I’m a 33-year-old newly married woman with a full-time job. Ever since I got married a few months ago, I have struggled to understand the culture of my husband’s family, and to adjust with my in-laws. Juggling my home and work has been frustrating. Sometimes I have to leave work early just to attend a function that my in-laws want me to be present at. It is difficult to fulfill all the responsibilities of a ‘housewife’ when I also have job priorities. My in-laws complain that I’m not social enough or present at home enough. They expect me to be a traditional housewife. I do care about them but I feel burned out with so much on my shoulders. What do I do? —A.K.
Answered by Krishangi, Psychologist at Happy Minds
This is a common problem for most Nepali working women. They are defying the old social norms, and there are bound to be some pushback and friction. You’re feeling obligated to please your in-laws by sacrificing your career and identity.
There is a clear generational gap between you and your in-laws. For them, it is what they have been taught and seen their whole lives. You can’t tell them to suddenly flip a switch and change their mind—it’s not that simple. It is natural for them to have such expectations of you because their in-laws had the same expectations of them.
You have to try to be patient and gentle with them. Make sure you let them know that while family is important to you, you also cherish your job and that you are not trying to sacrifice one for the other. Tell them that you are simply trying to balance your priorities.
In a situation where they expect you to be present with them or at a social event when your work schedule doesn’t allow you to do so, tell them in a respectful manner that you can’t be there. You can stand up for yourself without sounding rude. Convey your message respectfully. There has to be a healthy discussion, where you and your in-laws can meet halfway when it comes to such problems.
If you still have difficulty standing up for yourself, try to talk to your husband about it. Tell him how it is from your perspective. Maybe he can support you in having a fruitful conversation with your in-laws.