The following is a guest post, edited only for aesthetic value as emails don't always copy/paste in an appealing way. I've pulled this week's Mixed Media post because I'm not sure the timing is right for it. Enjoy and thanks so much to Indian Wife for sharing!
Twenty one years ago, I married my Indian high school sweetheart. Fireworks went off for me when I laid eyes on him one fateful summer evening in my Tennessee hometown, and they never have stopped. Our whirlwind romance went on for three years, until we happily tied the knot in college.
Sounds like a good start, right? Well, no amount of romance or goo-goo eyes can sustain a marriage to an Indian man if his mother and his wife can’t get along. And peaceful coexistence is very hard to gain if that wife is not Indian. Take it from me. I’m American…I was independent, I was stubborn, and I wanted everything to be my way. Well, my mother-in-law was exactly the same way. Needless to say, I had to learn over the years to throw away my western expectations of my mother-in-law, and cultivate ways to relate to her. For everyone’s sake. So, to spare any new gori wives the tears and frustrations our family went through, let me share five tips on how to create a good relationship with the mother-in-law.
Team Up with Hubby
Find out what your husband expects from his relationship with his mother and from your relationship with her. Find out how close he is to her. Does he expect you and his mother to spend every day in the kitchen together, or to share raising your kids? Is it important to him to live with his parents? How much does he want her to baby him? Because, believe me, the babying can go on forever. Once you know his expectations for coexistence with his mother, then the two of you can team up to send the same signals to her. A united front is a must.
Show Her You Will Care for her Son
An Indian mother takes care of her boys. And the only woman she will trust her son to is a doting wife. Now, I don’t mean to say that you should cater to his every whim, and serve him every dinner on a silver platter, but make the effort to show her that he is your priority. Show her that you are making an effort to learn to cook his favorite dishes, that you really listen to him, and, most of all, that you value the importance of his relationship with her. Caring for him means letting her care for him, too. Which leads me to my next tip.
Share and Share Alike
Western couples marry and set up house on their own, taking joy in creating their own little happy bubble of their own. Not so with Indian couples. Even if an Indian guy doesn’t live with his parents after marriage, what’s his is theirs and what’s there is his. Your mother-in-law will feel a sense of possession over her son, your home together, and your children. Share with her. Encourage her time with your husband. Her bond with her son and ultimately, her grandchildren, will not and should not be broken. With firm boundaries, you can find the blessings that come with sharing with her.
Smile and Wave
You don’t have to agree with everything your mother-in-law says or does, nor do you have to be a doormat. But, many times, it’s better to just smile and wave when she does something you don’t like. Pick your battles. Arguing with her over small stuff creates tension with her, and especially with your husband. If he becomes the rope in a battle of tug and war between you and his mother, everyone is miserable. Sometimes, just relax and move on. It’s good for everyone.
Sheryl Parbhoo is a blogger, writer, and intercultural relationship adviser based in Georgia. She is a southerner who has been married to her Gujarati husband for over 21 years, and stays busy raising their five kids. She writes about parenting twins, intercultural marriage and family issues, and loves to share her hard earned wisdom with others.
Her website http://southernlifeindianwife.com/ is a place to read about her experiences and insights as a mom and wife in an intercultural family, as well as a place to get support and advice on relationship and family issues.