Married for 11+ years and living with in-laws for almost 9 years, I have learnt one thing. If the daughter-in-law does not stand up for herself – no one else will, including her husband. My in-laws are not abusive, not dominating not greedy. You ask me, then, what the issue, well - they are just in-laws. They don’t care if I ate, they are not worried if I reach home after dark, and they don’t mind publicly denying my cooking abilities. I always wondered why my elder co-sisters have had issues with in-laws and chose to move out and live in nuclear families and how my BILs supported them, it is slowly dawning on me now! My MIL never eats anything that we (DILs) cook. Be it a simple rasam or a lavish lunch/dinner. She says she has acidity and so prefers eating curd and rice. She has to buy as many sarees as I buy tshirts and kurtis every time I go shopping. If I plan to buy gold, she must buy it first. Now MIL is visiting us in Melbourne. We are all travelling together to India for Christmas. Of course she’d remain in India and we’d come back. Recently my best friend died. I am still recovering from the loss. My MIL knows that girl. Every time I am a bit down thinking about her, my MIL cries double the amount and says that she knew my bestie more than me and keeps reminding me of her death. Anyway, I learnt to ignore this now. The night I got the news of her death, I was crying and telling DH how much she wanted to do some things and how she passed away – how horrible it must be for her H. my DH then asked me if I have any wishes that he is not aware of. I mentioned I wanted to buy a silk saree for Christmas. He smiled and asked what else I wish for. I said I’d like to cook for him and also buy some gold for myself with my savings. We are planning for a home next year so I asked him if I could use a part of my savings for gold instead of home. He was in tears and asked me why have I not told him any of the wishes in all these years. I never bought anything in all these years of marriage because we always had to buy clothes and gold for MIL and we never had enough money to buy for ourselves. He just said, “You stand up for yourself and I’ll support you. But if you do not stand up for yourself, there’s no point in me supporting you.” Now, I don’t care who eats, I cook and whoever wants asks for a share – kids love to eat what I cook. I shop and I don’t even answer half the questions. I am saving for my Indian shopping. MIL asked me to save that money for home. I said, “I know what I am earning, I know how much can I save, I am saving that amount that’s left over after saving for home. It is MY home too, not just his. I have my plans to buy gold and I am buying it, come what may”. She said, “Yeah I need to buy gold, and a silk saree for Christmas. Lets see how much your husband lets me spend”. DH was also present when MIL said this. I said, “Good ! that’s a fantastic idea, you can buy whatever you wish for. So can I and my kids. When I said I need to buy, I meant “I” need to buy not the whole family. Kids is his responsibility too. So let him figure out what he wants to buy for his DD and DS. Am sure he wouldn’t want his kids to look so-so after coming home from abroad after 4 years!! What say DH? BTW, am going shopping with friends, I am old enough to buy gold on my own and hence no need of any guidance as such. “ We had a call from his cousin the other day and she asked if my DH and kids eat when I cook to which my MIL said , “hmm they don’t eat much, kids cry for me and my son cannot eat what DIL cooks. Poor guy he has no choice whem I am not visiting. They say that they wanna eat only when I cook. Also granddaughter does not like if her mom dries her uniform, she says it’s all wrinkled and shoe is not polished well. They use dishwasher, I don’t like it much. I prefer hand washed dishes, it saves lot of electricity and there by money. DIL does not understand”. That cousin spoke to me and asked me the same thing again, I too said the same, “Yeah they only eat of Mil cooks and serves and I have no idea how to do things at home.” and from that day gave up kitchen, kids and drying clothes and washing dishes. She cooks, feeds the kids, dries the clothes and washes the dishes. By the time I go home, everything is done, if not I use dish washer. Once or twice a week I feed the kids. Yesterday MIL was saying maybe dishwasher is a good idea, I said in front of DH, “But mom, you don’t like to use the dishes washed in dishwasher !! and sadly I don’t know how to do things” and walked away to read a book. I made tuna pasta for lunch box and she said “make more so that your DH can take for lunch” I said, “No mom, you know right, they won’t eat what I cook, I cook for myself “ The other day I went to buy grocery, she had 100s of opinions on what I bought. Next week I sent her with DH. After that DH had to do 4 rounds to the super markets buying stuff which she thought was useless and hence did not buy. He wa tired one day and we ran out of milk and he said in irritation, “Maa we know what to buy for this house, please remember she ran the house all these years even before you visited us, she knows what to buy and how much to buy, this is not India to go to shops every day to buy milk and bread.” She made some sweets and did not serve me any at all. Later when DH asked how do I like the sweet, “I said, which sweet ? I did not get any !!” to which my MIL said “Oh I thought you may not like it” and then served me . Earlier I used to take it respecting her age, now I denied it saying “yes I don’t like it” Everything I said and did was with a smile - very much from the heart because I know I am standing up for myself and I know DH will support me. I am a happier person now and I don’t care what my in-laws think of me. I realized I gave them so much value and respect, which they proved they don’t deserve. After a very long time, I felt that independence again. Thanks to DH for being there for me in every step.