An Indian daughter-in-law is labeled uncultured and rebellious – Here is why

Experiences shared by several readers, friends and some memories from what seems like another life have compelled me to write this article. In India, a lot of daughers-in-law are made to feel rebellious and uncultured because they do not blindly follow tradition. In-laws get a lot done in the name of “culture” and “respect for elders”. The husband rarely supports the wife and sides with his mother. A Daughter-in-law (“DIL”) has shared the following ways in her mother in law (“MIL”) has exercised control in her life. This has resulted in a lot of unpleasantness and disharmony in her marriage and fights with her husband. Here is what I think about it.

1. Deciding when and for how long DIL visits her parents

Not letting a woman visit her own family is cruel and inhumane. No good can come out of this.

2. Taunting or forcing the DIL to pray

Nobody can pray on demand. A person who believes in God feels connected and does not need to practise religion. They may do so by their choice. Or not. The whole purpose of praying is to attain inner peace. The “religious” MIL who is constantly creating discord in the home by scolding the DIL for not praying proves the point that religion does not teach right from wrong!

3. Deciding what the DIL should wear

Especially at her own wedding or any other important weddings in the family. Again, nothing but control. No adult should be told what to wear.

4. Deciding which days DIL can wash her hair and the appropriate time to cut her finger nails

There were all kinds of traditions in the past which may have some logic at that point of time. Personally, I do not understand why I cannot wash my hair on a Tuesday or a Saturday. I respect everybody who does believe in this. I do not have a problem with those who do. My problem is with the people who force others to following illogical traditions and judge them as being rebellious for questioning it! Not washing the hair and not cutting finger nails in purely unhygienic! And NOBODY should tell us what we do with our bodies.

5. Deciding the name of grand-children, and whether or not they can attend western dance classes

Where does the interference stop?

I honestly do not see any logic in any of the above. What is sad is that the MIL tells her son that her sentiments are being hurt as a result of the DIL not respecting her wishes. The husband is happy to side with his mother and yell at his wife for not following his mother’s orders.

Wake up Indian men! What if YOU were asked to do the above by your MIL?

And no the DIL who refuses to accept the above is not uncultured or rebellious or lacks respect for elders. She is a normal human being with a brain of her own and not a robot who is programmed to follow instructions.

To all DILs who have been humiliated for not following tradition. Please don’t let yourself be bullied and put down. There is nothing bad about you. Your MIL is a control freak and your husband is spineless. Don’t let your parents ask you to “adjust”. There is nothing wrong with you. It is your husbands who needs to change and stand up for you. Husband may say that he cannot change his mother because she is old and set in her ways, so you should change. Again, there is no sense in this. She still seems strong enough to control you and ruin your happiness and wreck your marriage.

When will the MILs realise that they are ruining their children’s lives for the most immaterial things? They need to back off and stop poking their nose in their adult children’s lives. I understand they may have been treated like this by their MILs. And they may even consider themselves “too nice” compared to them. I have news for them:

Times have changed. DILs have stopped taking shit.


I know that a lot of MILs are not like this. And I am glad to know that. I am not trying to generalize. This article is based on a certain perspective shared by some readers.

Subsequently published on Women’s Web: Link

© 2016 – 2017, Tanvi Sinha. All rights reserved.



33 thoughts on “An Indian daughter-in-law is labeled uncultured and rebellious – Here is why”

  1. If a husband wants to integrate his wife among his family members, it his HIS responsibility to make a place for her among them in advance of the wedding. This means a husband would prepare his family and help them in welcoming her. If he truly loves her and understands his responsibility as a husband, he would ensure that they honor and value her even more than himself.

    Her integration into his family is and should be HIS responsibility, not hers. If she feels rejected by them, it is HIS fault, not hers. It means he has not committed to making her feel comfortable and accepted among her in-laws. By not honoring her, he is refusing to give the marriage its rightful place in his own life. This is simply unjust. And women should not force themselves to visit people who make them feel unwanted and undervalued. #lovethyselffirst

  2. Wow…. beautiful written….. infact every point is soo true. And still doubt ur last lines “Times have changed. DILs have stopped taking shit.”……

    1. True completely expressed a girls feelings but i want to make u happy that i have a husband who don’t take his mother’s side for for all these shits in the name of culture and believes but yes i am sad for those who are still blaiming only a girl everytime where a girl’s feeling is not important where she has lost. Thanks for writing so perfectly i pray people understand all this one day.

  3. Awesome tanvi. MIL N FIL fight for materialstic things and think that DIL will take away there son if they are MIL and FIL are proper and sweet why we would do that?

  4. Time has definitely changed. But DILs still struggle with this. MILs should learn and not to stay so insecure about her son and home. If they are so insecue they should not marry his son.

  5. There couldn’t have been a better time to read this article. Trust me I have almost gone through the same and add to it a little bit of drama since my in-laws are from village. My husband and I are settle in one of the metropolitan cities. But their interference and disgusting behaviour made things so worse for me that I took big risk. I called up my parents. They took me back home. There was a meeting between both the sides. Mistakes and expectations were clearly stated and now the MIL and here brainwashing to his son is exposed. Hoping for the best now.

  6. Nicely Written Tanvi, i see so many comments on your blogs and wonder so many women suffer everday with all this and much more. These are so trivial issues but they sometimes become so big that they bring couples to get divorced. I always fail to understand why one human being needs control on another human being. Cant they live their own lives the way they want ? I agree we need to have some norms to live in a society but then are these things so big that inlaws dont even care if they are spoiling their own son’s life by causing tension between the couple for such small things. Such parents should not get their son’s married in first place and those spineless son’s should not get married also. If they all cant respect the new human being who entered their family , and expect every change from DIL then they really dont deserve to be in this marriage system at all. I myself suffer almsot everyday , and never understand that should we really end a relationship for these issues ? As said by someone above i totally agree that this is all insecurity , and if elder people ( more experienced of life per say ) cant handle their insecurities i really dont know whats the difference between them and younger ones. Also the day son’s of this country will grow their spines , lot of such problems would go away automatically.

    1. Hi there
      Thanks for your comment. A marriage requires a lot of understanding especially in the initial phase. In-laws love to establish their control from the beginning and they don’t realize the small issues is spoiling their children’s happiness. And yes, divorce is on the rise and it is these small issues that cause big fights that couples are unable to resolve. I can only create awareness and hope that people make informed choices..

  7. I am a Bihari girl married to a UP guy, that too a Rajput (no dowry involved). In their family, DILs are supposed to keep pallu on their heads, otherwise its the family who is shamed in society because of her. I didn’t and was termed as an uncultured, badtamiz, kisi ki respect na karne wali gandi aurat. I have never seen such trends in my family and I get quite amused to see how keeping a pallu on head all the time and touching feet of elders the entire day makes you sanskari? My parents spent their life and hard earned money to make me self-dependent. My in laws think since I am a working woman and I have a boy (both my SILs have daughters), I am घमण्डी. 😛

    Now that I have been a rebel and don’t follow such stupid trends, I am not allowed to come down to my in laws place, as directed by my elder SIL. Can you believe? On the other hand, I am happy. Period.

  8. I’ve been a regular visitor to your site and that alone can say how avidly I read your articles. But I must admit that this article is a third-rate compared to any of your previous ones. It lacks the artistic ability which your articles like ‘Hope that we meet again’ exuded(what a brilliant one it was). Nor does it have much content; remember how you incorporated your experience, views smoothly along with some humour in an article about racism. And that Holi article was a treat.
    Your elaboration of every single point in this article is simply bland except that “whole purpose of religion is to gain inner peace”. Even in that, “whole purpose” sounds like shoving your point, considering various other benefits that religion is deemed to provide and coherence between sentences is missing in that elaboration.
    Further, repeated use of “I don’t understand”, “no body should”, kind of phrases are replete without any interesting points preceding and that made me yawn. It felt like bashing and bashing throughout the article. You are fumbling with serious topics of which you have had little or no personal experience. Thats not your forte.
    Your narration is of superior quality and this kind of topics don’t leave any space for that and you falter. And socially relevant issues? No, its predominantly about gender and related issues. Please, subtlety and sweetness like a meandering river, or a blossoming flower is all we want from you. Don’t write this kind of articles, which are simply a couple of points drawn out hard to make it look like an article.

  9. An apt article . The control and interference is not just by in laws , but parents too. However, it’s time to understand we are all individuals with our own choices.. forcing is nothing less than a punishment. Loved your blog. Keep writing.

  10. As a DIL myself, totally understand your pain. But if you look at this matter from a MIL or FIL’S perspective of getting our son married to a girl, which we would certainly one day maybe after few years. Try thinking from their shoes, the mindset of a normal adult of 50-60 yrs of age who must’ve seen more difficulties than us considering the generation, development gap we have , they have the obvious nature of making the DIL more prepared towards their family culture, it is good for their son and of course their DIL and their grandchildren too. Imagine me, a DIL who’ve been brought up for 25 yrs in a certain culture and not ready to get synced (adjusting is NOT the right word) into my new family (NOT extended family) because this is the way I am, then why should I expect him, a son or them MIL or FIL to understand me? Then I shouldn’t get married too if I’m not prepared to accept their culture or tradition. While I totally agree that too much of interference is a nuisance from anyone including my parents, its my responsibility to make them understand by repeatedly assuring them that their son and grandchildren are in safe hands , if I need guidance I will ask them. I also agree that husband should be more responsible towards acceptance of his wife in a family, he must ensure they respect her and also I must also mutually respect and accept them and their culture. I know it is not easy at all, I too am going through the same phase, but as DILS let us learn good from our ILS and forgive and forget the bad in them.

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