In recent times people have been reminding me that it is time for me to graduate to the status of a mother-in-law. When they approach me with proposals for what they consider to be "suitable" girls for my son, I do not know how to react.It seems so inappropriate. Some have even asked me what kind of a girl we are interested in (you know the slim, fair,"good" family line of criteria!) and I have had to disappoint them terribly by saying I have not thought about it at all. It seems beside the point what the parents want because ultimately what matters is what the boy and the girl want.I am convinced that arranged marriages will not work for the present generation young adults. They want to be the ones to find their partner and do not want to delegate it to the parents which is very good and very mature.And given the strong individualisms and egos of this generation, it is necessary that they know each other well before they take the plunge.

What interests me is not the matrimonial deals but the relationship changes in the two families after the marriage. Knowing that my turn would come sooner or later, I have in the recent years been a keen observer of the relationship dynamics between the young adults after their marriage and their parents. A few blogs I have visited over the years have also given me a perspective on some of the issues.But since there are more d-i-l bloggers and less m-i-l bloggers I find that we are underrepresented in the cause and decided to speak on behalf of my ilk.

While most girls seem to ensure that their closeness to their side of the family, especially parents remain as close after their wedding, parents do not seem to figure too much in the consideration of the boys.Particularly if the parents are financially independent,emotional dependence of ageing parents doesnt seem to figure anywhere in the considerations.They seem to only think of themselves, their career, the girl and their life together even when they are the only child of their parents. And when the sons themselves don't care the daughters-in-law do not make that extra effort to bond with their in-laws who become complete outsiders in many cases. One of my relatives with a similar experience told me "in earlier days we brought a daughter to our house when our sons married . These days we send our sons away to his wife's house."

I am not saying that the girls should become outsider to their own family after marriage like our old customs dictated.It is wonderful that even in cases where marriage may put a geographical distance to the family the emotional bonds remain just as close. But why is it too difficult to see that the relationship between parents and children are the same on the other side too and make that little effort to integrate into the other side of the family? I have known girls who are extremely popular and affectionate with their own family and friends but who'd like to maintain a distance with their husband's family just so that they are not taken for granted. I understand that these may have been formed on watching some bad saas-bahu relations between their docile mothers and tyrannical grandmothers or in their neighbourhood or on Television serials. But isn't it unfair to prejudge a person based on her role even without giving her a chance? And when you approach the relationship with sucha prejudice, how much chance are you actuallly giving it?

One of my friends collected speciality saris from all regions of India for 5 years before her only son's wedding to present to her daughter in law at the wedding and the girl told her ,"No mummy, these are not my type of saris." Another had her gifts of jewels rebuffed in the same way. Why? what is the big deal? In official relationships we bend over backwards to please arrogant bosses and go out of our way to be good team players - why is it tough to give in a little to please an old lady who gave birth to your husband and perhaps played a large role in making him all that you love about him today? There are issues when you should learn to stand up for your rights or put your foot firmly down but emotional intelligence is also about knowing when to give in a little without feeling insecure.

If only the young girls would try to give the relationship with their husband's family a fair chance in stead of typecasting people based on their roles! and if only the boys would learn a lesson or two from their own wives on how to treat their own parents! Old age is not about comforts and luxuries but about feeling loved and wanted and it takes very little to please parents most of the time.So if you ask me what my expectations from my son's wife would be, it is just someone who would give me as much chance as she would give her mother in our dealings.
Is it too much to ask?
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55 Responses
  1. Hip Grandma Says:

    The time has come when MILs would want the marriage to last with or without them.Take my word one would rather play a negligible role in their son's/daughter's life rather than witness the mess these children make of marriage.There are cases when a mother is under perpetual fear of annoying her daughyer and dare not refuse to look after her kids.These are rare instances but may become the norm soon.We can do nothing but wish each other luck.I sometimes wonder whether education is stopping us from being assertive?

  2. so true!!!!...I am always befuddled regarding all kinds of relationships...and you always seem to be showing some hope everywhere! ;) really enjoy reading your blog.

  3. Aqua Says:

    wonderfully written Usha. you have brought out the POV of an MIL beautifully.

    may i say again that your future DIL is SO lucky to have you as a mother in law.

    and just to add my 2 cents...for a 'bahu' to give her 'saas' as much of a chance as she would give her own mother, a pre-condition is that the MIL must treat her DIL as she would treat her own DIL...with love and kindness and tolerance. it's reciprocity at its best. i know some girls who are closer or as close to their MILs as with their own mothers,...and i say such ppl are blessed.

    heh heh if more MILs took to blogging then MIL-DIL wars would replace the current SAHM Vs Working Moms war that seems to be going on :)

  4. passerby55 Says:

    ****It seems beside the point what the parents want because ultimately what matters is what the boy and the girl want"

    Today's youth is much more observant and matured than what we were.

    Today, the quality of Understanding is taken to be something as suicide or sacrifice.

    Usha, the picture is dark. If a MIL is understanding she gets a DIL who misunderstands and viceversa. Many MILs are learning to say LET GO.

    All the best!

  5. rads Says:

    Nicely written Usha, and I do have to agree that the present generation is quite self-centered in their outlook - in any respect at all. Maybe am harsh, but I know that just by saying this I'd probably be branded "old" - but the truth remains that values and wokring towards bonding is a thing of the past..

    in any case, as shallow as I am, I'd LOVE to have a mil who collected saris from all over... ;-p

  6. Mahadevan Says:

    Very well argued. You have not blamed d.i.l as a class, and yet, have brought out the emotional needs of mothers/mothers in law.

    'If the parents are financially independent, emotional needs of the parents do not figure at all'. Certainly undisputable. This need of the boy's parents is to be understood in the right perspective. At the same time, in some of the families known to me, where they have only one girl, the girl after marriage, takes care of her parents' need - emotional and financial too wherever required and the boys too extend full cooperation to their spouses. Very often in such cases, parents stay with their daughter. Where there is only one son, the daughter in law should also realize this and make necessary adjustments in the relationship.

    I am also aware of some cases, where the parents of the boy, do not permit their daughter in law to lend support to her parents, when they look upon her, being their only daughter, for support.
    I feel, the girl should have enough freedom, to lend support - both emotional and financial- to her parents wherever needed.

    "emotional intelligence is also about knowing when to give in a little without feeling insecure". You have put it exactly. If we are conscious of this need a little, there would be no crisis in any family.

    The source of all problems is where we look upon the boy or girl as ' value addition' in commercial terms.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Ma'am, I am facing a slightly different problem - my husband does not want relations with his parents, for a number of reasons (and by extension, no relations with my parents either), whereas I very strongly feel that we should be maintaining relations with at least his parents. FYI, we are both in our 30s, professionally qualified and got married in the traditional arranged manner. Right now I am desperately looking out for any form of argument that will convince my husband that no matter what has happened in the past, we must be able to have decent relations with our parents. Any suggestions?

  8. Usha Says:

    Hipgran: In fact most of our generation are prepared for a lonely old age in retirement homes seeing the way the children runaway abroad and never come back. I meant to do a post on such parents too based on a letter my friend had forwarded and something my journalist friend told me.
    We come froma generation that can easily be made to feel guilty - our parents did that to us and now our children do.

    Anisha: That is what happens when you are chronologically gifted and know that you ultimately get through it all. :)

    Aqua:Thanks Aqua, means a lot coming from a DIL who has been through a lot.
    Certainly I look forward to my DIL as the daughter I do not have and although I couldn't take the place of her mom, I hope to be a good older friend.

    Passerby: Eternal optimist that I am, i still hope things can get better. That is why I decided to put across the MIL point of view.
    I think it is good for MILs to let go and ease up a bit.

    Rads:The self centeredness - what else do you expect from a materialistic and consumerist culture. Disposability in everything including relationships.
    I'd have loved to have he saris too - the jamavars and maheswaris and banaras and paithani - each one was lovely.And some had matching shawls too!

    Mahadevan: Parents of the boy do not "permit" the girl to help her parents? This is wrong and the boys should be blamed for it. And the girls should put their foot down in such cases - that is what independence and education is all about.

    Anon:Thanks for asking for my suggestions - too big a cap for me. I cannot give you professional help but as a older person this is what I think. You can start by refusing to snap ties with your parents. Secondly you could point out that not treating your parents well or not forgiving them for their mistakes is a bad example for your own children. You don't need your husband's "permission" to maintain relationship with both parents, do you? You can make a beginning and may be he will soon see that they are not all that bad. All the best.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Usha, I would give my right hand to have a MIL like you. It wouldn't even matter that I don't even know your son! Anyway, all I want to say is that the fault is all not on the younger generation. I understand that you all are trying to get your voice out in the open, but some MILs can be nice to the entire world and not to their DILs for no apparent reason. So, nobody will even believe that the DIL can possibly have any difficulties with "such" a MIL.

    Hip Grandma, I disagree with you about the present generation and what a mess they make of their marriages. Actually, growing up, I saw the present day older crowd have terrible marriages. The couples hardly even spoke. The men never bothered to take care of the women. Things went on auto-program. Those were some terrible marriages! And I learnt to never ever have such a marriage and hence have a fantastic marriage now. So, every generation has a flaw. To think that everybody but the present gen got it right is SOOO wrong!

    Usha, typically, in the current generation, the boy and the girl have equal education and exposure. That being the case, when the MIL, for whatever reason, wants to put the DIL alone through certain rituals, it can be very frustrating. No expectations from the boy, only from the DIL, especially "traditional" expectations. And for the DIL, who is probably scientific in her mentality, it is very absurd by default to follow traditions just because her MIL wants her to!!! The reason also why the couple typically have a good relationship with the girl's parents is because the girl's parents do not usually have any "expectations" from the boy. They usually let them be. Unfortunately, the boy's parents are not like that. More often than not, they are "crazy". Nope, I don't mean it in a wrong way, just in the true sense of the word. 'Unreasonable expectations' is the root because why a DIL wants to run away from her MIL. In the case where the lady wanted to give her DIL sarees from every possible state, look at it this way. The DIL probably felt claustrophobic amidst all the sarees. Maybe, she thought her MIL wants her to be in sarees all the time. And the smart thing to do was to put a stop right at the beginning. So, say 'No' to all the sarees, ensuring the MIL was not going to burden her with yet another in the future. I don't blame her. When your relative said that these days you send your sons away to their wife's house, well what's wrong? For time immemorial, the girls were always given away! Everything is bound to change anyway. And this was meant to happen. So, be it. And the couples do so well being closer the girl's family, because they can be close and still have their own life. That never happens when they are close to the boy's family. The boys parents are more meddling, especially in trying to pass on their traditions!! Even the ones that one doesn't need! And when she says that they brought a daughter home when the son got married, gosh who is she kidding??! I don’t know of a single case where that is true. And I know tons of olden day’s families and DILs. What a joke! To think that somebody would believe that even for a moment! Jeez! Everything is perfect in a nostalgic world. Nobody remembers the crap.

    Lastly, I don't think you are somebody that would have 'unreasonable expectations' and hence I don't forsee too much of an issue. However, there are no guarantees in life, and especially in a DIL-MIL relationship. I truly believe that it was never really meant to work, to begin with (from experience)! Here’s truly wishing you the very best!

  10. Usha Says:

    Yet another Unhappy DIL: Thanks for taking the time to express your POV.
    You are already a DIL - else I'd have most certainly loved to introduce you to my son!
    On a more serious note:
    You dont click with everyone instantaneously - it takes a while to get to know a person. Unfortunately in the case of in-law relationships you are thrown in their midst as part of the territory of being married. And if we each start by sticking rigidly to our POVs,the relationship crashlands even before takeoff. Tell me, as part of growing up did you not have issues with your parents that got sorted ourt slowly. Can you not take it slowly with his parents too?
    For example,in my friend's case, the girl could have accepted the saris with grace and returned them after a few months, once the relationship had settled by saying she doesn't wear them at all and hence she'd like the mom in law or sis in law to have them .I am sure you'd have handled it with such tact in an office situation - why start by hurting her sentiments right away. bad PR or intended rudeness.
    Again most of the time the rituals related problems happen when the boys let the girls face it alone without celarly telling the parents that they and their wives don't believe in it. If the sons would face it with the parents, they will not force the bahus. So the spineless husbands who have it bothways are to take the blame here.
    I feel neither son nor daughter needs to become a stranger since there is room for everyone with a little give and take from all sides. This is not a tug of war but a widening circle of relationship and bonds.We do it all the time in our friendships and other dealings even without thinking. only in the case of in-laws it becomes an issue.
    As for not seeing a single DIL becoming daughter to the house, I wish you could have met my father in law.He never tired of telling everyone that I was not his DIL but his daughter.My son can confirm this for you because his grandpa told him that all the time.
    (Akila balaji, if you are reading it ask Chitra to confirm this!)

    I have no unreasonable expectations but I do hope I will be able to communicate my POV effectively so a smart, sensitive intelligent young girl would be able to accept me as a friend and not see me as enemy number 1.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I have a response for every point of yours. No time right now. Before tomorrow noon, for sure.

    PS: I am extremely glad that you had such a FIL. I am yet to come across one woman who could say the same. Goes to prove how rare that is! I am sure you would agree. So, truly, you are blessed! But, that is not true with most everybody.

  12. Deeps Says:

    I somewhat agree with "Yet another unhappy DIL"s POV, though I think that the dil in the story you mentioned could have accepted the sarees more gracefully.

    Usually for girls, the case in their moms is unconditional love. Even if moms are unreasonable sometimes, the daughters have the right to criticize/scold (;-) :-D)/follow the moms' instructions. But this is not the case with MIL.

    Firstly, there are usually tensions during marriage ceremony time itself. Especially if the boys side have made some demands (not dowri exactly, but marriage according to some traditions blah blah) and the daughter would have seen her parents suffering to meet some of the conditions. So, the girl will obviously take her parents side and be prejudiced about her in-laws. This might not happen everywhere (I'm sure it'll not happen with you as a MIL ;-) :-D), but sadly, this does happen.

    Secondly, the girl doesn't know her MIL well enough and as soon as she is married, the MIL starts handing out instructions on traditions/etc (many MILs do!). The DIL can either refuse to do anything or do it but fret behind her back or follow it happily. If she agrees, then she's only subjected to more and more of these so-called traditions. Its especially difficult if she doesn't have so many tradtions in her parents place. The MIL might say she understands in front of everybody, yet she choses to ignore this statement when it actually comes to following these traditions.

    Thirdly, boys, sadly, are not as emotional as girls. Escpecially if they are staying away from their parents. For example take me. As you know I live in the US, but I talk to my parents almost daily. Me and my mom always have something to talk about. My hubby doesn't call his parents much. But I make sure he calls them atleast twice a week and I call them too. But honestly, I can't speak as freely with my MIL as I do with my mom. Our conversations are usually stilted, though I make an effort and she makes an effort too. It maybe the distance. My hubby doesn't call my parents, he only talks with them once a week, when we both speak to our parents each. My parents don't expect him to call. But my MIL expects me to call her now and then, though she doesn't call me. I don't mind this and I do call, but there's unnecessary ego hassles here. Why this differentiation? Is this that the MILs are scared about, as you said, that "These days we send our sons away to his wife's house"? Here we ae not in my parents house anyways. So I don't understand.

    I believe there should be a give and take when it some to a MIL-DIL relationship. And there should be healthy respect both sides. I agree that there are many DILs that mistreat their MILs. But then there are MILs who treat their own daughters differently and treat DILs different. My MIL treats me and my SIL equally when it comes to traditions (the only problem being that I'm not from a very orthodox background while my SIL has been subjected to it all her life). My SIL and I are almost the same age, so we are like friends and we even laugh sometimes about that :). Should she be cutting a slack for me? Well, I don't know the answer to that, then her daughter might feel "differentiated" :-D.

    I guess this is going to go on no matter how many generations will pass. Differences will always exist and its how we learnt to accept them and adjust is what matters.

    If and when I have a DIL, I'm sure I'll have a different POV :-D.

  13. Usha Says:

    Deeps:I agree that the relationship with mom and MIl cannot be the same but MILs are not alien species. They are also women like you, only older.When I compared conflicts with parents, I was trying to say that even parents dont understand their own children sometimes and it takes some time and effort to make them see your POV. Why not give the same in the other relationship?

    Tensions during marriage - dowry etc- why agree to them in the first place? Put your foot down and say you dont want the marriage where there are such demands. The demands are not made without the boy's knowledge. So the guy is ok but his parents are bad-whats the deal? and why blame and hate only the parents? What is abnoxious in this is not their demands but that a guy from your own generation allowed them to make the demands and he even gets away with it - and girls are willing to forgive tgheir dear hubbies but not his parents!

    Traditions - hm, I can't say much there but I guess this again should be discussed between the boy and the girl before the wedding - these days they insist on getting to know each other and discussing- so why not play your cards straight there.

    What I detest in such deals is the hypocrisy - the guys tell the girls "just hang in there and nod your head until the wedding is over . After that I am your slave." And this is the root cause of all problems. The day marriage is over there is rebellion and misunderstanding.

    Boys not being as emotional as girls - possible. Again I cant compare but in that case I d assume the expectations from a boy's parents would be considerably less too as they are not used to much affection in the first place. So it shouldn't be too tough meeting such expectations.

    "sending them away to another house" has a figurative sense - meaning the boy/ girl has become a stranger to his/ her own parents.

    I am not saying all MIL s are perfet and all DILs are bad. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are serious issues in some cases but in many cases I find that the friction can easily be avoided with a little adjustment and understanding.
    Some of the younger women have sons and their lives practically revolves around their kid. If only they'd consider that their husbands were the same too to their moms many years ago, they'd probably understand a little more of their MILs.

    More than anything, both MILs and DILs are more educated these days than in the earler generations. It is just such a shame that so much energy is wasted on negative feelings when a little give and take can result in peace for all.
    It is a matter of willingness not ability.

  14. excellent post once again Usha. i can almost hear my mother espouse the concerns that you have put forth. Touchwood, I have good relations with my MIL - to the extent that we even swap clothes. touch wood, touchwood, touchwood.
    But I must say - it hasnt come easy - as we say in hindi 'taali ek haath se nahin bajti' - you need 2 hands to clap. Both of us wanted a smooth, hassle free existence. And we both realise that our unhappiness or disagreements - will only cause trouble to the one man both of us hold equally dear - my hubby and her son. So its a give and take - and thats life. And you're right - when I can bend backwards to please clients - why cant I just move a lil bit to maintain domestic harmony.

  15. Deeps Says:

    I agree with you that it takes time. And thats what my point was, to give it time. As soon as a person is married, if one be it DIL or MIL turns dominant, then the chances of negative feelings are higher. I am not blaming MILs in my post. It requires warmth from both sides. A Mother accepts her daughter as she is, but she tries to change her DIL. Why? Similarly a DIL should accept her MIL as she is, but the question is whether she can!

    For parents and the girl the main thing is to find a nice guy. What if everything else is ok, except for the traditons and the in-laws are not willing to compromise on the same? The question then is to cancel the marriage just for that reason? or Adjust? Boys usually just go on with the flow. I am not blaming only the in-laws here. What if the boy also tries to convince his parents and fails? What then? Is the only solution not to go ahead with the marriage? It depends on the seriousness of whats being asked, if it crosses a certain limit then people do not go ahead with the marriage. Thats why you see some engagement breaks.

    I think that many guys stay away from their families precisely for the "traditional" friction reason. Yes, guys and girls do discuss about this before marriage, but doesn't mean it can happen practically. So probably the guy sees the solution of staying away to avoid any friction?

    I don't think every guy says "just hang in there and nod your head until the wedding is over . After that I am your slave." Or maybe I'm naive. My hubby told me this before marriage "Don't let anything that happens around us, people saying this and that, affect 'us' as in you and me". You can say that his intentions are selfish, but all he is asking is to adjust with whatever happening in the family and don't let it spoil our relationship. I think thats the attitude of most of the young people today and its not too much to ask.

    As for expectations, they are probably more from the boy's side as now they expect that the incoming girl to mellow the boy's attitude for them. I don't think its tough meeting those, especially when you are away, because its hardly some calls and probably an yearly visit. But its when you are living together, thats when there are more chances of misunderstandings.

    I can understand that a mother misses her son. I have a brother. I love my mom, so I know she might change into a possesive one when he gets married and so I understand what my MIL feels. Which is why I try to make sure that we are in constant touch. I try my best to not make feel them left out of things. But I only am suggesting that this should be mutual. The effort should be from both sides.

    What surprises me most is the educated part. My MIL is a post graduate. She still believes in following traditions and believe it or not, that girls should not wear jeans! I really don't mind the traditions, I follow whatever she says, though I am in the US and though she is not around to monitor me. I am not flattering myself, I am just saying to show that I respect her values and that I can understand the environment that she must have been brought up in. I believe that whatever she says is mostly for the good of us. After all she's not asking for too much (she's not that orthodox as to want me to sit apart during periods and stuff!! Otherwise I'd have been totally horrified :-D), just some regular poojas and special rituals during festivals. And in her defense, she sees me regularly in photos wearing jeans/skirts, but though she may not agree with it, she accepts me as I am. And this is the beginning of a good strong relationship. The understanding and the accepting.

  16. Deeps Says:

    And to add, I didn't mean dowry. Asking for dowry is unacceptable and unforgivable. I mean asking for traditions, like for example, when my cousin got married, the only thing her in-laws asked for was that the marriage be conducted "their" way, which meant loads of traditions that my cousin's folks didn't practice. My doddamma had to struggle a lot, to accomodate some of these tradtions. The struggle wasn't financial at all, but physical and mental.

  17. Usha Says:

    STS: I am really happy to hear that - God bless you both. When there are two people involved there are bound to be some frictions here and there - the point is all about how we "manage" this friction. I really hope I could find a friend like that as mt DIL.

    Deeps: I understood where you are coming from. Was elaborating on those points in my response as I had missed them out in the main post and something in your comment reminded me of those.
    I think the most sensible attitude for MILs to have is to be totally hands off, relaise her dutuies by her son are over and let the boy and girl do what they want with their lives.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    "In a relativistic universe, you don't cling to anything, you learn to swim. And you know what swimming is. It's a kind of relaxed attitude to the water, in which you don't keep yourself afloat by holding the water, but by a certain giving to it, and it's just the same with relationships to people all around" (Alan Watts)

  19. excellent post. u cud have spiced it up with ur expectations & turn of the events as a DIL. i guess it requires smartness and diplomacy from both sides. it requires one not to judge the other too harshly and play it by the ear. after my cousins got married, everytime i make a call to the family, i call up my bhabhis and not the brothers. this is my way of being one with them and trying to be their friend. i hav known my cousins for more than a quarter century and now is the time to bond with the "DIL" of the family. what better way than to give her the importance? i always saw my mom's mom side with their DILS and scold their sons when there was a conflict. whereas in my dad's side it was ther reverse. therefore they were never able to bond with their DILs and even the Sons in law. That was lesson no 1 i learnt in the art of DIL of the family management. Give importance. and more often than not it will be the importance given in minor matters that will give rich dividends. And that is what unfortunately i did not get from my hubby's extended family. our b'days are one after the other but all his relatives wish both of us on his b'day... from purely HR point of view- they cud hav done the reverse at least for the first time. when there is a puja and MIl wants us to mark our attendance she tells her son. I somehow don't feel like taking the ownership of going there. as many times i am not even aware till the last moment that we r supposed to go to her place. if she wud hav entrusted me with the responsibility of coming there and participating, i wud have ensured that both of us reached there on time.. instead of guiding me to do the puja, she does it for us and i am supposed to just run the errands. my managerial brain tries to justify saying communication problem and don't bother but there is an emotional, sensitive side that does not want to let go.. my husband's niece calls him up saying take me shopping... (in my car on my weekend with my husband and i am allowed to tag along). so i participate passively. i do my own things & she does her own. instead if she would have told me -" u have to take me shopping" i wud have given up my entire weekend and if required taken leave to take her shopping- u know how much i love shopping and love getting others a bargain. in terms of expectations, my standards are v low. i don't expect to get gifts or even invitation cards.. i even tellpeople don't bother, tell me the name of the spouse & place & date of wedding, i ll be there..but there are gestures as above that cud hav made a difference emotionally to me... unfortunately most poeple fail in that. u r inspiring me to post abt it on my blog nowif interested u cud read my post on and
    these were my 1st 2 posts on this topic

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Growing up, I had lots of issues with my dad, but pretty much none with my mom. Also, nobody can ever “get me” like the way my mom does. Though she doesn’t have too much education or exposure, she was mature enough to “get me.” I cannot expect my MIL to do that for me. She was mature enough to show who the boss was from the start! Sheesh! Like I said earlier, she is nice to the entire world and its uncle. So, nobody can even think that she is capable of being sharp-tongued! When you ask me if I can’t it take it slowly with his parents are you assuming that I didn’t? I wanted good relationships with my in-laws from the start and called them dad and mom, and boy, have I regretted that! Now, I don’t feel comfortable calling them that, and that in itself causes problems for me in even having a conversation! Another sincere suggestion to you Usha, please give the DIL freedom to call you whatever she wants and to even change that as time goes on, if she wants to.

    I can’t talk for the girl that refused the sarees. I was just thinking aloud, that is all.

    It is naïve of you to think that rituals related problems happen when the boys let the girls face it alone without telling the parents that they and their wives don't believe in it. It is even more naïve of you to think that if the sons would face it with the parents; they would not force the DILs. You have NO idea what all a MIL can do, to only trouble the DIL with the tradition procedures, like catch the DIL when the son is not at home. Or to keep a real long face even when the son tells her that he and his wife really prefer spirituality a little differently, not too differently mind you!! You are giving way too much credit to the MILs, Usha! And please do not call the boys ‘spineless’, because many of them are anything but that! Things are not as clear-cut as you are saying. The boy and the girl may rationally handle the situation and present their POV about certain traditions at a festival, only to have all that thrown out of the window and be bugged about the same thing again, and again, and again!! MILs don’t get it. And if they do, they are extremely upset and talk to the DILs about it. It doesn’t matter how much you are hurt the way they talk to you or have all these restrictions on you (the same you that has been brought up in a non-rigid atmosphere, and has always believed that education was to get out of ridiculous traditions!)
    The perceived tug of war is from the MIL’s side. She thinks that she is the lone crusader for their customs and traditions and to actually have a relationship with me is the last thing on her priority! Oh, and BTW, that hurts, hurts bad. I wanted a friend and a guide of sorts. Instead I got a ‘how to’ manual for a MIL, who even has the audacity to think that they are better than me and my folks because of certain of their traditions being different. And that hurts too! So, there is no ego on my side, just a lot of being hurt!

    Deeps, you have no idea how similar our lives are. Mine started out exactly like this in the beginning few years and over a period of time the strained calls get fewer and fewer and you really want to have nothing to do with the phone and the in-laws! I really hope you are not headed there. I cannot tell you how much of the same it was for me a few years ago. You are right about the scolding/criticizing the mom part too. :D
    Deeps has raised some good points and I agree with her about finding the right guy and what parents go through. And like she says staying away from the tradition-crazy boy’s family seems to be good way out to actually leading a normal life.

    Usha, you say MILs are not alien species. They are also women like us, only older. Excepting for the fact they have to prove that they are better and that you can never measure up. How tiring can that be? No MIL ever gives the understanding that a present day DIL needs. Mostly it is because they didn’t get any themselves and are not usually generous enough to give some of it to the DILs.

    You talk about issues during the weddings caused by dowries. Do you mean to say that there aren’t any other kinds of misunderstandings? Typically, the girl’s families have to ask how the boy’s side wants anything done and do it accordingly. This in itself takes a while to heal from for the girl! Obviously, she doesn’t want to see her parents in a subordinate position just because she happens to be a girl! These are such minor things for which nobody is up against in war or anything like for a dowry. But, such small things can be very scarring on a young girl’s mind.

    Guys do not tell the girls "just hang in there and nod your head until the wedding is over. After that I am your slave." Please, that would be something out of TV soaps, not from reality! You seem to be blaming the boys a lot for going behind the girls, leaving/ignoring his parents, letting the girl fight her battles with his folks by herself etc. In reality, things are not so black and white! Guys have such a tough time to keep the balance; after all they need to keep everything afloat on both sides! They are not as immature as you make them to be. My husband really strives to be fair. You are your son’s mom; you must give him more credit. Seriously!

    You would think that friction can easily be avoided with a little adjustment and understanding. But, the reality is very different. Like Something to Say said, everything has to be from both sides. Adjustment and understanding must come in good measure from both sides, and that doesn’t happen often. I have given in so much inspite of not agreeing with a lot of things, but so far, I have gotten no understaning. Again, very hurting.

    Just because my life revolves around my children, doesn’t mean that I don’t take a minute to think about my MIL and her son. You have no idea how thankful I am to her from my heart for what she made of her son. He is wonderful and I have only her to thank for. Unfortunately, she doesn’t want to be like a mom to me. Do you have any idea how much that would have helped? How much I would have contributed to the relationship! Inspite of it, I am eternally thankful to her for the son she has raised. I have tried telling her that, and she didn’t get it!! Things are not as simple as you make them out to be, Usha! We are not always just mean or rude. We too actually have feelings and need love. It is not just the elderly people that need love! Isn’t love everybody’s need? You also say that it is all about willingness. Is it really?
    All this said I will try to never come in between my husband and his parents in their relationship, meaning I will not poison my husband’s mind. Though I may discuss my tight-spots with him, I usually do that more so to get his POV, but never to take him away from them. Also, my children will always be taught to love both the sets of grand-parents. Do you see how easy it would be for me to keep the key people away from them? I am not gloating; I am merely pointing out the obvious. But, I won’t. Nope, I am not claiming to be great for that, I am just being fair is what I think.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Hi, I am the "S" (Anon at 4.30PM) who had written in earlier asking for suggestions to help patch up my husband with his parents.

    The past few comments pointed out how some MILs do not (whether intentionally or otherwise - one never knows) take the effort of making DIL comfortable. To add to that list of examples - my in laws and parents both stay in Bangalore while we are staying overseas currently. My mother fractured her leg in December last year and I have not been able to visit her at all, nor is there a possibility of seeing her in the near future. Despite knowing this fact, to this day (even today when I called his parents to wish them on the occassion of Ugadi), neither MIL nor FIL have even once enquired how my mother was faring or for that matter, how my parents were. For some reason known only to them, the fact that my husband is not on talking terms with my parents has become reason enough for them not to talk to my parents - on the other hand, i do keep calling my inlaws though not as frequently as i would have liked to.

    This hurts big time - especially since my MIL, always, without fail, moans about the fact that her son is not speaking to her the way i speak to my parents - omitting to mention both the facts that her son does not speak to my parents and that at least her DIL is making the efforts to patch things up.

    I could fill up an entire book contrasting my in laws declared intentions of seeing all of us as one big happy family against their actual words and actions, to prove only one point - DILs very often have valid reasons to be dissatisfied with their in laws.


  22. Usha Says:

    Anon/G: beautiful - wish it was that easy to practise!

    ITW:My MIL died one year after I got married but we had an excellent relationship in that time - I was still studying and my husband was in calcutta. So Id visit them at my brother in law's place in chennai,help them out with shopping running errands etc (My Father in law was on crutches as his leg had been amputated 25 years earlier). Once I finished studies, My Father in law moved in with us and lived with us for 12 years.
    It is unfortunate that your MIL is not sensitive to your feelings and doesn't make the effort to reach out. May be you could let her know how you feel about it all, may be your husband can help getting the message across?
    As for the niece - you better tell her that this is not on! She better learn to behave better.

    Yet another unhappy DIL: As I said I am not martyring all MILs and denigrating all DILs.
    I am only requesting that you dont paint all MILs with the same brush. bad experiences have been publicised so much that the relationship is already doomed without giving it a chance. The present generation MILs ( many of them) have been rebels in their own time and have been through conflicts with very traditional authority systems. So they are more understanding when it comes to their DILs and the expectations are much reduced than what they themselves have to go through. The spirit of my post was to say that one cannot judge MIL/ DIL based on someone else's bad experience but give it a fair try before pronouncing it a failure.
    MIls have weaknesses too but DIls of today are better at human relations - so why not use some of the skills with the MILs too. It could fail but it is worth a try rather than resorting to aggression on day 2.
    As for what the boys say, I have seen this happen with my own friends both in my generation and in this. Girls have openly said "I am putting up with all this because he is so adorable and he has said after the marriage I can do what I want." This isnt all that rare.
    And of course none of this has anything to do with me or my son. BUT if he is head over heels in love with someone and If I acted unreasonably difficult before the wedding, I am sure he might tell the girl the same!!

    I agree that you have had a bad experience but that still doesnot make this a universal fact. I am talking about those many cases where with a little effort from both sides, things can be made to work. Perhaps the MILs or DILs who dont make the effort to reciprocate dont really care about making it work. But where the MILs are too timid the DILs can go that extra mile. Like I would do that for my DIL for sure rtaher than standing on some false ego problems. After all I must live up to the fact of being older and wiser.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain it to me. It is all abit scary too.

    WhatdoIdo:I am so sorry. How's your mom? Do they have enough support. Can I help in some way? I live in bangalore as you know.
    This is terrible on your in-laws part. Now i am beginning to understand why your husband doesnt want to have anything to do with them.

    happy ugadi to you.
    I truly hope things get better for you. and let me know if I can be of some help in checking out on your mom and reporting to you.

    Hey one word to all of you DILs, I sympathise with your problems. You are handling it all admirably.
    Like I stated in the main post, I have to argue for all those nice MILs who dont blog. So go wasy on me if I criticise you girls!

  23. Hip Grandma Says:

    i want to tell your readers that i have an excellent relationship with my in laws and many who did not know our family before I got married thought that i was the daughter and he was the SIL.Even travel companions who accompanyed us on our 2 nights journey to Madras thought so.It takes an effort from both sides for a relationship to work.Let me tell you that if my MIL was a tough nut to crack i was no angel either.But we did have a great relationship.I love my in laws including cousins and their wives and we all believe in 'live and let live'.Hiccups need not choke one.drink a liitle water and you'd be fine.water in this case is tact.i hope you didn't mind the intrusion usha.

  24. Deeps Says:

    Typically, the girl’s families have to ask how the boy’s side wants anything done and do it accordingly. This in itself takes a while to heal from for the girl! Obviously, she doesn’t want to see her parents in a subordinate position just because she happens to be a girl! These are such minor things for which nobody is up against in war or anything like for a dowry. But, such small things can be very scarring on a young girl’s mind.

    This is exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn't put it properly in words. Its pretty frustrating when your in-laws who claim to be all adjusting make a fuss on a single non-working water heater in your wedding mantap. As if the girl's side would deliberately go and damage that water heater! Its a small issue, but there are a number of such things that leave bad imprints. I've never seen my dad bend down in front of anyone in my life, but I've seen him accomodate lots of what I consider "whims and fancies" of my FIL! I feel terrible that its because of me..

    As "yet another unhappy DIL" mentioned, a big hullaballoo is made about dowry, but no one talks about these little things. Usually the marriage costs are borne by the girl's side (I know some rare wonderful boy's side people who have offered to share the cost and the responsibility) and all adjustments are made by them too. I know that if I ever have a son and if we are alive when he gets married, the first thing we do is that go and offer to share the cost of the marriage (I know its too far and maybe ideal talk, but I want to do that from all my heart).

    All this said I will try to never come in between my husband and his parents in their relationship, meaning I will not poison my husband’s mind. Though I may discuss my tight-spots with him, I usually do that more so to get his POV, but never to take him away from them. Also, my children will always be taught to love both the sets of grand-parents. Do you see how easy it would be for me to keep the key people away from them? I am not gloating; I am merely pointing out the obvious. But, I won’t. Nope, I am not claiming to be great for that, I am just being fair is what I think."

    Agree with you on this too. I can never do that. I never want to take away my hubby or our future children away from them. I always believe in "Do no harm and no harm will come to you". So I am going to make sure to do whats right from my side, leave the rest to God.

    Usha, its good to hear your point of view, so keep it coming.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    A Very good post indeed. Came here from Shruthi's blog & this post is been recommended through Blog bharathi.
    My take on this, I think any new relationships would need some time & good investment on the positive relationship. At the same time, its damn important to make sure we are not totally raising the bars so high that it becomes tiring to meet our own deadlines later! If you can't do few things, communicate it earlier rather than 'Let me try doing it till when ever possible'.
    Communication becomes very important, few best practices that we learn at workplace can be tried here, its all about managine another relationship.
    * I am yet to read the comments, so I shall come back again!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    More importantly PATIENCE help...!
    Its my experience! :-)

  27. Cee Kay Says:

    I have been to your blog before but I think I have never commented. First time doing so because the post is so compelling!

    I am from the "other" side :D I am a DIL. I do understand a few of the points you made but respectfully, I must say it is quite a one-sided view. Let me present the other side. Please forgive me if the comment gets too long.

    I think the problem stems from excessive expectations. And a sense of "ownership" over the DIL. I am speaking from experience. I and my husband met when we were doing our Master's and after being the best friends for two years decided that we indeed wanted to spend our lives together. His parents too more than one year to agree to our marriage. At more than one occasions my husband, then my boyfriend, got frustrated and asked me to elope because his parents had made conditions unlivable for him back at home. I refused because I sincerely believed as his parents, they had every right to see their dream of seeing their son getting married come true. So we waited for their blessings and got married 2.5 years later only after they consented.

    I came into the family full of love and respect for everyone. I was treated as an outsider from the get go. Within first three months of my marriage, my FIL told me in front of the rest of the family that he had allowed his son to marry me reluctantly and he did not think I was good enough for their family. On one occasion he said "Why did you trap my son? Why didn't you go trap some rich guy?" because I overslept. I bore all insults and still respected them and stayed with them. For three years my MIL didn't let ANY opportunity go by without telling my husband that my sole intention was to separate him from the rest of the family while I had been doing nothing but the opposite - I would calm him when he got upset over his parents' behavior and remind him that they still deserved our respect. For years they tried to "prove" that their son was till theirs, and I had no claim over him. Same when my daughter was born - they told me, through words AND actions - that my job finished when she was born. Now she was "theirs". They even tried to get me to sever relations with a few of my relatives which I steadfastly refused. Which upset them more.

    In 1998, he got a job offer in the US and it was instantly blamed on me that he went looking for it because I forced him to. After years of disrespect and distrust, i became severely depressed but never once did I disrespect my in-laws.

    Now, after 11 years of a good and healthy marriage, and seven years away from them, I am my in-laws' favorite DIL. They admire everything I do, and boast about me in front of everyone else. It grates on my nerves because I have lost all affection for them. I am indifferent. But never once have I discouraged my daughter from getting close to them. I welcome them into my home every time they visit us, tolerate all their eccentricities and never utter a disrespectful word (I do occasionally complain to my husband just to find a release to all the stress). But one thing is for sure - they will never regain the affection and respect I had for them. My MIL will never experience the closeness she wanted from her DIL because the time for that has passed.

    Do you think I am solely to blame for my attitude? I am not saying all cases are like this - but there are two sides to every situation. There might be reverse stories out there where the in-laws tried their best but the DIl refused to blend in the family. Each case is unique and many of them can be made better if both sides were to use some maturity. One thing I do agree with - many girls today either have very immature views about marriage or a huge ego. Both are detrimental to good relationship with their extended families.

  28. Sunita Says:

    So much has already been said, but will add my 2 pennies.
    The problem as I see is the lady is expected to keep relations on either ends running with calls or mails. Ofcourse, its easy with your own kith & kin but it isn't very easy when you think you might be misunderstood or judged or criticized as is the case when you are talking or mailing your hubby's family. So for me the mantra is "talk less" when in company of my hubby'd relatives, be it mom-dad or cousins.
    The guy's never make any conscious effort to call or mail anyone, neither his nor the in-laws.

  29. Usha Says:

    Hipgran: No problem. In fact I wish you had replied to some and widened the MIL perspective as I am alone here.

    Deeps:I understand the girls feeling bad about their fathers bending down and having to bear all expenses etc - they had to do it much more in our generation. Not just the FIL and MIL but sundry relatives would comment, complain and create trouble.Things are changing for the better but slowly.
    Changing practices in the conventional routes wont happen by law - it has to happen from individuals. If a girl does not want her father to bend before the boy or his parents, she should avoid a ritual wedding. You cant have it all ways. You cant change your FIL'd behaviour in a crisis but you can avoid it by having a registered marriage. if you choose to please ytour parents and your self witha ritualistic wedding, just ignore these kind of things. people behave strangely under crisis situations.Dont carry it against them as long as they are otherwise ok.

    If there is conflict between your in-laws and yourselves,you dont have to talk about it to the children. They will sense it. Children are extremely perceptive.

    Veena: "Communication becomes very important, few best practices that we learn at workplace can be tried here, its all about managine another relationship."
    This is exactly my point.
    If your MIL is difficult, handle it like a tough situation at work. There is no need to expect love or shower love, maintain a working level of civility.
    If she is clumsy, try to be patient with her.
    If she is warm, be graceful about it and try to reciprocate it.
    If she is impossible, stay away from her.
    But dont bracket all MILs in the same category.

    Gettingtherenow:I can see it has been tough for you. i I cannot speak for them as I do not what prompted their behaviour. Perhaps you should have listend to your husband and eloped as he knows his people better.You accepted a challenge and from what I see you have done a great job too.
    As for the post being one sided, yes, that is the declared intention. I was espousing the MIL cause where they want to bond. Not these situations like yours and a couple of others here. Particularly in cases where , as you have mentioned " girls today either have very immature views about marriage or a huge ego."
    To give her a chance before deciding all MILs are bad because X,Y,Z had a bad experience.

    Sunita:Do you think things might be better if we asked the boys to handle communication on his side? Or would the Bahus still feel left out?

  30. Unknown Says:

    It is scary...the picture. My twins are finishing their education...may be in 4 or 5 years time...they may decide to settle down...we are a close knit family and I adore my inlaws...Both of have decided not to interfere in our sons' life...we have promised ourselves that we'll love our DILs as much as we love our sons. In return we want the new 'daughters' to love us as their own parents. Is that expecting too much ?

  31. Usha Says:

    A4isms: This was exactly my question in the blog.
    Apparently it is. Better have no expectations. We can only be sure of what we want to be . But we cannot be sure of what we get in return. We will never be as good as their moms. we will never have the same rights. I think I will frankly ask my future DIL what her expectations from a MIL are and try to fit into the job description - If i cant meet the order, I'll decide to stay away.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    One more bad reason for a bad relationship might be, her experience with her own MIL.. If she was tough, she compares herself with her MIL & justifies that she is sweet but still her DIL is unable to understand her feeling etc.,
    Also, few things like money, other important things, need to bring the son into picture. The cleaner this area the better, it should not leave any clumpsy mark that they get a chance to start from there...
    I agree its hard to manage relationships, we come from a different backgroud.. Atleast one has to accomodate or both have to give a huge space.. The latter sounds little theoritical & hence the first one looks comparitively simpler.
    There is no general formulae to apply, set of them may not work well with different set of people. Each one of them are unique :-) May it be good or bad!

  33. Sunita Says:

    I really think the guys need to bring in the warmth of their relation with his kith & kin and slowly & steadily the girl will grow on it but to say you take care of all is simply not done. The reason the guy has a good relation with the girls family is because she arranges for her people to drop by or to drop in once in a while, to call them and hand over the phone, for a min, where all they say is 'howz everything..fine' and back but that is how you build relations. The other point is, its easy for guys to talk, all they need to do is talk sports or world cup and they are thick friends before you know, whereas girls are very very flimsy, choosy, judgemental and all that jazz about 'I dont get along', 'the vibes aren't right' etc etc

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks Usha for the kind words and even more kinder offer - sorry for not replying earlier. My mother is much better now. Fortunately, my sister stays in bangalore and is able to visit them frequently. I would have loved to email you personally as those words did really make a difference. Thanks once again.

  35. Usha,
    Good post. I am mothering a son and soon (i.e in 25 yrs) I will be in your shoes....wonder if marriage will still be such an important social instituion then but if it is...then I would like to take your stand on the issue...however, I am a DIL now, have been for the last 7 yrs and have tried to accept when it mattered, let go when it didn't matter and more than all kept quite even when it was difficult...but none of it seems to work, why? because the effort has to be two-sided and sadly it is not in my case!
    But hopefully it will be a beautiful relation in your case :)

  36. wow! I am coming in too late i see!!! I think most of the DILs have pretty much made the same points. It's a time for cultural churn. After years of women and DILs being in the subordinate position in a wedding... So perhaps, and I would be the first to admit, the DILs are being extra nasty... no reason for that to be accepted... perhaps in a few decades that will even itself out and once the balance is achieved things will go smoother...

    on my part.. I try really hard.. and I hope someday my in-laws grow to love me.. not because I am what they wanted in a girl.. but because i keep their son happy... and i also try because i believe what goes around comes around and someday i want my DIL to love me as much as i will try to love her. perhaps things would go well if both remembered that the end goal is the same.. to keep a man they both love happy.

    did a post on this recently

  37. Usha Says:

    Veena: In fact most of thre MILs of my generation do not want to repeat the mistakes that their MILs did. The problem is about letting go of their sons. They still think that they know what is best for their sons- the DIls don't think so!

    Sunitha: I agree that with very little effort men manage to walk away with a good impression from their in-laws whereas the expectations are high from the girls.

    WhatdoIdo: Good to know your sister nis around to help them. No trouble at all about the offer - that is no big deal.

    Orchid: Hopefully, yes, hopefully. we will know very soon!

    The madmomma: I have read almost all your posts and definitely the ones about your MIL. I agree that your problems are genuine and you are making the efforts to make the best of a bad bargain although it seems to be getting little or no reaction from the other side.
    I understand your reaction to her pettiness towards you but I only worry about girls coming with a pre conceived idea that MILs by definition are cruella de ville clones.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Usha I am visitig your blog for the first time,came here frm Madmommas blog.I think me seeing this post of yours is God sent for me bz I am a DIL in quite a disturbing position now and needsomebody to vent to.I see you are already being bombarded with comments,could I please add mine too....I have been married to a wonderful man,my inlaws are very good to me too.My hubby has an elder brother and a sister.My husband and I live abroad,my inlaws are finacially very much dependent on us.This sometimes strains our relation with them.We people living abroad miss our family,friends and familiarity back home.We struggle to keep up with the high expense here(to add to that we live in the city rated one among the top 5 expensive places to live in too!!!)We send them money every month,but howmuchever high it is as per Indian standards they seem to never be satisfied or happy.They dont show any love what so ever.My hubby was the one who spent all the money for his sisters wedding.His elder brother is not responsible and is like a parasite,he works in a Government org,he had manyoppurtunities to go abroad but he didnt bz he is happy how he is now,he has no ambition or goal and is disliked by all my husbands relatives for his sloppy nature.He does not make how much money we make and so the whole financial burden is on us.

    I have no problem in sending them monthly for their expense in India and we are continuing to do so however sour ou relation is.My problem is my hubby is the one who is very upset about the whole thing and bz it hurts him,I am hving a very bad feeling to my inlaws now.He says his parents want only his money.My husband has not got any share to he ancestral property too bz he himself said he doest need anything give it to his brother.My inlaws now want my hubby to pay back to all those who gave gifts during his sisters wedding,one of those close relatives daughter is getting married soon and that person had given a some of 30000 as gift,so now we are expected to give a little more than this.

    We have aleady done more thn what any children would do to their parents.My husband is praised and quoted as an example by people who know him,reltives and friends included.

    Can some parents really favour one child over the other especially when it is clear that one is nothing but a parasite.

    What should we do?Can you kindly help Usha?

  39. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Usha I am swati again.I would like to add some more lines.My FIL has not worked his entire life,he had a lot of property from his parents and so all he did was sell it off whenever any cause arises.My hubby lived most of his life in is aunts house and they helped him with his studies and not his parents.Wasnt things like this and his siaters wedding expense all be taken care f by my inlaws or is t just bz they gave birth to 2 sons,they can sit ack and let them take the responsibity?And amon the 2 boys its my hubby th younger one who has to bear all this.Why isnt the elder one have any duty towards his parents?We ave also spent a hell lot of money last year on my FIL's surgery,eventhough my BIL,my hubbys brother is enitled to benefits of things like reimbursement due to his sheer laziness and excuses has not even bothered to apply.

    For how long am I expected to be a good DIL?My husband asks me whether i am behaving good to them even after their indifference to be in my inlaws good books?

    My inlaws will have no problem if we continue to give them money for all the things they need,but there is a limit to their expectations isnt it?
    People back home think we lead very lavish lives in a big city.the truth is never that,we immigrants face a very challenging time emotionally.It saddens us when people lke our own parents think of us like money machines!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Comment #1: Jab D-i-L se M-i-le D-i-l, then Maha Sangram!

    Comment #2: If the girl's father has someone like Luca Brasi working for him, then maybe he would make you an offer you would not be able to refuse (such as, either your signature agreeing to the wedding of your son with his daughter, or your brain will be on the table).

  41. Usha Says:

    Swati: Thanks for sharing your experiences and my sympathies are with you.
    Sometimes we give because we want to and it does not matter what others do. It is totally with reference to what we think right and appropriate. So dont vex yourself over what you cannot change - your Brother in law's attitude. You cannot change it and this will only spoil your peace. But what you can do is to make it known how far you are willing to go and how much you can afford. While a sister's wedding is a necessary expense that a brother can happily bear, compensating for gifts received etc are not your problem. They should be handled by your parents in law or the sister who is now married.
    So instead of struggling under the burden of duty which is making you unhappy, just draw the line be frank about your stand - yes, you will lose your popularity but what use is popularity and a good name when you are unhappy doing it.
    It is possible that your inlaws have no idea of yor affordability - many people have a tendency to convert euros into rupees and believe a software engineer is a crorepathi - they have no idea about the taxes, the rents and the high cost of living there.

    Be honest, explain that you have problems too and since your earnings is all you have to depend on ( no inheritence etc) you can only spare so much per month for them. Hopefully they will understand. if not, it is still ok, because at least you can be at peace now.You can do all this without bringing in your lazy BIL , you can only talk about your situation and leave it at that. What he does, how he deals witrh it and how they deal with him is entirely their problem. You just let them resolve it by themselves.

  42. Usha Says:

    comment #1 - wah wah, looks like you watch too many Hindi channels?

    Comment #2:What a delightful prospect!

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you dear Usha for your words,the first thing I did today is to read your reply.I am yet to tell my hubby about what I wrote to you,I was so disappointed yesterday and did speak to my mother(who well is also in Bangalore)she too gave me the same piece of advice.But I felt that is what my mum would have told me anyways to spare us the pain.I therefore wanted to askthe opinion of someone who will really be in neutral position,I accidently stumbled upon your blog and read through some of your previous posts.And I just had to vent.Atleast we need not feel guilty now by refusin to pay back all.
    Thank you Mrs Usha,I really wish that you be happy always:)

  44. Usha Says:

    Swati: Initially I wondered if I should interfere in something so personal. Since you sounded really upset, I thought I'd share with you what I would have done in your position. I am glad your mother gave you the same advice.
    I hope you are able to handle it with confidence. Honesty and open communication are always better than being unhappy. All the best. I wish you happiness always too.

  45. Monika Says:

    nicely written article, though th equation is not really as simple...

    suppose in the case of sarees she had really accepted the sarees then what, everyone has their own way of dressing and she wouldnt have wore them then would the mil have felt better, i guess worst. Lets give it to her for atleast being honest... (though personally i agree that she could have taken and wore 1-2 of them for her satisfaction) and this thing is not just one way. I gave my mil a saree on my first karvachuath which happened to fall just before the marriage and she told me she doesnt like it and can i please give her the bill so that she can go and exchange? will this feel right and if yes than what the dil in ur story did is right too...

    I am not trying to justify dil's being one myself. All i am trying to say is that quite a lot of times its the in laws also who dont seem to want the relation and as far as maintaing the relations with her own parents is concerened thats the only support she has as everything else around her is new so its abs for her to fall back on them and keep to them....

    In the end i would just say as all relations its a too way thing and both the sides have to adjust else it really wont work out.

    PS: i didn't go thru all the comments so sorry if i have repeated some of the points

  46. Usha Says:

    Monika: Actually the equation is THAT simple though we tend to complicate it with our own prejudices and faux pas.
    People are basically nice - they respond to affection and kindness in a positive way.
    The MIL had to buy saris because it was the custom in the region she comes from - they give 11, 21 or whatever number of sarees. The gilr could have taken it gracefully and once she had gotten to know the MIL better she could have explained that since she doeas not wear them perhaps the MIL or SIL could have them. There is a tactful way to handle sensitive issues and there is a rude way. it is upto us to choose.
    I agree it is a 2 way process but each one cannot say I will move exactly the same extent to which the other does. Sometimes you give some more and end up being the winner.

  47. CatGunHome Says:

    To make life more interesting, why do each us not comment on everyone else's comments? On Saturday and Sundays, we could perhaps just attack and insult everyone, to add some colour? What thou sayest?

  48. Usha Says:

    "very bad idea" I sayest.

  49. Anonymous Says:

    I found your view so very true and radiant. We must be having some decades of age gap.. But I think on same line on this topic as urs. I have seen so many young gals cribbing about their MILs, while if you dig deeper, They have not done a bit of homework to adjust with their in-laws. It so very easy to take the defensive approach of distancing from in-laws.
    I hv seen that in my own case. It took me while to bring my hubsnad closer to his parent in last 3 years of marriage. But what you feel in the hindsight of it, is someone somewhere does realise.."Her parents have taught her tolerance and generousity to care for toher elder people tooo.." so I guess to some extent, mothers of such DILs are also to be blamed. Who teach their daughters tricks to further distance the guy from his parents. If only we could teach our daughters lil broader vision, it would have not pinched so much..

  50. The comments on this post take more space than the post itself. But then, the topic is such. And I have to add mine..
    We had a love-cum-arranged marriage. Hubs and I were classmates and best friends before we fell in love. My MIL who was absolutely taken with me as her son's pal couldn't digest the idea of me as her DIL. This because I am a year older than Hubs, am from a different caste and because they wanted his younger sis to get married before him.
    My folks once they got to know of my IL's disinclination were totally against the relationship, at which juncture (I was 26 at the time) Hubs proposed that we'd elope. But I stood my ground saying that if we got married, we'd do it with the consent of our parents, as we were both very much attached to our respective families. But finally 4 years later, we got married with just my parents present on the occasion. This because my IL's refused to conduct the marriage before my SIl's. 6 months after our wedding, they finally came round....
    I went to them with an open heart, putting all past slights and hurts behind. To be fair to them, my ILs too have put in their best, whcih can't have been easy for them. Not once have they made me remember old issues. My SIL got married a further 4 years down the line. My BIL has been staying with us (Hubs and me) for the last 6 yrs.

    What has started to irritate now is that Hubs expects me to be more to his family than he himself is. I am very close to my Mom (Dad passed away 3 yrs back) and to my sis. He measures the things I do with my family and expects the same with his (which is impossible.)
    And my IL's make it so very obvious that he as the elder son has a responsibiltiy towards his family. What does age matter? Does the younger son have no resp? Esp when he earns more than the elder one and has absolutely no responsibilities other than having a jolly time with his pals? I think the turning point with my MIL was when she mentioned to me that I should not chide BIL for his wayward ways myself, but let Hubs do that. Would she have said that to my SIL? I used to be very open, but ever since then, I have been locking up all my frustrations within myself. Hubs empathises with most of my irritations, but precisely because he knows it is justified, gets angry with me...

  51. Usha Says:

    Zeya: Although in some cases there are solid reasons for the mistrust and dislike, it is mostly an attitude problem.

    JLT: I guess you should convince your "hubs" to handle both MIL and BIL. He can use his older brother privelege to "knock" some sense into the wayward brother and get away with it too. And you can have your peace and what you want. wink wink.

  52. Lavs Says:

    Hi Ushaji,

    Reading your post and so many people’s stories, I am compelled to pen down my story. First, I do not think that DIL-MIL bonding issues are something special coz relationship issues sprout not only with in-laws but also with siblings, spouse, relatives and even some times with parents. My marriage is an arranged one where we went through the rigors of “bride viewing”. Luckily, the first guy who came to meet me liked me and I liked him and we got married. Then we grew to love each other dearly.

    During my first year of married life, I worked with a foreign bank and my work hours were odd considering I left for work at 11 in the afternoon and came home at 12 in the night. I have a SIL who was at that point of time studying in college in another state. My in-laws showed partiality towards my SIL and treated my husband badly, which they have been doing for quite some time but I was unaware of this before marriage. Conditions were laid by my in-laws on how I had to behave in their house. I was asked to call my hubby not by name, get up early in the morning to put kolam at the doorstep irrespective of the fact that I slept only at 1 in the night and I should not buy anything for myself unless I get something for my SIL. These were some ridiculous conditions laid down apart from others which are not worth mentioning. Even though I looked at my in-laws as my own parents, they never treated me like their daughter. Worse, they never treated their own son well. One year after our marriage, we were thrown out of their house for trying to raise our point of view. The relationship went downhill from then on. My in-laws called up all our relations and friends and told them what a bad DIL I was. I never reacted to such allegations which angered them immensely coz they expected me to fight with them for such acts. When my parents went to invite them for their 60th year marriage ceremony, they spoke ill of me causing my mom to flare up. When my parents became involved, I became upset and for quite some time I was depressed at the turn of events in my life. Later, I realized that I cannot please everybody on this earth and I have to live up to my self-esteem. My husband got burnt on both ends-one due to his parents’ ill treating him and two ill-treating me however possible. I also realized that to make any relationship work, it needs dedicated time and efforts and from both the parties. I cannot be held responsible if my relationship with my in-laws failed because it failed not for want of efforts from my end but from lack of efforts from the other end. Sometimes, love is so difficult to find in this world.

    This incident has also taught me to value my relationships with hubby and my friends more than before. I do not have kids now but later in life, when I do become a mother in-law to a girl/boy, I would take efforts to make that relationship work. I will not have “expectations” and will accept the person as he/she is. Whenever there is a difference in opinion, I would take the side of logical reasoning instead of letting my emotions speak for me. Emotions can change but logic will never change.

  53. Anonymous Says:

    well let me say this... V and R had an arranged marriage.. and both of vowed to gain another set of parents and make transition as easy as possible. Both set of parents are cool..It was fine.. marriage over..V and R leave for US.. 6 months later V and R come to India.. V and R decide to spend 50% of their vacation in R's home and the rest in V's home.. and R's mom lashes back saying it is not the way she did it when she was young and blah blah blah.. she goes to the extend of mailing V's mom asking her to cut the umbilical cord.. and all the good intentions V had disappear.. she tried being the nice daughter and it does'nt help..she became another DIL and things are better.. when the dil takes a step to adjust.. I guess the mil needs to come down a bit too. and guys are just guys.. they love their parents but are not going to show it like women do and mom and dad need to feel secure that their son will always be their son even when he has a wife..and that they raised him to be a great human being

  54. Usha Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Although every time I hear stories like this my heart sinks at the sight of the parents digging their own grave by such uncompromising attitude on silly issues.
    I still feel that if you are to live with your in-laws in the early days of marriage the sons should play an active role in bridging the realtionship. For example Lavs, in your own case, if your mother in law expected you to draw kolam in the morning after a night shift, this was insensitive. But if you felt uncomfortable explaining or refusing your husband could have spoken to them and put na end to it.
    And Pooh, the same in the case of V and R. Why did R have to listen to his parents when they were so wrong? He could have shut his mother up and ended the matter then and there - why did he become the good human being by letting the women fight it out?
    Although I am dismayed at the kind of experiences bahus have shared here, I'd like to believe that suffering DIL bloggers have spoken out while the ones in a harmonious relationship just take it for granted and havent spoken. So that vast majority still holds out hope for me.

  55. Anonymous Says:

    I am in the category of DIL now..
    When i got married i wanted to be a good DIL and did everything possible to please my inlaws.
    But slowly i realised the more i am good the more i am taken advantage.My in laws would always expect me to do work for them in kitchen,give money to them and their daughter inspite of all them being in well paid jobs.
    I have a Sister in law who is the height of trouble creator.She just comes in between me and husband and creates some problems.
    My SIL has thrown her in laws out of house as u were saying..But she keeps creating problem to us.
    i am working in a big concern and in a respectful job.
    The worst thing that happens in my life is these people are so cunning and whetever blame they wanted to tell on me they put it so softly.whn i complain to my husband,he just says they have told nothing harsh,that i am imagining things..

    I am slowly getting to depression,becuse i who always wanted to be straight forward could not take up this way of cunningness.

    anyway in my point of view the DIL,MIL releationship worsens if there is a worse SIL