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