‘My in-laws are not very friendly’

In this weekly self-help series, mental health and life coach Anu Krishna tells you how to take control of your life.

Is your relationship causing you stress?

Are you feeling lonely, helpless, indecisive?

You are not alone!

As part of an initiative to help Rediff readers, mind/life coach, NLP trainer and mental health guru Anu Krishna wants you to talk about your problems.

Every week, Anu will answer your queries, address your concerns and offer expert advice on how you can take control of your life.

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  • ASK ANU: How NOT To Talk To Your Teen
  • ASK ANU: Stressed by online classes? Seek help!

Dear readers, if you have a question for Anu, please e-mail it to [email protected] (Subject: Ask ANU) for her advice.

Meanwhile, here’s the unedited excerpt from Anu’s latest offline session with readers:

SN: Dear Anu, I have been married for 3 years.
Everything is going well with my husband except there is one problem. If there is anything wrong done by his parents, he never takes a stand or protests.

My in-laws are not very friendly people.
After our marriage they have never tried to keep in touch with my parents or at least have the courtesy to invite once to their house.
My parents have frequently tried to invite them and also tried to keep contact but nothing is achieved if it’s one-sided. I told my husband about all this but he never ever tried to explain or correct them of their wrong doings.

My mother-in-law had also insulted me few times raising questions on how I was brought up within the first year of our marriage. And later as well.
I work and sometimes due to prolong working hours I am not able to contribute to household work.
My mother-in-law started asking if at all I do any household work or whether I am always busy with my office work. She already knew that I would be working after marriage and was fine with it.

Because of the lockdown we are staying with them for a long period and I am embarrassed to tell this but every day is killing me. When I stay with them I have to be a totally different person. I have to live their lifestyle which is totally opposite to how I used to live with my husband alone.
Because of all the above circumstances, I am not keen on staying with them. I don’t see a future where I can stay with them. I am ready to take care of them but can’t stay under one roof. My husband is well aware of my feelings. But never does anything about it. Every time I tell him, he blames me that I don’t want him to stay with his parents. Else he takes good care of me and is a good person. My parents also like him except this one complaint.
I am totally clueless now how to make him understand because we end up fighting rather than discussing.
In the long run I can’t stay with my in-laws because our lifestyle doesn’t match and of course the hurtful things they have done. They are not even ready to adjust rather would expect me to completely change for them. And that’s what dreads me.

I can’t live in this way for long. It is causing me a lot of mental stress.
Please provide your valuable suggestions.

Dear SN,

Hasn’t the lockdown ended for a while now?

Why are you still with them?

What was the initial reason of moving in with them?

Does that reason still exist?

Being part of a joint/extended family system isn’t a cake walk; each person is unique and so are their thoughts and experiences and they will want the other person to live by their experiences and rules. But of course, an emotionally mature person would believe in giving space for another person grow and evolve and swim around the family dynamics. Well, it isn’t the case here.

Why don’t you drop down a pros and cons list for When I move out and for When I stay here.

Weigh it down to its granular detail. Also, try and figure out why your husband is so against talking to them.

Sometimes, it maybe a minor adjustment that everyone needs to go through, but our movies and sitcoms have done enough damage to our minds where the drama looks never ending and where one party is to blame. Usually, the adjustment has to happen from both ends.

Bring this to a place where everyone gains, and everyone is happy. Maybe moving out is an option that you seek but will this go well with your husband and remember, he might do this for you, and in the long run in might end up blaming you for it. It’s complicated.

So, take time and work on the pros and cons, why your husband is against talking to them about this and also ask yourself: Have I done everything that I can to live joyfully under one roof?
You will have a path to your solution soon.

All the best!

BG: Dear Anu,
I started a relationship with this guy, who I met on a dating app like a year back. I started to like him and everything was going fine.
We started talking and soon our conversations steered towards talking about our future. However, he suddenly told me out of nowhere that he is a divorcee. His marriage was called off at the altar due to dowry issues. He and his family are embroiled in a dowry case which is going on.
I was shocked and wanted to know the entire truth but he never came clear about what exactly happened. He told me that he cannot think of marriage and the future and wants to keep it casual.
I was heartbroken and we fought a lot after which he suddenly stopped talking. After sometime he started talking again and said that he wants me back. He always makes plans to meet in hotels and spend nights with him. I started to grow distant, stopped taking his calls and tried to push him out. I also started to look out for matches, based on my age. I am 32, but nothing is materialising there. I started missing him and recently messaged him again. I lied to him that I am getting hitched and he said ‘okay let’s meet and spend a night together.’
I really don’t know. I am amused that all he is really interested in is getting into my pants all the time. I am genuinely in love with him and he says it again now also he loves me. But his thoughts and words are not in sync. I am just not able to get over him. I have been trying hard since I decided to move on. Some thing or the other brings me back to him again and again. I am becoming more lonely, depressed all the more coz the marriage thing is also not picking up and I have no one.
Please help.

Dear BG,
What does it tell you about a person when he chooses to hide the fact that he is a divorcee and that too with a reason like dowry?

Doesn’t this ring any bell for you as a sign to the fact that he possibly can never be trusted when he can’t come clean with his life story?

And now the complication of being physically involved has added a dimension that makes you want to be around him even more?

The very fact that you have written to me is because you are revaluating your thoughts about him and GOOD, you must and ask yourself:

Is he really worth my love, time and energy?

Has he done anything to earn my trust?

If it’s a big NO, you know that this guy isn’t the last man on the planet and that just because you are unable to find a suitable life partner, you need to settle for this man.

No, you don’t need to settle and pine for someone who has not bothered to take your feelings into considerations and not much of thought as to: if she finds out about my past, how will she react?

So let me be the one to tell her rather than she hear it from someone else.

Instead, he chooses to defend his decision of hiding this and to top it all stops talking to you.

Why exactly is he playing the victim when he isn’t? Because, he feels that it isn’t his problem and that it is yours and that you need to be making all the adjustments IF you want a future with him.

Did all this give you a good perspective?

Do the right thing and Love yourself. All the best.

LK: I have been married for more than 4 years now. But till date my husband never speaks over the phone in front of me. He always goes out of the house or moves farther away when we are out some shopping or anything like that.
He has two mobiles and never shares his mobile unlock pin or pattern. Whenever he goes out to talk over phone, I feel stressed. He doesn’t even talk to his parents or sister in front of me or when I’m near or around him.

Whenever I try to talk to him about this issue, he yells at me asking why is it a problem for me if he talks over the phone?
It always ends up in an argument or fight.

How do I handle this issue? Please suggest.
Thanks and regards

Dear LK,
Some people are absolutely finicky when it comes to their privacy.

They love protecting and guarding their space and allow no one into it.

I am sure this causes you to think that there might be more to it and that’s why it has begun to bother you.

If you have been complaining about this, he mostly likely will retract and become defensive and not even offer an explanation to it.

Instead have you tried, being softer, yet assertive in a way that you make him realise that it bothers you. Also, an assurance that you are not out to stalk him or spy on his movements but give him that space where he can be free around you.

It might take time for him to release the old behaviour and form a new one, and you can simply support that change by reiterating that you are part of his journey and that it is okay for him to take a call with you and that you will not judge him for anything.

If he still doesn’t want to, I think you might consider respecting his privacy unless there is reason for you not to.
All the best!

PP: Dear Anu, I am in relationship with a guy who is 8 years younger than me. We are so much into each other. 
I am a doctor by profession and he is struggling. I help him emotionally and financially as well. He loves me very much.
Although I’m elder to him he acts more mature than me.
My concern is to hold him as if I am controlling him and whenever I don’t get attention I become very stressed.
I am a good-looking person and I get enough boys’ attention. He never gets jealous.
My concern is I want him to be close to me and I can’t let him go outside city to grab a good job although he is very loyal to me.
Plz suggest how to destress myself.

Dear PP,

Why don’t you give a shot at Loving Yourself and appreciating yourself?

It’s nice to get attention and adulation from another person, but if you have begun to thrive on it, it’s time to ask yourself: if you are in fact trying to ‘up’ your self-worth from his attention and the easiest way to make sure that this is in constant supply is to be clingy, possessive, jealous and controlling?

Not very healthy traits for a long relationship.

When you start to focus on yourself and love yourself, you will rely less and less on his validation and the relationship starts to form based on trust and will become every healthy.

So, spend more time on YOU! Be with Nature, spend time with your female friends, indulge in hobbies that make you smile and so on…he will also respect that space and share more of his time and attention without you having to do anything about it.

Best wishes.

MM: My partner and I have temporarily been in a long-distance marriage due to our love for work.
When, I am with him in a nuclear set up, he is generally caring and cooperating giving me space to grow.
But my in-laws expect me to stay with them for months or wish to stay with us for two to three months at a stretch. They function very differently and hold traditional views. I am providing few examples although there are many other incompatibilities.
1. Want me to eat rice three times a day and cook the same for my husband
2. Refrain from wearing a few colours. Give remarks regarding length of my trouser.
3. Ask me to wear bangles all the time.
4. Tell me never to make my husband do my tasks like drying my clothes in the sun as this is against Indian culture.
5. My mother-in-law has strange rules like all food has to be thrown away if utensils touch the body accidentally.
6. I am not allowed to serve myself food in fear of above rule.
7. Excessive number of rituals and poojas.
I do not want to disrespect their culture or change them in their own life. I co-operate but I function extremely differently and my priorities are very different. I am not okay with them coming for two to three months at a stretch and I am freedom-deprived in my own home when I live with my husband.
I have a job that demands from me mentally even when I am at home. I can adjust to their rules for few days but not for so long. Also, I fear they will pressurize me into going there/coming here for a long time after a baby and try to tell me how to take care etc.
My husband is shy and often stays silent in front of his mother. He goes to his parents’ house for three months in a year and I am happy that he can be with his parents.
Please help in drawing boundaries/guide me in achieving balance.

Dear MM,

Be very forthcoming and expressing to them that there are a few things that you might be unable to comply not because you don’t respect them or their customs, but because it causes you more effort to do that.

Another way to think is: it’s only a couple of months that they are around, can I simply work around it and sort this out amicably?

Truth be told: we focus on what we don’t like more than what you like and then what we don’t like starts to grow in the mind with situations and people associated with those become ‘villains’.

Now, I don’t say that you don’t have challenges, but to worry about a baby when there isn’t one as yet, seems like you have already decided how horrible things are and will be.

So, you will be fighting a battle with your partner and put him in a fix to fix things, Why don’t you do that yourself?

Draw boundaries by clearly stating what you can do and do that with a lot of love rather than as a favour.

Once they see and feel this, they are maybe willing to see things from your point of view as well and adapt to your way of thinking.

Give some, Take some.

I am sure this is something that you might surely be able to do considering that you are working hard to make things happen.

So, All the Best!

  • Read all of Anu Krishna’s columns here!

Anu Krishna is a mind coach, author and co-founder, Unfear Changemakers LLP and Soulful Exploration LLP. She’s an NLP Trainer (National Federation of Neuro Linguistic Programming, NFNLP, USA), Energy Work Specialist (Institute for Inner Studies, Manila), Executive Member of Indian Association of Adolescent Health (M.I.A.A.H) and Member of Quality Circle Forum of India (QCFI). She has authored the self-coaching book: The Secret of Life – Decoding Happiness.

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