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!