I read with interest Usha Vaidyanathan’s “Saas_bahu-my take” and wanted to do a sequel from my point of view. I have referred to the relationship between a daughter in law and the members of her newly acquired family in earlier posts in a light and not so light vein. This time I wish to deal with it as my thirty four years of experience allows me to view it. Please try to analyze the issue with the patience it deserves.
Times have changed or so they say. However, the tussle between mothers in law and daughters in law remains the same. We rarely hear of problems between a daughter in law and the male members of the family. It is always a sister in law, a co – sister and a mother in law who are declared as trouble makers. Is this perhaps because women are emotionally vulnerable? I wouldn’t know for sure.
Fellow blogger Balaji once mentioned in a comment to one of my posts that his mother and paternal grand mother got on well with each other and though his mother belonged to a well to do family she had no adjustment problems and even supplemented the family income by preparing pappadams for sale. The two women would attend community celebrations of Navarathri happily contributing in their own way by arranging for the puja and helping out in the decorations. Another blogger Ardra had a similar story to share and had a kind word for her mother in law whom she calls valliamma which is a Malayalam word that, if I am not wrong translates as ‘big mother’. I often wonder if I would get a daughter in law who’d be willing to bond with me the way I myself bonded with my husband’s family. I am willing to walk the extra mile in making sure that she is at home with me. In these days of ‘hi and bye’ am I asking for too much?
There is an opinion that joint families are the cause of tension between MIL/DIl. Financial insecurity is another reason. Financial insecurity in a joint family is like adding fuel to fire. My own experience is different. I took time to bond – a couple of years perhaps. But it was possible mainly because my in laws were staying with us. Children came along and the love and affection they showered on them and the liberty they took to correct them when they were wrong, will remain as pleasant memories all my life. Artnavy had mentioned that her mother and grandmother would gang up against her father. Such was the bond they enjoyed. Her comments took me back in time and I recalled instances when my mother in law stood up for me. When I think of those early years in a strange environment with people diametrically opposite to me, I seem to have forgotten the emotional and financial tensions I faced and remember only the nice things.
Joint families have almost disappeared. Most parents have enough financial resources to see them through their old age. All they require is a little care and concern. It is the responsibility of a son/daughter to help their spouse to bond with their family. Long distance relationships take a while to develop. Let it happen naturally. I was surprised that many young women staying abroad leading a fairly independent existence bearing a grudge against their in laws for non existent reasons. This is only because they have not spent time with them. Men are less emotional. My husband hardly calls up anyone unless he has something to say. I am the one who talks to his sister and sister in law. So is it with many other men including my son. It is not as if they lack affection. It is just that they do not have that many topics to talk about. That does not mean that the daughter in law also has to maintain a distance. In an alien environment I found myself talking in sign language to Chinese and Japanese grandmothers. We were all grandmothers exchanging notes on the progress of our grandkids. Is it not possible to extend the same courtesy to the couple who happen to be your husband’s parents? They wait for those weekly phone calls just to hear about your children and you. A mother in law may not be the same as your mother. She can at least be the next best. Minor irritations are best ignored and whether mother or daughter in law they need to be accepted with their shortcomings. A little effort and lots of patience will make it so much easier for all. Good luck!!