Tips on how to say ‘no’ if you are a gentle person living in an overwhelming family

Like most other Indian brides, the first time I saw my husband’s house was on the day of our wedding. A whole bunch of people visit the girl’s house for 'checking out the bride' ceremony but the girl doesn’t get to check out the house she’s going to spend the rest of her life in. Sure it might be a tradition, but totally unfair to the girl! The little I heard about this interesting house had created a lot of curiosity and apprehension in my mind. This mighty ancestral home, internally separated into three sections, was home to three families. Three second cousins live here under one roof along with their families. It all seemed like some fairytale. With much fun, comes much more trouble. The day when you are married into any family, you are expected to customize yourself to suit the new family’s requirements. What you wear, what you say, how you sit – everything gets scrutinized. If there are arguments happening to which you strongly disagree, you’ve got to keep quiet. But for the smallest of things, you will get diverse opinions and suggestions for free. You need to satisfy all of these whims and fancies to be able to just live in peace. Why can’t I just say NO?  A ‘NO’, comes with a lot of repercussions.

Fear of Acceptance- Husbands come in a comprehensive package, say, like a sadya ( Malayalam for an all-encompassing feast). Along with rice, you know you need the side dishes too. To be sidelined or isolated in a family is not something you want to imagine.

You don’t want that TV soap in your life - When I am accused of inappropriate clothing, I often want to tell off that annoying aunty by saying when she does her household chores, her saree reveals more than it should and my tee and shorts are decent home-wear. However, if I go with my instinct, I will need to face the aftermath of that punch dialogue. If you are a gentle person who doesn’t want to invite turmoil in your daily life, denial may not be the ideal option.

If your partner is a submissive person- I have a sweet husband who can take it all, but never says anything that could hurt someone. My mom-in-law is of a similar character too. If your loved ones are of such traits, every aggressive step you take weighs heavy on them and slowly, you tend to refrain from reacting. cool-cartoon-7021646daddddd

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Ever since the new girl came into the house- This sentence rarely ends on a good note. Going against the norm is going to be pricey. The gossip will go viral and you become the talk of the town. Ideal bahu may not be your forte, but none of us wants to be the villain.   But if all of this is going to pin me down and make me a suppressed and downtrodden soul, weeping to glory with a melodramatic background score, it does not make any sense. So I got to make peace with the situation. How?

Understanding the generation gap – If you think about it, it’s nobody’s fault. Your elders were taught that it’s their duty to discipline the new entrants to the family. The uncle who burdens you with the never-ending list of do’s and don’ts would be doing the same to his daughter. You would have heard the same thing from your dad too, but it didn’t hurt then. It is all about understanding the generation gap and knowing it’s your kith and kin. You’ve got to learn to co-exist.

Choose to be the wiser one – You need not necessarily be the elder one, but you become the bigger person when you choose to let go and think beyond. We all remember the bad things. So, even if we can’t forget, try to forgive. Take pride in practicing forgiveness, it takes a strong human to do so. Your negativity is only going to harm your own good self.

Some people do not matter- At times, you may have to act like you are hearing; at times listen, and at times you have to follow. In one ear and out the other is a harmless policy. You are not being disrespectful in any case. Not everything and everyone matters. They say life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it. We may not have the luxury of ideal circumstances every day, but to make it a good day or bad day is mostly in our own hands.  

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