This is Neha’s story. She loved beginning her day with a cup of green tea, then going to gym and then cleaning her room, even as favourite music wafted through her room. This was the most important ritual of her day, her personal way to commune with herself and get inspired for the day ahead. And then Neha got married. Theirs was an arranged match. Her parents had explored many proposals before settling for this one. Neha was 26 years old when she got married. Her husband, Vikram was the eldest son and his mother, father and younger unmarried sister lived with him. After the honeymoon, as most brides would probably do, Neha plunged her heart and soul into looking after the house. She was an excellent homemaker and a fabulous cook. And she wanted to please her new family at any cost. She rose early every morning, dressed up prettily and started with getting tea ready for everyone. She redecorated the house, cooked sumptuous dishes for the family, took over the domestic accounts, supervised the part-time helps, and tried to become a friend and confidante to her sister-in-law. She served everything anyone wanted at any time. And with a smile. Of course, Neha had to give up her favourite morning ritual of work-out and music. She could no longer listen to favourite music on the CD player, because it disturbed her in-law’s sleep. To start with, she thought it was a small sacrifice she had made. After all, isn’t marriage all about adjustments? Or is it?. TRYING TO BE WHAT YOU’RE NOT. Neha’s patience soon began cracking as she realised she was being taken for granted. If she didn’t dress up in the morning, her mother-in-law was displeased. If there was nothing good to eat for dinner, her husband was displeased. She had no time for herself. Neither for her music, nor for her occasional shopping trips, nor for catching up with her favourite magazines or friends. Someone or the other in the family wanted her all the time. If not for stitching a missing button, then for making a phone call to the doctor. It went on and on. But didn’t she ask for it? Neha felt her moods going out of hand. She felt the frequent urge to scream. She could no longer put with being Ms Nice all the time. She had fallen into the trap that many girls do. Trying to please others by being what you’re not. MS. NICE AT WHAT COST? Trying to be good personified comes with a heavy price. True, in Indian families, you are considered “selfish” if you attempt to protect your space. Many women fall into the Ms Nice trap because being “not nice” is threatening. But what women need to realise is that while it is okay to want to please a new family, it must be done only by continuing to be yourself. Being at your best behaviour takes a toll very soon, and you lose the right to say no, even when you want to. Result? It is the beginning of a loss of control over your life. Because you allow other people to exploit you continually, the resentment builds up and sometimes after months or years of the Ms. Nice routine, you could end up with an emotional outburst. BEING YOURSELF Here are a few tips to help you protect your boundaries in a new family after marriage.
- Recognise what your personal likes and dislikes are and stand up for them.
- Don’t make ‘sacrifices’ in the name of adjustment unless you are sure you want to give up something.
- Do what you would normally do, dress the way you usually do, eat what you like and say no when someone is overriding your space. Say it softly but say it.
- If you don’t want others to peep into your cupboards or rearrange things for you, make sure you don’t do any of these to them. Resist the temptation of rearranging jars and bottles in the kitchen the way you would like it.
Avoid taking control. Or being responsible for everyone’s comfort. A controlling person often ends up becoming the most controlled person in the end. If you draw the lines at the beginning it will be easier. Be yourself first and Ms Nice after that…..
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