Love, Life Stories

Does it make me a bad person if I never want to live with Desi in-laws?

I was raised to be my own person. It would just be a shame to get married and finally get to move out, only to have to move in with my in-laws.

I’m single. I plan on being single for a very long time. But eventually, I would like to get married and settle down.

What I’m not so keen on is the possibility of having to live with in-laws. In the Indian culture there is an expectation that once you’re married, you’ll have to move in with your in-laws.

Moreover, in Indian society, it is unheard of to move out of your parent’s home unless you are getting married. Basically, the system still works on the patriarchal idea that you are your parents’ responsibility until you are your husband’s responsibility.

I’ve heard both married and unmarried woman discuss this topic with sensitivity. The general opinion is that if the husband doesn’t want to leave his parents then that sucks for the wife, but if he is willing to move out, then lucky you!

As if it is his choice alone.

I mean, if we have to leave our families and houses, I don’t think it is too much to expect the men to do the same.

Honestly, living with in-laws would be a deal breaker for me. To put it simply, as an introvert I would feel suffocated by having to live with others. I require lots of quiet and time spent alone in order to be a functioning adult. It would be exhausting.

I was brought up with a lot of freedom.

Yes, my parents are Indian and a lot of the Indian culture and ideology was thrust upon us from a young age. But my parents also lived in Brazil for a while where the culture is a lot more laid back. So they bought us up with that in mind, too.

My parents never told me what to wear, what to study or what to do. My siblings and I were brought up to be pretty independent. Our household is not male-run, so I have automatically been taught to challenge the stereotypes that come with Indian families. Although I help out in the house, I’ve never been obligated to do the house chores. My brother and dad pitch in pretty evenly with the cooking and cleaning.

I have not been restricted from doing the things I want in life.

My mum married my dad in order to leave the country. She wanted to get away from India and see the world. So she has raised me to become more than just a wife or someone’s daughter in law. She has raised me to become my own person.  I’m not sure if they intended to or not, but my parents ended up with a pretty stubborn and self-sufficient daughter.

I have this intense dislike of being told what to do, in any form.

Even if I ended up with in-laws that didn’t expect anything of me, every family does things differently, and I would have to adjust and compromise. I know I’ll have to do this when I get married regardless of living situations, but I think it would be easier if I had my own place to go home to. I can’t expect every family to be as supportive and relaxed as mine is. It would just be a shame to get married and finally get to move out only to have to move in with my in-laws.

Don’t get me wrong, family is very important to me and I would never abandon anyone. I look forward to having in-laws and getting to become part of another family. I understand that we owe so much to the people who raised us and that they should always be involved in our life. I’d be happy to visit every day and build strong relationships.

But in my opinion, this is best done with space. It is an adjustment to have someone new in the family. If you are in each other’s face all the time, disagreements are bound to happen. I know myself and I know if I was forced to live with others I would probably grow resentful.

When I tell people this, they usually think the worst of me. I think the words “selfish” and “disrespectful” cross their minds.

But I know that these are opinions that many Indian women have had, but never felt like it was appropriate to share.

I’m not a bad person for being willing to admit this out loud. I look forward to a time where I can have my own space to grow and explore life with someone. I know what I want out of life and I’m not willing to pretend to be happy with something when I’m not.

Life is too short to spend being polite, only to end up miserable.