When I read about a Gori’s blog post describing her pain and disappointment over her Indian fiance who puts her only second place after his parents, it made me wonder if all Indian men are the same (althought I lean more to “no”). I understand that Indian men are wired to value their parents’ opinion and advice and they usually continue to do so even after marriage; but I ask, what about the wife?
When does listening to your parents views and putting them ahead of your own become wrong?
I’ve an Indian friend, a teacher, who’s married to a decent Indian man who works for a multi-million textile company in Thailand. Her husband has been working abroad even before they met through an arrange marriage. After the wedding, she came to Bangkok to join him, took a job and bore him children. Her heartache started early in marriage when she found how her in-laws brain washed him not to disclose his earnings and properties to her. Up to this day, she never has any idea how much her husband earns because his money is sent straight to India and it’s the mother and the sister in-laws that handle the safe. When she’s around and they have to go to the bank, she’s left outside while the family goes inside the bank. She’s only given what she and the kids need, every purchase is monitored.
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When she visits her in-laws in India, she has to serve them by giving them massage, preparing their meal, fixing their hair and giving in to all their whims. When she complained to her husband how she was treated like a servant by his family, the husband ordered her to continue to serve them because they’re his family. The mother in law has a say to everything related to their marriage, from child rearing, money management and every big decision making.
Can’t she fight for her right as a wife? Can’t she lay down her terms and start demanding him to include her in decision making especially disclose to her his earnings? She said she can but only if the man chooses to prioritize her over his parents. I went crazy!
This knowledge urged me to do a little research. It isn’t fair to stigmatize all Indian men as subject to their parents’ manipulation. I had to know. I interviewed several married Indian women regarding this issue. As a result, I learned four things about Indian men.
- Not all Indian men are the same but there are only few who differ
Growing up listening to his parents and putting their view ahead of his own, Indian men are made to value their parents’ advice above everything. Parents think that they know better when it comes to matters of marriage so even if the son is a fully grown man, his parents will continue to intervene in his marriage. But not all Indian men are the same. There are some, and just a few of them, who dare to break the rules, choose their own life partner, value and prioritize their spouse more than their parents.
- The area where he comes from contribute to what he is
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Families from the rural areas have a closer family ties and Indian men from these places are very likely to value their parents more and abide to their wishes.
- Joint household culture is what you gotta blame
There is a culture of joint household in India. All the sons that are married remain in their parents’ house and their wives join them. The daughters on the other hand move out from their parents and join their husbands’ parents household. This explains why Indian mother-in-laws have the behavior to get a grip on their daughter-in-laws and even to those who live abroad.
See: American-Indian interracial marriage and learn how Kristy finds living with her in-laws and entire extended families in the same house in India.
- It depends on your Indian man if he chooses to break the rules
To stand for his wife all depends on the Indian man. “It’s changing for Desi people even in India but will take a while before Desi parents start letting their sons and daughters be in control of choosing their life partners and living their lives. For those who dare to break the rules they will find that it can be quite liberating although the process of getting there is excruciatingly painful and so many don’t make the cut.” (Anonymous Desi guy’s perspective)
Therefore my advice to those ladies who are in loved with an Indian man, take time to know him. Know which area he comes from – city or country side; examine his orientation and stance towards choosing which to prioritize between you and his parents after marriage. It will help you decide early on if you have the chance to be number one or simply number two in his heart thus save you from, if not prepare you, for future long term heartaches.