to do it! Apparently MIL & SIL cant translate any recipe in hindi or English. And I am supposed to be the maid for everybody, naturally. She taught my step daughter to spy on us - even in bed. My SIL told her to sleep in the middle and keep an eye on us. When we got married everybody understood hindi. Now nobody does. I spent 1 whole year in pure hell. I fell and hurt my back and nobody was free enough to take me to a doctor for 1 whole week. When the pain got so bad that couldn't get up from bed also, I went to the doctor myself. I was not allowed to keep a maid to wash my clothes. You know, I washed my husband's and step daughter's clothes in the washing machine but was not allowed to wash my own clothes in it! Apparently washing doormats in the washing machine would not pollute it, but my clothes would... And dear ladies I am a Brahmin married to a Brahmin. No matter what people might say about north Indians, I am from UP and from a large extended family, but I have never even heard of people doing these things to their DIL... If you think south indian MIL are better, please get a reality check!!! PS: My MIL lived in delhi in the late 70s, early 80s for 4-5 years, made north indian friends there and learnt north indian recipes. My SIL has north indian friends who don't speak more than a couple of words of telugu, but when it comes to me, everybody is clueless! And regarding telugu, I was told to learn it from some app in my mobile. Nobody has the time to teach me anything....

      Delete
    5. Alexandra, you say : OMG, North Indian MIL. Are North Indian MIL's worde than south Indian ones? Like more bossy, manupulative, etc.? Where does the difference come from? Why do you think south Indians are more "easy going" than North Indian ones? As I also have a future North Indian (Punjab) MIL and it's been hell until now....

      Thank you for your reply

      Delete
  15. I'm an educated American caucasian woman that married an Indian man and we lived with his mother. FORGET IT!!! I moved out, twice, before I learned that is no way to live. I don't speak to any of his adult relatives....divorced from them. Indian women are nothing but a bunch of gossip mongers and trouble makers. I'm not going to kiss arse to anyone just so they accept me. My husband can come and go as he likes....living separately and I am sooooooo happy!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Living together is so difficult, even for fellow Indian girls, they have so much trouble. Much less us being foreigners living in joint families, where the definition of "respect" means different things culturally. I have noticed it a bit more with my FIL, that I am supposed to take all of his advice, even though he is wrong sometimes, and never question him, as a sign of "respect". Which is a hard pill for me to swallow.
      I'm glad you have been able to make it work living separately...sometimes that is the only option when things get too volatile!

      Delete
    2. i understand that it must be difficult for you.. but u r. generalizing.. nt all indian women that way..

      Delete
    3. I completely agree! They want control at all times. I wish I knew this earlier. Their way of life is different and foreign to most. Money is a major part of the need to control every aspect of someone life. The mother's are abusive and have no respect or boundaries. my advice is to stay away from indian men lol they are little boys controlled by mommy lol

      Delete
  16. So glad I found this! I'm planning a wedding and trying to be really respectful of his culture, but at the same point -- it's our wedding. His mother really lays on the guilt trips, especially that we don't visit enough. She also makes all kinds of passive aggressive comments that I don't cook enough, we go out to dinner to much, I don't work out enough, etc. Drives me absolutely batty as my fiancee doesn't notice. The other thing that drives me batty is the "Little Emperor Syndrome." Her two children were raised only to think of themselves and their family and you see it a lot in their actions. His mom was pretty aghast when his sister was expected to write thank you notes for the wedding gifts she received from her western in-law side of the family. Although she works, she has no outside interests besides her family and to a smaller extent, her Indian community. I will print this out to remind myself of her culture next time she visits. The good news is that she might get annoyed at the boundaries we set, but she sticks to them. I just live in fear that they'll move closer to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh oh! Well, I know for sure that they are probably picturing the wedding as "their son's wedding" and not yours - in Western culture the wedding is always looked at as "the bride's day" and not "the MIL's day" (LOL!)
      One time my MIL told me that Indian MILs often complain because they think that it is their job - it shows they care. However, I feel that complaining gives off an air that nothing will ever be good enough! I learned from my husband early on to tune it out, but it took me YEARS.....I am more sensitive so I took offense, all the time.
      The complaining I believe is passed on from MIL to DIL and then the vicious cycle starts when the DIL becomes a MIL.
      I have also noticed that the (conservative) men pick up on it too, and they complain so that "the wife will not get a big ego" -- I wrote about this mentality here --> http://madh-mama.blogspot.ca/2013/12/a-wife-should-never-be-first-priority.html
      My MIL also had the same problem regarding outside interests, mainly because she didn't have a choice because she had to juggle so much. She literally worked like a dog in all aspects of her life.

      Delete
  17. So great to come across your blog...still mull over MILS mean comments and attitudes.I had a baby out of wedlock with her son! BIIIG no no..they couldn't tell friends of the family or family until she was six mths or something..it was all very stressful,and I felt cursed.Ive had a lot of zero tolerance with them..but Ive always loved indian culture..the patriarchal realaties have left me bitter and wondering why I waited around so long for him...I have a beautiful daughter now.There is ALOT to work through..positives AND negatives...all I can say is..I definetly NEVER choose boring or unchallenging...a typical thing for me xx Always has to be interesting..and I guess that makes it a rich experience when I look at it right there.A rich tapestry xxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before we were married, I was constantly scared of getting pregnant out of wed-lock.....my parents had me 7 years before they got married, but it wasn't such a big deal.
      I think it is because it is a sign that you are sexually active before marriage, which is still unfortunately taboo.
      I am in the same boat, I love India deeply, and I love many things about Indian culture, but the widespread patriarchy really drives me crazy, more so since I had a daughter. I do not want any patriarchy at all effecting her in any form.
      Anyways, it's all about the journey, I agree with you! ;)

      Delete
  18. Found this all such an interesting read. Have been dating a non-religious Indian man for three months and he says I am the one, and that he knew it from the moment he met me. He was married to an Indian woman and separated/divorced under two years ago. He's super close to his family and is the only son (now in charge of the family business). His parents know he's dating a western woman, and I met them last night at their villa at an event. The mother was pretty unfriendly which is ok, I'm a big girl etc. I just don't know how I feel about having to 'prove myself' to get someon. If anything her son is lucky to have me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meeting the parents...next step, wedding bells!
      My inlaws were quite unfriendly in the beginning too, later I began to understood it was more of a formality since we weren't married yet; and also a sense of awkwardness since they didn't know me or didn't know where to begin to know me.
      It is hard - I know - to prove oneself....it is definitely a cultural thing. But the best and ultimate way to prove yourself, is just to stand the test of time! Eventually they will get used to you. It is hard in the initial stages...

      Delete
  19. I am really sorry to have to say this but your recipe for "success" leaves open the way to abuse for many Indian women. I don't really think there is any need to accept abuse, control or interference from anyone, whether Indian, Western, African or Middle Eastern. It's a question of respect, and everyone is entitled to it. It only makes our work harder when so-called 'liberalised' westerner come and toe the line, making it harder for Indian women to stand on their feet. Just my two cents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This advice is not meant for abusive relationships. This advice is meant for regular MIL-DIL bickerings, fights, and troubles getting along.
      For abusive relationships - my only advice is to stay far away from the abusive person - because abusers never stop abusing.

      Delete
  20. Oh my gosh...I am planning a wedding too to a wonderful man whose parents are Indian. He was born and raised in the US. His parents live a plane ride away. My family is a large, Catholic, Irish-American clan with a lot of our own traditions. We are trying to honor his family's Hindu heritage even though he was not raised in a religious household, but his parents are finding a problem with literally every possible avenue or solution. They are driving my fiance absolutely nuts - and me too! My family is pretty shocked that they are making this so terrible for him. And the truth is that I think they are determined to be unhappy because what they really want, after raising their son in America as an American with no ties to India, is for him to marry an Indian girl and to have one big Hindu wedding. It is driving me crazy! AND I am quite worried that if they can exert this much control over a wedding ceremony then we are in for a lot more of this regarding where we live, how we raise our children, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, they are gonna have to WAKE UP and realize that they are going to have to adjust and adapt too...because guess what - he's not marrying a Hindu girl!
      They are probably just realizing now that he is marrying a foreigner and will have to make room for another culture in their lives. They may also be feeling like he has no attachment to India (besides them) and may be feeling bad about that = why they've been so pushy.
      I'd suggest to set firm boundaries. Merge both the cultures and make it a fun thing. Don't let them exert control over everything. And also - weddings are a really stressful time for everybody. It is a normal thing you're going through, don't worry!

      Delete
    2. Hi Elizabeth, I am a western black woman married to an Indian man with Hindu roots. I just want to let you know that the wedding is the beginning of the attempts to control things in your life. Take my advice the both of you need to set boundaries from the start do not wait until it gets to an uncontrollable stage. I only wish I had the support of my other half on setting boundaries at the start of our marriage. The both of you need to let them know you both are serious about this.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Alexandra and Liz! Wise words. We are having a traditional church wedding Saturday of the wedding weekend followed by a reception that my parents are hosting. On Friday we are supposedly having a Hindu wedding, but my in-laws haven't picked a venue yet for that. We're only a few months out from the wedding too! But, thankfully my MIL has gotten the message that Saturday night is an event hosted by my parents and not for her to meddle in.

      My fiance has been quite good about trying to shield me from the indecisiveness on their side as that has been stressing me out. And he's pretty good about setting boundaries. Rereading this entry months later it's even MORE applicable to me! My fiance and I have had a lot of talks about boundaries and what it means to be an adult, and he's had to talk to his parents several times when they've laid into him about how they are losing him. It's very hard because we live close to my family and far from his, so he does in truth see my family far more often.

      Delete
    4. @Elizabeth - OMG so last minute! Are they waiting on the astrology?
      Glad they are giving you some space regarding the Western wedding, as they should. In that way, in intercultural weddings, you kind of do need 2+ weddings! All the more fun AND stress...LOL! Been there ;)
      I'm glad that he is setting boundaries, really good to hear!
      Best of luck with the upcoming wedding! It will be amazing!

      Delete
  21. Hi - I am an Indian British born woman reading this post and have got to say this is absolutely sterling advice for DILs-to-be who are BOTH non-Indian AND Indian. I am so impressed and in awe of your insight, flexibility and tolerance of what I know is a challenging situation (having grown up in an Indian home - albeit without a brother so no direct comparison to make). I am in the process of getting to know my significant other's family (he is born in India) and wanted to start off on the best footing with his family. I have tried to put aside all my insecurities and worries but have heard too much from the experience of others to know that this is unlikely to be a smooth ride. It doesn't help that I am uber sensitive and just plain scared that this is going to be a huge challenge given how much more traditional I know his family is to mine. From what I have read though I know it is important to be open minded and optimistic, so am going to focus on that for the time being.

    I plan to keep referring to this list as a checkpoint to make sure I am doing all that I can do, and also as a reminder that I am not the only person out there who needs support and advice from others on how to handle what is a very important relationship.

    Thank you so much again. I hope you and other readers continue to share your wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for loving this post...I am so glad to be able to share what I've learned and am thrilled when I can help readers. That is why I write :)
      Yes, I think you are going into it with the right mindset - it is all about taking baby steps and taking it slow with your inlaws. Remember to not take anything personally (I'm sensitive too, so I totally get that!) And take it a day at a time! Let the relationship develop....both of you aren't going anywhere!

      Delete
  22. Thanks for the article! Like Anonymous (above) I too am an Indian-Australian woman marrying an Indian-Australian man but he has a VERY traditional family wheras mine is more open-minded and liberal...

    I think it's so critical what you say about getting off to a good start first and bending the rules later. This may be a little 'manipulative' on our (DIL's) part but I've seen it work a treat. I think little efforts on our part (especially early on) can really help get our MILs (and husbands) to see our point of view on the bigger things. I just hope I can keep all you said in mind after I get married and control my desire to be fiercely independent and not be 'told what to do'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, getting off to a good start is crucial because then it merely opens the doors to the inlaws' hearts to let the relationship slowly bloom.
      You'll do great - because a family that is a mix between liberal + tradition = perfection :)

      Delete
  23. Thanks for writing this article.its really informative.
    I am an Indian girl, living in India ,married to an Indian guy. Its been just one year to our marriage and even though it was a "love marriage" (we dated for less thn 1 yr) bt now I feel as if I hav married a total stranger. My MIL and SIL keep visiting us and staying with us all d yr around. Every nw and thn dey hv a family function, or weddings...I just don't get d tym to visit my family and relatives, eventhough we stay in d same city.
    In every matter he does and beleives only wat his family says and never supports me even on petty issues....say, if I say dat the food cooked by his mom is too spicy fr me, he will defend it and say dat its NORMAL fr us, u can't handle it. Wen dey visit us everythng is decided by them, wat is to be cooked, who is to be called fr dinner, where shall we go on weekends, etc. Although my MIL & SIL behave well wid me, MIL cooks brekfst wen I have to go to office nd fail to get up early in d morning, helps me in d kitchen.....bt still I feel I m a nobody in d house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the problem is more with your husband and his lack of a team mentality. Husband and wife have to be on the same team and support each other at every front. It seems like your MIL and SIL are okay... I feel like your husband is looking at you to do the "adjusting" - when in reality - both partners have to adjust. Let him know it hurts your feelings when he says things like that, and a better way to word it. I would also MAKE time to see your family so that resentment doesn't pile up. Go to your parents' place for dinner once a week, to get a break. Bring your husband along occasionally too so he can be in his inlaws house too! If you stay in the same city, you have no reason not to see your family too. They probably miss you!

      Delete
    2. Yes! They do miss me a lot, as I hav only my Mum and younger sister (dad passed away in 2006). My mum has to manage everything (my sis is studying in college), has to run from pillar to post for her and sister's medical treatment, pending court issues, socializing etc.
      I want to help dm bt, hav always some or d othr engagement from my husband's family. My MIL & SIL have been stayng wid us fr d past 1 month [SIL delivered a baby girl d day you answered my post :) ]. I don't know how long dey r gonna stay wid us. We have a festival on 17th - HOLI( u must hv heard!!) and at dt tym I'll hav to visit his native town. Every evening wen I go back home, I cook d dinner, attend guests who are visiting to see d new baby, and dts all...sleep late and dn again rush d office d nxt morning.
      I try to convince myself dt its all gonna be over, "have patience", I may also need dm wen i would be in d same situation, dats hw lyf is after marriage....Huh!
      But I really miss my life before marriage, wid my Mum & Sis...we used to visit our aunt, granny and call dm ovr dinner on festivals, go shopping together..have fun.
      I don't know when am I going to feel normal again and have a normal lifestyle.

      Thanx a ton for answering my post...may GOD bless you.!!

      Delete
    3. You have to visit your family...life is too short....
      xo

      Delete
  24. Hi,

    It feels good to find someone in a similar situation like I am.
    I met my boyfriend in uni, when we were both studying abroad (I am French ; he's Indian). I initailly rejected him, cause I felt I dind't know him. When I got to know him better, I litterally melted, cause he was so loving and cared for me a lot, taught me new things etc.

    After graduation, we went to a trip to India, I met his family. It wasn't as bad as I expected. When he told his mom on the phone he was dating a gori, she bursted crying. In London, I learnt some basic hindi, even a song (Maar dala :) ) as he told me it a custom that a new girl sings on a doorstep (which I believed). The singing was a good laugh for the family. I was a bit embarassed, because I am shy, but it's fun to think about it now :)
    The thing is : I just could not like the country. I made wonderful pictures, but I always cried when I was there. I cannot stand this need of the whole society to know about you, judge you, gossip etc. Several times, unknown guys came to him in the street and asked him why we were together. Once in a train we almost got in trouble with 3 guys, who were saying that we (as a mixed-couple) destroy the culture ; my boyfriend pretended to be an English-Indian to get us out of there. We never even holded hands in public, and I always dressed decently. At his home, I discovered that the family is anything but harmonious. He has 3 sisters, his mom and dad, and all the females just try to boss on the rest of the family, including on my boyfriend, as he's the youngest. What makes it difficult is also that I could not really communicate with his mom and dad, as they don't speak English (only few words). A lot of time out of the 10 days I spent there, I was just sitting in the living room, with people speaking in Hindi or Rajastani around. Sometimes they would speak to me, but I was mostly not included in their conversations (preparation for the eldest sister's wedding). At a point, I was staying alone in my bed, listening to music.

    Anyway, we came back to Europe after the 2 months trip, because we managed to get a job together in the Netherlands. We have got a house there, which is quite a big engagement for me to our relationship. But it gets more and more difficut. We are living in a culture that is neither his nor mine, and that we know is temporary.
    But we don't know what comes next. We could never really discuss, as w don't know where will our job bring us.

    We fight more and more. I have read lots of blogs, of psychology articles, and I do my best to communicate, and force the words out of him. I now believe our fights are mostly cultural.

    He is the only son of the family, and you know what that implies : taking care of the parents. (I was actually wondering whether you were living with your in laws in India ?) They are about 60, not in great health, and threatened by the wedding of the next daughter, who is currently hosting them. The mom and the dad almost hate each other, scars of difficult years and forced wedding. I don't have any special feeling for my in-laws. I don't really enjoy going on holiday with them, as I feel it is like baby-sitting them : always taking care whether they are tired, that they are hungry, that they want tea NOW, listening to their complaints about the food not being what they want, and as a result not doing what I would want to do of my holiday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Als,
      Thanks for reading...
      I can totally relate to the dark aspects of visiting India & feeling unsafe. I also cannot stand the morality police from society, and how people can even LET society dictate so much of how they live their lives...like who cares?
      At times it is hard to blend both cultures, at times it is easier....it depends.
      Indian inlaws will always be in the picture, more than normal as they get older too. They will expect to be babied and taken care of, or else it is seen as disrespectful. Complaining is practically an Indian elder sport, I have learned not to take it personally but it was extremely hard for me.
      I have lived with my MIL before in India, but now we are living in Canada and my inlaws come to visit us. My hubby is the eldest son also and it was always said from the beginning that they would live with us or at least nearby in their old age, I was never given a choice so I HAD to get along with them. The only hitch is that I am an only child so he knows and accepts that my parents will be staying with me too. We have applied to sponsor my hubby's parents to immigrate here and we are waiting for the paperwork to come through. We are planning to build a property this year which will have 3 separate apartments - one for us, one for his parents, and one for my parents. Totally unconventional, but it works!
      That is really nice that you guys have a house together, I feel he is serious about you. I have heard that the Netherlands is a great quality of life, glad you both found work there so you didn't have to live long distance.

      Delete
  25. This is the second part of the comment (was too long :)

    Recently my boyfriend announced me, he considers calling them here. I couldn't sleep that night. He said "not in this same flat, we can have 2 floors, us above them below". What pisses me off even more, is that he suggested them without even talking with me before. That single thought is a nightmare for me. I feel it would be just as during the holiday : me constantly watching my behaviour, to fit the shy Indian girl, not being able to communicate with them properly (as my boyfriend made absolutely no effort to learn French or get a bit interested in my country, I felt no envy to learn hindi anymore). I have nothing in common with them, they only think about filling their stomach. For me life is also about culture, and all magic that human brain can produce : art, history, knowledge. Here nothing to talk.
    Not only that, it is a permanent display of the mother-son love, which I am jealous of. I know it is bad, but fine, I cannot accept that I don't exist for the time when they are around, it is just so artificial.

    For now, they are not in favor of the idea of coming here, and I think "better", but they may change their mind. I love my boyfriend so much, for what he is. But now I don't know what to do : I don't want to live in his country, I don't want to live with his parents, and support the MIN bossing around, her rudenes, self-centered-ness, and permanent display of love for my boyfriend, while I am completely ignored. I think if they come and live here, I will have to leave him. I decided that I will not give up my independence for people whom I have nothing in common with. If he calls them no matter what are my thoughts about it, it would mean he doesn't care for my well-being as much as theirs. And that's not what I want from a partner. I am sad that he no longer seems to consider me as a first priority, as it was at the beginning of our relationship.

    Our beginning was wonderful ! I have never loved so much. Sadly times have changed as the situation (the other sister getting married) changed, and that made my boyfriend somehow more traditional. Hence his dilemma, hence our conflicts.

    My heart bouces from "it's gonna be okay, we'll find a solution, talk it out" to "i can't stand that, another fight" and I wish we would sell the house, and go back each to his country.

    I am glad you are happy, probably you can talk something with them. I am left in front of a big black hole of uncertainty.

    Good luch, and hope for the best

    A.J

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmmm....he should have consulted with you first, but with Indian eldest son it is practically non-negotiable. However I know many fellow Firangi Bahus who have said no to the joint family and their husbands follow their lead. In the end, the living arrangement has to be harmonious for everyone, so if they are not getting along, then there has to be some shift.
      I would approach the possibility of them living 15 mins away, at first. But also discuss his plans as to what he will do when they get elderly.
      Your BF also needs to learn more about your culture too. How would he feel if he were in your shoes? Marrying a foreigner is not enough of a compromise, although some think it is, they also have to do some blending.
      I also have that similar European mentality of culture, art, enjoying life, etc. It is so different than the Indian mentality of everything's for show, work hard, save all money, never enjoy life....almost a martyr-like mentality.

      At first I did not feel comfortable with my inlaws, and they did not feel comfortable with me, we didn't know each other. We have also had tons of fights as families do - on big things, small things, etc. Now we are so comfortable with each other we fart in front of each other and laugh...LOL!!!
      Remember, if they come to the Netherlands, it will be on your turf...and it won't be like how it was in India. His parents will be the foreigners there and will be looking to you to guidance. They may become more Westernized too, gradually. That happened with my MIL who I never thought would happen. She now ONLY reads Swedish crime novels...hahaha...
      The mother-son love thing, I have had to work around. I just don't interfere at all, but luckily my MIL does not hog him too much. And whenever I need advice about him when we fight, I go to her, and she helps. So she has become an ally.
      It is a work in progress, it takes time....

      I would tell him that you do not want to live with them, that you are not comfortable. And also that he needs to make more of an effort for your culture. See if you can negotiate from there...
      xo

      Delete
  26. I am married to an Indian man for 10 years. I want to say that THE MIL, SIL, FIL COMES FIRST. ALWAYS. Youm as the wife ( I am not Indian) COMES LAST. I am thinking about divorce. My SIL still lives with my MIL and FIL - she is 47 years old and has never left home , therefore it is not circumstantial. My husband thinks he's family is normal. He treats me like a nobody and treats them like queens.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://madh-mama.blogspot.ca/2013/12/a-wife-should-never-be-first-priority.html

      Delete
  27. What a discussion on in -laws!
    Okay I understand what most of are you are going through. Being an Indian woman myself (Singaporean Indian) ,I agree that Indians families are so tied up with culture and responsibilities. It’s not that bad among the Malaysian and Singaporean Indians though. Here, once the son is married, he will have a separate home with his wife and they will always visit the in laws during holidays and festivals. They will only stay as a joint family when the son couldn't afford to rent or own a separate home for his family.

    About the feeding, I will tell you. In some Indian families, the mothers treat their children like a kid and even though their 40 plus, their still being pampered. My grandma used to iron my uncle’s clothes and put for him rice and gravies on his plate and keep it on table for him to come and eat. That's so freaking old school that you treat the man like a boss and daughters like slave where they will do all the housework and get nothing in return as an appreciation. It’s so common. If these things still happen in some families outside India, then there's nothing surprising when it happens in India.

    The whole society makes it like that only the sons have to take care of the parents during their old days and if your husband or boyfriend is starting to do it, then don't be shocked. Its part of their culture. I have seen many families where the wives (Indian woman and not foreigners) who don't like having their in laws with them but got NO choice and just put up with them. That is very stressful because you have to wear a mask to smile outside and behave the true you at the back. So I would suggest changing the usual traditions that say you must take care of them, maybe with some live in caretaker cum maid in their home country. Your husband might not agree but what if he sees them being pampered in their country with no complaints of having no authentic curry when their abroad! He will be okay with it and if you are going to pay a little for them to be happy there than to loose your peace when they move in together, than its worth paying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree 200% with everything you said!!!

      Delete
  28. CONT from above. This is my own drama!

    I am married to a European and Yes! He might not be perfect, but he is a very nice guy that I will never regret any day for marrying him. We are married for 3 years and after seeing all you people struggling with your in laws, I would just say,"Pheewww! That's just some small thing to complain about!"
    The first meeting: She pulls away her hand when I offered my hand for a handshake. You know how it feels when someone holds your hand for a handshake and within a second just pull it over as though their touching a dead body! I just forget about it!
    Second: Every time she come down (like thrice a year, YES! we don't have any holidays for us since she come to visit us during our holidays) She will take over the house. She will completely change the whole arrangement in the kitchen. A few times, she calls my husband and shows him and say “see! All this I did! See...that I arranged! See…this was dirty earlier, now I cleaned it!" And when she does this, she calls me to the kitchen with my husband as well. I will be standing there red faced and angry in my heart but I just couldn't do anything.
    While she is here, we give her the only room we have in our apartment and we sleep in the couch as it’s just for a few weeks. Knowing that we don’t have any privacy, she will just not let us have any single privacy even at night times. My husband's finger will linger around me but just that, we can’t do anything more because at night times when we think she is sleeping with doors closed, she will come out like doing shock inspection every 30 minutes once. She will simply walk around to see what we are doing and if we are awake, she will just do it like she came out to have a drink or get something.
    All that I can bear but there is another thing that I hate so much. This MIL and I have like 43 years of age difference. Whenever she is here, she used to see me in my leggings, jeggings and lacey socks. You know what, she asks me if its torn any time she sees me pulling my dress or adjusting my leggings. Then she tells my husband how her friend's leggings tore when she sat in a chair during a party because it was that tight! If you have something call brain, you will know she is hinting you that your leggings or jeggings that you wear is going to be torn. Tell me, if your mother in law is this cunning?! Is it wrong for a 27 year old young lady to wear leggings and jeggings! She does this so many times. While she does that, she copies my dressing! That was funny isn't it?!
    I have a few ballerina flats and the last time, she saw me having a few nice flats, she starts bothering my husband to take her for shopping. She went and looks for flats like mine but she didn't find any so she didn’t buy any shoes. For God sake, she looks horrible like an old grumpy grandma who should know what is suitable for her age but then she just want to compete with me. Even the eye shadows and lip gloss. She wears lip gloss to her overly shrinked and a wrinkled lip that is barely can be seen as lips in front of me in the mall, and the moment I see her plumping out the lips and applying the gloss, I just felt like vomiting because it was that disgusting to see.
    Now that I am 3 weeks pregnant, my husband decided not to have her here till I give birth. Now, this should explain how mean she is that he fears her hate for her son being married and now having children will motivate her to do anything bad. She is separated from her husband for more than 20 years since then she expects my husband to replace his dad's place by calling her everyday, visiting her more frequent even though he is abroad and taking her for all vacations that she orders till today. Its so unfair because now , she is in the stage where she have done everything she wanted and just waiting for her expiry while my husband just started his life and yet ,she still wants him like a dog around her.




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, your story is similar to mine, except I have lived, and still suffering this ongoing nightmare for 20+ years. It's getting worse by day. His sisters are also total monster, but what can we do when they are duplicates of the evil mother? They bad mouth me, even when i am home, so imagine what goes on when i am out? No matter how you try to understand them, nothing you do can satisfy them. So envious when they look at me. Jealous of material things. I guess it's the generation gap. They all will remain Sad and pathetic their whole lives, cannot be helped. Hang in there and be strong, I know I have!!!! Still surviving.

      Delete
  29. CONT.
    My comment is just too long!

    I have to tell you, Indian MILs can be so obsessed with their son that's because the culture is like that and it has been like that for thousands of years but what wrong with my western MIL who have problems seeing me and her son happily married. There have been several times, I want to speak about this to my husband but he sees everything and at times, he is just tired of her and just don't bother because he thinks she will expire soon. So I just cope the whole drama on my own.
    I will just say, not everyone is lucky in having good ILs. Indian MIL or western MIL, their all just the same. Just because we have taken away their son from them, they become more and more obsessed especially if the woman doesn't have a husband as the son was the pillar of the family. The key is to slowly knock the brain of our husband that he now has a family and wife is first, and then the children and lastly is the in laws! If I am having hard time with my European husband to tell him to put his mom behind and think about the wife then those of you that are married to Indian man will for 110% sure have this tough time. Just play smart.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi,
    I have inmy home MIL.She came without asking me .She changed my home.All time finding something about my Baby and telling what I am doing wrong.She came to us in UK.MIL on June is going back India.I hate her so much.She is showing that she is nice..Not listening me.I am not an Indian and I am Catholic n she doesn't understand my culture.She wants I follow her tradition.MIL is behaving like she is mum of my son.
    My husband Said he will leave me faster that mother.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Alexandra,
    Your blog is very helpful! I'm a white American woman marrying an East Indian man in June. We have been living together for 3 years and are both non-traditional, liberal people in our early 30s. But I have had little contact with his parents and now they are coming to the US (they are staying with his sister for 3 months in another city) to attend our American wedding in 1 month. I will be meeting them for the first time the weekend before I marry their son and am anticipating a chilly response. I haven't had any contact with them in advance, no skyping, no phone calls. I wanted to visit them in India over the holidays, but that was essentially not allowed due to amount of disapproval the family would receive from their community. They don't speak English very well, so I will be doing a lot of smiling and nodding and expecting frowns of disapproval in return. It's a tough situation for me, dealing with my own family wedding drama AND meeting my future in-laws. Any advice for breaking the ice despite a language barrier? Any suggestions for gift ideas to present to my future MIL when I meet her? Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats! So exciting!
      I would get her something sweet, a Western dessert delicacy or an assortment. And tell her that you got this to start the relationship sweetly (get someone to translate) ;)
      Sometimes your inlaws not speaking English can be a blessing in disguise! LOL!
      And also, go into it with no expectations...it's easier that way...

      Delete
  32. Dear Alexandra!
    It is so good to see that everything I experienced myself, all (or almost all) the things I was suffering from in my relationship with a North Indian boy you already have put into words...
    The first time I went to visit the family the Indian Mother was behaving so bad with me that my fever was going up while crying and I lost a lot of weight. Unfortunately my love could be easily manipulated by my "sick" almost to be mother in law so he said that due to his family wishes he can not engage me as we were planning it. I gave him time to think and all that time I was doing everything you also wrote to do to gain the mom's love & appreciation. I painted her nails, went shopping with her, called her a lot, was cooking for her, I was taking care of her son, etc. She was talking bad things about me behind my back, misused my openness and great interest in her and her culture. I had to hide when a guest came to visit them, there was a time when she was not looking at me nor wanted to sit next to me, when I got sick no one cared, asked my help to search a good wife for her son from their great cast book...etc. "The love of my life" only realized that if not him, than from his family no one is gonna take care about his happyness after two years of me suffering... It took tooooo much energy from me while I felt that I am not good enough. After 6 years I am ending this realtionship, I dont trust in her getting nicer after our marriage. She would demand a lot from me. It would me my worst nightmare to live with her together. So really, with persistant, bad work she got what she wanted; me out of her son's life..... Of course he realized everything and trying to get me back.

    Dear Alexandra, dont you feel somethimes that you Mother in law is asking too much from you? How do you have so much energy that you can also "serve her needs"? Don't you feel somethimes that you are living in a "3 person marage"?

    Your baby looks beautiful as well as you two together!
    love & respect,
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Anna, I am so sorry to hear that. She sounds like a really manipulative person, and I doubt she will stop with her antics. You can keep the relationship, but stay far away from her. Or if he is not respecting you then it is best that you end it. The MIL will never go away...
      I often feel like I am in a 3 person marriage because I do spend a lot of time with her. But my MIL purposely does not get involved in our plans unless I involve her myself. But I do feel like I have to "date" her and put the extra effort in. Luckily she reciprocates. If she did not, I would have a problem.

      Delete
  33. Hi Anna, not all Indian MILs are like yours. She's way too controlling of her son, she sounds cruel and overly demanding. Also, what's with your North Indian boyfriend? He shouldn't have been putting up with her cruelty towards you for so long. Good for you for breaking up with a terrible mama's boy. I'm sure if anyone feels like they're in a 3 person marriage, they need to ask their spouse to make a choice as to who the third wheel is who has to be removed.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks for the supportive answer!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Indian mils are manipulative and possessive. She is only nice to you because she wants her son to think she is the good one. The day will come when you will see her true colours.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Very good write up. I can totally relate to some of this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! As DILs we can all relate...LOL! :)

      Delete
  37. Hi alexandra.im living in a terrible mess these days.good to hear dat u got a good MIL.my MIL is too bossy n used to shout all d tym on me.she is lyk giving me her unwanted advices.she is living with me n she used to interfere in my n my sons life.my sons name was choosen by her.i was nt allowed to keep his name.she wants me to cook food of her choice.wants me to wear clithed what she likes.she wants me to grt up early in the morning n finish all my household work throughout the day.i cnt hit the bed anytime I feel tired.she is a widow. She always wants to go out with me n my husband.it mks me sad coz I dont get enough alone time with my husband.also she wants me n my husband to sit with her in her room all d tym.i cnt visit my parents with out her permission. I have no one to share my feelings with.i fon know whether its me only who is going through this chaos or there r many girls like me in the world. Im fed up of all these things.sometyms I refused to do the things her way.but then she yelled at me and blame me that I dont like her in the house.plz tell me what to do.i need your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cultural differences are one thing, living in hell because of the lack of respect are not. Maybe she went through the same with her MIL, but that does not justify making your life impossible. There is just one life, and you should decide how to live. At the end you may grow resentment after your husband too, if you are not happy, the family will not grow happy.

      Delete
  38. I find this interesting. My MIL is literally so overbearing it makes me hate her. I have to deal with them but my DH doesn't have to deal with my family. I stopped that early on. I set my rules with my MIL and she didn't like it but she came around due to the way I treated her son. But she is very emotional, looks worn out by her life and marriage to her husband, loyal to her sons FIRST!, Baby's the hell out of her kids and they show no Western respect to her. Its almost as if that is what she is suppose to do without any appreciation. I feel for her but I always tell her that I am nothing like her and If i don't do it with my own blood line I will not do it with hers. She did however tell me in the beginning that I am indian since I married and indian. I politely told her I am not. She gave me a hard look but respect. They do baby their children and i make me cringe because they are grown and don't have to do much except call the kid that has made a life for themselves! Thats what you forgot. Once one child makes it---that means they all make it and it is taxing on a Western Wife!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wow this was great. My mom has a lot of qualities you described in your blog. She is big into cooking and babying her kids. It's difficult being the first generation of kids growing up in America with Indian parents and dating Americans. I'm sure in 30 to 40 years things will get easier.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Wow i am so grateful for your blog post! I can definitely relate to this.
    I've been married for two years and my husbands parents are typical Sikhs who "only care what others think/controlling/criticising/argumentative" type people. I have no relationship with my MIL at all, in fact the mere mention of her name makes me cringe.
    I have the issue where his parents expect me to call them mum and dad and naturally I feel awkward doing this. My mum died when I was a baby and I have never called anyone mum before, and refuse to call anyone mum who I barely like. I feel like my MIL doesn't respect my background. My husband and I have argued over this in the past and we've both decided to leave it be, his mum is too thick skinned to take anything in I say to her and will just jump down my throat and continue to bully me.
    I'm now expecting my first baby and my mother in law thinks this is her baby. Any advice from anyone on how to get a very arrogant and stubborn woman to realise this is not her baby but mine and her sons, and that she cannot control it. She repeatedly refers to my baby as her baby and that she's going to be a mum again. Wtf?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been married to an Indian man for 30 years. I had 3 children. The MIL chose their names and wanted to take the children from me especially my first born son. She kept coming for him! I was told by my SIL that the children were nothing to do with me they belonged to them.
      I found that most English people did not understand the situation I was in or the terror I felt at the possibility of losing my children.

      Delete
  41. Been married 9 years and no kids. We are both desis and unfortunately for both our parents, we are very independent and 'liberal'. I guess I lucked out with my guy who is equally disenchanted with the desi culture. His siblings are awesome as well. My MIL is a typical Indian woman but she's also insecure and passive which works because I have now reached a point where I feel zero guilt when my family members are feeling 'neglected' etc. Happiness comes from within. I grew up around so much misery it was psychotic. The good thing is that when you go through a waking nightmare, you eventually wake up and realize you have total control of your own life and happiness. My husband also understands this. I just hope my parents and his parents come to this realization as well. If they don't, well too bad. You get one life, don't waste it. I have no interest in catering to anyone's bruised ego.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hi

    I am Malaysian (indian race) married to Indian born man. I first trip to india in 2012 was terrible with alot of promblem caused by sister in law and mil. However i follow your tips in recent trip to india and found my mother in law is a good and innocent lady. This time she supported me when her daughter try to create promblem with me.. Thank you for those tips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's really awesome!! Good for you :)

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      I really needs your advise again...........After the wonderful trip to India in early 2014, my mother in law keep on calling us to visit India for the relatives wedding. I just got pregnant after infertility treatment (married for 5 years). The treatment was postpone once in early 2014 just because need to attend Indian relatives engagement. And then it drag to December 2014 as we spent the money on Indian trip. However again in December mil asked us to attend a wedding.... but I refused to go and ask my husband to chose between infertility treatment or the wedding...at last we continue with the treatment. I am pregnant for 4 months now and mil asked my husband to attend a wedding on 22 August 2015... I will be 38 weeks by then..................When he explain about the due date to her, she suggests that my mom and brother may take care of delivery and if he dint attend any wedding he will no one among relatives..........

      Delete
    3. Hi Kavi. I'm not Indian but half Bangladeshi nonetheless I think maybe I can give some insight from having witnessed a mixed marriage from the inside. Firstly, all traditional families expect their children/relatives to pay regular visits and family weddings are considered a must. Here is where both you and your husband must learn to do two important things: compromise and negotiate.
      You have had a difficult time with becoming pregnant and having your husband by your side is an emotional, mental, and physical imperative. Be sure to tell him so and how much that would mean to you and how that can effect your pregnancy and delivery. Next find a way to make it up to his family later for not making it to the weddings. They need to know you understand the significance of not just immediate family but also extended family. Tell them how happy you are to be having his child, their grandchild. Tell them that family is the most important thing to a pregnant women and having their support means the world to you and to him. Tell them that you want them to pray for you and their grandchild and that as grandparents they must have so much they can pass on to the baby. Yes, make it about the baby. Most folks even if they don't get along with the in-laws will still want a good relationship with grandchildren. Make sure you are also willing to let that happen. Find a way to visit them when the baby is old enough for travel. The entire family and extended family can plan a welcoming party and it can makeup for missing the wedding parties. Depending on what part of India they are from there are several Mom to be showers/ ceremonies and baby naming, christening etc ceremonies where gifts, sweets, and blessings are bestowed. These events are considered important family functions similar to weddings. So if they can plan one and host it maybe it will both appease them and make them feel like a part of your and your baby's life. Be patient and learn to communicate with them on a cultural level. They too will hopefully learn to appreciate and communicate with you on yours. My parents have been happily married for 30 years now so it can be done. All the best, Saba.

      Delete
  43. I really liked this post, it gives me some hope. My MIL has been so far very nice, is until now that we are planning the wedding that issues of intermission are starting to appear. I grew up in a non-traditional almost hippie family, where there were respect for individuals instead of hierarchies, and were freedom to be yourself are one of their best legacies and great things of growing up in my house. So I haven't call them mum and dad since I was a child, but we are really close and love and laugh. In my indian family in law there is quite a lot of guilt imposed over the sons, and they are no so close. Is really difficult to me to adapt to all this, and I want to get close and not cause problems, but I can't avoid to make them feel (dunno what they feel) because I refuse to call them mum and dad. And now it seems that my MIL want to decide about my wedding, I understand is "hers" too, but I'm not a people's pleaser, and I don't want to give up my dreams to fulfill hers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya in india, its the parents who decide everything about the marriage. Mostly bridegroom's family if may say.

      I have a love marriage . I am quite a people's pleaser,believe me life is as difficult as it can be.

      I think a balance is required. Decide on some things that are adjustable for you and ask your MIL to plan for it. Score you some brownie points. Rest u plan which u think are for u to plan.

      Remember one thing, that however much your future husband loves you, it will matter to him the most how to treat his parents. This can be a deciding factor in relationship after marriage.

      Cheers, Hope you have a wonderful marriage.

      Delete
  44. I am an American woman married to an Indian man for nine years and we have two children. I had never met an Indian before I met my husband and we married young while we were still in college after 2.5 years of dating. My husband's mom was not exactly supportive of him marrying me, she had a notion that all Americans get divorced. My grandparents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! My husband never kept our relationship a secret from his family. My husband's dad thankfully was supportive from the beginning. We did not have the chance to meet before our wedding because my in-laws were unable to get their passports in time. The first time we met was 3 months after our wedding and it was awkward at first but they are not racists and never acted maliciously towards me. After we had our first child my relationship quickly became stronger with my in-laws. They speak English so we do not have a communication barrier and I am actually closer with them than my own parents. After hearing so many horror stories from both Indians and non-Indians about the infamous Indian MIL and FIL I feel that I just got really lucky. My in-laws are the most progressive Indians I have ever observed from their generation. They had a love marriage in the 70s and did the unspeakable by marrying inter-caste and from inter-ethnically. They faced so much ostracism from their backward society and their own bigoted relatives that they just see people as people and want my husband and I to be happy together. My FIL is the only Indian man his age I ever seen assist his wife with cooking and housework. He is such a good role model for my husband. They did not raise him to be a mama and papa's boy and he does not favor them over me or vice-versa, for the most part we live harmoniously, even when they visit for 6 months.

    While I have been fortunate I must stress that most foreign women and Indian women too are not so lucky. You MUST insure that your Indian boyfriend is not a pushover and is willing to permanently estrange himself BEFORE you fall in love with him and BEFORE you marry him and BEFORE you have children with him. Does he keep you a secret from his parents? RUN! I highly recommend that you invite his parents to visit you in your home country. If your boyfriend is unwilling to insist that his parents treat you with respect and you treat his parents with respect then RUN!

    If you can stand to watch a Bollywood masala film you will quickly realize that they propagate racism against anyone who is not Indian: whites, blacks, Chinese, etc. Most Indians are not just xenophobic, they also hate people from other states, religions, castes, etc. Most Indians cannot afford to travel internationally and have little exposure, tolerance, and respect for cultural differences.

    I have numerous horror stories. My husband's Indian cousin choose to marry another Indian man from a different caste and her mother stopped eating in protest. She now has permanent brain damage and GI tract damage and racked up a huge hospital bill that my cousin was expected to pay since she lives in the US and money grown on trees in the US. The parents and brother of another cousin have not spoken to him in a year because he married a scheduled tribe woman. When I was in college I met an Indian woman whose parents disowned her because she married an American man. She has not seen her parents in 25 years, they have never met her husband and their children. I have other stories I could share but writing this is getting depressing.

    So please ladies, when you enter a relationship with an Indian man test him to make sure that he loves you so much that he is willing to estrange himself from his bigoted parents forever if they force him to choose between you and him. May sure that he is willing to demand they you treat you respectfully or he will thrown them out of the house. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for heartbreak.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Some valuable points. However, there are some blanket generalizations here. careful not to pre-judge people based on their ethnic background. There are many Indian women are not as described here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, this does not apply to all - that would not be possible. This guide is meant for foreigners to think of culture from their MIL's perspective - if they are having problems, many may purely be cultural. In an intercultural family, each culture must be taken into account, all the time. Western women can't fit an Indian mother in law into a Western box. It's like apples and oranges, not only in terms of culture but generation too.

      Delete
  46. Read this post sometimes. I try really hard to please both my MIL and FIL. But sometimes it happens that i say things which upset them . I quickly apologize but the forgival process makes me feel more worse. It goes on saying How good they are to me and How bahus are treated badly in other homes etc?
    Are they really doing me a favor by being good to me ? Can't they see how much i do for them?
    My husband says start seeing them as your own parents. Is that practically possible?
    I do as much as work possible in the home as i am working. I haven't overslept on weekend mornings and I wake up immediately as soon as they do. Do all the work that my MIL has instructed me to do and sometimes more than she expects.
    For the son/my husband , he is lazy around the house , wakes up whenever he wants, does work but only when i tell him to, my MIL and FIL help me in housework while he doesnt budge till told to. His laziness is cute for my MIL and FIL.
    I dont expect much from anyone. just feeling sad coz apology is not accepted and making me feel worse.
    Please keep posting . Hope I had a elder sis like u :) .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dealing with Indian parents always treating the son like a king is hard. I hate that my mil does this as well. She has babied him to the point he can't even make grilled cheese or really anything. What I am doing is simply not making him anything and telling him off when he asks his mom to make things for him. She needs to realize he is a man and is able to do things the same as a woman. I have great issues with my mil, because of her traditional upbringing

      Delete
  47. ohhh dis is great article written by d person who before marriage doesnt imazine such type of situations as we r indian and our upbringing is this era onley .where we heard about other mil n dil issues before our marriage and we r little bit mentally prepare for dese things .. even though in each home of india ...saas bahu nonk jhonk is there .....

    even i m facing same situation dear ..now in FEB 2015 i will cpmplete 5 years of my marriage ..but sometimes i dont feel good and upset ..i feel how my parents or indian can live whole life life with on man .. i mean .. i respect my indian culture ..but in my life lots of issue are there ..and me n my husband mostly arguing with each other ... and some time i feel guilt for i am getting angry in no time and in indian culture .woman should have lot of patience ..but i have lack of patience ..and his is my fault .. i feel dat why i am living ..i have to die ...no body is there in my life ....
    now i want to tell u about me :
    me n my husband both r working ..we married in 2010 ..it was arrange marriage ... .. every thing was good .... my inlaws does not live with us ..my FIL is working in different place ..so in holidays ,they come at our place … I do everything properly as per my aspect ..( in morning I prepare breakfast , lunch ..every thing whatever they need … ) ..i am doing everything from first day of my marriage ..till one year I was very nice for them .. but after one year in 20011 ..when my child was born …when I was in bed rest for starting 7 days .. my mil and unmarried sil (dat time unmarried ..now she is married ) was talking about .. bhabhi is not doing anything ..dont know will she do or not after 15 days … and dat time my mom n papa was also dere ..my mil has some issue with my mother …..then mil told to fil n his son (my husband ) about work n all .. then my husband also annoying with me ..why r u not doing …. Mummy is doing everything …then .. there are lots of thing yaar ..how can I write so much thing ..even now my chile is 4 years ..sometimes we call our mil for my child health issue … she lives only for 3 or 4 days happily then she make lots of issue dat … her dil is not giving tea neebu pani ,…anything which she can make ..then I also reply something and when I reply which is not applicable to indian dil … and ofcourse everybody ..my husband ..mil fil ..everybody will angry with me .. and I fight with my husband ,,dis is my story …me n my husband I fell we never talk simply … ..
    life is too hard to live …
    I don’t know what am I writng but I just want t speak out to someone ..just write ..
    Thanks dear ..
    Luv u ..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel for you, I don't have children yet with my Indian sikh guy and I am western and white. We have so many fights over his family. We get along great but his family is ruining our relationship with unreasonable traditional values. It is hard to feel important when your in laws treat you like junk. And their son is always playing referee. Sometimes it feels to me like we should have never fallen in love because his mom is completely hateful toward m. And with Indian families the son will always have his mother as baggag. If only I was Indian and wanted to be a simple house wife maybe she would appreciate me.

      Delete
  48. ohhh dis is great article written by d person who before marriage doesnt imazine such type of situations as we r indian and our upbringing is this era onley .where we heard about other mil n dil issues before our marriage and we r little bit mentally prepare for dese things .. even though in each home of india ...saas bahu nonk jhonk is there .....

    even i m facing same situation dear ..now in FEB 2015 i will cpmplete 5 years of my marriage ..but sometimes i dont feel good and upset ..i feel how my parents or indian can live whole life life with on man .. i mean .. i respect my indian culture ..but in my life lots of issue are there ..and me n my husband mostly arguing with each other ... and some time i feel guilt for i am getting angry in no time and in indian culture .woman should have lot of patience ..but i have lack of patience ..and his is my fault .. i feel dat why i am living ..i have to die ...no body is there in my life ....
    now i want to tell u about me :
    me n my husband both r working ..we married in 2010 ..it was arrange marriage ... .. every thing was good .... my inlaws does not live with us ..my FIL is working in different place ..so in holidays ,they come at our place … I do everything properly as per my aspect ..( in morning I prepare breakfast , lunch ..every thing whatever they need … ) ..i am doing everything from first day of my marriage ..till one year I was very nice for them .. but after one year in 20011 ..when my child was born …when I was in bed rest for starting 7 days .. my mil and unmarried sil (dat time unmarried ..now she is married ) was talking about .. bhabhi is not doing anything ..dont know will she do or not after 15 days … and dat time my mom n papa was also dere ..my mil has some issue with my mother …..then mil told to fil n his son (my husband ) about work n all .. then my husband also annoying with me ..why r u not doing …. Mummy is doing everything …then .. there are lots of thing yaar ..how can I write so much thing ..even now my chile is 4 years ..sometimes we call our mil for my child health issue … she lives only for 3 or 4 days happily then she make lots of issue dat … her dil is not giving tea neebu pani ,…anything which she can make ..then I also reply something and when I reply which is not applicable to indian dil … and ofcourse everybody ..my husband ..mil fil ..everybody will angry with me .. and I fight with my husband ,,dis is my story …me n my husband I fell we never talk simply … ..
    life is too hard to live …
    I don’t know what am I writng but I just want t speak out to someone ..just write ..
    Thanks dear ..
    Luv u ..

    ReplyDelete
  49. I am going through this right now I have been with my guy for three years and still his mother is the same way! They have been in Canada for about ten years. My boyfriend and I have always been upfront and honest with his mom about everything. We have never fought and I have always tried to be nice to her and include her In our life. But lately she is constantly on my butt about everything, I eat meat and she says it is against the Sikh religion to eat or touch meat.... I have never known anyone from this religion so I went along with it, than I find out from a friend that in India most Indian and Sikh people eat meat. I swear sometimes I feel like his family is ruining our relationship. And in September we decided to go ring shopping and get engaged so we brought his mom out for dinner and we told her and at that time she seemed fine with it. Months later in November we told her we are going to have a engagement party. Instead of being happy for us she told me she doesn't want us to get engaged for another year.....and when I asked her for the reason she told me that she feels that I should be done with school. Which I will be done in 2.5 more years... Which would be fine if she didn't marry her daughter off in a arranged marriage when she was just 18 years old and she didn't even finish school. I am feeling like she just takes advantage of my fiancé. Right now we can't even live together because he pays for the mortgage and all the bills at her house. She doesn't work and her husband which is in India refuses to pay for her. which the bill per month go well over 2300 because we live in Toronto And she ownes a 4 bedroom house. I am at my wits end because every dime he has goes to paying for her bills and the reason is because she is family. And all on top of this she sleeps on the couch in the living room so we cannot have friends over or even cuddle to watch a movie because she is always there staring at us and talking as if we are bad people. And even if we go upstairs she will come up and sit on the bed and complain about bad content in the movie. We can't do anything without her approval and she still treats him like a child, making his lunch for work and dinner. she simply drives me nuts because we can't afford anything at all all. So We decided that maybe it would be better to live with her which is fine for me because I am paying 900 for rent at my apartment. But she said no not ever because of me eating meat and I have a 15 pound dog and she hates dogs because apparently they take up 1/3 of the oxygen in the room.... I have had enough with not being able to save a dime even with both of us working and me going to school. I don't see how this situation could change please give me some suggestions. I truly need help. I love the man but not this life, and he is always sstressed out too. How can we survive the future when his Indian mother is taking hold of his life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why do you love this man? He will ruin you financially and emotionally and allows his mother to abuse you. If you respect yourself, please leave this abusive relationship. - Rebecca

      Delete
    2. From what you describe, this family is VERY VERY old-fashioned Indian. Which means that your MIL (and her son too) just don't think about things in the "western" way. If you don't want to live with your MIL and pay her bills and have her telling you and her son what to do for the rest of your life (or hers at least), you need to assert your own independence (i.e. keep your apartment and your own money separate) and insist your boyfriend does the same BEFORE you guys get engaged. Otherwise you will be living an Indian housewife life, and all that entails -- where the MIL is the boss.

      Delete
    3. This one deserves it's own post!
      http://madh-mama.blogspot.ca/2015/05/ask-firangi-bahu-how-can-we-survive.html
      Keep checking back for new comments from fellow Bahus. I will leave my advice on the thread as well.

      Delete
  50. I was living with my indian boyfriend for 2 years (in the us)...His mum moved over in September and she was uncomfortable with us living together and not married ...I decided to move in with a friend what a big mistake. ..I have met his mum just TWICE in 6 months ..she doesn't have a word of English and it was awkward...so the day after our first visit she said to my boyfriend she wouldn't be comfortable because she can't communicate with me ....so that's why I never see her...my boyfriend and me see each other a few times a week but it's so hard living apart...I don't tink I can live with this lady..I have made an effort to Learn some punjabi however she has no interest in learning English even thought we are in an English speaking country. ..I'm really frustrated I feel for our relationship to work I have to change a lot but she won't budge. ..she also wants us to get married ASAP ..my family live in Europe and have not met my partner yet. ..I would like them to meet him first but his mum doesn't seem to realize I have a culture too and parents...He is 28 so she wants him married and I don't tink she cares if it's me or not.
    I feel indian mums need to let go a bit and let their sons be happy ....my partner works 6 days a week paid for his sister while she studied here but no one cares...it's sad .

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi Alexandra. What a great blog. I am very happy for you that you have managed to build a good relationship with your MIL. Its a brilliant achievement.

    I have major issues with my Indian Partners' mother. I am also Western and I don't think this issue is isolated to just western DIL and Indian MIL's rships, I think it is an issue that occurs among many Indian MIL and DIL's also. The problem as I see it is that many (not all) Indian MIL's are very insecure and are extremely possessive over their sons. I was extremely positive and optimistic about meeting my partners' mother in the beginning as he had spoken so highly of her. How wrong I was. My Partners' mother is first generation Indian and the relationship is now completely frosty and unbearable. She is not an overtly overbearing woman but shows her dislike for me through subtle passive aggression and remarks only made when I am alone with her. I am very susceptible to her energy and feel totally drained in her company. She manipulates her son by playing the victim all the time and making him feel guilty a lot. As far as I am concerned I have tried my absolute hardest, been nice and polite at all times, but I refuse to go where I am not welcome. Its now got to the point where I am no longer willing to visit her and have massively distanced myself. Whilst the MIL as I see it causes the majority of the problem, I think HOW the son manages the relationship is vital in determining whether harmony can ever be created. If the son refuses to acknowledge there is a problem then I cannot see how a solution will be possible. This is the issue that I am facing. My partner refuses to acknowledge any of my feelings in the matter and I am now at the point of walking away. To any MIL's reading this, the absolute key is to allow your sons to be adult males and support their life decisions. This will go so far for all concerned. The mother-son relationship, the son-DIL relationship and the MIL-DIL relationship. Insecurities will also be eased. The MIL-DIL relationship doesn't have to be a negative, fractious one, it can work but it needs co-operation of all parties. I agree that the DIL does also have to make a massive effort to understand the Indian culture and try to understand the fears/concerns of the MIL, but the effort has also to be put in by the MIL too. In my opinion if you raise your son in a Western Country you cannot be upset when they chose a Western partner. The Son is always caught in the crossfire but also needs to take responsibility and manage the situation if it is ever to work. I personally feel its like pushing water uphill and so unless drastic changes are made I am out. Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Me and my hubby are from different (but neighboring) states of India, and I find so many differences in our culture. Since I live in his state, his parents are quite involved. Being from India, it was natural for me to respect in-laws and my tolerance levels are naturally high to their odds, for e.g., how my MIL has this habit of shuffling and re-arranging every little thing in our house when she visits us, and how she gets offended with a slightest difference in opinion expressed in the sweetest way possible. While I have a very happy marriage with my husband and son, things always tense up when in-laws visit. My husband and I are both working, and do all our household works together (quite unusual for an Indian hubby, but he's really very very sweet). But when our in-laws visit, his involvement is not even 1%, and even for that, my MIL blames me very badly, that too, behind my back (talking to neighbors, my relatives, his relatives, SIL, housekeeping staff, etc. etc.). She goes on and on for hours, and sometimes even lies about me (I got to know this from my mom). It's so hurting. And my hubby doesn't feel that free to disagree with her, hence he talks his mind out only with me. When my in-laws visit, or we visit them, I'm always over-cautious, as I do not know what topic she'll find to talk about me. But she always manages to find topics, even when they're non-existent. For e.g., my son, who is 9 months old has never had any health issues, crying problems (he doesn't even cry during vaccinations for more than 5 sec!!) or weight issues since birth. She never had a chance to complain about him or me. Last week, he was reluctant to have food for a day or so (probably because he was teething), and she went on and on for 2-3 hours every single day, about how he's grown so weak, how I'm not taking care of him, etc. etc. And when we went to doctor, we found that his weight was 9kg which was excellent. Now she's started another issue that I should not make my hubby give him bath, and goes on and on. I've never asked him to give bath to our baby, it's just that he loves it so much that he wants to do it. My hubby says nothing to them, but after they left, he talks about how he loves bonding with him through giving bath, touching his little fingers, etc. etc.
    I don't even know why I'm writing this down here. But life's so hard for me. But as I said, being Indian, my tolerance levels are high. I just avoid fights and arguments. I'm not sure if it's right or wrong. I also take help of online materials on how to stay happy, etc. because I want my baby to stay happy and unaffected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your MIL sounds awful and is going out of her way to make you feel bad in every situation. It puts you in an impossible situation especially if your husband does not stand up for you and put his mother in her place. I would advise you to talk to your husband about how this makes you feel and to emphasis that you need his support on this issue. I feel this burden is well and truly placed on your shoulders alone and unless your husband stands up and supports you the situation will not resolve. The only other solution is to minimize contact with your MIL and get your husband to go over there instead and you only go over occassionally. Another thing to be mindful of is that her energy is not draining yours. Being in a state of fear or high alert for long periods of time makes one feel very vulnerable and easily drained. You must preserve your energy in hr company. I know being Indian you are more tolerant but also be aware that this behaviour is NOT acceptable on your MIL's part. It comes from an insecurity on her part. Your husband must support you on this. Good luck

      Delete
    2. Hi, Sorry to hear this. Your MIL sounds very manipulative. There is a book called 'Who is pulling your strings' which helps identify manipulative behaviour and how to deal with it. Your hubby needs to help you with this relationship. I don't mean to sound rude but he appears to be quite resistant to step up.

      Delete
  53. It is heartening to read so many comments from people going through the same sort of cultural clashes that I am at the moment. I'm a 29 yo woman living with my Indian-born partner of 1 year in Australia. We met and fell in love and it is the best relationship I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. The main issue is that he had a love marriage 3 years ago to another westener, which ended in seperation/divorce 18 months later. They were under too much pressure to get married very young and the situation 'proved' that Aussie girls leave during tough times...If you think it is tough trying to be accepted into a family from a totally different culture and world, time it by a million when you are battling with the grief, shame and confusion that a divorce brings.

    I think my partner is incredibly couragous to follow his heart again, and for the first time in the 7 years that he has lived in Australia, his family has come out to visit him. We thought that they would take years to come around to the idea of visiting (especially after knowing we are living together). This all comes only 4 months after I visited India for his brother's wedding, as his "friend" (sometimes my mind boggles that everyone can swallow that lie that we are just friends, but it seems perfectly normal over there). I loved India, and his family, but we left in tough circumstances when they realised that we were more serious about each other than first thought, and freaked out (understandably). I will never forget the way his mum told me that they would "only accept Indian girl" for him. It broke my heart and we almost separated after returning to Australia. the thing is, we have such a lovely life and lovely relationship that somehow common sense prevailed and we made it through.
    Currently, his mum and sister (his dad passed away shortly after his wife left) are staying with us for 2 months and as we aren't married, we need to stay like friends/housemates in separate rooms. Im trying my best to be the perfect host and walk the tightrope of cultural clashes that everyone here is familiar with. I guess I just wanted to share my story to people who understand. Sending good vibes to all, xo

    ReplyDelete
  54. What advice do you have for impressing indian in laws when they come over the house, like for dinner and stuff. I know serving tea is a tradition they like

    ReplyDelete
  55. I hate the happy look in her eyes in the wedding photos, circa 2011.
    I hate that over every other conversation with your mother, hangs the unanswerable question – “why did she leave?”
    I hate that I’m expected to know the answer because I was born in this country too.
    I hate the memory of your brother’s face as he pleaded with me to let you go, to honour the wishes of your father who is no longer here, but this is what he would say if he was.
    I hate that I start so far behind in this journey of acceptance.
    I hate that the cultural stereotype of foreign women opting for easy divorces is not just the views of bigots, but in their experience, a proven truth.
    I hate that you don’t seem to dream about marriage anymore.
    I hate that you remind me that life won’t always be the same, as if my commitment to us might vanish into thin air if and when large lifestyle sacrifices must be made.
    I hate the financial burdens and guilt that are yours to bear due to past mistakes.
    I hate that she stole your innocence in love, and destroyed your family’s faith in the feelings and decisions of your own heart and mind.
    I hate.
    I hate.
    I hate.
    But love is stronger than hate.
    I love the happy look in our eyes in your brother’s wedding photos, circa 2014.
    I love that over every other conversation with your mother, hangs the theme of great joy to be found in having many children.
    I love the memory of your brother’s words as he plans to come and visit Australia, living out the unfulfilled dreams of your father.
    I love that we have the opportunity, through living alongside them in our beautiful home, to demonstrate our happiness and commitment to each other.
    I love the fact that cultural stereotypes of foreign women opting for easy divorces are disproven in 60% of Australian marriages, and that when I marry, it will literally be until death do us part.
    I love our dreams of making a family.
    I love that we are old enough to understand that life won’t always be the same, and that we can rely on the wisdom from past experiences to help keep perspective during the tough times.
    I love the satisfaction in meeting the responsibility of financial burdens like our mortgages, the education of our dependants, and the wellbeing of our families.
    I love that in each other we have rekindled our belief in love, learning to trust ourselves again in regards to the feelings and decisions of our own hearts and minds.
    I love you, my darling, now and forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is this?. I agree with some but not most. People divorce more now because they know they are not chained to eachother. Maybe some give up when they could have tried a little harder..while others gave it their best and felt happiness was what counted in the end. Life is short.

      Delete
  56. Hey Alexandra! You are so lucky to be able to marry your Indian love and form a good relationship with your MIL.

    I fell in love with a Brahmin guy from Varanasi and he with me while I was on a trip there. It's pretty evident that his mom won't accept this and she will find him a girl to marry herself. (I am Muslim) Everyone in his family had arranged marriages and he says Varanasi is very orthodox, so there seems to be no hope.

    I wonder if there'd be the slightest of hope! If I went there and met her...probably not eh? not sure why I am writing, maybe just to share. Too bad the culture can be so rigid and orthodox because it is a culture I love. So sad that people have to marry someone they don't love :( all the best to you...

    ReplyDelete
  57. My husband is Indian and we have been together for 6 years and married for 3. I lived in India before I met my husband and shared a house with my Indian colleagues. After marriage, I also lived for a year in India with my husband, but in our own house. At the moment, I'm experiencing my in-laws first visit to Europe- they are here for two months! Three weeks in, and I have to say I feel isolated and cast aside. Firstly, my mother-in law has taken over the kitchen, which i did not expect. I have a stomach problem, and I can't eat Indian food, so I have to try to find some space in the kitchen to cook food for myself. I eat alone and they eat together with my husband. The conversation is always in Hindi, although they speak perfectly good English. I am a good cook- I have an Italian background. I love to cook for people, and the first day, I cooked for them, but they just refused to take more than two bites. I visualised us sitting together at meal times and having a good laugh. I thought that some days I would cook, and some days my mother-in-law would. I never had any problems with them in India, but i feel that i have no place in my own home. I feel really isolated. My husband just does not see my point of view. we have five weeks left, nd I have now reached the point where I'm so miserable, that I just sit in my room and let them get on with it. I feel totally excluded. Furthermore, I have had no alone time with my husband since they arrived as my husband wants to dedicate all of his time to them while they are here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. I understand your feelimg. This happen to me to. I am MAlaysian where the food is not much different from th indian food but only will take one bite or none. Indians dont know how to respect host and very bad guest. And even they went back home me and husband will fight on this matters for at least 3 months as my husband ( sentimental) will feel guilty didnt spent much time with them.

      Delete
  58. I was wondering if I could get some tips. My indian bf and I are actually quite young, and I already feel a mutual struggle happening between his mother and I. So many times I have come over to their house for dinner, uet they haven't come over to my house. They live some miles away, but that has not stopped me from going to their place. My bf says if he had his OWN way (his mother makes all the decisions for him), he would be able to find time to come over. Recently, he just found time to hang over at my place, but his mother suddenly texted me saying "Come have lunch and dinner with us again." I agreed in order not to fight. Later I asked my bf and his brother why they couldn't make it to my place, and they said, "she doesn't know how to get to your place", and this is after I gave her clear directions. But even still, she made bo comment about having dinner at my place, and kept insisting for me to eat at their house. I can feel my patience starting to slip, and I'm trying so hard not to let it get the best of me. I need help and some reassurance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! That's a rough place to be in. I don't know if this is a silly idea or not but maybe if you looked up and Indian dish to make and decorated the table very nicely and gave her a semi formal invitation maybe she'd feel honored and come on over.

      Delete
  59. Very true! I see many similarities. I should talk to her sometime (on the phone).

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thank you so much for this post! I've been the white part of my Indian husband's family for 8 years, they welcomed me right away! His parents are divorced so there's always been complicated family dynamics but it was all fairly easy to stay out of, and my MIL treated me well (aside from constant nagging!)
    When we had our son, my MIL became extremely possessive and negative and emotional about everything which made having a newborn even harder. My husband just says she's mentally unstable (hah!) but that doesn't solve anything.
    Your post has really helped me understand her more, and your tips are what I wish my husband had told me 8 years ago!! I've been trying your tips about asking more questions, making her feel more included, and making sure I call her mom (I read that in one of your comments and you should include that in your post, I got in major trouble for calling her my her name and her sister rubbed it in, embarrassing her)
    Thanks again, this really helps my relationship and I feel less alone knowing it's not just me!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Hey

    I don't know where to turn or how to handle my situation as I am going mad with stress. My husband and I have been married for 18 months and my mil was unable to make the wedding. I've felt horrible about that ever since. Last month I booked my husband and myself tickets to see my mil and things are now out of hand. According to my mil (and her family) i am not married and I am being separated from my husband when we land in Mumbai (23 hours of travel) and the very next day I am to participate in a bunch of rituals that will last 24 hours 7 am to 7am apparently no time to sleep. I am newly pregnant exhausted already and unable to cope with the demands being put on me. I'm terrified the stress will cause me to lose my baby as I've been cramping. What should I do my sister in law has been doing the correspondence and has went from a kind and good friend to someone that is a mean bully

    ReplyDelete
  62. I dislike my MIL and SIL with passion. Sometimes there is no winning. The husband has a big role to play - he can either positively influence and sow some good seeds in his mom's head or completely be a dick in this regard. The only way to deal with this situation sometimes, is to grin, pretend and get on with life.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Thank you for your block it has helped in my understanding about my Indian Inlaws. I have tried for many years now, overlooking a lot even being ignored for several years because we were living together. It was strange how my mil seem to feel she could ignore my entire being for over five years and when my husband told her we were getting married all of a sudden I was to call her mom. I was willing to develop a relationship but not jumping in to calling her mom after her cold shoulder for so long. Recently my father in law died and it has gotten really bad. His sisters feel I should leave a job that is a great opportunity and move to where they live and move in with her to take care of her. I have been told that it is the son's wife responsibility to take care of her. I was never told that before we got married and believe me it would have been a deal breaker had they. I don't know how this year will wind up but I am afraid it could be in divorce. I am not moving in with her. I am willing to talk about moving near her and help but I am not taking her on as my soul responsibility. It is interesting that the sisters are far from old world except when it benefits the.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Have an indian muslim mother in law ..Am a modern Sindhi ..

    Firstly she can't really speak English but i have been trying to interact and create conversations initially . Brought her to the USA along with me and my husband to create a closer bond but that turned out crazy . She was literally calling our room at 12am demanding to see my husband because she was not happy he wasn't talking to her much as he used to before marriage

    After coming back things looked normal and she use to cry and even hug me in front of my husband when crying and somehow trying to tell me forget all the unhappiness during the USA trip and let us start afresh

    Past month things got worst , she lies a lot even to my husband . We hve a house maid and the house maid will tell me everything that she does and she even ask the house maid to lie to us .

    She does not do anything the whole day except watching drama and gossip .

    Oh yea , she left her husband many years back so she basically depends on her children , my husband being her first son . She expects a lot even Though we show her love , bought a property near her so that she doesn't feel left out she still demands and demands and the demands are increasing and she still keeps saying my husband does not care for her and I'm being a very bad daughter in law
    . At times I feel like telling her if we were mean , we wouldn't buy a property near you ... She doesn't see all the good we have done .

    As of now . I'm not in talking terms with her . I just say hi and bye when I see her and I know she still gossips / . We have only been married for 2 months

    Do not know what to do anymore. Given my best before and after marriage .... I think I'll just let them gossip till they are tired .


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never seen such disgusting chatter until I met my husband. My hubby's family are so negative and jealous or something with each other. Hardly a kind word spoken. Not my family.

      Delete
    2. Sounds like a case of the South East Asian mother-in-law without any self worth. Most women are taught that they have no value as a person except as a daughter, wife, mother. And they truly have suffered because of this. Therefore, if they have lost out on their relationship with men in their life e.g widowed, bad marriage, treated badly by mother-in-law, then their desperate clinginess to their son will be exacerbated. This woman probably has almost nothing in her life except her son. She needs him for affection, respect, worth & livelihood. Understanding her needs to be within this paradigm. They don't have their own life and self worth like the western mother. It's important to make them feel worthy, powerful, in-control, loved, included. Her trust needs to be won, then you can try to bridge the gap by asking her questions about her life. Eventually, once you have won her respect you can slowly and gently put up some parameters and rules.

      Delete
  65. I think you so much for all the posts. Started it work and continued reading until I got home. He mentions many things that I have had concerns about in the past.

    I love India and Indian culture in many ways. I was in a relationship with someone for 4 years and his parents never knew about us. Because of course they want him to marry who they decide and she must be Indian. Jokingly I told him at one time I am Indian... American Indian and German. It gave me great insights on how not to be involved with an Indian man.

    But what would you know, the next person to enter my life it's also Indian. I am older and American. For the region he is from I am of course of taboo. We have discussed quite a few of the things brought up in this post. I hope you can stand with his word in the future. But thanks to you I am NOT totally unaware and it gives me a starting point. I hope I only have good things to put on this blog in the future.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I love this blog too. I am an American girl who has been married to an Indian man (born and raised in India) for 20 years. We met in college and started dating. He is the only son of his parents. Two years after we started dating, he invited me to go to India with him to visit his parents and, lo and behold, THEY proposed marriage to us. We accepted their proposal (haha) and had a traditional wedding in India. It was really cute and warm, and they have been the same, always warm and caring, throughout our relationship and our marriage. They have never made ANY demands of me. I think so much of this depends on the personalities involved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, i have been married for 16 years, learned the language(can speak like a native), know how to cook every single traditional item, can wear saree, madisar, and all. And STILL there are expectations. I have been told that i dont care about health and general well being for my family because i dont wake up at 4am to cook fresh breakfast and lunch everyday (i work outside of the home also). Told to wear bindi when at home, and told that western clothes look like rags and only indian clothes have beauty. It DEFINITELY has a lot to do with how the Mother in law holds herself and her beliefs and personalities on how the dynamics of your own family become.

      Delete
  67. Wow, when I read your post, I felt like I was reading about my own MIL. I had to laugh when I read the part about hand feeding a 30-yr old man - that's the exact thing that happened with my husband and his brother as well once her got married. I never got used to the sight of that and I would probably run for the hills if she tried hand feeding me. Although I am of Indian origin, born and brought up in India, my outlook is very Western - I love and respect boundaries and individual space, unlike most Indian families.

    From what I've seen, Indian parents tend to cling on to their children and their families - they cannot let go. On one hand, I just love it that they are so caring and so sweet. On the other hand, its just a little too clingy for comfort, with no respect for boundaries, especially when its not just your son in the picture, but also his wife and kid(s). And the unsolicited advice - Dear Lord. I could go on and on, therefore, I will not even attempt to start.

    For all those women who aren't of Indian origin and looking to settle down with an Indian - I think the most important thing is to make sure that your man is able to strike a balance between the two most important women in his life - his mom and his wife. If he's a pushover and if his mom seems the manipulative, passive-aggressive sorts, or if there's a ton of emotional baggage/drama - think really hard. I've seen marriages fall apart and friends become miserable for the reasons outlined above. Indian sons tend to bend over backwards for their moms, some of them don't really care about how or what their wives think or feel and sideline them altogether. Indian MIL's (not everyone of course, I am not saying this applies to everyone) tend to be over possessive, controlling and very emotional (rather than practical) Take it slow initially, err on the side of caution and find out where the MIL is coming from and what makes her tick. Also, make sure she knows and understands you're compromising and adjusting for many things, but that it goes both ways and then she might need to make some compromises as well. I think its very stressful when the compromising is all one-way and the mil isn't making an effort at all.

    ReplyDelete
  68. it is difficult to adjust in eastern community by a western woman

    ReplyDelete
  69. This is the life of a typical indian family. Whether indian or american. I am an american have been married for 15 years and i married into a very traditional Brahmin family. Every day is about the household chores, poojas, cooking and cleaning, office work and even sometimes the kids emotions and needs come second. There are jokes i have seen posted by other indian ladies on "why do my potential inlaws need me to have a masters in computer science when really all they need is someone to cook and clean for them and their son?" this is the state of many indian families from what i have seen. It takes a lot of patience and bending to make it work and its the wives who end up with the shortest stick. unfortunately if the husband has his heart truly in the relationship it is very hard for him as well as he ends up being the rubber band pulled back and forth between his wife and mother. First and foremost the mother almost always rules the roost...

    ReplyDelete
  70. Actually i have responded now to a few of these posts but, sigh* here it goes, i will post my own experience. Not everyones journey is the same, i am seeing some of the same flavors and experiences to be similar, on the same spectrum but in different hues. My journey is one of a love for a culture that i wanted to be so much a part of which has now turned to a burden and questioning of how it has become like this.

    My MIL was never accepting of me, nor my way of talking, behaving with them, or dressing. If i stood near my husbands friend she would call it out saying that in their family they dont stand next to other men. If when the emotional flares went through the roof and i chose not to react i was labeled as unloving and unemotional, not caring enough to understand the needs. Right after we were married and my inlaws were staying with me, the first day i went back to work i didnt wear a bindi. When i got home she had still been crying from morning about how only widows have a face without a bindi. It as been 15 years now, and now she lives with us. right after she moved in she told me that if she didnt see a bindi on my face, she wouldnt talk to me. I was told that western clothes look like rags and only indian clothes look good, only indian foods are healthy and one can only benefit by eating those (and BTW she doesn't even like to drink water from any place outside let alone eat- wherever we go if it is more than an hour journey we pack food, if it is a longer journey we cook full tiffins/lunch at home and carry). I can go on and on of so many situations where it is pointed out that i/we are not being indian enough. Take this all aside and know that i can speak the language fluently, i know how to wear a saree, a madi saree, i can tie my own husbands pancha (which he doesnt know to do) I know how to read/recite mantras, i can cook with the best of them and can read calendars for tithis and the such to a bit. All of this i do with commitment everyday to no avail. There is never an end to it, expectations have only increased with the addition of children (you arent feeding them enough, u never got them used to payasam, dont give them donuts/chocolates, work in the house is more important than sitting down and doing "passing time" with trying to help them with school work. All the glitter and glam the chimkis and pattu has faded to dust and depression. To all of you out there dealing with this, hats off to you and your determination to keep it all together every day. I have come to a conclusion that for such people who can only keep demanding and expecting that there is never and end to it and if you give in you are damned and if you dont you are damned as well. i have started to take the stance of ignoring passing comments and constant complaints (so and so is better at "xyz", see how so and so dresses, see how so and so keeps their house clean. I know i am doing my best and have always done my best and its getting tiring to be my best all the time. As i get older responsibilities keep increasing and the only thing i can do is to let some things go

    ReplyDelete
  71. My MIL calls me and my Hubby's place her "home base". We are coming very close to our 4th anniversary and have no kids. When we moved out of state she started proclaiming to all her friends that she is moving out of state. Alarm bells went off. I spoke to my as he calls himself "ABCD" husband (I'm half white/mex) and he finally asked what's going on and learned that she will move in with us and everything she owns will move in too. This just happened less than a month ago.
    I'm dying inside.
    I have nowhere to turn because my hubby (though he is super westernized) is a mama's boy and thinks any thoughts on the matter i have are me attacking his mom.
    So I've kept 100% percent silent since and at least he seems happy. He says he wants me to understand that he cannot be put in the middle because he loves us both and cares for us both.
    I'm having a really hard time now.
    She's very very sweet and cooks and cleans and i can tell she wants to be hospitable.
    If i would have known before we got engaged and fell in love that this was a real possibility in our future, that would have been a deal-breaker. But I'm married now and deeply in love with the ding dong. Hah
    I want to so badly share things with him,
    Like how she knocks and immediately enters our bedroom and half the time just comes right in. (The door frame was built wrong so there is no way to lock it)
    Or how the millisecond i go to the kitchen she jumps up and asks if I'm hungry.
    I've yet to go to the kitchen alone.
    She used to live with my SIL in a mansion of a house. They even built her her own room! But she said after being there for so long she was getting "yelled at" by her daughter. I can understand my SIL's frustration though, living with BOTH sets of inlaws has got to be hell on earth.
    Right now I'm basically just feeling like a shell of a person. I'm incredibly just sad about stuff. I don't leave our bedroom to eat half the time. I think my husband is starting to botice that I seem "off" but I don't have the strength to tell him how I feel anymore because I can't feel this way AND be in abhuge fight with him, because then I'll feel REALLY alone. We literally just moved away from all our friends and fam 2 months ago.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Indian male here who married a wonderful white woman 3 years ago, after dating her for a year and a half. My mom has a PhD. I ascribe all my intelligence to her, and a lot of my professional achievement - she has always been one to encourage and help me to go for great things. Me and her have always been a "team" in our household since my childhood, and we're as close as an Indian mother and son could get.

    Alas, despite all that, here I am doing google searches on "Indian MIL hates her white DIL" and landing at pages like this. My mom has developed a huge problem with my wife. It started when we visited my parents in India after our wedding when she noticed that my wife doesn't automatically wake up at 5am in the morning in order to cook and serve the household. It became about a billion times worse when I had my mom come over to the US to visit us at the time our first child was born. She has failed to understand the notion that in the west, men take care of their wives and families. That they sometimes put on the shoes for a pregnant woman, and that they try to cook her food, and generally let her have her way while she carries and delivers a baby. Since then, my mom has been a phenomenal help to us in taking care of our baby for months (a responsibility she and my MIL alternate on) while we both worked full-time jobs. But all this time, she has only developed an increasing hatred for my wife (all passive-aggressive) because she does not fit the mold of a wife/mom who simply doesn't kill herself for her family. All my mom sees is a woman who came out of nowhere and is dominating her perfect son.

    What my mom doesn't see is that I love my wife and have become happier than I ever thought was possible since I started being with her. She doesn't see that my happiness is mainly because of and not despite my wife's self-respecting, independent nature. My wife is very emotionally strong and thinks nothing of ignoring others' advice or input when it comes to taking care of our daughter. Fact is, she is almost always right and actually has great motherly instinct, despite being away from the baby every day because of her full-time job, and despite leaving a lot of the baby's care on her mom and mine. But every instance of her over-ruling my mom is a massive pain for me because my mom makes it a "me versus her" choice for me. The moment I side with my wife when she is right, my mom views it as sacrilege (I have the ability to objectively judge who is right in a given situation, mainly because, ironically, of the intelligence I inherited from my mom).

    She talks about how I am no longer "hers" anymore. Truth be told, I really am no longer hers, I actually never was. But her upbringing and culture will never let her see me as an individual who can make his own choices. I have no choice but to continue being as objective as I can be, irrespective of how much it hurts my mom. I have to continue standing up for my wife when needed (and for my mother too but my wife rarely makes it a "your mom or me" thing). My mom will simply not get it. And if I find myself forcing my wife to do certain (often wrong and counterproductive) things just because my mom wants her to, I should leave the marriage with whatever dignity is left to me because I do not have the ability to respect the woman I married.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, apocalypse, just wow!! Your insight and emotional intelligence in this situation is something to behold. I'm a white woman about to marry my Indian partner of 2 years and I am going to mentally bookmark your post to show my husband down the line... if he can continue to demonstrate evenb half of the emotional maturity you possess, we are going to be just fine in any upcoming MIL clashes.

      Massive Kudos - your wife is a lucky lady :)

      From Australia

      Delete
    2. Thank you anon from Australia. To a large extent, my clarity in thinking was driven by my wife's unrepentant self preservation. She has consistently been able to call out times when I started to buckle under my mom's pressure. While calling me out, she always took emotion and drama out, and so was always clear and credible. The longer she did it, the easier it became for me to understand how to deal with the whole situation. My unsolicited advice to you is to develop the strength to separate your love of your husband from your ability to spell out exactly how he is buckling under pressure (if he does). Be consistent, and don't budge when you know you're right. The message will eventually be understood.

      Delete
    3. Very wise advice - and thank you for it! Staying clear, credible and unemotional is difficult sometimes but so, so worth it.

      Hoping that your mom is able to calm down over time - times may have changed since she had a young family in terms of the expectations of mothers and fathers for primary care-giving, but the love that parents have for their children has remained the same. Have you tried talking to your mom about the issue as a whole at a time that she isn't worked up and emotional? I'm sure you have, from what I have seen, certain Indian ladies of that generation can get very emotional very quickly and it is tough...

      Wishing you all the best,

      The Aussie :)

      Delete
  73. I have a tricky situation. I'm a white woman dating an Indian man who never learned very much about his cultural background or traditions and can't explain them to me. His mom follows many of the traditions but neither of his parents were around for much of his upbringing, sometimes living in different US states from the children for months at a time. He and I moved in together 5 months ago and had short term plans of getting engaged, married, and pregnant. He had warned me that his parents had met only one of his girlfriends since living on his own and that introduction resulted in his mom not speaking to him for more than a month. His parents had an arranged marriage but my boyfriend was closed to that option and hasn't even dated an Indian woman since moving out of their house. He had shared the idea of living close to them in their old age since he is the oldest and the only son, yet told me that we would find the right arrangement to make it work. My parents met my boyfriend a few months back, and he wanted me to meet his parents, so we booked a trip. His parents recently retired and met us on day 2 of lengthy rv trip, having worked extremely hard their whole lives and almost never taken time off for trips or even to spend much time with their children. I am extremely warmly welcomed with hugs and stories and I think maybe all of my worry was for nothing. My flight leaves a day prior to my boyfriend's, and I am already on board the plane when I find out that his dad died tragically. When I return for the funeral rites, there is much chaos and it is very confusing. I met his sisters for the first time under the confusion and his mom's personality totally changed. I understand how unhappy and scared she is, but she will no longer look at me and if I start to speak she will cut me off by talking about something else. She tells her son that I am not welcome to attend ceremonies, but then he asks me to be there. After the cremation, I am told to leave because the rest of the family is returning to the family home and I am not allowed to join them. I understand the hurt and pain of my boyfriend's mom, but don't know where to start repairing our relationship or when to start. Additionally, I am fearful because my boyfriend tells me that we are not allowed to get engaged for at least a year and gets short with me when I inquire why he is following this tradition. I'm trying very hard to learn about how end of life affects my relationship with the only son, but I'm scared to wait too long to have children. Does anyone know of a resource where I can learn about this horrible situation? I haven't seen my boyfriend in weeks and hardly get to talk to him so I am just getting more and more sad and worried. How do I find out the rules and when the lunar year is up? Who can I talk to so that I can put this worry aside and just be supportive and loving again? My boyfriend is completely worth waiting a year, but being dictated that I have to wait makes me feel sad and hurt and worried, and I just want to put my heart at ease by honoring the tradition. Any suggestions to help me understand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry about your future father-in-law's death. Yes it is true that you have to wait one year to have any kind of celebrations - the family would not be celebrating Diwali or any festivals, much less having a marriage. I would not push it, just give it some space and time. And usually the deceased relative is honoured every month on the day of their death up until 12 months. This ritual is so that they can help the departed' soul go to the next life and so the family can heal. I would not bring up the prospect of marriage until the year is over. Just be there to comfort your boyfriend.
      Also because you are just a girlfriend and not a wife, it is usually viewed as unacceptable to attend any family events. Because people will gossip, that is probably why his mother was so uptight

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for your kind words and reassurance. I know that Boyfriend is just sad and stressed and none of his remaining family want to have any extra factors in their suddenly changed lives, definitely including me. I have been fortunate that Boyfriend has been treating me with dignity and has been mostly himself. I'm thankful that he's a creature of habit so he can be mostly functional. I wrote sympathy cards to his mom and sisters and he told me that they meant a lot. I am thinking about writing a card to his mom again just to let her know that Boyfriend is pretty normal and taking care of himself. The only conversation that his mom and I had when I attended part of his dad's death rites was her asking me to look after her son since we are living so far away from the rest of the family.

      Alexandria, your comment about the ritual each month makes sense. Is it one calendar year that is the normal time frame before celebrations? I think the trip to India with the ashes will be in January, but should I be prepared for anything else? What happens next September when a year has elapsed? Are there more rituals? I already had to face Boyfriend's birthday, which was a little awkward, and his mom and sisters' birthdays are coming. I'm not sure what might be appropriate. I have been cooking for him more than I ever did since he doesn't want to see friends or go to restaurants. Do you have any suggestions for my situation? Your advice has been extremely helpful! Thank you!

      Delete
  74. I loved your post! You know? I always said "I was lucky" to have a good relationship with my MIL but after reading all your advice I realized that I actually worked for it too! It just came naturally to me because she's a nice person but I think you're spot on with the list of things to do! As long as your MIL is a normal person (because there are some psycho ones out there!) this will work to get you closer to ANY mother in law regardless the nationality! Wouldn't it? =)

    ReplyDelete
  75. I do not understand why in India the perspective that ‘in laws’ have is so ‘out-lawed’, especially when it comes to a daughter-in-law. So much is the display of a stiff upper lip towards the DIL that they sometimes just forget that she is a human being – before being a DIL.

    Even when the DIL is facing a medical problem, and here I am talking about something more serious that the normal fevers / aches etc., which the DIL discounts on her own (as if she had a choice!) they will display such lack of concern that one almost questions whether they have any humanity left in them. In contrast, the behavior is very ‘human’ if they themselves or some people that they care about are facing slightest of illness. In fact, there is an enquiry from the ‘erring’ younger woman if she enquired regarding the health of the person in question.

    People in India need to get one thing straight… the girls today are not less than the boys. They study and work and contribute both emotionally and financially to the family. Then why to expect them to keep taking non sense. And if people continue with such behavior, the younger generation will be the first one to ignore such trouble makers and leave them to lead a lonely old age. Every person has the right to happiness and does not need to take shit all their life.

    ReplyDelete
  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  77. I must say I read all comments about MIL's and most of all your comments have same similarities as my story...I believe that india needs to change with the system of mother in law ruling daughter in laws life and should let we live our own lives with our husband without MIl's interfearing. Just let us pray to God to help us in these type of situation....

    ReplyDelete
  78. Hi Alexandra. I loved your blog and your insight on the complex MIL-DIL relationship. However, I disagree on the thought that "The MIL/DIL relationship is a women-only arena. DO NOT get your husband or FIL involved. Don't complain to them.".

    I am of Indian descent married to an Indian. I live in US and love the american way of life. But I am also deeply entrenched in my Indian values. As somebody mentioned in their response, this issue is not just isolated for western DILs. I have given 6 years of my life trying to please my husband and his parents. I have realized that this is a battle that I am not ever going to win. It's just impossible for me to win over my mother-in-law's heart as I am the person who is taking her son away from her. I can do 10 things right, but the 11th unintentional wrong thing will undo the progress I made by doing 10 right things. My in-laws are tremendously successful in making my husband feel guilty about this roles and responsibilities as a son. He will never even consider that they may have wrong assumptions or setting a boundary for them or even having a chat with them when they openly insult me. It is just unfortunate that the marriage has to suffer, not because the husband and wife don't love each other, but because somehow DIL is not able to get along with the in-laws. It's as simple as that, but it couldn't be more complicated. I don't think if I want my husband to stand up for me that means that I want him to berate his parent. I do want to know that he respects me and will fight for it. He should be alarmed if I am feeling under-appreciated and devalued. I am not just complaining to him, I just want my dignity saved in this marriage. This is not a women-only arena, this is a delicate tangled mess that my life is in right now. I am very close to calling quits. I have overcome all the shame, guilt and failure associated with divorce, because I want to give myself a chance. Life is too short to spend on trivialities.

    I understand that there are some situations where a gentle nudge in the right direction can do wonders. However, let's not ignore the situations and circumstances where you can see clearly it's not going to work out.

    Respect and peace to all MILs and DILs out there.

    Love, NV

    ReplyDelete
  79. Discovered your blog not long ago and have been slowly reading through your posts. Hence why my comment is only a year or so late now. I am actually mid post writing about my Punjabi MIL and the relationship we have. She treats me equal to her son and never takes sides. She respects boundaries when or if we request. Reading some of the comments on here it is very clear these people have been brought up in the old indian culture where women aren't equals to men and if you marry into a family you are the stranger. As you said we are all equals since funnily enough we are all the same species no matter our colour or sex. Such a shame that some have such a negative view on the foreign DIL. If your MIL doesn't treat you right you have every right to try to speak up or walk away.

    Tanya
    http://tanyavmoore.wixsite.com/thewhitepunjabibride

    ReplyDelete
  80. Hi Alexandra! I recently came across your blog and LOVE it. I have been dating my boyfriend for a short three months (!!!) but despite a major fear of commitment on both our ends, things have gotten very serious. We are discussing moving in together in six months' time, and have already been essentially living together between our two places.

    He's North Indian but grew up in Mumbai, and his father always pushed him to adapt a more global, "Western" view of the world. As such, he's always been very independent and has dated around just as much as I have. After a bad infection caused him to undergo surgery, his mother, who is more traditional, immediately flew to the U.S. to tend to his every need.

    This has been extremely stressful for both of us - he, because he likes his independence - and me, because I was thrust in to the cultural differences without much warning. She fed him the first night I met her too, with her hands, and I almost spit out my own food with surprise!

    Your blog has been a GODSEND as I move forward with this relationship. While his father has already insisted I call him "Dad" and lights up every time he talks to me, his mother still regards me with wariness and disrespect. Coming from a Midwestern Scandinavian family, all I am desperately trying to do to win her over has fallen on deaf ears. I so appreciate this post and will try some of the tactics and questions on her. Despite the North-South differences, your MIL sounds just like my boyfriend's mother! Also, she has expressed to him numerous times that she wants to break the cycle - her MIL, and her MIL's family, expects her to wait on her hand and foot, and is openly rude to her.

    I know I am lucky to have a future MIL from a relatively liberal and cosmopolitan Indian family, but I still have felt like I'm drowning! Your blog helps so much, and I'm super grateful.

    Little winded here, but so excited to read something that hits what I'm experiencing spot on.

    Best,
    Gina

    ReplyDelete
  81. Hi Alexandra! I recently came across your blog and LOVE it. I have been dating my boyfriend for a short three months (!!!) but despite a major fear of commitment on both our ends, things have gotten very serious. We are discussing moving in together in six months' time, and have already been essentially living together between our two places.

    He's North Indian but grew up in Mumbai, and his father always pushed him to adapt a more global, "Western" view of the world. As such, he's always been very independent and has dated around just as much as I have. After a bad infection caused him to undergo surgery, his mother, who is more traditional, immediately flew to the U.S. to tend to his every need.

    This has been extremely stressful for both of us - he, because he likes his independence - and me, because I was thrust in to the cultural differences without much warning. She fed him the first night I met her too, with her hands, and I almost spit out my own food with surprise!

    Your blog has been a GODSEND as I move forward with this relationship. While his father has already insisted I call him "Dad" and lights up every time he talks to me, his mother still regards me with wariness and disrespect. Coming from a Midwestern Scandinavian family, all I am desperately trying to do to win her over has fallen on deaf ears. I so appreciate this post and will try some of the tactics and questions on her. Despite the North-South differences, your MIL sounds just like my boyfriend's mother! Also, she has expressed to him numerous times that she wants to break the cycle - her MIL, and her MIL's family, expects her to wait on her hand and foot, and is openly rude to her.

    I know I am lucky to have a future MIL from a relatively liberal and cosmopolitan Indian family, but I still have felt like I'm drowning! Your blog helps so much, and I'm super grateful.

    Little winded here, but so excited to read something that hits what I'm experiencing spot on.

    Best,
    Gina

    ReplyDelete
  82. Do you have any idea about the dynamics of living with my Indian wife's mother?

    ReplyDelete
  83. Loved this! I was looking for an article that would help me with my situation, and I couldn't really find any good ones, so I'm glad to find this! I will be marrying a Bangladeshi guy soon, and his mom has been a MAJOR issue. Super stubborn and emotionally manipulative - sometimes she just wears me out. After reading this article, however, I have a bit more hope for us to have a better relationship. Most of the psychological traits are spot on with what I'm dealing with, and your points are a good reminder to respect what she has gone through in her past and what she will be going through in her community because of our marriage. The only thing I don't agree with in your article is not being able to "compete" with his mom for his affection." As his wife, we are joined as one, and I am to come before his mother. I have already talked to my fiance about this and luckily, he fully agrees (probably because he mostly grew up in the west). But I will definitely make her feel included and important to us! Thanks for writing this!

    ReplyDelete
  84. Has anyone come across a mother in law that has refused to even meet you & didnt turn up to the wedding & has already started taking sides (eg your wife or me) How do you start a relationship when the MIL doesnt even want to see you in person & no doubt any interest in knowing you? (by the way she has seen my face in photos). We got married anyway & once we uploaded our wedding photos, her family was unindated with calls from everyone in the family (a good 400 people from the immediate family) asking about the wedding.

    ReplyDelete
  85. My MIL tells each and everything to her sisters and daughters. mine was love come arrange marriage.MY MIL was not agreed for this marriage. she never talk to me properly never smile at me. i always keep calm and always try to work as much as possible.I am software engineering and I am working recently i started giving money to my MIL so that she can get little help from me. but her behavior is still same. she wanted a doctor DIL and my husband choose me as his life partner. after marriage i came across all this. i feel like i am messed up completely. i never share her behavior with anyone not even my parents/husband or frnds..but i really need your suggestion what should i do for her which will make her happy and after that she will start liking me.

    ReplyDelete
  86. My experience is that trying to impress MIL does not work. It just adds to your own frustration since you are putting in extra effort with nil or sometimes negative response from the other side. So it's best that you let things be and do what you think is right. And it's better to let at least for husband in the know of things...

    ReplyDelete
  87. All of the goris on here bending over backwards to please their desi MIL's or the families of their Indian boyfriends (not even husbands!), I have one question: would you do the same if he was just another European or American man? I don't think so. I never see European or American women tolerating so much bullshit from European/American boyfriends, husbands and their families. So what's so special about Indian dudes that you are willing to put up with all this?

    Its well known that most Indian guys who come to the West for education or work are only interested in Western women for sex or at most a short term relationship, not marriage. Of course some exceptions are there, but their plan is to "have fun" with Western women and then eventually marry an Indian woman that their family approves of, or even completely arranged for them.

    If however, you do end up dating an Indian guy long term (I don't recommend it for all of the reasons given in all of your comments above), know this: YOU ARE THE PRIZE!

    Yes, YOU, not him, are the jewel. You see, to an Indian guy you are exotic. You represent global dreams, international fantasies, and every Hollywood movie he's ever seen. That being the case, do not sell your self short and tolerate even a moment's worth of bullshit from either him or his mother. You wouldn't do it for an ordinary white (or black) guy, so don't do it for an Indian.

    ReplyDelete

Respectful comments only, please! (That means you, anonymous.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Madh Mama. All rights reserved.
BLOGGER TEMPLATE DESIGNED BY pipdig