Thursday, September 03, 2009

In-Law Advice: What Wives Should Do

Based on the responses to this post, I decided to write a follow-up that addresses wives. What should you do if you’re an Indian wife and is likely to be expected to behave in a certain way (or rather, many different kinds of ways) by your in-laws? Here’s what.

First, be respectful but not deferential. Treat them as you might treat a senior colleague, for instance, or maybe a professor. That is, you don’t have to agree with them all the time, but you should be polite as far as you can.

Second – and most important: be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone else hoping they’ll like you better. When they’re around, try to behave much like you normally do. You might want to give them special attention, spend time with them, show them around. That’s all great. But don’t try to be the perfect bahu you think they want. Believe that they’ve got a great bahu in you – and act like you do.

Third, talk to your partner. Don’t antagonise him by bluntly criticising his parents, but do let him know what you think of them. Talk about them and find out what he thinks about them. Just because they’re his parents doesn’t mean he thinks they’re paragons. Let him know if there’s any specific behaviour of theirs that hurts you. “I know Mamma means well, but when she asks me how often I make halwa and then looks at you like she’s sorry for you...” Also, let him know if there’s anything specific he can do to help. “Could you tell Mamma that we’re not trying for children right now? She keeps dropping these hints and it’s embarrassing...”

Fourth, always make it clear that you and your partner are a unit. By that I don’t mean you’re one person, but that you stand together and you make the decisions in your life. They’re welcome to offer advice, but that’s it. It helps if they see the two of you happy together, so try to confine the fights and even the sarcastic comments to when you are alone with him. If you look strongly welded together, it’ll be that much harder to drive a wedge in. Notice I say ‘look’. Appearances are important here.

What are your in-laws like? How do you deal with them when they’re pesky or interfering?

We’re going to visit my in-laws tomorrow, so why don’t you talk among yourselves till I’m back? See ya all next week!


Rohini said...

my inlaws are pretty cool.. as i said, MIL gets a little picky sometimes and it used to upset me intially.. now i am used to it since i noticed that she is like that with everyone.. FIL goes around praising me everywhere! He met my friend's MIL to deliver some package to be sent to me and sang praises about me for half an hour it seems! :D
yes, it hurts sometimes when MIL is too bothered about what i am feeding her son but then such are moms! My grandma is always worried about how i am managing to survive in a strange land! Can't help it.

Dr. Ally Critter said...

I think the part about "Be yourself" should be etched in stone.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Unmana, and I agree... being oneself and being a unit make a lot of sense.. but I fear some in laws may not like the couple supporting each other!! It would be seen as a betrayal and disrespect by the son.

apu said...

Nice post, Unmana. Of course, it presumes that you've married a fairly broad-minded sort of guy. If you've married a guy who thinks his parents "head" the household and that sort of thing, well...good luck is all one can say I suppose!

Unmana said...

Rohini: Ah, well, most relationships are difficult, aren't they? When I go through a difficult moment with one of my in-laws, I usually remind myself how annoying my mother can be!

@lankr1ta: It's difficult to know sometimes who 'yourself' is, isn't it? I used to think I was this diffident person who doesn't like inconveniencing others. I now realise I was just afraid to speak up. It takes a while to realise what you really want.

IHM: That's shameful: what do such in-laws think a marriage is about?

Apu: Well, I did assume that the husband in question is not a jerk. If he is, there are bigger problems in hand than the in-laws.

Anonymous said...

Well, ideally speaking you are right. But if I had been myself in front of my MIL, that would have been the end of our relationship as she is extremely orthodox.

Anonymous said...

What I mean is I am usually very outspoken but in front of my MIL I keep my mouth shut. She doesn't like DIL's expressing their opinions too much! :) Also she has some conservative ideas on how women should dress, and in front of her I never bring up the subject! Basically what she says goes in from one ear, and out the other!

Pravesh Biyani said...

Sorry in advance on commenting on this post. I know I sound a MCP to you.

Your posts on what wives should do reads more on how wives should handle her in-laws. Not on how she should tell her parents (Guy's in-laws to be precise) to behave.. Unlike your post on the Guys.. where you instructed him on how to respect his wife and how he should take of his parents (not his in-laws).