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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joint Family vs. Nuclear family: A refrehsing take

An assorted versions from a mail on the above mentioned topic.Names of the senders  removed: Only the matter is shared.

Yes, we must be grateful to the Almighty for blessing us with the best of both the worlds​! We enjoyed the old world traditional system,joint family life, healthy food, open spaces and time to enjoy our lives the way wanted, without hi-tech gadgets and material comforts. We lead a simple and natural life with the affection,care and advise of friends and relatives-in flesh and blood. The art of writing flourished and expression of feelings was never forbade. Of course, we lead a disciplined life without too much expectations and being happy with what we got. We were sincere in our relationships. I have friends from my college days and we meet once in 6 months and recount the good old days! Indeed, there were really good and materialistic.The present gen set lack emotional maturity and expect things to be dished out on demand! Respect for elders? yes, times and values change but the basic foundation has to remain the same.


Older men and women endlessly talk of the goodness of joint families... Well, here's a refreshing take why your sons and daughters prefer a nuclear family...
(The real-life story of the new daughter-in-law is long,I thought I should tell you about my experience.
Ours was not an arranged marriage, and my husband and I had a good idea of what both of us wanted in our lives. Though initially I was hesitant about moving with him into his parental home, I agreed after getting to know his parents. Also, by then I knew that this guy is someone who is going to stay by me no matter what happens.
I had absolutely no problems at my in-laws’ place. Though they are very traditional, they were open-minded about everything. No restriction in what I wore, whom I met, where I went… they didn’t even protestwhen I refused to wear a bindi or a mangalsutra or toe-rings. They were not comfortable with it, but they did n’t insist that I wear it. My parents-in-law managed the house… my MIL was in complete charge of the kitchen. I used to go out to work, and then come back and help MIL cut vegetables, knead the dough, grate coconut… you know, the assistant in the kitchen. Even if I had not done anything in the kitchen, I doubt they would have said anything to me, but of course, one cannot just sit around when someone else (anyone, not only MIL) is working.
But. The fact was that whatever it is, I felt like a guest. It is not that they made me feel like one, I just felt like a guest. I never felt like it was my own home. I always had the feeling that I was living in someone else’s home and so couldn’t be totally comfortable. I knew I was bringing this upon myself, but I guess some people are just that way. I wasn’t shy, but just uncomfortable. So my entire stay there, for almost three years, was like that of a guest.
Besides, there were little things like, in summer,  I would be itching to wear an itsy-bitsy t-shirt and just lie around, which I could n’t. And i am the kind who likes doing work only when the mood gets to me. So sometimes, during the weekends, when I would rather be lazing around, my MIL would start preparations for lunch, and I would feel terrible if I did n’t go help her. I would sometimes invite friends over, but we would end up going out for lunch or for a walk,because we could n’t talk freely inside the house. Little things like that, but when put into a context of living your own life, it was like I was always living an incomplete life.
I would come alive only in my room, behind closed doors – where it was my kingdom. The sheets I had chosen, the curtains of my choice, the music system that played the music I liked, my books in the bookcase, sprawled on the bed.
We moved out a few months after my daughter turned one. The move was due to a number of reasons (none of which was friction with the in-laws) and was initiated by my husband.
In a home of my own, it was an entirely new world.On one hand, I was swamped with work. Managing a whole house, cooking entire meals all the time (something I’d never done) looking after a small child… it was work, work and more work whereas in my in-laws’ house, it had been a bed of roses.
BUT. The freedom was unparalleled. I did what I wanted when I liked. I cooked varieties of food, and sometimes I didn’t cook at all. I wore what I liked whenever I felt like. I could bathe in the night if that was what i wanted. I could sit in the middle of the drawing room with my legs up. I could and did call lots of friends and their families over, and entertained a lot. Most of all, I felt like I was living my own life in my own
And most of all I discovered that my husband was very very different from what I thought. (some lovely surprises, a few nasty shocks.) It was in a sense, after three years of marriage and one child, that I actually discovered my husband (whom I had fallen in love with and married, remember.) And it was then, after moving into our own home, that we had terrible adjustment problems, but we worked around them, and we are now much closer and love each other even more.
We now visit my in-laws frequently (they live close to us) and my relationship with my MIL is much better now (not that it was bad in the first place) We are on an equal footing in my mind, and besides, all the minor irritations and annoyances that are inevitable when we live together with someone – they are not there any longer. My MIL and I are better friends now than we were when we lived together.

 As one writer said ( I think that he is a doctor from Coimbatore) we had attached family and detached bath room and toilet and now we have attached bathroom and  toilet with detached family.
I wholeheartedly agree with the lady who has written about her experience. I was just luckier because right from the day of marriage I got to live in a separate house. My in-law's live close by. Initially i used to miss the fun of being with people, especially as i was just out of my parental home. I used to visit my in-laws whenever time permitted. But with time, i started enjoying my space. It was when i stayed for a year and a half with in-laws after my m-i-l's demise (8 years after my marriage), that i really felt how lucky i was that i never had to stay with so many people! 
At the end of the day, we all need elbow space. It is freedom that we hanker after! Not only a d-i-l, but also the older gen needs its space. In 2 decades time, perhaps I'd bring home my daughter-in-law & i often wonder if i'd want her to make alternations to my way of living, my selection of upholstery or my way of doing things. I HATE intrusion in my space! 
My bro's wife lives with my parents and the whole family enjoys the setup, esp because my parents are friendly, jovial and respect her space. She's working & my mom has modified a few ajaram rituals to suit all. The fact is my s-i-l was from a joint family before marriage & she enjoys being with people even now. It ultimately boils down to individual personality traits. 
I'm reminded of my garndmom's proverb-AGALAE IRUNDU PAGALE KONDADATHHU.  

Sister, I can quite understand what you say. But then one thing I have to say is you are lucky and your husband is also lucky. And also your MIL. You are able to express your mind and you have told your truth. And your truth is accepted both by your MIL as well as your husband. And as your MIL and your husband are understanding persons, things are fine for you. And definitely you are also an understanding person. Definitely the reasons you have are valid to have a nuclear family whatever be the merits of the joint family the elders would say. And the nuclear family works for you because you honor the commitments for yourself and also you are prepared to take the responsibilities which come up in a nuclear family. You are really good because you are not viewing your MIL with suspicion and you are mature in this area. Are all new wives that way? If the wife views her MIL with suspicion and MIL believes the wife is taking her son away from her, (both are

false beliefs!) this type of beliefs are enough to create a disaster in the marriage. The husband will only be confused and would be confused by both the women and he could do nothing. What I learn is joint family or nuclear family will be successful based on the view points of people. Always the husband finds it an asset to have a woman who is mature, responsible and understanding to him and his family members.
Cheers and Good Luck to you in your married life and life as mother.


Living by ourselves is the best thing we can do for ourselves, for us to grow and love and live. I thought you might find that my story validates some of your views about living with parents, so I wanted to share it with you.

Hum Iyer parents of boys 'nahin suthrenge'? A recent case, I thought, worth recounting on mindsets of some Iyer parents root are still rooted in the olden days…

A relation of ours, a 22-year-old woman to an Iyer boy in February this year.  She, a Palakkadu Iyer, hails from a very poor background, has just studied up to 10th and is n’t employed.   The boy is a vadhyar/shastri, though a commerce graduate, living in a rickety, ramshackle , 1-room dwelling unit on the far outskirts of the city.  These days,as everyone knows only too well, even highly educated and well employed Iyer boys remain bachelors well into their late 30s or early 40s because the demands or expectation from the girls/their parents have reached the rarefied stratosphere.  And this is THE common thread in all the Brahmin fora.
 So, the economic status of the girl’s parents was the only reason why they chose a vadhyar boy for a son-in-law, even though the Kerala iyer parents don’t marry off their darling daughters into Tamil Nadu Iyer households in view of the past ‘experiences’ of several Kerala iyer parents and their daughters at the hands of the latter.Likewise the boy and his widowed mother should have – and they did initially – rejoiced at them being able to get a bride at all, whatever her economic status.  The arge number of relations of the girl chipped in and contributed substantial sums and conducted the wedding as good as any – even the high ‘sheer’ demand was met.
 However, the girl’s ordeal and harassment began almost from day 1: the widowed mother keeps accusing her of all kinds of errors of omissions and commissions and the guy, a typical mama’s boy, is in kahoot with her.  And the hapless girl is sent to her maternal home, already poor, for long periods.

Many Iyer parents of boys never seem to turn a new leaf...............

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