Keeping it in the family
Living in a joint family may be an important factor that women consider while evaluating potential partners, according to a recent survey. Relationship experts explain the pros and cons of living in such a family system
Stories of fights between in-laws and newly married women are so widespread in our society and in soap operas that it has become more or less a stereotype that a woman will never get along with her in-laws or vice versa. But it seems such stories may affect what people look for in their potential partners. According to a recent survey by marriage portal, shaadi. com, nearly 36% of the 6,800 women, who were polled, said they would ask their potential husbands if they would continue to live in a joint family or move out to form a nuclear one.
The results of the survey leads one to ask why would someone be so cautious as far as staying with a partner’s family. According to clinical psychologist, Tanushree Bhargava, one of the reasons could be a fear of restrictions. “Living in a joint family setup can lead to interference by the in-laws or other family members in a woman’s life. This means facing a lot of limitations. In joint families, there is less freedom for a woman,” she says. She adds that women are independent, make their own choices and prefer living on their own terms, which they may not be able to do freely in a joint family.
Bhargava says that another reason could be the fact that in many Indian families, women are not treated the same way as men, and there is always a fear that this could happen in their husband’s house as well. She says, “The trend of women being cautious as far as their partner’s family members are concerned will continue until our society changes its behaviour towards women.”
Relationship counsellor Vishnu Modi says, “Many men are used to staying with their families. So, even after marriage, they want to continue with the arrangement. They don’t realise that their decision to stay with their family members can inconvenience their wife. Men should realise that even they would feel inconvenienced if they were asked to stay with their wife’s family members. Marriage is a two-way ticket, and both partners need to think about what’s good for each other.”
However, it may not be just comfort and familiarity that holds men from moving out. There may be important problems — inadequate finances, for example — that may make a man not want to move out after marriage. Modi says that in such cases, it’s up to both people to make sure that things don’t take an ugly turn. “First, a man should make sure that he helps build bridges between his wife and his family members post a marriage. In fact, this applies to both the partners irrespective of whether a woman lives in a joint or nuclear family. Compromise from both partners is the key here,” he says.
Finally, one should also realise that staying in a joint family may be a good deal for everyone concerned. Bhargava says, “By staying in a joint family, you will learn to adjust and be patient. Even when you are at work, you can be assured that your children are in safe hands. And your kids will always have company and won’t feel the need to be with their parents all the time.”