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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Thin, transparent line...


The Saas, nanad and Bahu wars :

I think I'll marry a good Mother in law and sister in law. The man can be changed later." - Ruchika Bajoria, age 20, student and fellow blogger.

All right everyone, honestly hands in the air everyone who agrees with my friend Ruchika?

I see...this many huh? Wise words for one so young.

This is a very sensitive topic and I debated long and hard before writing it...

At points it will no doubt, appear that I’m biased. I am. Towards the daughter in law [DIL].

Why? Because she is the one who gets left out, while the mom in law and daughter in law are a team. And I’m always for the underdog!

But on a more serious note, this blog post may nmot be taken kindly by people, even by people close to me [read: nikhil.] but I'm still posting it because I believe that with a little bit of effort, consideration and love...its possible to have a happy married life...be a huge, happy family. Be united. That is the image I;m hoping for, whenever I get married myself.

I share and excellent relationship with my Sister in law, I mean my first cousin's wife. Till I took offense at something that can only be termed petty and behaved badly with her. By behaving badly, I mean I ignored her and refused to talk to her when she came home. The second she was out the door I felt overwhelmingly ashamed of my behaviour and ran out the door and hugged her. Whereupon she burst into tears and said “I’m so fed up of everyone taking me for granted just because I'm the bahu [daughter in law]. It was bad enough when your brother's real sister was doing it, I didn't expect it from you too."

If possible I felt even worse. And trust me, that’s a first.

Since I've been in India, I've yet to hear an MIL or SIL praise or have anything good to say about their son's wife. The DIL. The evil female who "stole" their son. Brother away.

Because of this, they behave in ways which guarantee that there’s never been a DIL who’ll ever praise her MIL and SIL either.

Its reason enough for anyone to shudder at the thought of marriage!

I'm not talking about illiterate women here...I'm talking about educated, employed women.

I wonder what it is, that makes them so quick to judge, often wrongly, their son's wife. The woman can slog, work her ass off, cook, clean, care and still they will find something to criticize her for. I guess if one is determined to look for flaws, flaws are all one will see!

Everywhere you look around, the extinct species is the "happy Bahu". I'm guess the reason she weeps so copiously at the end of the wedding ceremony is more out of fear, than actual grief at leaving home!

She cannot "answer back" when an injustice is done...towards her obviously.

Last night, on the radio, the RJ hosted a crib session, and one of the women who called up confessed that she was thinking of divorcing her man because he was a "mamma's boy". The woman in question had been married 5yrs and had a 3yr old son. She was in terrible pain.

I don't understand...WHAT IS IT? Is it possessiveness? Jealousy that one's son/brother is now physically and otherwise closer to someone other than them? That he is sharing a bed with someone else? Or worse...sharing ALL his thoughts with someone else? Is it as simple as resentment? Do they resent the girl? Because apparently, no matter how hard she tries, she's never good enough. She's never right. It’s pathetic.

People will put up with the bad behaviour of their daughter, but NOT their daughter in law. This is something that leaves me befuddled. Do these parents in law not realise that their DIL has left her own, real parents believing with all her heart and soul that she is only going to go home to her new parents?

Then why the blatant discrimination? Between and daughter and a daughter in law? If anything, you should treat her extra specially, as she has trusted her life to you and your son. You should feel honoured that she considered you worthy of that, that she trusted you so much.

But you let your daughter get away with anything, and never ever stick up for this girl who will now, or in your later years, be the one to take care of you, physically and otherwise.

Who will wipe your tears when your daughter is in her own home, with her own husband?

Who will take you for your regular health checkups?

Who will remember not to add sugar to your tea because of your diabetes?

Who will cook all your meals in extra virgin olive oil so that you don't die early of a heart attack.

Who will be sensitive to your moods?

Who will never take you for granted.

Who will probably be more respectful towards you that she was towards her own parents.

Who will observe your slightest desires and fulfil them immediately, when others may not even have noticed.

Who will make your house a home?

Who will bring home only wheat or bran flakes because they are far healthier than cornflakes?

who will take the utmost care, not only of your son, but you even at times, neglecting her own self...because isn't that what a wife or daughter does?

How is one to deal with this?

Of cold wars, of bad behaviour, of possessiveness?

What to do when you feel unappreciated?

Left out?

Despite the love and care you may have felt and shown them all?

Talk.

To your husband.

Tell him your feelings. If he is any man at all, he will hear you out, try to clear the air. He will point out where you were at fault, and agree that his mom and sis were wrong too.

A word of advice... Do not push him to fight for you. [But simply to speak calmly with them about your hurt feelings.]

Fighting will only serve to make your MIL and SIL hate you more. It will create tensions and a bad atmosphere at home.

Worse than that, your man will feel helpless at your misery. He may feel unworthy of your trust. Your relationship with him may deteriorate drastically. And somehow, this is not a good enough reason.

What I mean is, if his mom/sis are not willing to understand his point of view, do NOT fight him! It’s not his fault, as long as he has spoken to them. When someone is determined not to admit their mistake, nothing can make them. And somehow, without even knowing the whole story, and often despite knowing the whole truth, the MIL will insist that HER daughter was not at fault and it was all the Bahu's mistake.

If your man shakes his head and says “no that’s not true. You’re assuming things wrongly."

Then that’s good enough. He cares enough about you to disagree with his mother.

Be the mature one, or perhaps more correctly, the "bigger person", and forgive and forget them. Be happy to have a man who sticks up for you...he does deserve your life in his hands. And trust me, from what I've seen; every time a man's wife cries because of his mom/sis, he takes special care of her...shows unusual amount of sensitivity...and makes up for the hurt they may have caused her.

But sometimes, some hurts run too deep. Especially after you've done your utmost to try and establish a good, cordial and genuinely caring and loving relationship with your in laws...something may happen to hurt you so much so you never want to look at them or talk to them again. If they apologize, genuinely and directly to you, for hurting you and making you cry, accept it graciously and move on. If not, don't waste your precious tears over people who do not care enough about you to come and wipe your tears. They don't deserve your tears. Sometimes it’s hard to love someone who don't even like, as a human being. Don't kill yourself over it. Just remember your manners. At all times.

As my mom says, “Just because someone else is doing something wrong or behaving badly, that doesn’t mean that you should do the same thing. No need to be wrong just because someone else is.”

In short:

Bottom lines are ... in the following categories.

FOR SISTER IN LAWS:

- Grow up.

-If you genuinely care about your brother's happiness try to have a good and loving relationship with his wife.

-If your brother's wife fights with him, instead of being rude to her on his behalf. remember that she is his wife and has every right to argue with him because she loves him more than she loves her own life and does her very best to make him feel special and happy.

-Remember that one day you too will be in her position, unless you decide to remain a spinster, in which case you maybe v.lonely.

-It takes a magnanimous person, to admit she is wrong. Apologize when you have been rude to her. A genuine apology goes a long way in healing a hurt...especially to someone's heart.

-Remember she has left her real family, sister, brother to come live with you...expecting a real home. Not one where she is the outcast.

FOR MOTHER IN LAWS:

-Grow up.

-Remember the girl has left her own parents to come to you, with the faith and hope that you will treat her as well as her own parents did, as well as you would treat your own daughter...if at any point, you are unfair to her, or unappreciative, it is a poor reflection on your character.

- Your own daughter maybe a v.nice person, but she is not God. She too can make mistakes and hurt feelings. Admit it and teach her better manners instead of putting the blame on your DIL.

-Remember your own daughter will be married and have to face in laws one day. And then remember what goes around comes around. Be to your DIL the kind of in laws you'd want your own daughter to come across.

-Remember that she has done your son the honour of loving and trusting him with her life. She is ensuring he doesn't grow old alone, that he is well taken care of. As will you be too.

- If you cannot praise her never condemn her.


FOR DAUGHETR IN LAWS:


-Grow up.

-Stop crying.

-Be honest at all times, about your good AND bad gestures.

-Confide in your husband.

-Do not gush sycophantically just to be in their "good books". You won't.

-Do not apologize when you are not at fault. It makes people take you for granted.

-Do not change to please someone yourself. Try to work on improving yourself, but for yourself.

-Do be yourself, always.

-Do not go out of your way to please someone...eventually you will resent it and that resentment will pour itself out towards your husband.

-Remember, for better or for worse...they are your new family. Treat them as you would your own family. Be fully sincere on your behalf...love them as your husband loves them but keep no expectations [Damn near impossible, I know]. That way you will never be disappointed.

- Lastly and most importantly, NEVER BITCH [BACKBITE] about your in laws. Its v.v.hard to resist doing so, especially when you hear reports of them having said mean things about you. But always treat them genuinely like your own mom and dad and sister. you wouldn't talk about them, badly, behind their backs...would you?



8 lost souls found themselves in my mirror....:

ruSh.Me said...

LOL...too many things to learn...
but moral of the post... GROW UP!!!

:D

coffeeismypoison said...

yep...well summarised rashmi! lets see if I get as positive reactions from others. :o) am stepping on too many toes here.

Ruchika said...

Very well written.
You seem to have got the situation down abso-right. I love the neutrality of the take, you neither condemn the mil/sil not glorify the distress of the dil. Some places, the dil seemed too tragic (probably coz ur yet to have a 1st person pov of being an mil) but that's manageable.

You're NOT stepping on any toes here, but you are touching upon a touchy touchy subject. Furthermore, If you DONT STOP BLOGGING I will kill you!

GET BACK TO YOUR BOOKS!

Mmmuuuuah

coffeeismypoison said...

@ruchika: he he...where am I supposed to get an honest MIL? One who will admit to insecurity and judgement?
but i wrote this months ago remember?i mailed it to u? n said i wanted to [post it bt dint want to end up alone and single :o( well it seemed unfair...n maybe someone will read this a change their behaviour for the better...be it saas, nahu or nanad...maybe it will have a good influence on someone...u never know na...

abinitio said...

don't get me wrong.. call me whatever u want, but i felt this post was a biased one by someone based on her own experiences and not takin all scenarios into account..
nothing against the writer's opinion.. got nothin against it..
but thats how i felt..

coffeeismypoison said...

Abinitio, ur not wrong. it is completely biased :) but the one called "the defense speaks" is also biased from the POV of the mom in law :) so u shud see that as well...both parties r biased. but in all honesty, i did try to make them fair, i did say that the DIL shud also change in some ways...perhaps that dint come out strongly enuf?
Why wud anyone call u anything??!!

Indian Home Maker said...

coffeismypoison - I agree, most specially with the tips given to the DIL.

I have seen those who grovel get kicked, look straight in the eye, be polite, warm, nice and all, but do not be sycophantic.

coffeeismypoison said...

Thanks IHM...saas's seem to forget that they too were "bahus" once. ironic.