Indian culture, through ages has been well known for its culture and tradition. One of the characteristics of the Indian society is the Joint Family System, where all the members of the family stay together. This fosters interdependence and cooperation among the family members, unlike the western culture of a nuclear family.

Though the father in the family is the head of the family, the real power centre is the mother-in-law, who manages the household. With the new entrant into the family, she is the one who feels the most threatened. The biggest challenge for the daughter-in-law is dealing with the power centre as she would be succession once she becomes a mother-in-law herself.

The conflict begins with the difference in values and opinions as there are two different families now, both sharing the same roof. There is bound to be a clash of values and opinions as there is a generation gap. Over the ages, the typical Indian mother-in-law has always been portrayed to be the villain of the piece.

With rising educational levels among the modern day women, along with the behaviour of women’s mothers-in-law after marriage has led to an increase in the number of women preferring to separate from their husband’s family and develop their own nuclear families.

Most daughter-in-laws hold a common animosity against their mother-in-laws because of the abrupt change in behaviour that occurred after they were married. In India, after a couple marries, the daughter-in-law typically relocates to the husband’s home to live with his parents.


A mother-in-law who is too judgmental, self-righteous, and demanding is known as an overbearing mother-in-law.

Even if you’ve made an effort to create appropriate boundaries within the relationship to prevent conflict, she will do all in her power to make sure that she stays the focus of attention.

A recent study by an online portal providing matrimonial service indicates 65% of the women who are about to get married prefer to start nuclear families rather than stay with their in-laws.

Although dealing with this type of conduct can be challenging, building a solid relationship with your partner, and being patient in critical situations, can go a long way in managing the relationship with his mother also.

A controlling and domineering mother-in-law is someone who enjoys being in charge. She frequently makes everything about her; she’ll make sure you are fully aware of her desires and preferred methods.

Though it might be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to live up to her standards since she might think that she is the only one who can do things perfectly.

The only way out is to respect her feelings as she has been brought up like that and try your best to live up to her standards.

For me, this was one big challenge that I had to face when I married Mohan. Coming from a completely different culture and a different world, living up to my-mother-in-law’s standards was not an easy task, as she was a perfectionist by nature.

The good thing was that both of us were understanding towards certain flaws in our respective personalities and this made managing conflicts much easier in our relationship.


Not everyone has to do something the same way you do it just because you do it that way. Particularly for a young woman from a whole different culture and whole different environment.

She gets constantly harassed by the mother-in-law since her habits are different, which is frustrating. For me, the challenge was even bigger as I had a problem with the language.

Before I got married, though I had made it a point build up a certain level of communication between us, though I was not proficient in her language.

Although she was nagging at times, though I accepted the same as a part of her personality and developed a  positive attitude towards the same and made it a point to improve at every opportunity that I could get.


Once a man is old enough to make his own decisions and take care of himself, it is an indication that he is ready to get married and take responsibility for himself and his family. However, for his mother, he will always remain a child even if he gets married. It is the insecurity and the love for the son that is reflected in her behaviour even after marriage. She feels that the new person in her son’s life will not take care of him as she did.

My mother-in-law was always particular about my husband’s food habits and his wardrobe and the like. In fact, the knowing my husband’s habits when we were together in Paris before marriage, made it easier for me to manage my mother-in-law’s expectations as far as his habits were concerned.

Thankfully for me, she had made my life easier, by teaching me to cook his favourite dishes the way he likes them. This sense of security reassured her that he was in safe hands and that I will be able to take care of him in case she is not there.


Every mother’s world begins and ends with food. The kitchen is her world. Earlier it was the husband and now it is the son. However, the kitchen is a place to cook and leave. It’s not a gossip ground nor is it a battleground.

Some mothers-in-law don’t let the daughters-in-law cook even just to establish superiority. On the other hand, some assign very strict orders which need to be fulfilled.

Though for me, in the beginning winning the kitchen was a challenge, I did manage to overcome the same with the help of my other friend, my husband.

As far as what was being cooked was healthy and tasty, it did not matter. The only thing that I had to see was that it was supposed to be vegetarian in nature. In fact, my bonding with my mother-in-law’s started with the kitchen itself.

She was the one who taught me to cook vegetarian dishes that my husband liked. For me, on my part, I reinvented the western dishes in an Indian form.

My mother-in-law became such a big fan of home-made pizza and pasta that whenever guests were coming she used to serve them pizzas in order to impress them!! For once, she would never forget to mention that her foreigner “bahu” had prepared them all at home!!


All mothers are basically greedy by nature. It is an inbuilt natural mechanism in her system that she wants to see her grandchildren before she leaves the world. There is nothing wrong with that except for the fact that if it becomes an obsession, then it causes a big challenge for the daughter-in-law in case she is not able to conceive and become a mother herself.
Either she or her husband might not be psychologically prepared for a child. They many want to settle down in life first financially as bringing up a child is a drain on the finances. Having a child is supposed to be a planned goal and a decision to be taken by the couple in a sensible manner and not at the spur of the moment.

For me, the dilemma was that I was torn between the love for my husband and my mother-in-law’s wish for expanding the family.

Though I and Mohan desired a child, I also had to consider the fact that we had a financial burden for my mother-in-law’s health expenses as she was not keeping too well. With a single income this was not possible.

Though I had my share of the savings that I had made through the part time job that I used to do in Paris, most of it was spent on my travel plans and my wedding.

With great difficulty, I had made two friends, my husband and mother-in-law and I had to confide in both of them before taking this decision that would impact the rest of my life and their life also.



For any mother, insecurity about her son has always been a challenge and will continue to be so. After marriage, the daughter-in-law is blamed by her mother-in-law for kidnapping her son and brain washing him against his mother.

Acting as a victim whose son has been kidnapped, only creates problems and disturbs the harmony of an otherwise happy family. Change is nature’s phenomenon and that is why it is said that everything is temporary in life except change. Change is the only thing that is permanent.

For me, the biggest change was adopting a new lifestyle and new culture. Thankfully, willingly accepting the change and the challenges that came with it, helped me become a mentally strong person to take on bigger challenges later on in life.

Life is all about compromises and sacrifices rather than the self and the ego. Any relationship takes time to grow and has to be nurtured appropriately rather than taking the other for granted. Particularly, in the case of a relationship with a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, it is always the daughter-in-law who has to make most of the adjustments as she is the bridge between the husband and his mother and has to be more understanding and diplomatic as she would be the biggest loser if she was to take sides.