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I am writing this article for my numerous friends who live together with their in-laws out of force. I hope my observations shed some light to those in distress and relieve you of the pain.
A discussion on in-laws can bond women into one group irrespective of how diverse they may be. The point to be considered is - do all women feel the same way about their in-laws? While the answer could be a 'no', there is still a majority who thinks otherwise.
While this phenomenon is predominant in India, western cultures seem to have their own share of woes. The difference between the two is the degree of interaction and influence in each other's life. While in most western cultures it is only normal to move out and away, in India moving away is viewed as being immoral, a means to escape the responsibility of aging parents.
As Indians, our way of thinking is much more than conservative. Our beliefs are now rigid. Rigid to the extent that all involved in this relationship are unhappy. The mother/father-in-law is unhappy with the daughter-in-law because she is unable to blend in with the traditionally followed ways of the family. The daughter-in-law is unhappy with the parents-in-law because their expectations are way too high to cope with for a girl (just yesterday), who entered their family only a couple years back. The son/husband is unhappy due to the constant bickering and expectation to take sides. So the question is "Why are our beliefs so rigid? Why can't we let go?".
The answer to this question is the basic parents-son relationship.
As parents, we get too attached to our children. Of course, we love them, and as parents, we have every right to watch out for them. But is it alright to get insecure about them? As a parent, am I not confident about my son's upbringing? As a parent, am I not confident enough to know that if my son moves out he will be there when I need him or not, with all his might? Have I not built my place in his life in all those years that he lived with me? Do I have to force myself on him and his family under the guise of a "right as a parent"?
From the other end of the relationship, as a son if I move out am I not sure of myself to be there for my parents? Am I so shallow, that I can forget my responsibilities towards those who loved and cared for me for all the years of my life till I could stand on my feet and create this own little family of my own? If I move out of my parent's house, am I not confident to look out for those two people who made me who I am?
Answers to these questions will tell you as a parent or a son if you are confident enough about yourself. The simplest way to escape this confrontation is to force yourselves on each other.
That being said, Indians are gradually evolving and there are a good number of families who encourage their sons to move out and begin their lives on their own. Now, the observations from these kinds of families - both sides are happy to see each other, any dissatisfaction can be ignored so that the time spent together is quality and peaceful. The in-laws both sides are happy to do things for each other.
There is no air-tight formula to a perfect in-law relationship, but giving each other the much-required space, only blossoms relationships in the positive.