A Survival Guide to Living a Not-So-Frustrating Life at Susral
Welcome to the married life! I know whether you are a newly married woman, a soon to-be married woman or a woman who has been living with her in-laws for a decade or so, you are here for a purpose. Nailing it! Aiming to be that one Bahu, who no matter what, wins every Susrali’s heart.
My dear, this is not a fairyland. We are talking about living in Susral and that too with people you never knew before (Even if you did), things do change altogether once you get promoted to the designation of a Bahu.
Joint family system in Pakistan:
Susral simply means in-laws in Urdu/Hindi. It has been a custom and tradition in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and SriLanka that once a woman is married, she lives with her in-laws – in their house. So this in-laws’ house becomes her own house. Under one roof, all the siblings live in separate rooms, but they share the kitchen, the dining room and the living room.
Living with Susralis is no joke. Can this experience be made a happy experience? Can all the chaos and qualms be avoided? Yes, definitely. No, not at all. The responses vary. The experiences vary and the situations vary.
I know the tips shared in this post might not work for everyone, but I know they will work for some of you. While I firmly believe that husbands should also put in the same amount of effort in maintaiing a healthy relationship with their in-laws (Taali aik haath se nahi bajti, remember), I am writing this post keeping in mind the wives who move in to live with the husband’s family aka Susral.
Remember the first time you joined school you were given loads of advices about what NOT TO DO at school? The same rule applies here – what not to do at your Susral!
Don’ts: If you aspire a not-so-frustrating life at Susral, hear me out.
Don’t hope to become a ‘Beti’ at your in-laws:
Let’s explore the situation from both sides. First from the Susral’s side. You promised your Samdhan and Samdhi, “Hum Bahu nahi, Beti lay ke jaa rahay hain. Beit bana ke rakhain ge.” And suddenly things change. You as a Saas fail to develop that motherly feelings for the so-called “Beti”. Expect the “Beti” to perform her duties to the highest level of perfection and when she fails to meet the criteria, you realize, “Bahu kabhi Beti nahi ban sakti.” It’s not Susrali’s fault. It is natural. How come you can worry for a Bahu the way you worry for your own daughter or son. “Bahu ne khana khaya hoga ya nahi, baitay nay khaya ken nahi.” “Meri beti jo biyahi main ne, pata nahi usska susral mein Saas kya khayal karti hogi?” Know that it is natural. No matter how many times you try to become that perfect Beti cum Bahu, you will always remain Bahu. So, do not treat your in-laws as your own immediate family. Face the facts. When you expect to be treated as a princess because “Aap to Papa ki Pari theen apni Ammi key yehan…” you are already fighting a losing battle. Treating the Susrali relationships with respect and as they are, is the lesson here. You cannot suddenly switch parents. It doesn’t happen in a matter of days or years. It takes change. It takes acceptance and it takes courage to accept that you will live with the Susralis for the rest of your life. Most importantly give respect to your Susralis and gain respect in return (But don’t expect that too…)
Do not complain to your husband:
Yes, you read it correctly. It is important to keep your husbands in the loop – at all times. But you should never bombard your husband with complaints of your Saas, Susar, Nand or Devar. Especially when he comes back from the office. I know you must also have had a long day. But remember, in Susral if your husband is on your side. Slowly and gradually things will turn in your favour. However, do not ever become victimized or bullied. Treat others with respect, but before you let out any words that might give others an opportunity to tag you as ‘Badtameez”, bite your tongue twice. Once gone, gone forever. Keeping your husband in the loop is one of the wisest things you should do, but again – act wisely.
Do not raise others’ expectations:
Let’s be realistic. When a girl gets married, why does she show her “Sugharpann” by running around the house and doing all the chores? If your in-laws do not need your services, let it be like that. You can definitely use the dialogue, “Ammi, main ker doon?” out of courtesy and respect. But be wary of using this sentence habitually. You do not want to set unrealistic expectations. You definitely do not want to be the only person in the house who does all the chores. You have your own life too. Be smart and only promise what you can deliver in the long-term. When the Bahu does all the chores and tries to keep everyone happy in the hopes of receiving accolades, she raises expectations. After sometime, everything goes back to normal and so does the Bahu and the Susralis. But no, Susralis’ expectations have now raised to yet another level and then starts a subtle fight; who will do this and who will not. Avoid the qualms, just say no to something you cannot do. From the very first day. Life becomes less tortuous.
Do not rush:
Every relationship takes time. Nurture it with love, patience and care. Remember you won’t become the perfect Bahu. No one can, and that too in a matter of days or months. Give some time to your Susralis and let the relation grow. They need to know you – the real you. You need to know them inside out and this can’t be achieved by only spending months and years with Susralis without giving respect, love and care. It is your responsibility to understand their preferences, rules of the house, but at the same time do not get carried away by the notion, “Achi Bahu wohi hoti hai jo her baat ka jawab ‘Haan jee’ mein deti hai.” One must not lose their individuality and self-respect. And yes, where you need to raise your voice, do so. But be sane! Be forgiving! Be gentle.
Do not jump to conclusions:
Don’t form opinions too soon. Remember people behave differently in different circumstances. If you get ignored, there must be some reason. Try not to form opinions about your in-laws too soon. We all change and so do our opinions and experiences.
Do not let anyone interfere:
Be it your parents or your in–laws, the golden rule is, ‘Do not let anyone interfere in your and your husband’s matters’. The worst a girl can do is involve her mother/sister/Khala or Phupho and seek advices on how to tackle differences at Susral or differences with her husband. Remember they are not in your place. You are the best judge in the situation you are facing. Face it and act wisely. Yes, you will still be accused of seeking advices from your parents and siblings in all the Susrali matters, stay cool, calm and collected. You do not need to explain everything to everyone. Yes, you will end up regretting shouting at each other and someone from your Susralis will walk up to you and say, “Tum dono ki laraee kis baat pe ho rahi thi?” Yes, not only you’re going to manage the issues between your husband and you, but you’ll also need to keep Susrali’s at arm’s length especially when they try to find out what caused a fight between you and your husband. It is important for the wife and the husband to sort out their matters on their own. That is how they will learn to accept each other with their flaws and imperfections and that is what leads to the beginning of a strong relationship.
Do not get involved in family battles:
This is a game changer. Whenever there is a tension between your husband and his family. You got to stay out of it. Just realize that your Saas and Susar raised your husband and he does have certain responsibilities to fulfil. There may be times when there will be difference of opinions and arguments or brawls. You better keep quiet. Siding one would mean demeaning the other. And in case you get to make that mistake, be ready to listen, “Yehi hai jo humaray baitay ko pattian parhaati hai.” So stay quiet, stay calm.
Do not share secrets:
Sharing sensitive information with your in-laws can be the biggest mistake one can make. Be it your Khala jaan turned Saasu Maa or Phuphi Jaan cum Saasu Maa, Susral will remain Susral. You are a part of their family and in our society people do look for others’ weaknesses to manipulate them. Just follow one simple rule, “Na idher ki udher aur na udher ki idher.” Do not give away information that might become a trouble for you later on.
Do not think it doesn’t need effort:
Believe me there will be times when you’ll have to compromise. Be ready for that! Sometimes for your husband, sometimes for your sanity and sometimes for your kids. But this is what is needed in any relationship.
All in all, surviving in Susral is a matter of patience, compromise, cooperation, and wisdom. Above all, it is the two people and their relation that matters the most.
You said to keep ur husband in loop about fights in susral. But how? I didn’t get it. Please explain.