Mother and Son Relationships in India

by Sharell शारेल on November 8, 2010

in Culture Shock in India

Post image for Mother and Son Relationships in India

Lately, I’ve received a number of troubled emails from readers who are experiencing problems with overwhelming mothers-in-law. As Simone says in her recent comment:

I am facing big difficulties because I feel my mother-in-law constantly pokes her nose into my husband’s and my affairs. She always interferes, wants to know everything, wants to be part of the decisions, gives unwanted advice and so on.

Usually, these mothers-in-law expect to speak to their sons several times a day, constantly worry about them, and want to do everything for them. This often includes hand feeding them when they are adults. And the sons? They don’t see a problem with it. They have grown up very close to their mothers, and such a close relationship feels natural to them.

Unfortunately, although the reason for this kind of situation isn’t difficult to find, a solution often is. This is because neither party (the mother or the son) wants to change. The mothers usually have unfulfilled relationships with their husbands. As a result, they direct all the love and care that would usually be in a marriage towards their sons. The sons have always seen their mothers as the most important person in their lives, nurturing them and taking care of all their needs. They continue to rely on their mothers, and don’t want to hurt them. In these circumstances, where there is such a well established bond, the new addition of a wife will always take second place.

Readers have asked me for advice but unfortunately, I can’t offer much as I’ve never had to deal with this kind of problem. My gem of a mother-in-law is the mother of three sons (as well as two daughters), but she believes in letting everyone be. She did of course lovingly dote on her children, but she’s been way too busy to dominate their lives. Besides, I don’t think it’s in her nature. She’s an independent woman. When her children were all away from her at one point in her life, she started meditating and attending a spiritual center to deal with the loneliness. This strengthened her outlook greatly.

I know I’m very fortunate, because it seems that Indian mothers-in-law are often the biggest cause of marital problems. What’s your relationship with your mother-in-law like? Does anyone here have any good advice as to what to do when mothers-in-law interfere too much in marriages (and sons willingly allow them)?

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© Copyright 2010 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 188 comments… read them below or add one }

Terhinator November 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm

This is an exteremely interesting topic! I do not have an Indian husband but a very close Indian male friend. He has lived his entire life in Mumbai, but I have understood, and after reading this blog post and its comments, I am quite convinced, that he is not a typical Indian man as what comes to mother-son relationships.

He does not get along with his parents at all and especially with his mother, and hardly keeps in touch with them. I have understood that his mother has never been the most warm and caring person. So in return, she is not receiving much warmth from her son either. But interestingly, my friend has a very stong and warm relationship to his big sister, and who in a way has replaced the mother.


Ragesh November 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Poor Mother, she herself not receiving love, how can one take her hyper-affection as rudeness. she only want something to change but the tone is definitely wrong I agree. she needs help.
Morally Courageous women who set their goal to uplift a previously unknown husband, children needs to be taken care.
when the husband not treating his spouse as a human with emotions the ire turns on the children as an easy prey.


Shelley November 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Zahra- Just because the DIL wants to live separately and not have her in-laws interfere does not mean that she wants to “break up the family.” I truly believe that you can have a very balanced relationship with your in-laws, and bond with them and also maintain some distance.
I am not ok with the idea that just because I am married that I have to “abandon” my own family, take on my in-laws as my new family and essentially be a slave to them. There is a saying in India that “having a daughter is like watering someone else’s plant.” Well I am not someone else’s plant. My dad (mom passed on) is still my dad and my priority, he does not come before my husband, but he also doesn’t come after my in-laws.
Luckily, the relationship I have with my own in-laws is quite good, but it took A LOT of blood sweat and tears to get where we are, and that is to have mutual respect and understanding. It hurt my MIL that we chose not to live with them, but we make a genuine effort to visit often and stay in touch. She has adjusted and seems quite happy.
I guess Zahra, that I must be the “independent, arrogant, working” DIL. But you know it’s funny, my MIL is also “independent and works.”
I do have a daughter she is 14 months old and I never at any point selfishly called up my in-laws to help me. They actually never helped me at all, and I never needed it. I am the mother and I am not going to put my responsibility on my in-laws like I see some the of Indian mother’s do here.
Call me crazy, but do you REALLY need to have TRUE bonding with your in-laws? I mean my hubby and my dad get along, but I don’t expect them to be best friends, and I don’t expect them to spend every waking hour together (when we visit Canada or he visits us). But I do expect my hubby to respect my dad, and if they develop a friendship, then great. But he certainly doesn’t need to have a TRUE BOND with him. It’s just weird imo…..

Kate: welcome to our little club;) You have a terrific attitude and it is great to adopt his culture, but remember it has to be 50/50 and he also has to compromise and adopt some of your culture as well. I hope you and your MIL to be get a long well. It certainly makes things easier!


coolblogger November 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

your mother-son blog inspired me to write more abt indian marriage and culture.
Thnx for the inspiration


surya November 12, 2010 at 4:12 am

@ Prashanth November 9, 2010 at 9:30 pm

” Give ‘em a good job, liberty to do what they want…and you will see that there will be hundreds/thousands of divorces filed, the next day’

in your own words my dear fellow, ‘You are abso-f*ckin-lutely wrong’ yourself, if I may say so.
Take a quick survey at divorce rate among (both) indian couples living in Mumbai, chennai or even NewYork or London for that matter.The key is that both should be working and financially independent.Then take another sample of same number of age/ income matched (both working) white couples in NewYork, London or sydney and go ahead with a comapparative divorse analysis. With all variables matched, the divorce rate in Indian couples is stunningly low, compared to the white couples even in 2010. Iam not talking about interracial couples here, sadly the diverce rate is higher than the intra racial marriages per reports. Your theory that the woman’s independence automatically translates to a jump in divorce (to the western) rate is thus debunked.There is something, which I cannot explain clearly, very ethnic Indian in keeping the marriages intact. No. Taboo isnt the reason. When you are financially independent why would you care for others? Especially that the rate being very low even in western Indian couples summarily exculdes any stigma being the sole reason. Surya, chicago


Manny November 12, 2010 at 4:23 am

I agree with your Surya.

Although financial independence may free some women to divorce and escape from abusive relationship like it rightly should, there are other cultural norms that has a tighter hold between desi wedded folks.

We as desi children are told ..almost indoctrinated that our marriage when we grow up is to one and only one person and its for a lifetime. No try before commit. This is the cultural norm most of us are used to. Yes.. even today for the most part. I understand there are few who have run away from this. But for the most part, desi middle class morality still exists in India.

This psychological commitment and expectation makes us to work problems through even if we may not otherwise be compatible in personalities. Cat person vs dog person kind of trivial irrelevant to life crappola not withstanding. We generally do not pack our bags and quit at the first sign marital problems. We are in a way indoctrinated culturally to see what is really important in life and in marriage.

Are all desi people like that? Hell no! but for many middle class with desi middle class morality that is the norm and that helps with staying together as married couples..even today.


Prashanth November 12, 2010 at 4:49 am


I wasn’t talkin’ about statistics. To be very plain and to reveal what was going through my mind, I just meant that everyone is human and should be treated with dignity and respect…This ‘Cultural Superiority’ and nationalistic stuff is bad…and if you don’t know, it is the reason for so many wars, in our world.

Coming to the divorce statistics, it is true that India has less divorce..But, all the women are really enjoying their life? You might be happy living in Chicago, but do you know how many women are suppressed in India and can’t really express that to anyone?….That doesn’t mean I’m supporting divorce…and I’m not supporting the western/Eastern (Indian) culture — I’m not left or right wing, but ‘Center Forward’…What I would like to have, is a mix of both, which is easier said than done.

India is slowly developing, getting liberal and women are occupying high-profile jobs, etc etc…Did you know or have you heard about the latest divorce statistics from Bangalore?…If you get to know, compare it to the statistics 10/20 years back…and come back to me! Be it whatever, I’m all for a stable marriage…Divorce might be good/bad for the couple, but it is NEVER good for the kid. Got the hang of it?!?!…If not, go figure!


Indian woman December 1, 2010 at 11:18 pm

“Divorce might be good/bad for the couple, but it is NEVER good for the kid. Got the hang of it?!?!…”

It’s good for the kid, if the marriage is causing some harm to the child. For example, the parent is abusive to the child and will not change, the child has to witness domestic abuse situations, etc.

Keeping this kind of marriage together for the child isn’t healthy for the child’s development at all.


Prashanth December 2, 2010 at 4:57 am

@Indian Woman

I agree, but I was only imagining the scenario, where the couple has only some misunderstandings and fights, which are common and natural. In that case, it’s better to stay put and look after the child’s interests. :)


surya November 12, 2010 at 4:21 am

@ Priya
you are a very mature woman. Good for you, if only other desi bahus can emulate your example….just see the immense advantage of having an elder person offering unconditional love in the household, living under same roof or away for that matter…you deserve a medal.
Now, for all u bahus, first give and give some more and only then wait and see, the results are usually rewarding.


priya November 12, 2010 at 11:29 am

All this maturity stems from the fact that I have seen both sides of the coin. I have colleagues who endlessly bicker about their MILs and even their husbands. As per them, the MIL doesnt think of them like their daughter and hence the whole issue of “a wicked MIL”…They may be right, but then again I just know what my friends say..I just have one part of the story and I feel its not right to judge anyone dat way. All those who are bickering here, if only we could have the other side of the story too…lol I guess, Sharell, lets give the MILs a fair chance too ;)


Shadow November 12, 2010 at 4:44 am

I don’t understand your obsession with “high divorce rates of the west”. You clearly didn’t search beyond USA or Great Britain. I come from an EU country with fairly low divorce rate and high family values, also a quite conservative place you can say. Still, It’s better for you to put everyone in one basket and judge on the basis of the limited places you had a chance to vaguely get to know. When will you finally shed that ignorance which makes you feel that Indians are the most commited, loyal and family oriented people on earth?

Or is it just that you are jealous of people who have both stable families and happy not-arranged marriages? The comments on most of Sharell’s blogs suggest that many Indians have a really distorted image of “the west” and the outside-India world in general.


surya November 12, 2010 at 6:20 am

if any consolation to you, in general, ‘west’ in my mindset begins somewhere in Italy and ends in USA. Not necessarily lumping caucasian race ad hominem. Eastern Europe and south america are by and large excluded in this charaterization (of mine).My Romanian immigrant friend’s opinions reflect closely to that of my Indian friends. Also tobe fair,I can write volumes on ‘good things that are western’. The institution of Marriage is a chronically sick though.


surya November 12, 2010 at 7:12 am

@ shadow,
” you are jealous of people who have both stable families and happy not-arranged marriages?”

Thats stretching a bit too far and I must respond to that rather derogatory speculation.

Jealousy did u SAY? As to why? Is it because ‘non arranged marriages’ fall apart from one third to one half of them. Jealousy because, in spite of ‘love’ (marriages), extramarital ‘affairs’ flourish by millions. Jealousy because every fourth kid is raised in single parent family or living with a step parent? Jealousy because the separated woman (after a long relationship) is highly vulnerable and play into the hands of overindulgent drooling abusive men? Why do people say ‘i love you’ when they end tel conversations? They need the constat reinforcement, dont they.
Where did you get the idea that arranged marriage couples dont love eachother? If love is dearth in those marriages, say in case of Sharells in laws famiiy, how is that their family be so stealth in their relationships or in my parental househod. Our relationships are very strong rarely exressed. The ‘arrangement’ nowadays is invariably WITH the valid consent of the both people involved, force is out thru the window long time ago.

” Indians are the most commited, loyal and family oriented people on earth?”

the affirmation is not aullding to white vs indian. Its ‘western west’ vs india. Stemming from the huge discrepancy in numbers..BTW, I met american elderly folks who were happily married for 50 yrs. If you look at vice president Al Gore’s recent divorce, after some 40 yrs of marriage, you get desperate. I like french and their movies, but they have a dismal marriage institution out there.On record, I support love marriages heartily.

” Indians have a really distorted image of “the west”…

Sharrell lived there, what a paltry 4 or 5 years, whereas we (indians) lived in “west’ way too longer than that, how can we distort west’s image, i cannot fathom. .. There is a woman who lived in Bengaluru for 3 months, ran a blog, and fled to USA disgusted and disillusioned, is she an expert now?


Manny November 17, 2010 at 4:25 am

Here is some interesting statistics. Albeit this is by religion in the US

New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released

Divorce Among Adults Who Have Been Married

White 32%
Afric-Am 36%
Hispanic 31%
Asian 20%

See Asian there. Its the lowest. Although Asian there could be all Asians, there is a pattern. Mind you, these are folks who are living in the US. So they may not have the kind of social pressure than they may have in their home country.


coolblogger November 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

I seriously pity you. If you try to represent the whole country and its culture, better bite the bullet. Admit that in indian marriages and especially in arranged marriages the “living together”*no of years is mere life sentence for the victims. Like stockholm syndrome they pretend to like and love the sentence your parents had decided for you. Your arranged married life is a compromise.
Casting aspersion on open and broad minded west is mere shame and it is juz showcasing our country’s ill fate and chavinism.
Dont talk bad about people who play role of stepdad or stepmother and pretend to be representative of the kids. There is nothing wrong in leaving your spouse or galfriend or boyfriend if you know for sure it is not going to workout.
I personally known disturbed kids in Indian houses because their mom, dad and in-laws fight all time in front of kids without thinking about them or their future, but dont divorce instead make their life as well as life of others who live around them.


surya November 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm

” I personally known ”

this is the precise reason why I talked about statistics whilst responding to Prashant’s post, eventhough I do hate numbers and statistics myself. People assert their opinions as facts. Most are oblivious of the difference between the 2. Dont get me wrong.I have tens of thousands of lines to write on ‘whats good about west and america in particular’. By way of my profession I deal with peoples llives and emotions on a daily basis. Once we start talking my clients open up and pour out. I have respect for them empathise with them, and am not at all taking a swipe at westerners. I lived in Germany and England as well.

“years is mere life sentence for the victims”
Your personal experience may not be the typical indian experience.My point is the institution of marriage is strong in India ‘ not out of necessity but out of the choices of the 2 individuals involved make to keep it intact’ after the wedding. Brushing aside a very mature tenet as mere financial dependence on the part of the of the woman classifies ignorance. Only finances? What about the man then, he is employed and financialy independent, he could have walked away from his wife, couldnt he? what about women who make a good living on their part.They can say to hell with you. Iam not saying Indian marriages are ‘ superior’. Bickerings, fights go on. An unhappy couple cannot make and raise a happy extended family FYI. The Indian family is strong from living in 5 nations i can say that. A fact not an opinion.Jayesh said his sister went to chennai, not after fighting with everyone bbut with the blessings and consent of one and all. Such examples are many, too many……
” I seriously pity you”…..
Save it, dude, no thanks. I am not looking for a shoulder.Iam a happy family man. I not only love my nuclear family, I do love my extended family and inlaws as well. …………..
” Your arranged married life is a compromise”..”There is nothing wrong in leaving your spouse or galfriend or boyfriend if you know for sure it is not going to workout”………………
BTW, I dont oppose love marriages. I didnt say mine was a forced one. If shacking up and dating herald a fullfilled marriage, literally every marriage in this part of the world should last a lifetime. Why isnt the case, any explanation anybody? Why is everyone is dodging the bullet? Why these love marriages fall apart in such astonishingly high numbers? People in ‘live in relationships’ forever postone wedding, what are they waiting for, how long is good enough? ………….
” Dont talk bad about people who play role of stepdad or stepmother ”
Mere assumptions and speculations. Biolgic parent is preferable to step parent according to child psychologists.The childhood deliquencies, aberrations, substance abuse, high school drop out, teen pregnancy, promiscuity so forth cases have a strong origin in (parental) failed marriages……
” I personally known disturbed kids in Indian houses ”
numbers are important. all kinds of peope exist in every laand, whilst making a judgement, we go by the pedominance of a trait, not mere presence of it. Talk of political corruption.oh ya, then you are talking. India rules there .But dont talk light about marriage and family relationships.


coolblogger November 12, 2010 at 10:22 am
coolblogger November 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Wow.Now u r a shrink who lives in Chicago with ample experience in handling couples across countries . Either u need a shrink or ur patients/clients need a new shrink.
“Sharrell lived there, what a paltry 4 or 5 years, whereas we (indians) lived in “west’ way too longer than that, how can we distort west’s image, i cannot fathom. .. There is a woman who lived in Bengaluru for 3 months, ran a blog, and fled to USA disgusted and disillusioned, is she an expert now?”
“But dont talk light about marriage and family relationships.”
Ppl like u are the ones who need serious makeover . Read urself all ur questions sound so juvenile.
If Indians couple dont divorce and keep hating each other and express their disappointment and frustration by daily fights in front of kids and financially independent husbands spend their time in office pretending to work – rather the actual reason is not being able to handle the bickering at home, yes tht lays strong foundation for indian kids and gives a healthy relationship. And Indians do not run away from responsibilities because taht is what they are used to and trained to?Not to confront and solve issues instead runaway and avoid as much as possible? And you talk about facts and not ur mere opinions. :)


EM November 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm

hey, ive lived in mumbai since june n i have indian husband here n i didnt have any problem with my mum in low. she is nice n caring n dont try put her nose in our life. BUT this wht is between her n her son is SPECIAL :P
before he left house n move to live with me he was cooking his best dishes for a week n of course she was crying that he gonna leave home (even we live maybe 5 min by car from her;)) twice a week she sends him indian dishes, cuz she knows that i cant cook all this ;)
so yeee… whtever my husband does she always finds explanation;)


Shadow November 17, 2010 at 3:33 pm

@ surya… again, no point in explaining…

if for you ‘west starts in italy and ends in usa’ – man, i pity your knowledge about the world… who told you that east and south europe or south america are anything like india? these countries (in europe) are in EU for many years and they are absolutely NOTHING like india and NOTHING like pseudo-after-communist-russian-friends. the same with south america, these people are not some taco-burrito-eaters. get to know the world before you come up with such a childish idea.

and what does it have to do with some girl who was in bangalore for a few months and decided to come back? did it hurt you or what, that she didn’t like it?

swallow it, that india is not the centre of the world, no country is for that matter. have some objectivity when judging your own motherland. it opens the eyes for certain things.

and yes, there is nothing wrong in breaking up a relationship when you see it is going nowhere. and there is nothing wrong in considering love as the most important factor in partner selection. and it is incredibly cool to be able to choose your life partner without your parents blessings. yes, these are things people like you, are jealous about, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t pay so much attention to argue about it.

Love in arranged marriage, are you kidding me? If you mean mere tolerance of each other’s presence and a wife telling ‘yes’ to everything that husband asks for (or his mom). very funny, clearly you didn’t experience true love.

and even if people like coolblogger keep on giving you thousands of examples to show you how blind you are, you will try to oppose every time, because you are JEALOUS – period!


coolblogger November 17, 2010 at 9:33 pm

@shadow – thanks so much. You cant never bring these kind of cocooned minds to light. U can wake a sleeping person not the one who is pretending to be asleep. As rightly said, the “J-factor” is the one making them to go all lengths to lie and argue and talk ill about people who marry for love and live a independent life and strive to give their kids better future and values rather than mere taboo and bond for the selfish souls.
@Manny- Let me try something here. You can never compare the citizens [caucasians and afroamericans] with immigrant races in US. Hispanic – many are non-documented and if you consider asians either they are in dependent visa or the spouses arent tht well educated and even if they are, the degrees from their homecountry doesnt sell much. Whether they want it or not, they are forced to stay together and be a mere cook-at-home and traditional “yes-woman”.
And many still try to stay under one roof for insurance and other stuffs – not much different from the status in India except – here the reason differs.
And when they have proper oppurtunites – even the first-generation ones dont hesitate any second to say good-bye when things dont work out.


Mohit Gupta November 18, 2010 at 2:45 am

Surya is Right . Coolblogger is overenthuasistic in bringing down and stereoptyping INDIAN ARRANGED marriages.

To say that all Indian women in arranged marriages are suffering like HELL is a very ignorant and disgusting statement.

There are really some shortcoming in the process of Arranged Marriage specially the DOWRY Part.. but people , who are aware of real development in the societ know well that times are changing .. on the Factors such as Caste and Dowry..

Many cousins of mine have had love marriage and same numbers of tghem had Arranged one .. and when Today I see them , I cant really tell the difference in affection , respect and liberty of “ARRANGED COUPLE” and “LOVE COUPLE” ..

All my older generation people had Arranged Marriage and they love each other with enormous respect..

The thing I dont understand is that people visulaise arranged marriage in a very typical way like following..
1. She would have to do house chores essentially
2.She wont be able to do JOB.
3.She will be treated badly by In-laws
4.She wont have any say in deciding the family matters
5.She wont get any real affection from their husband..

all of above may/may not a part of any marriage LOVE or Arranged but not FIRM CHARACTERISTIC of any marrige or arranged..

Moreover if people were so unhappy about love marriages , the system wouldnt have been in existence for so long..

But the fact is that now-a-days Arranged marriages are not done only in same caste.. Intercaste marriages are also beeing arranged ..

Also modern times arranged marriages are very different from the past ones when bride-groom could see even the pic of their spouses..

In present arranged marriages are like the Group FAMILY-Dating where Guys/Gals are given enough time to decide the best for each other..

P.S. If two people are in love they should marry each other.


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 5:42 am

Arranged – You marry someone for some other than yourself and accept the fate of life.
Love – You marry the one you want to spend the life together and you are doing it for yourself because you want to.
Life isn’t a business or a debt . Just because ur mom fed u when u were young doesnt mean tht you need to desert your wife and kid and repay her back and make ur wife as well to do same chores. She did her job as a mom and you should allow your wife to fulfill her duty to her kid. Instead if spends time in giving massage to ur mom and spend whole day in kitchen to cook for ur dad’s fluctuating palate and run around and dance around to make ur parents happy, when does she get time to do her duties for her kid??
You have a responsibility as a dad for your dependent kid(s). Financially u can help ur parents, marrying the spouse chosen by them just to make them happy to me sounds bull.
I have heard from my friends saying “I maynt hve made my mom/dad happy by scoring state 1st or with hefty salary job or buying her/him a bungalow- atleast this I could do – give up my wishes and marry the gal chosen by them – I had told them whtever gal u look for I am ready just say when/then” – same from gals as well.
Does this make any sense to u? Is marriage a thing to sacrifice?


Manny November 18, 2010 at 6:37 am

Arranged – You marry someone for some other than yourself and accept the fate of life.
Love – You marry the one you want to spend the life together and you are doing it for yourself because you want to.

No What you say there “Arranged” should be “Forced”

Arranged goes like this: You are introduced by your parents after vetting the other guys family and upbringing and other information from people who knows the bloke. Is he a womanizer? Is he a drug addict? Is he a fraud? Does he treat women with respect? …etc etc…

Then the girl sees him and talks to him… for a short time and decides to accept the engagement with the intent to marry. Now they are free to date but not sleep together. They travel and they meet each others friends as fiance. It is courting. They either fall in love or at least infatuated with one another or realize its all a big mistake. This goes for anywhere between 6 months to a year. If you cannot decide by then then you are a loser. So most often they decide to get married after all their value system has already been established by their respective family. Then then get married.

So stop with the false projection and get to know what really happens with arranged marriages.




JAYESH-G November 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I agree.

To call how Aai and Baba behave with each other as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ would be a bit insulting.

Arranged marriages, when forced, have their set of problems, but when, they happen as described by Manny, then I don’t think they would have so many compatibility issues.

Thing is, in India, there is social pressure to be married by a certain age. If you haven’t found your own love by then, you enter the ‘arranged marriage’ arena. Then, too, the sensible parents want a match compatible with their children.

‘Forced’ arranged marriages are wrong.


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

I give up. To all – well frogs, all the best. Sugarcoat all you want :) No body forced u, you turned urself in and opted for this sentence and you are happy . Enjoy ur life without parole..
“Abou Ben Adhem” ..continue this legacy thatz how all losers in India get married. Your mommy will look for a bride for u and pick ur boxers to wear.
Bye all..Did i make ur cry? Run for ur mommy’s sari buddy, she will console u…


JAYESH November 18, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I am not sure what you are asking exactly!

Whether Aai has a sari or whether she can console me?

Or your mum doesn’t have a sari?
Or she can’t console you? :-P

My dear Coolblogger and Shadow, no one’s denying that arranged marriages have their fair share of limitations and disadvantages.
Marriage in Indian society has seen many changes from, child marriages, to forced arranged marriages to arranged marriages based on the girl’s and the boy’s decision.

While gandharva marriages (a type of love marriage) were also allowed in the ancient times, the system went out of use.
The arranged marriage system was primarily a way to ensure continuation of that sub-caste/caste/religion since an arranged marriage ensures that there would be a future generation, growing in a comfortable, loving environment.
The reason might be India’s turbulent history of invasions, rulers, religious domination and caste-based mindset.
Also, it tried to ensure a spouse/partner for every child compatible with the rest of the household.

The phenomenon of arranged marriage should be taken into consideration as a part of how the Indian society was, is and is evolving.

When you accuse that all people in arranged marriages to have a loveless marriage, I look at the marriages of my parents, my relatives and the parents of my friends. They do not seem to be ‘loveless’ as compared to those who have had love marriages, among my relatives, neighbours and friends as you accuse.
Whenever Baba does some chivalrous act, Aai still blushes like a new bride.
Most of the people you are accusing of
being ‘defensive’ have, forgive me if I am presuming too much, arranged marriages in their families, even their parents, in which they are very happy and satisfied.
So when coolblogger says that people in “your” arranged marriages seem to have some kind of ‘Stockholm’s Syndrome’ or the children have social/emotional defects, then it kind of implies that my parents have Stockholm’s Syndrome and I suffer from social/emotional defects and that tends to hurt a bit.

I agree, that arranged marriages, especially those of the past, since they didn’t take into account the girl’s and boy’s compatibility, do face a lot of problems but not all do.

Now, today, arranged marriage concept is evolving, more open than before.
As you put an example, my dear Shadow, of an acquaintance of yours in the City of Chennai, let me also put forward the example of my sister.
There was no dowry.
Their courtship lasted for one year.
They stayed in the same hostel.
They are in love.
Marriage according to their consent.

It depends now, on how educted the parents are and, more impotantly, how open-minded they are. (eg. Sharell’s in-laws are pretty-much open-minded as compared to their education. Then there are educated idiots out there, like you mentioned.)

Arranged marriages, when not forced, are actually very effective.
You must understand that society pressures to get married and have children is high and this mindset is not going to go so soon. :-(

In the end I will say this:-
Arranged marriage is a social phenomenon which has been existence for many centuries and as such is not going to dissapear soon.
Except for forced, they are not so horrifying as you believe.
In a society where a marriage is considered the Union of two families rather than just two individuals, there will be an amount of parental influence, even in Love marriages.

Indian society is still evolving and only Time will show what changes it may bring.


Sharell November 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm

My eldest sister in law got married off when she was only 16 (almost 24 years ago) because a suitable man had made himself known. He’s five years older than her. She had a baby within a year of marriage. It was a HUGE adjustment for her (and apparently she went really quiet for couple of years, which is very unlike her. So she must’ve been quite distressed). Now, looking at her, there is no hint that her married life started like that. There is very obvious love and affection between her and her husband, which has developed over the years. They look happier and more in love than many people I know. They also have two well brought up sons (one of which I must admit is studying to become an engineer… gulp! :-o ), and a successful manufacturing business that they’ve built. So arranged marriages can have a positive outcome. Honestly, when they’re done in the right way (these days, with the couple having control over the decision), they do have their benefits. My youngest brother in law had an arranged marriage a couple of years ago, it was by the consent of he and his wife, and they spent quite a bit of time getting to know each other first. So far, so good. :-) And yes, I do believe that they are now in love too…. he went to Dubai to work recently and she really missed him.


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 8:07 am
JAYESH November 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm

My dear coolblogger, if you want the Ultimate Mamma’s boy, Every Indian Mommy’s Dream Son and A National Hero of India, please google search on ‘SHIVAJI MAHARAJ’ and ‘JIJABAI.’

Also, google search ‘Mother India’ (The film) for The Ultimate Indian Mother.


Manny November 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

IF you want the ultimate Momma’s boy. Check out Rahul Gandhi and his Eva Peron mother who feels her family and her son is entitled to the throne. What about that loser Rajeev Gandhi the Momma’s boy?



JAYESH-G November 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Superb, Manny! :-P

They take the cake!

When I put forward my um…. ‘candidate’, what I wanted to show that how some Indian mother-son relationships brought out the best in them.
It depends upon the nature of the mother and, more importantly, the son, to take the right choices, irrespective of whether the mum wants the wrong one.

When both are of understanding nature, then the mother-son bond can bring out the best in them as in my example.
And when the mother is also understanding and loving of the daughter-in-Law, then it brings the best in the entire relationship.
(eg. The Bad Bhabhi, Sharell Bhabhi, Aurora Vahini.)

Then they can be labelled as ‘Ultimate’, ‘A National Hero’ etc.

Otherwise, all hell can break loose!
Like Coolblogger’s example of idiots.


Shadow November 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Sometimes I wonder why you people are so defensive about arranged marriages. Nobody has to be that way for love marriages, since the concept of this one is clear and fair.

It is only obvious that there are less pretty, disguised matters in the idea of an arranged marriage, that you have so much need to tell the world how great it is.

Besides, come down to earth. Arranged marriage is in most cases exactly what you say it is not. And that too in so called ‘metros’ as you say, people have to blindly follow their parents’ wishes.

If you get out of this shell of self-glory, you will see how ridiculous and unacceptable arranged marriage can be, especially for a modern woman.

And please don’t say that times are changing. Today dowry = a car or a flat or furniture to the flat for the couple, dating time = a few coffee/lunch breaks in the city together, great match = horoscope and cash (obviously on girl’s family side), “dating period” = 3 months max.

This is real example btw, from Chennai. I can assure you it’s not a single case.


Manny November 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Whatever floats your boat Hon!

If you found love on your own initiative Good on ya!

If your family introduces to the suitor and you both decide to get married based on infatuation..good on ya as well!

Just don’t be rainin on other peoples parade. Is all!


Manny December 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm

So arranged marriages are not that great.

But what about Mail Order Catalog Brides from Eastern “Western Women” type wedding thingi?



Shadow December 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

That is even more stupid. Catalogue thing is probably without CV-kinda matching, so it’s purely about cash (+ the guy’s desperation). :)


Mohit Gupta November 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

@ Coolblogger

“Arranged – You marry someone for some other than yourself and accept the fate of life.
Love – You marry the one you want to spend the life together and you are doing it for yourself because you want to.”


Can you please tell me the “SOURCE” of these definitions..

I can smell that you have had very bad effects and experience of arranged marriage either personally or have seen it closely in family or relatives.

But you dont have right to call all “Arranged Marriages” forced and call all the persons who did “Arrange Marriage” LOOSERS….

I dont know ,which state and city you live but the NARROW-MINDED definitions of Love and Arrange Marriages given by you is an indicator that who lives in a WELL.

I dont know why some Arundhati Roy types woman always try to portrait India and its tradition in a wrong way.
Arranged Marriages are just Marriages , why are you painting it in bad light it is something like SATI PRATHA or DOWRY SYSTEM..

Whatever Manny has said about Arranged Marriages is true and you should judge on that definition ..

And everybody is free to make his/her own choices and views. I am all for Women empowerment and their liberty to make their choices of life.


Sharell November 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Speaking of arranged marriage, Mohit, how are you going with sorting though all your replies? Have you narrowed it down yet?


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm
Abdullah K. November 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

The assumptions made here that couples who opt into arranged marriages are forced or pressured into it is a forced one. When in reality, those of opt for this route of getting a spouse do so because they either failed in love or were incapable of finding a spouse for themselves.
India doesn’t have a dating culture hence, those who opt to find love for themselves have to face a lot of obstacles. For one, there aren’t enough platform for men and women to meet eligible singles, since genders are segregated in India in a way that doesn’t leave a lot of room for interaction. Second, neither men nor women are equipped with the skills of dating. Men for one, don’t know how to approach women without getting shot down. They don’t know what kind of women to approach and how to make that move. Women on the other hand, aren’t equipped to handle attention from men and to distinguish genuine men from the predators. Hence, they are either too eager or too aloof.
In such a dismal dating environment, arranged matches are often the only option for the lot of Indians.


Shadow November 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

There is a lot of truth in what you say, especially about the lack of an appropriate dating space and no/scarce dating skills. That explains why there are pople who opt for an arranged marriage.

But as you mentioned, there is always a problem with “distinguishing genuine men from the predators” (I believe that has some equivalent for women too). So, when a marriage is arranged no one can really tell who gets the genuine one, and who gets the predator, because there is practically no chance to check that. Also assuming that bad men (and women) don’t get married to anyone at all is too naive.


Abdullah K. November 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm

True. That sort of thing happens sometimes, where either of the spouses have some personaity disorders, only to be found after the wedding. However, I don’t think Indian style ‘love marriages’ would help a big deal here. From what I have observed, the dating periods are generally short, intimacy is limited and the kind of social/peer support that exists in western dating scenario is pretty much non-existent in India. Also, Indian women (and men) tend to have limited and late dating experiences, which might not help hone their intuition to spot a predator (especially if he has an attractive personality and good looks).
On the whole, I think if a good platform exists for dating as in the Eurocentric world, there is no good reason why one would consider an arranged marriage. If however, the live in a country like India, arranged marriage might be an option.


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 8:43 pm

- Here is my reply. I am a big gal and I dont run for my momz sari or chunni or her shoulder to cry like all the “HE-BOY”s here. I am responsible for my life and I chose and choose to be what I am. And once my babies get wings, I am going to let them free and watch them fall and learn to fly on their own.
- I second your thoughts.
- thnx for comparing me to icons. How does it matter where I live or where I come from or what religion I follow or what language I speak? I stand by what I beleive in. If you feel that I am ridiculing all mama-boys, sorry I cant help it. You are free to laugh at – my individuality or my out-of-box thinking as per you.

I am pretty sure that these kind of sugarcoating happened for riots against SATI as well.


JAYESH-G November 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Oh boy, Lady, replying to silly comments like this makes me feel more silly, but I like it! :-P

Hmmmm…. lets see….

So, if your children go through a rough patch and come to you to seek a hug and a word of comfort and advice all you are going to say, “No way! I taught you to fly and you managed to fly from here, now fly away!”


Not that I wouldn’t solve my problems on my own, but I do like to get a hug from my sari-wearing Aai when I am in a rough patch….
Makes me feel loved and I get a feeling that there’s someone who will be with me and won’t judge me even if my decision, taken by myself, turns out to be wrong.

I do share a deep bond with her and will fly away from her nest soon enough, but I hope she will remain a source of comfort and advice that Wisdom and Experience brings.

Please clarify more as to whether that’s what you meant….

P. S.:- Is my sister’s marriage, as I have described, can be described as ‘sugarcoating?’


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm

- No offense meant. Your SIL got married when she was 16 and had a baby when she was 17? I guess you are in my side now :)


Sharell November 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Life was different back then, times have changed. I don’t agree with forcing someone to get married so young (despite the potential for happy outcome) but I have nothing against arranged marriages where both parties are willing and agreeable. And if they can find someone compatible. Arranged marriage suits some people, others it doesn’t. My husband for example was always “too out of the box” to have an arranged marriage. Due to his life experience, there’s no way he would have much in common with a simple girl from Orissa. So there was never much potential for him to have an arranged marriage, and he never wanted one (although he did give in to his mother and go to a couple of “meetings”, he left saying no way). His second youngest brother had a love marriage with a Maharastran (before I came along). But his youngest brother is more traditional, and wanted an arranged marriage. He got a good match… a girl from Orissa, but university educated fashion designer who was also born in Mumbai (the brother is an interior designer, born in Mumbai). What’s probably shocking to people is that from what I know and have seen of arranged marriages, if I was Indian I may have even happily said yes to one IF and only IF the circumstances were right. I would need to have a lot of say in the matter, and the expectations would also need to be clear and agreed upon. (People in the west often ask their friends or family members to “find them someone” or “set them up with someone” on a date….who they may or may not like and agree to see again. Arranged marriage is just on a bigger scale).


JAYESH-G November 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

THANK YOU so much Jiju for saying no to those marriage requests! :-)

And being smart enough to propose to Sharell at the right moment! ;-)

Otherwise, I wouldn’t have got such a wonderful Bhabhi (to pull her legs)! :-D :-D :-D


Seriously November 19, 2010 at 2:06 am

you are making me Barf…seriously creepy.
No offense.


JAYESH-G November 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

Nowadays, I am not taking much offence! :-P

Don’t jump to ‘unclean’ thoughts, man….

Just kidding around here!

I am a bit too hyperactive for my own good, sometimes! :-(


coolblogger November 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Honestly, I do have to agree with some thoughts of urs, Manny and Adbullah and little bit of Mohit.
But comparing divorce rate and insulting the life as stepdad/stepmom and sugarcoating something which you had accepted as ur fate is wht bothers me.
Claimly that arranged marriages are better than love marriage is absolutely ridiculous.
It’s like IBM claiming tht no one could insert virus into their mainframe with Microsoft. Come on, who cares if calculator is attacked by virus? You dont give choice and freedom to the ladies in your house or allow them even to think aloud.

And instead of hanging ur head down in shame, ur praise urself too much and proclaim all loud that “divorce rates are low in India”, “Arranged marriages are the best”, “Indian joint family is the best”.

Come on!


Mohit Gupta November 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

@ Sujata

“thnx for comparing me to icons. How does it matter where I live or where I come from or what religion I follow or what language I speak? I stand by what I beleive in. If you feel that I am ridiculing all mama-boys, sorry I cant help it. You are free to laugh at – my individuality or my out-of-box thinking as per you.”


Arundhati is definitely an ICON for those who want to get famous by shortest path of so called “OUT OF BOX” thinking by involving in a protest for GAY RIGHTS and giving controversial statement against India on KASHMIR ISSUE.If you are really happy for beeing compared to Arundahti then you owe me a BIG THANK. ;)

It does matter to know your city , language ,religion to know what kind of individual you are because world and particular India is so varied in culture and personal experience that it simplify the process of knowing each other and responding to their views.

I dont care if you ridicule Mama’s Boy and Papa’s Boy and Chacha’s boy or A — Z’ Boy..
but I object when you call all persons LOOSERS just because they did Arranged Marriage. By this definition All the Great Personality of India will be in that category i.e. LOOSERS..

Your Individuality or your “out of the box” thinking is nothing special for me to laugh about.Its just your thinking and as an individual you should stand by what you believe , BUT you have no right to complain when you have abused a larger section of Society already in a big way..

You may be very succesfull individual in your life with this kind of thinking but I have seen many more succefull Individual women who had “in the box” thinking with arranged marriage…

Hail India …


Mohit Gupta November 18, 2010 at 11:38 pm

@ Sujata

““divorce rates are low in India”, “Arranged marriages are the best”, “Indian joint family is the best”.


Divorce rate is nothing to do with Arranged marriages.
Saudi has mostly arraged marriage but has the biggest divorce rate in the world. Surprise ?? I also was..!!


Mohit Gupta November 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

@ Sharell

“Speaking of arranged marriage, Mohit, how are you going with sorting though all your replies? Have you narrowed it down yet?


Didnt get you. Are you talking about my marriage ..??? yeah I got one :)

While searching for a one , I got one through orkut.. ;)and 7TH feb is D-DAY.. ;)..


Sharell November 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Yes, I was talking about your marriage!! Wow, that’s exciting news. Congratulations. Enjoy your last few months of “freedom”. :-P


surya November 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

very well. congrats firstly.
Lets see. Hmmm… made the big decision, eh? Man you got yourself into whole lot of trouble now, Curtains on your Golden era then for you bro. Poor guy……


JAYESH-G November 19, 2010 at 11:17 am


So, when’s the Bachelor party? ;-)

Should we arrange it for you on your blog? :-P

What’s with Feb 7, anyway?

My sister got married on that day, last year.
Two of my friends (including you – three) are getting married this year!

Some Strong Shubh Muhurat?


coolblogger November 19, 2010 at 12:46 am

@mohit. FYI , I do protest for GAY rights. But I didnt know that it is one of the shortcuts to fame or whtever. I stand by what I said.
And buddy , victory claim with divorce rates linking arranged marriage-bonfire wasnt started by me. It was from one of ur clan.
I am a tamilian , married with two lovely twins in Chicago and a hindu but yet I do celebrate christmas with christmas tree, and easter with easterbunnyhunt and halloween and all for my kids.
And all the best for ur wedding! So, u picked ur spouse from facebook.. Cool!


Elena November 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I see the Indian mother and son topic being left very far behind on this thread :)
I don’t live in India, and I have been there only once but I have a very large circle of Indian friends in London. Before I started dating my (Indian) boyfriend I knew little about arranged marriages. I don’t trust statistics about Indian/Western divorce rates – as has been mentioned on this blog by others there are many reasons why there is such a discrepancy which doesn’t necessarily speak to India’s advantage. Between me and my boyfriend we have about 30 close-ish Indian friends, most of them married through arranged marriages, but some chose love marriages. Honestly, at least from the outside arranged marriages don’t seem any happier or unhappier than the non-arranged ones. Also a few of my boyfriend’s friends are divorced. The official divorce stats don’t differentiate among various categories but from what I can see – city born very highly educated and well off Indians have no hesitation these days about divorcing when the marriage doesn’t work out.
If I was born into a culture of arranged marriages I wouldn’t have a problem with my family taking a part in it, though I would also look for the right person myself. Why not have the extra option?


surya November 20, 2010 at 12:35 am

The readers should not go away thinking that Indians are close minded in reference to love and romance, far from that since ancient times they thoroughly experimented and researched this area of human nature unashamedly. Read if you are an Indophile.
Scene One: A noble king gallops into a nearby forest hunting and instead of finding a deer he was looking for, he stumbles upon a damsel living in an ashram run by a sage. They fall in love and he promises to return later to take her to his kingdom and make her the queen. Because of a curse (shaap) by an irate maharishi, he develops amnesia and forgets about her. After some 9yrs he returns to the forest, now this time he sees a brave boy playing with lions. Amazed, the king confronts the boy, who replies that his mom is Sakuntala and dad is Dushyanta. Immediately the king remembers (by now the amnesia spell is lifted) his lover from the ashram. He fetches her with the help of his son and they all go back to the palace and live happily ever after. The boys name is BHARAT. That’s the first chapter of greatest indian epic Mahabharata, narrated eloquently by Sanskrit dramatist Kalidasa. FYI indians call their land as Bharat.
Scene 2. Krishna awaits in a garden for Rukmini’s arrival. The princess sneaks out of her dad’s palace and speeds away in the chariot with the perfect yogi Krishna and they marry against the wishes of her dad.
Scene 3: A princess enter with a garland in her hands and walks around a splendid and well decorated hall full of young men. There she inspects, interviews all suitors who have assembled there to seek her hand in matrimony and she even watches them exhibiting their skills and strengths. She garlands the man she approves. The marriage takes place soon after. That is called swayam vara, translates something like- self chosen husband. Please google any of those above words you will come across some fine, eloquent explanations.
Still not convinced? Google Kamasutra and Khajuraho… the land of yoga had explored all aspects of human nature…(part 1)


surya November 20, 2010 at 12:36 am

After thus researching and taking love and romance to dizzying heights, the wiser and older men felt the masses may become beasts and the land might lose order. They KNEW what was going on in the neighborhood. Europe served a stark deterrent example for Indians, wherein for hundreds of years that kind of chaos and lawlessness was the horrific norm that era. Sadly up until the times of Voltaire (google Candide). So then the elders put down some societal ‘norms’ like avoiding premarietal dating (read sex) to prevent out of wedlock births. There were no pills, as a result desperate girls resorted to abortions and were dying from complications. Then a practice of vetting process of suitors took shape. Thorough enquiries about suitors was made mandatory prerequisite to prevent far off predators scheming to devilish ways of polygamy and cheating. Elders were required to giving testimonials about the prospective grooms. Desire to retain family wealth within the family entered the picture; relatives are encouraged to marry within the family. Finally a thousand years of brutal invasions and partial occupation eroded the pride and order. Girls were married off very young gage to prevent abductions by muslim invaders.
How many of you have even heard about kanya sulkam? Means, Bridegroom paying off bride’s parents, in other words – a reversal of dowry? That was the pride of place a woman held in good old days ! The ‘dowry’ evil entered indian scene only in recent hard times, after the invasions and occupations made them poorer, fragmented and demoralized. Thankfully currently the devil is frontally attacked and hopefully it will disappear soon.
My comments have invited ire from some. OK. Lets see. My comment of ‘Sharells paltry 4 or 5 years’ was a direct and specific response to her observation: “mothers usually have unfulfilled relationships with their husbands. As a result, they direct all the love and care that would usually be in a marriage towards their sons ”. Sharell portrayed here an Oedipus complex (google) in reverse. It is one thing to write about leaky roofs, scams, chai wallahs etc etc. But then it is a different trajectory one is claiming to orbit in when one takes up the onerous task of explaining, ‘why moms eat at the end’, why MILs take such close interest in son’s affairs, ‘why bahus don’t talk loudly in front of FILs’ etc etc. In my assessment moms (and dads) love both sons and daughters in equal measure. I brought up the issue of divorce as it is appropriate and relevant to do so. I can’t talk of global warming when marriage is the topic, can I? Then I brought up step parent issue, not to ridicule them or take a cheap shot at them, but instead kept child’s mental health in the back of my mind. I am no shrink, it needs lot of patience and lots listening/talking to do to be one, besides why would I settle for less? Shanti. (part2)


Sharell November 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

This joke was in the newspaper today:

Husband and wife had a tiff. Wife called up her mum and said “He fought with me again, I’m coming to live with you.” Mum said “nahin beti nahin, he must pay for his mistake…. I am coming to stay with you.” :-P


surya November 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

good one i like it on this sunday morn. Hope he wont invite his mom now…LOL


JAYESH-G November 22, 2010 at 11:38 am

Hey! I am in blue!


Mohit Gupta December 3, 2010 at 1:02 am

Blue is my fav color..
what about Blue Buggatiii ?? ;)


Indian woman December 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I just realize that this can also apply to a mother-daughter relationship in Indian culture (at least for me).

A lot of Indian girls thought I was lucky growing up b/c my mom let me date, but I had to strictly date Indians only. AND, she had to control the show to every detail. Looking back, she acted no different towards my exes than a mother-in-law meddling with her son’s marriage. My mom and Indian ex were competing with each other over control and who had the upper hand. My Indian ex got fed up with my mom’s intrusive behavior and broke up with me. He couldn’t take it anymore. Everyone needs their space and privacy. I know Indian moms care for their kids, but there’s a fine line that needs to be drawn.

When I would try to confront my mom’s unhealthy behavior, she would just say “You should be happy that I let you date and talk to boys. Other Indian moms don’t!”

Someone mentioned that an intrusive mom that’s too enmeshed with her child may be strugging with her own marriage. In my mom’s case, that was true. She feels powerless in her marriage, so what better way to gain power by involving herself in mine? I have given her advice by maybe getting hobbies or spending time with her friends if she feels lonely. I can’t be with my mom all of the time obviously.

Has any other Indian woman gone through something similar? And, is it really that rare for Indian parents to let their adult children date? My mom always made friends with parents who were extremely conservative and rigid towards their kids. That way she could tell me and brag “Look how modern I am. I let you do these things, but Savita auntie doesn’t let her daughter talk to boys or show her legs.”


Indian woman December 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm

@Priya, who said how we women don’t have to deal with feeling stuck between a parent and a spouse. At least I think that’s what you said, unless I misunderstood.

I definitely felt stuck in between my ex and mom. She would say bad things about him to me, and he would say bad things about her to me. It was a horrible feeling. Our break-up was actually mutual, because we both couldn’t take it. . Looking back, it happened for the better. He wasn’t the right person for me anyway. My mom was right with her intuition on him not being so nice.

@Abdullah-Your point about Indian men lacking dating skills made me wonder. Maybe that’s why I dealt with some odd questions on the first few dates.For example, asking about exes, one’s sexual past and pressuring someone to drink more than they want are big no-no’s in the American dating scene. With Indian men, all of these bloopers came up. It made me think, “Don’t they know it makes a bad impression to talk about this stuff on the first few dates?” Then again, Indian culture and Indian parents don’t teach you proper dating etiquette.


Manny December 21, 2010 at 1:41 am

Taare Zameedn Par – Maa

When U feel U R alone in the Crowd, When U Think No 1 can Understand U, When UR love is rejected by others, & when U hate UR Life, Just Close UR eyes, & see, Her face who Loves U more than any 1 else, Who Care 4 U in loneleness, & dies when U cry. She is no 1, But UR Sweet Loving Mother. Love UR Mom First.



Vlm June 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

it’s worth noticing that nosy/obsessive/overwhelming mother-ni-laws are universal, so it’s not an exceptionally Indian problem. I’m expat in Italy, and Italian mothers are famous all over Europe for growing up ‘mammoni’, mama’s boys. If a wife is not comfortable, it’s up to husband, however, to mediate the situation. Why? Simply because he is the one who knows better his family and can choose the right words. A wife is always a ‘person from outside’. My Italian boyfriend understands that well, and, in the end, he is an independent person who keeps the family close, but not too close to stand between us in our relationship. I do the same role of mediator with my family.
All the best, and thanks for great blog, I find many things in common :)



Sharell शारेल June 12, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Hi Vlm, I’ve heard that Italian and Indian culture are similar in so many ways, so what you say isn’t surprising. Welcome to the blog! By the way, I’ve been to Italy. I thought it was the most beautiful country in Europe.


Jen October 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

This is a wonderful website, glad my search for fish recipes brought me here. I can relate as I was the “close friend” for several years before marrying my Indian husband. Similarly, there was a lot of negativity in the beginning due to not being Indian myself. Though, I find that anyone unfamiliar with a culture will rely on what is seen on tv or movies!

My MIL and husband talk a few times a day, sometimes she has a good idea, sometimes she makes many demands. Once we bickered for an hour on the need of an additional refrigerator to hold all the milk the baby will drink someday. But like Sharell said, sometimes you just forfeit the conversation and all is well. I still haven’t purchased the extra refrigerator.


TerminalXception December 7, 2012 at 1:49 am

Every Husaband Can Do What His Wife Wants, The Question Here is Whether It Is Applicable To Wife or Not?

Most of the case i have heard, wives complaint that after marriage husband should give priority to wife than mother and sisters, but they will wish that husbands should go well with her parent and sisters. How is this possible?

I see that all wives want their husbands to become a guardian to her parents, shouldering them and giving importance to them than his own family. This is possible as long as wives and their family don’t trouble husbands family

Also, husbands family they try to hold the son as hard as they can because they believe after marriage guy get changed by their wives. Don’t guys have their own brains to think?

Whatever the problem is it is only in the hands of Husbands to decide how to handle the problem. Sometime it needs cunning mind, sometimes forgiving mind, sometime easy going mind. sometimes beat it hard and break it. SO which one we need to follow depends on how mother, wife, in law and sisters behave.

Irrespective of who it is we have to beat them up if we really want a peaceful life, if nothing works out just leave everyone and run to the corner of this world where you can find peaceful living, life is after all only once.


juliet January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Beat them up? Run? How typical! Why not try GROWING UP? Idiot! If you tried to beat me, I’d kill you. Deader than dead. So would my brothers and uncles and cousins and father. You need a Caribbean wife to learn tobe a man!


juliet January 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I am married to a a Sri Lankan man. I am jamaican. We married in our 40s and he lived in the States since he was 15. To attract me he boasted of being western, modern and super self sufficient. I thought him a bit arrogant and ego eccentric but he is a kind man so I married him. In the 10 years of our marriage I discovered several things. 1. He is spoilt. Everything must go his way or he gets angry. 2. Nothing is ever his fault or just life. Someone is always to blame. Usually me or a subordinate. 3. Apart from his career, he is lazy as hell. To the point of it being like a desease. 4. He buys his way to affection even with strangers but resents spending money on me (except for food. He loves! Supermarkets). He believes he is above menial tasks like mowing the grass or washing the car. He is impatient with and roughs his female relatives, but willingly sends them money. He thinks he is the smarter than I am. He is not. He does not read and is not artistic or spiritual. In the 10 years of our marriage, I have found that he responds only to insults, threats and physical retribution from me. All of which I am excellent at as I am neither demure, petit, stupid or afraid of him. We do not fight but I have demonstrated that when I say something I MEAN it and DO it and I have thrown things at him like a vacuum :) cups, etc. To get him to take me seriously. He does not mind as long as he ducks! I wondered how a man who has lived outside his culture for so long could be so backward – until his mother came to live with us. She is pious. She is humble (her own words. Yeah. Right!) She is self absorbed. She is stingy and she has the ‘entitlement’ complex. She is quite an intelligent woman whose culture made her an utter fool. She has NEVER met someone like me. I baffle her. I intimidate her. I understand her. I care about her but I tell her straight that she is a pain in the ass. She can’t understand why her son loves me and takes my shit. I tell her she did not train him to be a husband and I do. I tell her she thinks he’s a boy, I think he should be a man. I tell her I chose him not he me, but I don’t NEED him to live, he needs me and he damned well knows it! I’m good to him, better than most wives, but I don’t take his crap for long. I’m honest. If I plan to rebel, I give him ample warning (which he ignores until he witnesses it), I am never spiteful but he knows…I CAN leave him! That usually straightens him up for a couple weeks. I now know why he is such a moron sometimes since living with his mother. She ruined him. He hates when I say it, but he is very much like her. Lazy, dependant and arrogant. I am suceeding in bashing those traits out of them both as I was brought up to detest lazyness and I am very like my Irish grandmother. Independent! But I don’t like having to be mother/teacher/wife to someone else’s son and I don’t like lecturing an 85 year old woman half my size. I know now why marriages are arranged in Asia. No one who knows those people would willingly marry one. The women are idiots and the men are weak and moronic. I love my husbands goodness but I despise his culture. It stinks. It creates weak, brutish men who despise women and make them doormats. In turn the women depend on the men for their very thoughts and being weak, the men can’t take the preasure of the women in their lives leaning on them and so they drink or abuse the woman who becomes even more cowed. It’s a vicious, stupid, centuries old cycle. It has ended in my house as I am NOT a woman to be messed with, but I truly pity Indian wives.


Dev February 2, 2013 at 2:28 am

Why does this post remind me of all the saas-bahu sagas on Hindi TV…..Guess everyone has problems when it comes to mother-in law and daughter inlaw relationships with the son stuck in between :)


Sharell शारेल February 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Maybe cos I’m sure all those saas bahu dramas inspire the behaviour of some mothers in law! They spend enough time watching them. ;-)


DD April 28, 2013 at 7:47 am

My mother in law lives in the US but in another state from where we live. She was very against my husband marrying “a white girl.” This is where the problem lies. We have been married for 2 years (together for 5 yrs) and she has grown a *little* more accepting of me. It doesn’t help that we live in different states and don’t get to see her often. This distance delays our relationship growth. I think the only reason she has become more accepting (yet still apprehensive) is because we now have a child together. This is her grandchild and she takes much pride in her. The most bothersome thing to me is that she is closer to her other daughter-in-law. She is Indian. She is “everything an Indian mother wants” for her Indian son, basically. I find myself a bit envious of their close relationship. But there’s not much I can do other than try to nurture our own mother in law and daughter in law relationship. I have come to the conclusion and acceptance, that I will never be that perfect Indian daughter in law. But I can be the best ME that I can. It is a work in progress with my mother in law. I have hope that it will get better with time.


MM July 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

Well this goes in circle. In indian culture arrange marriages are very popular.
Marriages are based on many things but compatibility. Divorce is sometimes not an option for women and when they choose to stay with their spouse irespective of emotional support, they rely on their children for any kind of emotional support they need. Since daughters are not expected to live with parents after marriage, sons are their only hope. When son gets married, MIL rely on son’s new family to fulfil her emotional needs. And there starts all the problems again. Men are usually taught from childhood that it is considered weakness to take side of wife over mother and they don’t do it for social reason and respect of their mother.


Gaurab January 17, 2014 at 4:14 am

I just felt amused with the observation, “Indian mothers have unfulfilled marriage lives that’s why they devote love and care to their sons”…that’s judgmental, and biased, If not stereo-typically racist. It would be like saying ” white women are marrying Indians in search of love and family because all of them have broken families or may be they don’t even know their families.

Though it not a retaliation but just a apt example. I think you should choose your words wisely and respect the relations and culture.


Sharell शारेल January 17, 2014 at 9:31 pm

And I think you should not only choose your words wisely but read my words wisely, and refrain from making such comments using inapt examples.

The post was discussing a particular issue only and what I wrote, relevant to that issue, was in fact “The mothers usually have unfulfilled relationships with their husbands. As a result, they direct all the love and care that would usually be in a marriage towards their sons. The sons have always seen their mothers as the most important person in their lives, nurturing them and taking care of all their needs. They continue to rely on their mothers, and don’t want to hurt them. In these circumstances, where there is such a well established bond, the new addition of a wife will always take second place.” What’s biased and racist about that? It’s common reality in regards to the issue being discussed.

Note, there is no mention of “all” in what I wrote. I said “usually” (meaning, it is not unusual). Meanwhile, you’ve created an example and applied it across the board using “all”. Take the “all” out of your example and it would actually be quite valid (not biased and judgmental) — white women are marrying Indian guys because many of them have broken families and are searching for love and family values. So what?


Gaurab January 25, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Hi, I don’t think we are discussing over the examples if you have read the comment then you may have noticed that I said ” It would be like saying” which means I’m not stating a fact but saying that it could be possibility. In fact in your comment you have validated the possibility.

The point is about understanding the fabric, I could give you hundreds of stories where elder brothers have taken the role of fathers and fulfilled and the responsibilities even marrying off their sisters. I give you stories where children are more attached to their “Bade papa and bade mummy” i.e. their father’s elder brother and mother because they are once who take of the children. My point is you should study the fabrics a little more and have more first hand experiences. Without proper understanding your post seemed that it’s from an outside prospective and hence biased. I said it could be racist as I didn’t know what exactly lead you to write those statements. Stay blessed :)


Sharell शारेल January 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

You seem to be overlooking the fact that the post was based on one particular issue that was raised — problems with overwhelming, interfering mothers in law. It goes on to examine the likely reasons for such an issue. Your hundreds of stories, while relevant to the greater fabric, are not relevant to this situation. My perspective has been drawn from eight years living in India and numerous discussions with people who are facing the issue. I have all the experience I need.

Perhaps you’d like to offer your perspective as to why the issue happens since you find mine unsatisfactory.


Sambhavna86 March 7, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Sharell, come on , where did you get this weird idea that mothers of sons have unfulfilled relationships with their husbands and so they direct all their love towards their sons.

Please don’t drag your Oedipus and electra complex into our relationships. You just sound like a western psychologist who said that in conservative societies, Oedipus complex gets transformed into filial piety.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, please change this narrow outlook towards love whereby love is measures in doses. A woman can love her husband (& so can the husband) deeply and yet love her son.
LOVE is like an ocean.

BTW, I can also say that Indian husbands have unfulfilled relationships with their wives and so direct all their love towards their daughters.

BUT I WON”T say THAT because a son or daughter is not akin to spouse.

PS I am not a parent.


Sharell शारेल March 8, 2014 at 3:51 am

Please do share with me your explanation for the troubling, overwhelming behaviour of the mothers in law referred to in my readers’ emails then. I’m open to hearing your alternative view as to why it commonly happens.


Sharell शारेल March 8, 2014 at 4:47 am

Here is an interesting article about it:

“However, whether dealing with son or daughter, the major difficulty experienced by the Indian mother is that she’s overly attached to her identity as a mother, and often-times has not developed any other facet of her identity during the course of her life. This makes her extremely vulnerable, for, when the possibility of actively ‘mothering’ her children is no longer available to her, she’s quite lost. Her husband, whose primary identity is not derived from his role as a father, can ‘let go’ of the married children, if and when he learns to delegate the ‘head of the family’ role, but she finds it hard to follow suit, particularly if she has nothing else to fall back on….However, if she puts in more energy and dynamism in developing other facets of her identity, not only will she become a more nurturing and less stifling parent, but she’ll be a happier and better-adjusted person. And she need no longer feel compelled to lay down the law. ”

This pretty much reinforces my point about skewed love towards children/sons being the issue. The relationship between husband/wife should remain the primary relationship in a family, not relationship between mother and children. Patriarchal society and joint family set ups often don’t support this to happen though.


Sambhavna86 March 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

@ Sharell

Oh really! joint families don’t allow the love between husbands and wives to flourish. You say that without having stayed in one.
So many emails here at the blog don’t represent the entire Indian populace.

Some of them might just be a few embittered souls narrating one side of the story and if this is how they perceive life, it is good for them and they are entitled to their opinions. Just don’t impose them on all.

Now, hear mine – I had several offers from high-paying NRI Indians for marriage – I would have jumped the opportunity of a distant nuclear set-up abroad but I plain rejected them.
BUt, I CHOSE a guy who lived with his family because I thought who would give me the love of a mother after marriage, not a nuclear set-up definitely. My own loving mother is a very well educated big city, modern woman with great fashion sense. My hubby’s mother is like my second mother and love her to death. Am I not a liberated, young, urban Indian woman?Am I now old?

Some people are now free to examine my ‘ulterior/shady?’ intentions if they want to label them that way, for the choice that I made. I won’t feel insulted. I love our joint family of only 6 (feel it is quite small actually now but will grow once the kids arrive on the scene)
My husband loves my parents dearly.
I have ample time to spend with my husband at home and outside. You know what – I cherish the time with my husband’s mother alone and with my husband included during many evenings and nights. I just love it.
Why would I dictate the Terms & conditions of his relationship with his mother? It is not my place to do that and I would in no way be a monster by trying to curb the love by husband has for his parents or vice versa. Why would I impose a curfew on his love and how can I do that?
Love is not territorial and it’s not about establishing barriers. It is not about laying down priorities. I haven’t yet learned that sort of love whereby I love as per those narrowly-set parameters by few.
Give me that list of priorities and it goes up for a toss.

This is how I have come to understand love because it is about sharing. I am not even doing a great favour on my husband by refusing to butt-in, I feel it is just so natural. I can’t take his mother’s place ever and his mother is not my emotional rival.
I don’t experience any pangs of irrational jealousy when a son spends time with his mother and gives her gifts at times. I actually celebrate and rejoice & revel in it. I can’t hog on love and relationships. I just can’t.

I know many modern women in my circle of acquaintance who feel the same way. It is just that they didn’t feel the need to comment here and they are very much a part of our society.

There’s a Question for you to ponder over – WESTERN society with its independent nuclear family system still has many women who crib and complain about their boyfriends’/husbands’ mothers.
Google and search for yourself. There are so many western counselling websites and forums where routinely western wives/girlfriends abuse and call their men’s families/mothers, names like Mama’s boy, spineless men, monster mothers, control-freaks- why do they indulge in such name-calling, the problem shouldn’t have arisen with the kind of family set-up in west. It still does.
Because many-at-times it could be plain jealousy that I find hard to defend. It all boils down to human nature.

If I am going to be green with envy just because my husband appreciates his mother’s cooking/her educational merits/ her mental acumen (she is damn great with mental arithmetic)/of her dress, then I am being very, very unreasonable.
My husband thanked his parents at an award function and I was so glad. My eyes welled up with tears as he did that. Now, am I going to take credit for all his upbringing and hard work that went into his life and for being what he is today just because I came along just an year ago as his wife? NO.

A western psychologist who was so convinced about the universal application of Freudian Oedipus-complex, unable to find evidences of the magnanimous Oedipus-complex in Chinese/Asian literature & human experience, desperately came up with a theory that in conservative societies, it gets transformed into filial piety and that filial piety is just one of the variations of Oedipus-complex.
I hope he was being serious.
There might be some Indians/Asians who can hold on to such a flawed view/’research’ but that doesn’t make any difference.

Please the proponents & propagators of ‘emotional incest’ theory, keep it to yourself.

I read an article wherein an American female professor in Beijing expressed her shock towards the close bonds between university kids-parents. She admitted that Chinese parents often accompanied their nearly adult kids to univesity city- Beijing for admissions and made all attempts to make the student comfortable (lodging, boarding etc.) in a new setting. She called it stifling but I call it an expression of beautiful love that not an outsider to those relationships could comprehend.
She was used to the tradition of American high-school kids compulsorily leaving their parents’ abode (or own home because in India our parents’ home is our home too) as they entered universities, fend for themselves even financially (parents refusing to help them or only partially) even waiting tables or parents demanding rent from their own kids as sign of fostering independence while I would be very shocked.
But Now, this calls for another discussion.


Sharell शारेल March 8, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Sigh. Thanks for the long winded description of your relationship with your mother in law. However, could you just assume that my readers are not embittered but have real issues, and provide your reasons for the mother in law problems faced by them. My readers were asking for advice, not for defense of the Indian populace. I have a great relationship with my mother in law, you have one with yours, but it doesn’t mean everyone does.


Sujani April 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Hi Sambhavna,

The joint family setup is perfect if everyone gave space to one another to grow and are very understanding of one another. Here you are one such and your mother-in-law is one such. You have escaped a jealous sister-in-law, scheming mother-in-law or an insecure co-sister(english word with south indian origin – it means the other daughter-in-law in the family). You are extremely lucky. Any one such character could have made life miserable for you. I have seen real life examples of each of those characters.
Enjoy your life. Also be understanding of people who have in-law problems! Namaste.


bluemirror February 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I think its fair to say that indian mothers play a big part in their children’s life ( sons and daughters ) even after their adulthood.

It stems from the ” mother-father-guru-god” concept (mother comes first, before god ), where mother is seen as one of the two ‘visible forms of god”. So most of us have no issues with our mother taking a big part in our daily adult life.

Ofcourse, DIL-MIL relationships can be a pain, but you cannot wish it away. YOu cannot wish your parents away. You just have to deal with it the best way you can, and it takes a bit of juggling to keep your feet in both the boats and still maintain balance.


Sarah February 16, 2014 at 5:11 am

I am married to a North Indian for almost 8 years. While our relationship with my family has been very easy with his family it has been very difficult. There are complicated issues due to his parents personalities, one of parent’s prior alcohol abuse, etc. However, being married for so long to an Indian I have watched other inlaws/dil interactions etc. In a North Indian family, the family relationship between mother, father, and son is expected to take precidence. To North Indian inlaws, it is often expected that even after marriage the son that the parents take precidence over the wife. For example, I was told at one point by my father-in-law, “you can divorce your spouse, but can not divorce your family.” Also, North Indian in-laws will often give their opinion and expect it to be followed from important matters down to amazingly trivial matters. Example, my mother in law insisting on what we should give a family member at a wedding, we did not comply and I let her know it was our decision as a couple. IT IS CRUCIAL IF YOU MARRY A NORTH INDIAN THAT YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND AGREE TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE.

Also, if you are an American female or a female in general, a North Indian man’s family will expect preference be given to the male’s family. In their culture, a daughter is a temporary member of the family until they find her a husband. My husband and I have not given preference to his side over mine, so that has caused some anger from his side.

Also, if you marry into a North Indian family, be prepared North Indians not only give their opinions about everything but no personal question is off-limits. Don’t be shocked. For instance, a relative of my husband’s asked me when my husband was not present if we did not have children yet because I was refusing to have a child yet or if I was having medical issues with getting pregnant. To North Indians born in India, there is no concept of privacy and no concept of rudeness. Don’t take it personally. If you were Indian you would still get the same questions.


Manny February 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm
Manny February 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm

The notion that a couple would marry for love was considered almost anti-social, even subversive; parents could disown their kids for doing it.

“The Greeks thought lovesickness was a type of insanity, a view that was adopted by medieval commentators in Europe. In the Middle Ages, the French defined love as a ‘derangement of the mind’ that could be cured by sexual intercourse, either with the loved one or with a different partner,” Coontz writes in her 2005 book, “Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage.”

Couples wed to make political alliances, to raise capital, to expand the workforce and for a whole array of practical purposes.

“Too much love was thought to be a real threat to the institution of marriage,” she said in an interview. “Earlier proponents of marriage were as horrified by the idea of a love match as late 20th-century people were by (the) idea of same-sex marriage.”

Physical attraction between two people has existed as long as marriage, explained Don Herrin, who teaches a course on family belief systems at the University of Utah, but how that is expressed — or controlled — varies from culture to culture. So does the relationship of parents to children.


sree February 28, 2014 at 4:04 am


is that a marriage you got going there or a karmic connection.

if it is the later good luck!

try to critisize less and let him be. a karmic connection can be
cyclic and never ending – forgive and forget. saves your future lives.


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