I was having a conversation with a friend that day who was saying that her brother-in-law and his wife were returning to India for good from the UK because he wants to give his children an Indian upbringing.
My friend said: “My sister-in-law has only one condition they would not move in with my in-laws. She is married for more than ten years now, and I don’t know why she is so hell-bent on not staying with the in-laws?”
“Have you ever lived with your in-laws?” I shot back.
“Well, no. But they have visited me frequently in the US and have even stayed for six months at a stretch.”
“But you know they will leave eventually, and you will have your space,” I said.
She recoiled a bit. “Maybe you are right. I am judgmental towards my sister-in-law.”
“Yes, you are doing what most Indian people do. They think a woman is selfish if she does not want to live with her in-laws, but to me she is honest, and instead of getting into a lifetime of cribbing and bickering she is making things clear at the very outset.”
Why should married couples not to stay with their parents? Is it healthy to have your mother-in-law stay with you? These are questions that are very pertinent in the Indian social scenario. And for me, women who already have answers to this are not selfish but are sensible.
Related Reading: How Destructive Are Indian In-Laws?
Is it healthy to live with your mother-in-law?
This is an oft searched question on Google. Research published in the Daily Mail says that living with your mother-in-law could damage a woman’s health and there is increased risk of her developing coronary diseases. In real life, if you ask married women from all over the world the same question, 99% would answer that living with the in-laws is not a good idea at all, although many could be doing so because it’s a family tradition.
No wonder if three married women get together their favourite topic of discussion is the mom-in-law and needless to say they aren’t really discussing good things.
Going back to my discussion with my friend, I asked her does she get along with her mom-in-law?
She said, “I do get along with her. She is a simple woman. I have a good relationship with her. ”
“It’s good because you don’t live together,” I said.
This is precisely the thing distance with in-laws keeps the relationship healthy. And if a daughter-in-law is trying to keep that healthy relationship with her in-laws, why is she usually labelled selfish? Isn’t she doing what works best for everyone?
Related Reading: 22 Tips To Survive The First Year Of Marriage
Why married couples should not live with their parents?
Modern life has changed much both for the elderly and young people. While moms-in-law are focused on kitty parties and Facebook and have moved away from spending their entire days at the kitchen or in the puja room, the daughter-in-law is now the career woman who wants to juggle both home and work.
Since people are marrying late now usually in the late 20s or early 30s, they have their own set of beliefs, value system and own way of life which they are already used to. So it’s usually quite a bit of adjustment between married couples when they start staying under the same roof. Making the extra effort to adjust to the in-laws, who funnily have remained traditional in their viewpoints when it comes to the daughter-in-law, is hard for the lady. We have to accept that.
In that case, if she is clear that she wants to have a home of her own, she is not selfish. She is also ensuring that she isn’t intruding into her mother-in-law’s space which she holds so dear. In my opinion, this attitude speaks of sensibility and not selfishness.
It’s better to know your own mind
In India, the divorce rate is low compared to the entire world, but the divorces that take place are mostly because of a woman’s inability to adjust with the in-laws. We are not getting into the dowry harassment, domestic abuse and mental torture stories here, but the fact remains the scenario could change drastically in the Indian context if couples setting up their own home, becomes the norm.
In a country where arranged marriages are still the dominant form of marriage, women are conditioned that they would have to live in joint families after the wedding. They get into the arrangement unquestioningly, and then the trouble starts.
A friend of mine was happily settled abroad, and everything was going great until his brother got married. The new wife started having issues with the in-laws and started calling up my friend and telling him to get back and take responsibility of his ailing father. He actually left his job and came back home.
He tells me, “If she had said that she wouldn’t want to live with my parents from the very beginning then I could have asked them to wait for a year before they got married and worked out things at my work front and then moved. The situation escalated so badly between my sister-in-law and my mother that I had to return without a job and I am still jobless.”
Knowing your mind does help. And if a girl says she doesn’t want to live with her in-laws, remember she is saving a lot of people from future trouble.
She is not saying she would not be a support for her in-laws she is just stating that she would not share the same roof with them. What’s wrong with that?
Women usually learn about reality after they have burnt their finger in the fire. But those who know their mind even before they have tied the knot are for me the most level headed and intelligent people. Those who are calling them selfish are making a big mistake.