“Neena, so what mummy has asked you to change your clothes? You don’t need to answer her back on such a small matter? You need to show some respect for my parents!”
“Why you always misunderstand mummy. She likes that you are educated and independent. But, she wants you to take care of our kids and hence she asked you to quit your job to be a better mother. She wasn’t rude; she must be too tired! But, you didn’t need to show it to her that you felt bad!”
“Neena, Why you keep complaining about mummy? While she just wants the best for us, you keep insulting her. Whenever she says anything to you, you answer back in such a rude tone. She is your elder and the least that you could do for her is to show some respect!”
Not only my husband but sadly many in my family, including my own parents, believe that I need to stop disrespecting my mother-in-law. Sadly, no one could see how it’s not about insulting her but about my self-respect.
It is heartbreaking how many families want to get their son married to strong and independent women but expect them to follow the regressive social norms. They expect them to suffer the abuse in silence and let people mistreat them in name of the elder’s respect. But, when she refuses to do so, she is called badatmeez.
No one tries to understand that she doesn’t want to insult anyone; rather she just wants to stand for herself. It’s just about her own self-respect.
Be it about my clothes or my career or my style of walking or laughing, my mother-in-law since day one is busy finding flaws in me. Though being confident about myself, initially it didn’t bother me. But, when it became a regular habit of hers to criticize my personal choices, I felt suffocated.
I tried to explain things to her but all in vain. Doesn’t matter how politely and respectfully I tried to explain to her that her expectations from me were nothing less than unfair and unrealistic. She would take it as an insult and made sure that she shamed me and treated me rudely.
Sadly, the reaction of my husband was equally shocking and hurtful.
Being educated from one of the best institutes of the country, he understood that his mother’s expectation was unfair. But, he still wanted me to fulfill those rather than standing against them.
I always felt that atleast my husband would be mature enough to understand how I was just trying to stand for myself and my happiness. But, I was so damn wrong. He was equally blinded by the regressive norm where women are expected to abide by all the rules of men’s house – doesn’t matter how regressive they are!
Initially, I felt guilty for standing for myself.
While I struggle in my marriage, my own parents stop me from standing for myself. They kept telling me to adjust and compromise. And, I did that to make others happy. But, during the course, I lost all my happiness.
With time I realized how my husband and his mother forced me to believe that saying no to regressive traditions is an insult. During those fragile moments in my life, I understood that standing for one-self is not about insulting another person but rather it is about self-respect.
Realizing that no one wants to stand for me, I knew I had to stand for myself. Without any intention to disrespect my mother-in-law, I made sure that I stopped all the verbal attacks on me. These verbal attacks were as hurtful as physical injuries. With every passing day, these attacks were breaking me down and shattering my confidence. Hence, I decided, I just couldn’t stand and see myself being broken down!
It breaks my heart how our Indian society holds double standards when it comes to Respect. Mother-in-law’s Respect is Respect, whereas Daughter-in-law’s Respect is Nakhra!
Dear Husband, as I walk on the path to protect my self-respect, I want to make it clear that I don’t want to insult anyone. But, I won’t stop myself from standing against people who try to tear me down! No never!