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.
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 stories 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.
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
“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 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.
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.