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It Took Me A Few Years Of Marriage To Understand How My Mother Must Have Felt About Her In-Laws

Posted: February 4, 2020

Transparency is the key for any relationship to breathe, sustain and blossom with time and age. That, along with some understanding, can build long term relationships.

I was the youngest child in my family and obviously the most pampered one. Don’t judge, I was a good and sophisticated kid, and not the brat types. Being the youngest had its own advantages compared to some cons like being always directed to do things, or fetch water for elder siblings, etc.

I got married into a family where both my in-laws are working and my sister-in-law who was 9 years younger to us was finishing her high school. You know that age; we all have been through that. Well, my husband was confident that I will get along well with his sister and others in the new family.

We all are well aware of the differences one has with in-laws. Despite the fact that there can be amiable associations amongst us, some kind of taboo still exists around these relationships pertaining in-laws.

In Indian society, one tends to marry into the family

When one gets married, it is not just that one person but an entire group of people you are being married to. You leave your comfort zone of around 22-25 years on an average, and join these people and the surroundings you are going to live and breathe in.

Being humans, we have dissimilarities, but don’t we have dissimilarities with our own parents or siblings too? Don’t we dislike few things about our own biological parents and siblings? Then why is it too hard to accept that we could respect the different thought process of the family you are married into?

Do unto the sister-in-law as you would have her do unto you

It’s so common to hear nanad-bhabhi jhagde (fights between sisters-in-law) happening in every other household, but if one tries to look at it from a distance with an impartial and positive mind, they may find it pretty normal.

Take my case for that matter. My sister-in-law was a teenager in high school when I met her and moved in as a new bride. At times, we did have some conflict of interest, or differences in opinion, but these never came in the way of our midnight Maggie sessions or Cheetos treats while watching movies snuggling alongside each other getting cozy in the same blanket, or dancing like no one was watching.

When I accepted the fact that it’s her age that made her behave in the way she did (the same I had been once through), it made things easier. Today she is a grown-up making her own living independently overseas, and I still respect her decisions though being concerned for some at times, smirking at finding myself in the elder sister shoes sometimes.

Every person needs some space and respect for their privacy. It’s always mutual in a relationship to build that with time.

We learn our lessons with Time & Experience

I remember the times when my maternal grandma used to visit us and stay with the paternal grandma in the same room. We used to call them both “Biji” – “Chandigarh wali Biji (Nanima)”, “Panipat Wali Biji (Dadima)”.

Both very pious, contented, selfless, giving, and adorable souls I have known in my lifetime so far. Although they both got along well, we still expected a few differences here and there like the one I remember about the curtains, while one used to like them drawn the other didn’t.

It took me few years and a marriage to understand how my mother must have felt, at being some crossroads with respect to her mother and mother-in-law. But at times, I used to find my mother taking sides of her mother-in-law genuinely. Same was the support my grandmother had for my mother.

Our mother has taught us in a similar fashion, as to be humble with everyone, be amiable and stay natural, just the way you are, no show offs but respect every person that comes your way.

Cultures can mingle too..

My elder sister is the second in line of the five daughters-in-law at her side, and it would not be wrong to say that there were some traditional dis-similarities between the two families – we being from a Punjabi background and her husband’s side being from U.P. But that did not deter her from getting along well with her mother-in-law. Rather, I feel the two were closely bonded while they understood and respected the traditions and lifestyle of each other.

I think it’s our mother’s liberal thinking and upbringing that helped us as her daughters to accept and adjust in a different environment among different mindsets.

The mother of your ‘better half’

Moving on to my mother-in-law, I would like to start with sharing the fact that our household helpers mock at us sometimes wondering that we live under the same roof as friends. While that may not be easily digestible by many gossiping wasps, it’s somehow true. There is no custom of touching feet (except on special occasions) or calling her “mummy ji” everyday, but that doesn’t lower the respect or sanctity of the unique bond that we share.  She is an experienced God fearing lady working as a teacher for over 33 years now. Oh yeah, don’t raise brows over teaching! Lol!

As much as I want to help her in kitchen, she likes to make special meals for us even on her off days without disturbing our sleep.

It would be a deception if I will not mention that we do have contrasting view on certain things or situations, but we admit them and handle them with grace. The only reason I can think of is because we respect each other’s outlook. She has also had her challenging times, and maybe understands that by being in my shoes at times.

Try to build your own opinion

It’s all a mind game that we let these perceptions build based on experiences we hear about from other people, that sometimes blocks our own judgement for people and situations.

Egos may clash, expectations may be shattered, but an outburst is never an option. If I can go back and be the first one to apologize to my sister or mother over a debate, I should be brave enough to put my point on the table with my in-laws as well. Obviously, accepting the mistakes that I might have also made at times, as no one is perfect.

Transparency is the key for any relationship to breathe, sustain and blossom with time and age.

I know it may not be the same for everyone but there is no harm in giving any relationship a fresh start at any point of time. Giving a slight benefit of doubt here and there may help you understand that side of the coin that’s shadowed.

I hope many of the women out there would partially if not fully agree with my story, or the escapade that this marriage is known to be, or at least give it a chance to be.

I would love to give a penny for your thoughts on these thoughts. Feel free to share your own experiences related to the same. Until next time, enjoy life to the fullest!

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: a still from Hum Saath Saath Hain

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A Creative Writer by choice and an IT person by profession, Shruti likes to make

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