“Did you realize that when you married your Prince or Princess Charming, you inherited the king, the queen and the whole court?” The Complete Marriage Book aptly conveys a message about what marriage really means. Quintessentially while planning a wedding, the melodrama and elation prevails over our minds to such an extent that we simply dismiss the basic reality that eagerly awaits the newlywed couple. It very much exists in their subconscious minds but is hushed by the tumultuous hustle of designing a memorable, or rather, the perfect wedding. Consequently the upbeat and convivial ambiance suddenly paves its way through to land the bride and her in-laws in an initial perplexing assessment of each other coinciding with adjustments.
Shedding light on the ground rules for a South Asian family, we notice that marriage holds a significant aspect in the community. Moreover it is considered an extended merging of a relationship going beyond just the couple and stretching out further to the families. But who are these individuals that come under the ambit of this initial awkward space? Need not to say – the bride and her in-laws. No matter how much we ignore the reality, it absolutely concludes to an early adjustment on both sides.
A key factor in the matter is dealing with the clashing of Eastern and Western beliefs. It might be feasible that the newlywed couple adheres to the Eastern cultural demands and assumes their presumptive roles so that conferring a shared meaning or interpretation of the marriage rules is not necessary. Indeed, this may be the case, however the in-laws should comprehend that the second-generation South Asian community living within a Western context, is constantly dealing with a myriad of social and economic changes that strongly differs from the conventional values and thus modifies ways of achieving traditional marriage ideals.
So what can be done to transcend a harmonious atmosphere on the two sides without bringing ripples in the newly established relationship?
Recent studies have coined the term ‘second-generation South Asian women’ that depicts the somewhat differentiating ideologies between a generation that immigrated from extended families to the upbringing in an environment, where nuclear families are the trend to follow. Therefore, whilst addressing the arising conventional expectations, the bride strongly needs to hold on to patience. Don’t expect to be in sync with your in-laws promptly. A recent study in the after-effects of marriage states that a bride’s initial manner of conduct and body language implying her tone; selection of words in irksome situations; and addressing needs of members in the family, are important contributing factors towards how her in-laws would treat and respond to matters concerning the bride.
Another important factor mentioned earlier is the silent collision of Eastern and Western beliefs. Neither side is to be blamed and similarly neither side should be asked to compromise. Experts in the field believe that many a times disagreement to succumb to the each other’s belief tends to create a rift in the relationship, which has the potential to stretch out in the long run.
A newlywed bride spoke on conditions of anonymity explaining how her mother-in-law wanted her nose pierced as part of a traditional ceremony. The bride’s refusal surfaced disharmony amongst the in-laws and the bride, which was hard to erase for a few months. She explains she was calm in her conduct and portrayed her best side to her in-laws so they would take into account an unseen and positive side of her. She says if you fail to please them at some point, do your best to present an agreeable aspect that might persuade them.
In the case of in-laws, we know they indeed welcome the new addition to their family with tremendous expectations and hope. Though often, in-laws would want the bride to take charge of duties and responsibilities immediately. A reality check into the subject suggests that this supposition tends to put in-laws in the bad
picture. Surely, there is no harm in the move, as it directly implies you want the bride to be a vital part of the family, nevertheless, the proposition should come gradually. In fact this could be observed as an opportunity for in-laws to strengthen their ties with the bride by interacting more. In other words, in-laws can work together with the bride to communicate the long standing ground rules of the family.
A study in marriage advice asserts the importance of setting boundaries in the relationship. So the in-laws can define ‘what is acceptable’ and ‘what is not acceptable’ in a healthy manner. We know families have certain traditional values, which they pursue to pass on to the younger generation, but even that should be done progressively with assistance so the bride does not feel overwhelmed or alienated.
Overall, the in-laws should lead by letting go, and the bride should choose respect. Truth is disagreements will arise at various stages but there should always be scope to bridge the gap and have an open platform for communication, in which ego and pride is put aside. There are ethical and moral issues that need to be considered, in addition to more research being needed and conducted to push experimental phase III treatments into clinical settings, but regardless, the future is promising. These truly are exciting times.