“Rahul let’s get ready! We should leave in 20 mins for papa-mummy’s place!”
“Neha, I am already ready! Tell me when you are!”
“But, Rahul, you haven’t packed your bags yet!”
“Why I need to pack my bag? What will I do there? I will just go and drop you! Will sit there for a couple of hours, have lunch and come back!”
“But, why Rahul? Shouldn’t you stay with them too?” I said it in front of my mother-in-law, who was sitting right across the table and listening to the whole discussion.”
“No Neha! Son-in-law is not supposed to stay at the in-laws’ place? Log kya kahengey. It doesn’t look good.”
While I had so much to say, I refused to pick a fight in front of my mother-in-law. I assumed that maybe that’s her thought process too!
I was so heartbroken. We came to our hometown after a year to meet our parents. We got 10 days of holidays planned and I thought we could spend 5 with my in-laws and 5 with my parents. But, hardly I thought my husband would refuse to stay with my parents while I stayed with his!
And, as I was gathering my thoughts or courage to share my disappointment, my mother-in-law re-initiated the conversation:
“Rahul, even Neha came and stayed with us. She could have also told you – What will I do at your place? The way she came here to meet your parents, to spend time with them, the same way you should also spend time with her parents.”
While I was taken aback by her words, what she said next took my heart away:
“Rahul, you need to accept her family as yours as she has accepted yours as hers! The day you would see them as your own parents, you would never care about what people have to say!”
I was internally applauding her every word as contrary to many mothers-in-law she was taking a stand for her daughter-in-law.
“But mummy, Papa never used to stay at your parents’ place. He used to drop us at Nana Nani’s place and then used to come back home on the very same day!”
“Beta, times have changed. Now, men and women treat each other as equals. Those times are gone when it was expected only of women to treat her in-laws as her parents while the husband treats his in-laws as an outsider. So in my view, you should pack your bags and spend some quality time with your other set of parents!”
As Rahul got up to pack his bag, I hugged my mother-in-law for standing up for me when I couldn’t.
Be it Rahul or Rahul’s father or my father or my jiju, I have seen many men struggling with accepting their wives’ homes and parents as their own. This post is not just about my story but rather about so many Indian women who have felt heartbroken when their husbands refuse to accept their in-laws as their own parents.
As the time is changing, it’s high time that our men change too! They need to give up on their regressive patriarchal mindset and accept the changing times – where men and women are equal and so are our parents and our responsibilities!