Greetings from the CouchCoach.
Having been a student of psychology, I have always been fascinated by the human mind – what makes people think the way they do & do the things they do. Me included.
Today I write about an angle of the big fat Indian wedding famous the world over & the accompanying but less known ingredient called interference (for life) in many cases.
Yes, this accompaniment is a normal part of several marriages after the wedding ceremony & festivities.
Interference by in-laws in the lives of the newly wed.
The scope of in-laws include Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, Grandmother-in-law…okay I’ll stop with that, no virtual smelling salts to revive those who pass out reading the list.
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It is a common aspiration for Parents to see their children settle down. And this aspiration is generally shared by well-meaning relatives & friends. It is extremely common in India for almost the whole community you associate with wanting to see you settled! Which is not a bad thing provided they don’t go overboard.
Settled to a large extent means – married & financially secure (for a daughter the recommended path is ideally Business Tycoon, Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer) , children (minimum 2) & happily ever after. I referred to this famous settle down syndrome in one of my earlier posts, when I met Mrs. D.
I wish the noble intention ended there.
After the marriage happens & all these well wishers join in the celebration of the couple’s new life one would imagine they would now give the newly weds the time & space to begin a new life together…along with the blessings they heaped up on the couple during the ceremonies.
Unfortunately it isn’t so in many cases.
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It is very common for families to want their beloved children to ‘settle down, settle down, settle down’ & then the very same parents / now in-laws ‘interfere, interfere, interfere’ in the couples life. Never been able to figure this one out!
This is more so in the case of the young married man who brings his wife into the threshold of his home to begin a new life.
I love the Indian family & support system we have which beats out several others around the world. I am not talking about couples paying scant respect to family, tradition or to the wisdom of elders. I am talking about the need for letting go in those cases where in-laws suddenly feel they need to manage, monitor & control their newly wed child’s life…spouse, finance & personal choices included.
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You – as the Parents of the couple were longing for the day they would get married.
You dreamt of it. You planned. You waited. You sweated. You saved.
It finally happened.
Now, can you please leave the young couple alone to discover their new life together on this journey called marriage?
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Most often the protagonist is the daughter-in-law who has to make the maximum adjustment as she moves in to her new home, be it living with her husband’s family or setting up a new place in some cases.
You – as a Parent may have been down that road some decades & beyond. You may know exactly what ticks with your beloved son or unnerves your dearest daughter. Please be aware that your relationship with your child is not being threatened.
Let’s take the more common case of the beloved son, who has now attained status of Husband.
You – who were so longing to see your son settled, why are you now so insecure? Why does his new companion become a threat? Wasn’t it at your insistence that he gave in & got married to the woman you selected to be his companion for life in the first place? Didn’t you check her background thoroughly? Didn’t the horoscopes match? Weren’t you the one who was convinced it was a good alliance? Why do you now stand in the way of their conjugal bliss… if at all they even have a chance to attain it?
While the slant to my story may be the arranged marriage, the same is true in love marriages too.
The sheer unwillingness of some Parents to allow young couples to start life on their own is scary. Regardless of whether they stay with his Parents or stay separately & get remote-controlled.
Parents please learn to let go! In so doing you will draw your children closer to yourself eventually.
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To the Parents (& siblings) of the new Husband
Please don’t interfere with your daughter-in-law be it her choice of decor, style of dressing, faith, friends, cooking or career. She managed well all these years, thank you. Yes we all know she’s not & never will be your clone. If that’s what you’re looking for you better make it know upfront before getting your other kids married. Respect her individuality, encourage her independence.
Sisters-in-law – don’t be threatened about the new lady in your brother’s life. Be a positive support & you earn yourself two good friends for life!
To the Parents (& siblings) of the new Wife
Please don’t be unduly critical of your son-in-law – be it his choice of friends, career (the famous “in comparison” to your own or other son’s or whoever else’s) or taking him to task for not indulging your daughter the way you did. He was & never will be your clone. Respect his position & give him the space to be himself.
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The Bible records in the Book of Genesis – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Chapter 2 : 24)
Such amazing wisdom from the ancient Scriptures.
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I speak from a purely India perspective. I don’t know how prevalent in-law domination & interference is in a young married couples life in other parts of the world . In fact I’d love to hear back on the same for my own education.
Thank you for taking the time to read.
Samples of conversations with family members after I started blogging. I will not delve into those instances when I had to get them to view my Blog at my insistence or at least read a post completely (as in c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y, as in ensuring I don’t get the i-get-the-drift-but-too-much-to-read reaction).
As early entrant –
Me – Guess what, I got 200 views on my Blog so far, isn’t that cool?
Brother – You only must have clicked it so many times.
Me – Hahaha (albeit dryly as enthusiasm wanes)
As progressive blogger –
I discover my Mother has become hooked onto visiting a Blog regularly. Just that it’s not mine.
Me – It’s unfair. You only read Amitabh Bachchan’s Blog all the time – not mine.
Mother – I also read yours (albeit guiltily)
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Which makes me conclude that everyone can write about how to drive traffic to your Blog … but I’ll have you know that driving your own family to visit your Blog is pretty damn hard.
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Jesus said “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
I agreed & said – Amen.
Growing up, I don’t recall receiving very many return gifts after attending birthday parties of friends or kids in the neighbourhood. Even if there was the remote possibility of it having been there, it would have been something rather simple I’m sure…like pencils & erasers at the most. Sigh! Neither did we give those kids who attended our birthday parties any return gifts. Poor souls.
I remember one’s birthday was ‘the day’ waited for with great excitement – it was all about new clothes, the cake, balloons, friends & family who would drop in for the party & of course the rapturous vision of an awesome pile up of gifts. Looking back, it was also a lot less complicated then.
Today, I watch & hear about parents who go nuts as they try to organise ultra magical birthday parties for their kids, each trying to outbeat the parents of other kids. I wonder who’s suffering from peer pressure…appears not just kids but parents too! With theme parties & event managers called in to make sure that 1 year old Meena’s birthday is grand & a riot (Meena incidentally would rather just go to sleep) – the parents are at their wit’s end trying to figure out how to make it different & what the appropriate aka great return gifts should be. I would not be off the mark in saying that the motivation for many children to attend birthday parties is simply the excitement of collecting their return gift! Kids will endure the party if they have to, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that it is well worth the wait. [Parents – it had better be well worth the wait…]
The next time you plan a birthday party for your kids you may want to consider some of these options instead of the Barbie, Ben 10, doll house or cricket set circuit. These are some of my best picks for return gifts, they are eco-friendly too! So go ahead & give this a shot –
1. An earthen diya on which they paint their names
2. A handmade paper bookmark with the message “I love reading. No space for more toys”
4. Or try giving kids a map of the locality so they return home safe.
5. A nice colourful poster for their room “This munchkin (or teenager) does not accept return gifts.”
Risk – kids who receive the above mentioned return gifts may return no more to your home forget your parties. In fact they may choose to ‘unfriend’ (another blasted new age word) themselves with your kids! On second thoughts, maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all…