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Saas vs. Bahu – this is perhaps the oldest of fights that is still prevalent today! All of us have seen it endlessly in TV soap operas, and sympathised with friends who go through similar problems. Times have now changed and the saas and the bahu now get along better. We as women have become more accepting and understanding, and we are learning to give up old power struggles and ego clashes that serve no purpose. However, it would be too utopian to say that the MIL-DIL clashes are over!
In life, one of the earliest lessons we learn is preparation. When you are prepared for something, you handle it much better. You know what to expect and you also know that you’re not alone in your problems! This is why we spoke to some fellow moms about their experiences of living with in-laws.
We have put together a list of some things that happen when you live with your in-laws. While these affect those of us who live in the same house, some moms whose in-laws live in another city have also faced these problems. If you too live with your in-laws or are planning to move in with them, we recommend you read this and get prepared!
1. Food Wars
No one makes food like Ma, right? Well, your Ma-in-law makes some amazing food too, and she has good experience of whipping up meals at top speed. If you live with your in-laws and are a newbie to the kitchen, prepare for some food wars! The biggest wars often take place in the kitchen over matters such as how much oil and spice to use in the sabji, or what to prepare when entertaining guests, or how cornflakes are ‘not really breakfast’.
No matter what your level of kitchen expertise is, or how many arguments take place, this one is also a blessing in disguise. You get the next best thing to Ma ke haath ka khaana, especially when your MIL decides to pamper you on birthdays or during your pregnancy.
2. Privacy, Um, What?
Getting time to indulge in some romance with your hubby is already quite a task, what with the kids always needing your time. And just when you thought you finally had an hour or two for some intimate time, rat-tat! – comes the knock at the door! It’s your MIL asking if you could “please give her a helping hand in the kitchen” or help her “switch on her favourite TV channel”. Oops!
The good news is that modern in-laws are becoming much more understanding of the fact that their son needs some quality time with his wife, without any disturbance. If you are lucky enough to live with such in-laws, you probably get to enjoy some amazing rendezvous with your husband – lucky you!
3. Festival Fever
This one especially affects those of us who aren’t too much into festivals and traditional occasions (and honestly, India does have many of them). If you are living separately, you can afford to celebrate festivals just as lavishly or as plainly as you like, maybe even ordering in food from your favourite restaurant. However, if you live with the in-laws and they love a grand celebration, get prepared to cook – or help her cook – food that’s enough for at least an army! There are guests to be entertained and they are all coming over essentially to eat…so, festivals are major HARD WORK!
4. Raising Kids 101
If you live with your in-laws and also have kids, it is a complicated situation! On one hand, you have help with raising kids and are not alone in changing diapers endlessly, cleaning up the floor that never remains clean for more than 5 minutes, and putting your baby to sleep even when he angrily refuses to nap! But on the other hand, you also have some bizarre things to deal with, like –
“Don’t go out before 45 days after delivery. You may get the evil eye.” What?!
“Why do you need a job? Don’t you have your hands full?” *facepalm*
Parenting choices differ, and you and your MIL may not agree on much. These are moments when it gets hard to choose what you want more – help and assistance, or freedom from interference.
5. Silly Fights
Granted, they don’t seem silly when they are actually happening. But if we think back to some of the fights we have had with the in-laws or our spouse in recent times, chances are we will find several of them, um, pointless! Sample a few:
- What to feed the baby: “I always fed apple puree to my kids first.” “Okay Ma. But this pear puree is also good. I asked the doctor.” “So why not apple puree?”
- Following rituals for the baby: “I never cut my kids’ nails on Saturday.” “But that’s illogical.” “What if something bad happens?”
- Asking husband to take sides: “Whose side are you on? Mine, or your mother’s?”
Point is, all three could be avoided by taking the middle path – by accepting suggestions but doing what YOU want for your baby, and not forcing anyone to take sides. But in the heat of the argument, who sees the logic?
6. The Television Set
This one is a classic – whether the fight is with your in-laws or your husband. What your in-laws like to watch may not be what you want to watch – but you’re left without an option if the TV is in the living room. Generation gap is a very real thing, and just as our teen-aged kids complain that we are “not in step with times”, this can crop up with our in-laws too. But the main source of irritation happens when the in-laws start getting influenced by what’s shown on TV! Swati, a fellow mom, shared that she doesn’t want her in-laws to watch TV at all! On TV, the DIL agrees with everything without question, sacrifices everything for others, and walks about in perfect costume and makeup even when she is feeling terrible inside. Yikes!
7. Looking ‘Like a Bahu’
What do you want to wear over the weekend, when you are idling away in bed? Pyjamas and that old, jaded, but comfortable top, most likely! Who wants to always stay dressed up at home? However, if you live with your in-laws, you may have to invest more time in grooming and makeup than you would normally care to. You should look like a bahu, you see. What if the neighbour pops in to visit? Some in-laws even have dress codes and uniforms…okay, we might be exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea. For those of us who always like to stay in perfect shape, this is no problem. But not all of us are like that, eh?
Do you live with your in-laws too? How has your experience been? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.