Indian mother in law and daughter in law relationship can be quite a complicated one because this is a power struggle between two women who are craving for the attention of a single man.
The Indian mother in law pretty much lived all her life in an orthodox family, totally dominated by her own mother in law, husband and elders of her family. Now, when her son gets married, finally she gets some time to stretch her legs and assume the role of the head of the house. She doesnt hesitate to dominating her daughter in law, believing that she has the right to do so.
However, the daughter in law, being educated, practical and a 21st century girl doesnt accept this. There are usually three phases in a relationship with a mother in law (whether you live with her or not.)
The First phase is fear. The new daughter in law enters her husband’s place where her Husband, in-laws, traditions and customs and sometimes the city or country is entirely new for her. During this phase, her mother in law’s word is law. Both of the women are in a phase of understanding each other’s strengths, weaknesses, behaviours and abilities. The daughter in law is usually submissive and obeys every word of her mother in law. However, Mother in laws perspective is totally different. She assumes that her daughter in law is very polite and respects elders. She shows love by spending more time giving advises on how to _________ (Fill in the blank: Be a better daughter in law, cook well, be like her, treat guests, have kids, behave better with her son)
The Second phase is fights. Slowly the mother in law gets used to dominating her daughter in law while the daughter in law gets fed up with the life she is living. Constant nagging, unwanted advises, tiny twinges of jealousy and indirect insults from her mother in law starts driving her mad. She starts complaining to her husband and parents about how things are turning bad and how her mil is rude. One fine day she breaks the ice by a good argument on how she made her life miserable, and how she is deprived of her privacy with her husband and the whole list of complaints. The initially shocked mother in law now complains back about how her ideal daughter in law is now a monster and plays all sorts of politics. But the daughter in law’s only goal would be to draw strict boundaries around her own family (her husband, kids and herself). The result of this phase would range from trivial apologizing to something as serious as a divorce.
The Final phase would be a healthy compromise. The mother in law and daughter in law are so used to each other that they usually avoid the domain where they feel threatened. Both of them usually communicate within their own boundaries. Even though they complain, get jealous, talk behind the other’s back, they are polite and formal when they face each other. They learn how to politely get things going. There may be occasional disagreement or argument, but these things end quickly. This phase is based on “live and let live”, “give respect and take respect”.
Some people get stuck in one of these phases forever, while others figure out things and move on to the next. The sooner each of them realize their boundaries, the better. Practical women learn quickly while the emotional and sensitive one’s take time to reach the third stage of compromise.