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Family Ties After Marriage

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Family Ties After MarriageIt may seem strange, but you only have to get married to develop feelings of loyalty towards your own family! You know how it is – you have a dominating father whom you just can’t wait to escape from, or a selfish sibling whom you detest having to share a room with. Just get married and notice your attitude changing – especially when your spouse begins to criticize either of these family members. Your hackles rise, you become defensive, and start pointing out how good your family really is.

“Battle lines are really very clearly drawn about our respective families,” says Shilpa, discussing her relationship with husband Hemant. “He claims that even my tone of voice changes as soon as we enter the street where my parents live. He tells the kids, ‘See, Mummy’s talking in her Matunga voice!’ because that’s the area where my parents lived when we first got married. He’s forever cribbing that I tolerate any amount of nonsense from my own mother, and get unnecessarily hassled about similar stuff from his mother. Half the arguments we have are about how to relate to our own and each other’s families!”

Shilpa may have an important point. Being sensitive to issues around our love and loyalty for our own family, and our partners’ need to bond with theirs, is vital for married happiness. Moreover, in the present scenario of stressed-out urban living, can we really afford to do away with the phenomenal support structure that Indian families offer to married partners? At the trying moments of childbirth and illness, when relocation happens due to work or other constraints, when it becomes difficult or impossible for a couple to carry on, on their own, who can they turn to except for their family?

“I’ve never been much for keeping in touch with my family,” says Sailesh, who has been married three years. “Even when I was in hostel, in engineering college, I would hardly write home much, even spent vacations trekking with my friends rather than come home. My parents are not the demonstrative kind, and my sister is nine years older than me. But somehow, after I got married, I began to feel a need to keep in touch more – not only with my own family, but also my wife’s – her parents live in the same city as my own parents. Since our son was born, I am even more determined to keep family ties alive. I want to take him home on important days like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali, so he can get a taste of real family life, develop respect for elders.” It looks as if Sailesh is succumbing to the natural bonding which comes when family members have been with you during important moments, and you realize their place in your life. That is why his parents and in-laws have become even more dear after the birth of his son.

Possessive parents, indifferent in-laws can prove to be a bane in marriage, but wise and affectionate elders, and siblings who offer real and immediate help in crises are precious beyond compare. “I could never have made it after my appendicitis operation if it hadn’t been for my sister-in-law spending days by my side for several weeks,” recalls Shilpa. “She would send her own kids off to school and come over to help me with housework and looking after my eight-month old daughter. I can’t forget her loyalty. That’s why, whatever Hemant may say, I do feel real love and affection for her. Which is more than he feels for my brother!”

It looks as if the subject of family can ensure a lively debate in most marriages for many more years to come: a clear indication as to how central the family really is to the Indian marriage.

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