Sasural: Bliss Or Misery?

Sasural or Susraal is a Hindi/Urdu word which means, in-laws’ house.  It has been our custom and tradition in India and Pakistan that married women live in their in-laws’ house, usually in a joint family system.  Under one roof, there will be separate rooms for each couple and their children, but with a common kitchen, dining area and living room.  Parents, their unmarried daughters, their sons, their sons’ wives, and their children, all live together.  For a married woman, sasural is her home.

Horror Stories

Sasural is, however, also famous for inflicting emotional and/or physical torture to the women who go and live there.  Some say women are oppressed by their in-laws and treated as maids.  There are also horrible broken homestories of young brides being burned to death for not bringing in enough dowry or for not being able to give birth to a son.

And it is due to stories like these that parents are often anxious of their daughter’s plight in her sasural.  They frequently call to keep check.  They discreetly ask their daughter if she’s being treated well.  In Pakistan, brides demanding that they be provided a separate home is getting quite common.  This demand is fueled by their parents, who believe that their daughter will be well off in a separate home with her husband minus, the in-laws.

My Sasural

When I got married, I came home to my husband, mother-in-law, and a brother-in-law, who’s still single.  My father-in-law passed away a decade ago and I don’t have any sister-in-laws.  It wasn’t easy.  I felt like a guest for a few months, despite the fact that my in-laws made sure that I was comfortable and well-taken care of.  A few weeks into the marriage, I broke down and cried so badly that Masood panicked.  He dashed out of our room and called in his mother.  My sweet mother-in-law hugged and wiped away my tears.  It felt so comforting, and I knew I was definitely home.

My parents have always encouraged me to respect my in-laws.  My aunt (father’s younger sister) told me to ask my mother-in-law’s advice, even for small things, because this will make her feel that she’s an important part of the family.  After all, she’s also adjusting to me – a woman who is now a major part of her son’s life.

Unsolicited Advice From Aunties

Within 24 hours of my marriage, a distant Aunt wanted to know whether my mother-in-law asked me several questions.  “Don’t tell her more than what she asks,”  she told me discreetly.big_mouth

“Is she treating you well?  Don’t let yourself be oppressed.”

“Make sure Masood spends money on you too.”

“Does Masood give all his salary to his mother?  I’m telling you, never allow that to happen.”

“Don’t do all the housework yourself.  Your in-laws’ will get used to it.”

“Make sure you take charge of the house.  Make your presence strong, because when your brother-in-law gets married, his bride might take your position in the house.  You came first, so you should rule.”

A Miserable Sasural

Some of the horror stories related to sasural may be true, but that doesn’t mean that all in-laws are evil beings.  Similarly, not all married women are genuinely caring and respectful of their in-laws.  I have seen women who have nothing good to say about their in-laws.  These are the women who don’t want to live in a joint family system and feel that their in-laws are a burden.  For women like these, sasural will always mean misery.

On the other hand, if a married woman opens up her heart and accepts her sasural as her own family, life is more stress-free.  Her own family plays a vital role on how they groom her into respecting and loving her in-laws.  If parents scare their daughter, how can they expect her to adjust in her new home?

A Blissful Sasural

There is absolutely no competition between a woman and her mother in law.  In laws can never replace the love you have for your own parents, but they certainly do deserve to be respected and treated well.  Love your home-sweet-home-mother-in-law out of kindness of your heart and also for the sake of Allah. If you take time out to sit and chat with your mother in law, you’ll realize that there’s only love in her heart for you.  Just don’t create a scenario wherein she feels threatened of losing her son completely to you.  After all, she has given birth to and raised up this man who is now your husband.  And don’t make your husband chose between you and his family – you wouldn’t want him to do this to you either.

Tips

Sasural is your home and the people living in it your family.  If you have nothing good to say about them, keep quiet.

Do not run to your parents crying over small arguments and misunderstandings.  They do not know the entire story and might not be able to give you a sound advice.  After all, they have heard only your version of the story.

Talk to your husband first and, as much as possible, settle matters with him in private.  Do not say bad and/or hurting words about his family.

Be gentle and caring towards your in-laws for Allah’s sake, that He may reward you for your good deeds.

Be generous with kind and affectionate words.

Your in-laws aren’t perfect, just like yourself.

 

 

 

 

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28 Responses to Sasural: Bliss Or Misery?

  1. masood says:

    Ohho, you’ve learned a lot in these two wonderful years of marriage. It all depends on how optimistic a person thinks and behave in that way. Truly needed a perfect guidance from Allah Subhanawata’la and also from parents attitude. Beware from pessimistic persons, that’s what I can say.

    Thanks for making my home a Sweet and Peaceful place to live in 🙂

  2. nadia says:

    Oh yes, I am so done with the unsolicited advice from these aunties! I’ve had enough.

    Thanks for your comment, Jaan. You’re simply the sweetest person I’ve ever known, MashAllah.

    Allah humarey rishtey ko buri nazar se bachaaye, Ameen.

  3. misspecs says:

    MashaAllah, you two have such a great relationship with each other and your respective in-laws. No doubt, it takes sacrifices on part of both parties to keep things running smoothly… thanks for sharing your experiences and giving great advice, Nadia!

  4. nadia says:

    Yes, Specy, it ain’t easy for the first few months. It does take sometime before a girl finally settles in her susraal. And it is during this adjustment phase that she needs all the support and encouragement from her own family.

  5. Pingback: Sasural: Bliss Or Misery? | Tea Break

  6. Serene says:

    I like this article, so for mother-in-law in your language is Sasural. Is this a Pakistani or Indian term? Im learning a lot every time I read your blog. Your culture is very rich! Also having a son in your culture is very important, that is so amazing. For me they are both just equal, as long I have my baby I will consider them as a blessing. How about you, in your own perspective do you preferred having a son or a daughter? Sorry for the question, Im just curious how they vary in every culture. What is the reason behind? I think this is a nice topic for your next blog, what do you think?

    Thanks for the tips! I will surely take note of this…

  7. nadia says:

    Serene,

    Sasural basically means the house of the in-laws, but strongly pertains to the mother-in-law in particular.

    It is used in both Hindi and Urdu languages.

    In our culture, having a son is important because one, they carry on the family name, and two, they are the breadwinners. Daughters, on the other hand, are considered as a financial burden because of the hefty dowry that the parents are supposed to give during the wedding.

    Like yourself, my husband and I really don’t care whether it’s going to be a boy or a girl for us. Although Masood has often mentioned how he would love to have a daughter 🙂

  8. Ordinary Girl says:

    I think things go wrong where the both families (and both husband/wife) start off this new relationship as if they are entering a war. Starting off with accepting each other would save both parties from lots of clashes.

  9. nadia says:

    Unfortunately, most families still enter this new relationship with “conflicts” in mind. The bride receives so much of these unwanted advice from people who aren’t really happy with their lives.

    You are going to start a new life too soon, InshaAllah. May Allah make the transition into your new home, new life, new relationships, and new responsibilities easy and comfortable, Ameen.

  10. Abdullah says:

    I came across your blog and I liked it. I’m a Somali by ethnicity and we don’t have atavistic susraal like yours but we have something of the sort, or near it. It has no name but the expectations are of the same somehow, though I believe we are lesser burdened than your culture. Honestly, I don’t see why Mothers-in-Laws should care much about what their daughters-in-laws want. We should give the married girls the leeway to perform on their own terms with the men they fell in love with, otherwise tears will flow and pain will replace the beauty of marriage. I have never been to Pak and India, but I’m aware of their strict culture. I will say we are very cultural like them, but somehow less demanding. I’m sure you have seen some Somalis though who are both cultural and liberal. I prefer the middle ground. Having the culture and refining it with Islam and its beauty and replacing the rough edges of it. Otherwise, I wish you well and Happy Marriage and many good children. Ameen

    ~ Ameen to your dua, and jazackAllah khair for your kind thoughts. Given the joint family system, the burden is definitely there – responsibilities, finances, sharing the home, unsolicited advice, and so forth. However, I have noticed that the trend has also changed these days, specially with women getting higher education and being exposed to the professional world. The mother-in-laws aren’t so demanding and attention seeking anymore, most probably because they are so busy themselves. We do have the leeway to live life our own way and on our own terms with our husbands, but main thing is respect for our in-laws. We make sure we don’t “own” our husbands to ourselves, specially when a couple is staying in susraal.

    Having brought up in a joint family and now alone with my husband, because my mother-in-law went back to India, I feel so alone. Women generally crave for this liberty – of having the house entirely to themselves and having their own way in everything. But I don’t. I miss my mother-in-law so badly. I miss her whipping up a delicious supper, greeting us when we arrive from home, worrying about our health, and giving us dua all the time. I miss having a parent.

  11. Fa says:

    i loved reading this post. Jazakallah Khair sis nadia for the great tips..

    ~ I’m glad you stopped by, sis 🙂

  12. Nisa AK says:

    thats some sound advice Nadia. It takes 2 to tango, both in-laws should enter their new relationship with an open mind. Alhamdulillah, my parents too have neva fed me horror stories abt in laws and thanks to my wonderful bhabis, when i entered my sasural i followed the examples set by them when they came into my parents’ home as daughter-in-laws. So far so gud 😉

    ~ That’s one of the benefits of living in a joint family system, you get so much support and opportunities to learn. One day, you’ll be a mother-in-law yourself, and you’ll be a great one, InshaAllah 🙂

  13. Mohammed Mushtaq says:

    Really Great post, Bhabi. I am really flattered by your post and comments. 😉 I pray that may Allah always keep our hearts clean with out a single space for hatred, Aameen .

    ~ Summa Ameen. My sweet brother, thank you for your kind comment and dua. I truly admire Ammi for raising up two such wonderful men, MashaAllah. Get well soon 🙂

  14. mubi says:

    🙂

    Thanks for that lovely smile, Mubi 🙂

  15. Niyaz says:

    Lucky i dont have sister ,otherwise need to face so many probs Also hve to give advice n all ,aftr they entered into inlaws house,,,,,
    I love to be in joint family..inshAllah d gal who coming to our house wont face any difficulties !!! My parents are always sweet & hope its same for my future wife too 🙂

    Gud post sis , i liked a lot….

    ~ Actually, you are unlucky to not have any sisters, hehe. Girls are the ones who breathe life into the homes by their laughter, tears and noise 😀

  16. Sabiha says:

    Hehe that definitely would not work here in the states, I am glad that you have found comfort and happiness in it.

    ~ That’s what they call, “cultural differences” 🙂

  17. Ab says:

    Good post. The following was so good to read (although some might say I sound feminine :$ )

    “I broke down and cried so badly that Masood panicked….My sweet mother-in-law hugged and wiped away my tears. It felt so comforting, and I knew I was definitely home.”

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Aww, thanks, Abid bhai 🙂 No, I don’t think you sounded feminine at all. It just goes to show that you are a normal human being capable of feeling emotions.

  18. Niyaz says:

    hareyy guys can also bring noise & laughter !!
    But i hve to accept the truth that we are unlucky 😦

  19. Majid says:

    awesome job Nadia, thats the way to live a life, Iam also lucky that my wife has similar traits and thoughts like u mashallah.I love your blog, compared to other pakistani bloggers they are so westernized and do not represent pakistani culture, confused, immature etc.


    ~ Thank you, Majid. I’m flattered that you like my blog, although I must say that there are a lot of brillliant Pakistani bloggers out there. You’ll know when you come accross them yourself 🙂

    And do extend my salaam to your lovely wife 🙂

  20. Majid says:

    awesome blog

    ~ Aap ka boht boht shukriya, Majid bhai 🙂

  21. Ab says:

    “~ Aww, thanks, Abid bhai 🙂 No, I don’t think you sounded feminine at all. It just goes to show that you are a normal human being capable of feeling emotions.”

    Please don’t call me bhai – you are probably 1.5 times my age, if I had to guess (I’m only 20).

  22. nadia says:

    For me, calling someone “bhai” is purely out of respect for that person, as long as the age difference is > or < 15 years my age. Boys younger than that will be called “beta” and older will be called “uncle” or “dada ji”, depending on their, umm, seniority 🙂

  23. Aqeel says:

    Not all the women think as you do. You are, no doubt, a very kindhearted and very well mannered girl and I believe Masood is extremely lucky person to have you and I believe he must have respected and looked after his mother very well after the sad demise of his father that he is blessed with such a nice girl. May God keep you both happy and bless your sweet home with everything. Keep respecting your mother in law like that. Dont take her as your “mother in law”, take her as your own mother. God bless both of you.

    ~ Ameen to your dua. Yes, Masood has indeed faced severe hardships after his father passed away. And these struggles have in turn molded him into the wonderful man that he is today. Also, I think the biggest factor is that both Masood and his brother have been brought up with fear of Allah in their hearts.

  24. umblah says:

    I think some of the concepts you mention in your post are really sort of very much based in your culture.

    for instance, i am a desi married to an egyptian muslim. i mean the difference is amazing. his mother is totally different from a desi mother in law. she is into her own husband as opposed to micro managing her son’s house hold.

    there is no feeling of ‘you took me away from him’. really she is into her household and her life and things. she gives us space. she is often wanting to keep the kids and enjoy them and telling us to go out together.

    part of it is also that my hubby was living away from their for education purposes and job stuff for like 10 years before me and him got married. so they arent joined at the hip. but they are close and easily chat for a whiile.

    but some of the terminology and concepts as we see them simply dont exist in their culture. there is no such thing as a joint family system in their culture! yes sure it works for some, but most of the time it wreaks havoc and tests people alot and takes away the privacy that any sane person needs in their home. that is why Allah has given the right to the woman who is maried to have a private area of her own and not to be living with others so that she isnt granted her own privacy.

  25. nadia says:

    “I think some of the concepts you mention in your post are really sort of very much based in your culture.”

    Well, Umblah, that is simply because this post is meant to be based on my culture 🙂

    I am a desi married to a desi, living the desi way, so it is but natural for me to discuss desi culture.

    Thank you for stopping by and for your lovely comment. I’m happy that the Egyptian culture works so well for you. JazakAllah khair for sharing this with us. May Allah grant you more happiness and health, Ameen.

  26. youngMuslimah says:

    nice article but it makes me scared..i totally understand why Allah gave us women the right to ask for a separate place..

    • nadia says:

      youngMuslimah, it is scary during the first few months; like I said, you’ll feel like a guest in the beginning.

      But there are instances where the parents-in-law are too old and weak to look after themselves, and hence the need to be with their son and daughter-in-law.

  27. Ummu Umar says:

    Assalamu alaikum! Nice article mashaAllah! We have the same thing in Azerbaijan. but lately it’s common to have separate houses for each son. I’m agree with you, but it is very difficult when the bride is practicing muslimah and in-laws are not, or the contrary. So these advices don’t always work 😦

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