“Why you answer them back whenever they have a suggestion, K? They are your parents now too! Stop mistreating them! No, good daughter-in-law treats their in-laws the way you do! Any good daughter-in-law will take care of her in-laws as her own parents and she would keep the family together and at peace at ay cost!”
My husband shared yet another report card on my performance as a daughter-in-law. And once again, I had failed.
Now there were multiple issues with my husband’s statement.
Firstly, my in-laws don’t give suggestions. They taunt me. Sadly, my husband who is blinded in parental love labels their taunts as good suggestions.
Secondly, they are not my parents because they don’t treat me like their daughter. They hardly respect my choices or my space. Rather than treating me like their family, they keep competing against me for their son’s love, care, and attention. And, they are definitely winning that race!
Last but not the least, before declaring me as a failed daughter-in-law, my husband forgets to assess himself as a husband. Because, without a husband, how can I be a daughter-in-law. He forgets that he needs to become a husband first before assessing me as a daughter-in-law.
So, while he handed me over an assessment report on how I failed as a daughter-in-law, I wanted to let him know how he failed as a husband.
How he failed to be a husband when I was disrespected in front of him for taking a stand for myself and my parents!
How he failed as a husband when I was attacked and isolated by her parents!
How he failed when he stood by his parents for asking me to give up on my career because they needed an educated maid!
How he failed as a husband when he couldn’t see how his wife was treated as an outsider in his own home!
How he failed to be a husband when he expected me to endlessly sacrifice my happiness for others’ happiness!
So, rather than being quite this time, I firmly said –
“Before you expect me to become a good daughter-in-law, I need you to become a husband first. You can’t expect me to fulfill the responsibilities of a daughter-in-law without having a husband!”
“If you don’t have a husband, who am I?” he asked.
“You are a son, who forgot to become a husband! I promise I would become a good daughter-in-law if you become a good husband!”
Frankly, these words took him for a spin. He argued endlessly how I never see the sacrifices he makes for the family. How he has done so much to give a better life to all of us. And, after spending 30 minutes on how he is a good provider, he asked me,
“What I need to do to make you believe how good I am as a husband?”
It broke my heart how society tends to make men believe that if they are good providers of materialistic things, they are good husbands too! What about standing for respect and dignity? What about ensuring everyone treats his wife as a part of the family? What about supporting her in achieving all dreams?
Taking a deep breath, I said,
“S, I don’t want anything different from you than what you expect from you. You want me to treat you and your parents with respect; I want the same; You want me to stand for your honor and I expect the same; You want me to accept your parents; I also want your parents to accept me! I am tired to be told to treat everyone with respect when I don’t get any.
And, sadly you can fight for your parent’s honor but not mine; you can fight for your parent’s happiness, but not mine.
And, our marriage won’t work, if the son in you refused to accept the responsibilities of a husband too!”
After discussing for 3 hours, my husband agreed that he needs to be a better husband before expecting me to a better daughter-in-law.
With time, he realized that most of the issues that were cropping in between me and his parents stemmed from the fact that he refused to play the dual responsibilities of being a son and a husband.
I hope many men who keep expecting their wives to be better daughter-in-law will first judge themselves on how good are they as husbands?
Because, if you can’t be a good husband; stop expecting her to be a good wife and a daughter-in-law!