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Avoiding Speaking With Orthodox In-laws

Discussion in 'Relationship With In-Laws' started by NaiveLady, Mar 31, 2020.

  1. NaiveLady

    NaiveLady Senior IL'ite

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    Hello, I hope that my post won't have too much repetition from what all others have posted about their respective in-laws, but after trying hard to be a good DIL, eventually I decided to stop, just be myself/live my own life and not worry about trying to please them/get on their good side anymore, as no matter how hard I try it won't matter. I hope that this post will give others courage to do similarly if they are in tough situations with their in-laws too, even if they live together with them 24-7. In fact, I have stopped talking to them altogether except during birthdays or certain other occasions, thankfully my husband understands (he also doesn't talk to my side of the family, though that's a different story)

    Background info:

    * in-laws grew up in snd live in South India. They (especially my MIL) are very traditional and orthodox - believe in following all rituals, do fasts for amavasya, sravanam, the concept of "nalla naal" (auspicious days), bowing down to elders, worshipping their family guru and much more.

    * I grew up in the US from age 6 but still learned about and to this day try to keep up with my family background, language and cultural values thanks to my parents and others. Learned Hindi, mother tongue, Sanskrit, Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam. Met husband online via our parents, three months prior to our marriage. We became good friends before marrying. Married now for six years. While we both are fairly spiritual in our own ways, we are nowhere near as orthodox as my MIL. This difference has led to a lot of friction as follows:

    - before marriage, my MIL criticized my mother for not teaching me my mother tongue, even though she did (in US, while dealing with my late father's health problems). Yes, I am not fluent but I can get by decently enough and we speak it at home.
    - in the first year or two, my MIL looked at me and pointed to my stomach (to suggest that I should work on having a child). This was in spite of my husband not having a job then / from the time of our marriage.

    - regarding the kid situation, just prior to our last visit to India, my MIL asked my husband as to what we will say when relatives ask us about kids/our not having any yet. He pointed out several examples of members within her own family (and generation) who are married and don't have kids

    - we all went on a spiritual trip in India due to MIL desire for us to have a child. While I liked various parts of the trip (e.g. taking a dip in the river), later on, after returning from the bathroom, my MIL immediately asked me to not take spiritual kumkum with me to restroom (even though I didn't). Later she told me to apply it every day for next 30 days (except for days of periods). I kept quiet but was thinking why is she always telling me to do this or that.

    - during a two month long stay at our place, we all got along okay for the most part even while adjusting to one another. At the end she randomly told me that I should not touch puja doors during periods (even though I wasn't even on it at the time) and then defended herself by claiming she thought I didn't know that rule. We got in a big argument because I told her I did know about the rule, and that it's a natural God given process without which we can't give birth and I am sorry but don't believe in such restrictions (though I do follow them outside the home for others sake). My husband (and later on, my mother) tried to tell her that i maintain a traditional enough lifestyle in other ways (e.g. I don't drink, etc) and even my FIL stepped in and said that we won't discuss the topic going forward.

    - there are many other instances over the years,in spite of my best efforts, I have realized I will never be as traditional as she would like. For example, I know and recite a decent amount of shlokas/prayers but don't necessary follow rituals. I once suggested lighting puja lamp from the stove (because the matchbox wasn't working) and she just said "according to shastras we shouldn't light that way", this was after I finished lighting various lamps for Diwali, not much positive remarks from her for that effort.

    - she also comments freely about people's eating habits and weight, so I became very self conscious to even eat in front of her when visiting

    - I ran into major health problems that has delayed any plans for kids (at least biologically) for several years. I am sure that is also a huge thorn in my MIL's side.

    Anyway it is hard but I have finally decided to stop caring what she thinks of me. I try to have sympathy for her because she has leg problems and didn't have much privacy after her marriage (was always living with her in-laws), at most I see her two months out of the year so I just try and be as patient as I can though I have not always succeeded. If someone like myself (a recovering people-pleaser) managed to reach this point, I hope it will inspire those of you in far more difficult situations than mine.
     
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  2. SunPa

    SunPa Platinum IL'ite

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    @NaiveLady Good for you girl!
    Life gets smoother and relationships bearable when we decide "she is like that onli" and move on.

    But do plan how to let such things slide and not affect you. It is hard, so best have a plan in hand.
    - she also comments freely about people's eating habits and weight, so I became very self conscious to even eat in front of her when visiting
     
  3. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Good for you...
    The next time there is any discussion of your reproductive schemes, tell her that the Danish sperm bank is on backorder. And it is going to take some more time for them to deliver.
    Promise them a Viking grandchild.
     
  4. Anusha2917

    Anusha2917 Finest Post Winner

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    Did you ask why shastras say that? What is one supposed to do in such situation where match stick isn't working ? What would she do in a situation like that!?
    You are on the right path of acceptance! This is where every woman should reach dealing in laws. Glad you could reach this stage with 6 years of marriage. .
     
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  5. winterhue

    winterhue Silver IL'ite

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    Good for you OP. I am in the same path too. Super conservative MIL, lots of backhand comments and after 11 years of being the good DIL, I decided one day that enough was enough and just stopped bothering about her.Best decision of my life :)
     
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  6. mangaii

    mangaii Platinum IL'ite

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    You gave the power to her to put you in pedestal . The minute you start defending yourself against her complaints you loose power . Be confident of who you are . No need to justify your actions based on her reactions . I would say reduce the time you spend with her . What is your husband’s take on this ? Does he control his mom ?
     
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  7. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    1. Would people other than your husband know your "dates"?
    2. You know the rule but don't follow it in your home as you don't believe in it?
    3. You know your in-laws are orthodox but don't follow the rule in your home when she is visiting?
    Your visiting MIL said something about not touching puja doors during periods.
    1. That escalated into an argument which included your scientific beliefs about the practice.
    2. Your husband and mother stepped in to defend your level of traditional-ness?
    3. Your mother said that to your MIL over the phone?
    4. The matter was discussed long and deep enough that your FIL also joined in?
    Why all this?

    You have grown up in the U.S. You must have some idea of how to deftly deal with an unsolicited advice about puja doors touching? You must have known before you got married that they are more traditional than you?

    I don't understand why so much drama over her puja doors comment. It is a 2 month stay. Nod your head and follow or don't follow the practice. You know Hindi, mother tongue, Sanskrit, Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam, slokas, lighting lamps, but not this basic skill that almost every Indian DIL practices at one point or the other of her married life even if she has the most reasonable in-laws.
     
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  8. NaiveLady

    NaiveLady Senior IL'ite

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    Thank you, appreciate the encouragement and wish you all the best with everything in your life.
     
  9. NaiveLady

    NaiveLady Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Rihana, thank you for your post. I apologize if I came across as too radical or argumentative with what I had described. To your points:
    * I do follow the rule when in-laws are here (and when I visit them at their place I don't go into puja room at that time of month). It is very easy to follow it when they are here because my MIL lights the puja lamp daily and does pujas, so I don't even have to.
    * As for whatever else I follow in my home, my personal take is that each person should do as they wish in their home as long as they are not hurting themselves or others in the process. (Just to be clear, I don't touch the puja items on such days, in fact even on other days I say prayers without necessarily lighting puja lamp, but I do go into the kitchen and do everything else per normal). The main reason I do not like the rule, even though I still do my best to follow it, is because we have ways to keep ourselves reasonably clean these days, we are not exempt from other duties like office and housework anymore, and we don't have control over it unless we take medication to prepone/postpone, and with my current health condition I cannot take such medication anymore (I used to in order to postpone it to attend important functions, and got severe cramps when it returned afterwards). I am sorry if this makes me come across as disrespectful/rebellious of our traditions/culture but that is how I feel. Just to reiterate, I still do my best to follow it.
    * As for the "I don't understand why so much drama..."...you are right, I guess I could have held my tongue and quietly nodded. There were many other times over the years (e.g. some of the other instances I mentioned above) where she told me something I didn't feel very comfortable with/didn't especially like, and I had kept quiet then. I could have kept quiet this time too, but I guess it just got to be a bit much by that point in time and I am not proud of talking back, but I am a fallible human. I guess I was also embarrassed because the issue was raised in the presence of my FIL.
    * Also, yes I do know about this basic practice, from childhood days, it was just never enforced upon me except during major family functions. I guess I should count my blessings, though, at least my MIL doesn't say that I should stay in the bedroom during those days and not touch anything.
    * Yes I had a feeling they may be more traditional before marriage, but we never really got to know one another before, and I guess I was hoping that given that I try to maintain my culture in other ways then eventually other differences would be accepted, but I think I expected too much. Anyways, I found myself very compatible with my husband (and vice versa) so that was the most important thing for me.

    I hope you won't think of me as a super unreasonable/bad person on account of what I shared, in the hopes of not being judged negatively, but if you I am sorry I came across that way, and I understand and respect your right to your feelings. I do wish you the best in your life and want to thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. Take care.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
  10. NaiveLady

    NaiveLady Senior IL'ite

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    Thank you for your wise words. He doesn't control his mom but if pushed, he is able to talk back to her if needed. I guess his mother doesn't control him either but she cares immensely about "what will society/her relatives think" with regards to everything so that drives a lot of the conversations with him.
     

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