The relationship with inlaws is a very unique relationship, and can be very different for a woman with her inlaws and for a man with his inlaws. One begins to call a couple as mom, dad, or whatever, when one barely knows them. In India, it is even more queer because a man may have met his inlaws only a few times before marriage.
In India, the man treats his in-laws like he would treat his parents, but they will not treat him like his son. They wont call him by his name. They will call somebody 25-30 years younger with “aap” as a measure of respect !
When the son-in-law comes home, a tilak and an envelope seem to be an expression of love. And if that is not enough, a dinner spread that looks like a king’s feast is laid out.
I can scold my mom, but not my mom-in-law. I can make a joke at my parent’s expense but not my inlaws.
If I am travelling to my parents city, won’t think twice about staying with them, and nor will my friends notice it. But if I stay with my inlaws, friends will say, “in-laws ke saath raha ra ha!”. If my inlaws come to town, they may not be comfortable staying at my home. I know of the extreme cases where a mother-in-law won’t even drink water at the son-in-law’s house.
Such is the dichotomoy of this relationship. And now for a minute, put all of this into the shoes of a woman, and imagine her relationship with her inlaws. And to this, add the filter of the daughter-in-law staying with her inlaws !
My empathy with my wife suddenly shoots up !
Can’t we simplify this all ? Cant we just be friends and not give names to the relationships of son-in-law, mom-in-law, etc……Why can’t marriages come without inlaws at all? Can’t I marry a woman, and not her family ?