Dear Men, Please Respect Your In-Laws

Indian Couple talk

Can you imagine that the most revered members of the house, the damaads, sitting together on a table with glasses of drinks on the day when they lost their in-law? Or let me put it in other words, on the day when their wives mourn the loss of their father? A husband speaking ill of his in-laws on their back and pulling them down for not being able to take care of their daughter as well as he does? I have witnessed it and many other incidents when the damaads often fall short of paying equal respect and service to their in-laws as they expect from their wives who have to serve and stay with her in-laws even if they are abusive. What is the reason behind this? Why don’t some husbands respect their in-laws and wives’ families? Are the codes of moral and familial behaviour for women only? Is it only the woman’s responsibility to sustain a marriage and the new relationships it fosters? 

It is no hidden fact that damaads or sons-in-law are the most prized and respected members of a woman’s family. Thanks to the regressive practices like male-child preference, dowry system and kanyadaan (to some extent) that this belief of valuing sons-in-law more than the daughters continues even today. Whatever he says is agreed to irrespective of the fact that his demands might be unreasonable or his words too harsh for a person to accept without raising a finger. Every daughter in an Indian household is taught to respect her in-laws but are sons taught to respect and serve their in-laws too? No, rather they are taught to not be joru ka gulaam and serve her demands even if that means supporting her parents. 

Why is this so? Because our society considers a woman’s marriage as her saviour from the predatory eyes of society and the eligible son-in-laws the coveted trophies under whose lustre their daughters will also shine. In that case, why will a woman’s parent want to question, blame or ostracise the beloved damaad and affect the so-called shine of their daughters? Wouldn’t it be equal to hitting your own legs with an axe if you question a damaad and risk the marriage and hence the life of the daughter? After all, an estranged woman’s izzat and life is like no life at all. 

But how long are we going to allow male-child preference and male-dominance in our society tear down our self-respect and confidence?

Do people even realise how bad a woman might feel to see her parents being disrespected by a man who has been chosen to be her life partner? Can any person bear to see their parents being insulted in front of them? No. Then why are women forced to assume a silence while men have always been praised as the angry protector of their parents’ izzat? It is only ironic that the society easily labels women’s sexuality as the family honour but cannot stand a woman who vows to protect and take care of her parents and their dignity on her own even if that requires raising voice against her in-laws, husbands or other people of power.

Even worse is the fact that women themselves normalise it and never consider it important to stop their husbands from disrespecting their in-laws.

They internalise their subordinate gender and the oppression that the male dominant society feels entitled to practice. Consequently, they never question any discomfort or injustice that they face at the hands of the patriarchal societies and families. 

But now it is high time that both men and women realise that a marriage is a bond of two people. The responsibilities, expectations and duties are equal for both the parties. If a woman is expected to respect, serve and stay with her in-laws after marriage, so is a man. Please unlearn the perceptions that a woman’s parents are vulnerable members of society. Many parents are proud of their daughters today and if they aren’t, their daughters have left no stone unturned to give them a million reasons to live with their heads held high.  Just because a woman is married off to a different family, she doesn’t lose her relationship with her parents. No one can disrespect parents just because they are a woman’s parents. If the woman can take care of her in-laws like her own parents, she can stand as a warrior and protect her real parents as well, emotionally, physically and monetarily.

So dear men, stop assuming that your in-laws are burdened by your favour and start respecting them. If you don’t change yourself now, you will regret it in future when you will be the disrespected in-law of your daughter’s husband. And lastly, dear parents love your daughters for who they are and not for who they marry. [Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock]

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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