“You should respect your in-laws, no matter what they say! After all, they are your husband’s parents!” my mother tells me on a call as I told her I am not going to speak to my toxic in-laws anymore. Like many of us, I was tired of fighting everyday battles of dignity, respect, and love with my in-laws. I was tired of giving them second chances; I was tired of telling myself that one day they will realize my true value!
And, I had given up on my husband to resolve things between us – “It’s between you and them. Don’t get me involved in this. They are my parents and you are my wife. I am not going to choose. I am not going to fall into this trap where I become the bad person who tells people, who raised me, that what they are doing is wrong. So, you need to fight your own battles. And, you are strong and independent, you don’t need me! I know you will manage it.”
But after trying for almost 2 years, I came up with a decision that I have to stop talking to my in-laws. I realized that they won’t change. They would neither respect me nor my parents. They would keep complaining about my flaws rather than appreciating good things in me. Doesn’t matter how nicely I treat them; Doesn’t matter how much I ignore, but they will remain the same.
And, when I took the decision of not speaking to them, my husband wasn’t very happy. He said – “Not speaking to them isn’t the solution!” To which I asked him then tell me the solution. Completely speechless, he said – “Do whatever you want to do! You never think about me!” The husband who wanted me to think about his happiness, how many times did he think about mine? How many times have I told him that his parents can’t disrespect me; they can’t shout at me like I am the property they own!
But at my heart, I could understand his pain. I could understand his helplessness. But, sadly I didn’t have a choice. While my husband’s reaction was expected, but what wasn’t expected was my own mother telling me that I can’t stop speaking to my in-laws. I have to adjust. I have to ignore and let go of things that they say or do!
“Arrey beta, it is fine. Don’t take it to your heart what your in-laws say or do. Your dadi, my mother-in-law used to call me names; used to say bad things about my parents, but I adjusted and compromised. You should also adjust and compromise!”
“Mom, how could you even ask your own daughter to go through the same pain that you went through. I still remember you crying after your in-laws used to say bad things to you. You know that pain. How could you expect me to go through the same trauma that you went through!”
“Beta, I am saying this because they are your in-laws. Doesn’t matter how much they disrespect you or your family; how much worse they treat you, you need to respect them! After all, you are their daughter-in-law!”
Since time immemorial, women are told to adjust to the toxicity of in-laws. I wonder the amount of energy as a society we invest in training women to adjust with toxic and abusive in-laws, if we would have done the same to make in-laws improve their abusive behavior, our society would have been much more progressive and happier! But, no one wants to make things better for women. Even women themselves, ask other women to adjust and abuse.
But, neither I will silently adjust to this abuse, nor I would push my daughter to. I wouldn’t speak to my in-laws till they realize how a daughter-in-law needs to be treated; how respect is a two-way street – if you want respect, learn how to give it too!
I hope no 21st-century woman will ever accept to respect the abusive in-laws or toxic husband just because she entered into a marriage. It’s better to be single and happy rather than stay suffocated in an abusive marriage!