Post # 1
Basically I have to go back to India for my wedding in 3 weeks. I have not been back since 1997 at the age of 18, which was an awful experience and one I realized I did not care to repeat. 15 years have gone by and unfortunately I let my in-laws railroad/guilt me and my husband into doing our ceremonial wedding in India.
My relatives have always been awful and I’m counting on his relatives to be just as bad. Part of this is cultural as I have been raised in Canada and the US since the age of 2 and I just don’t get the communication format. However, my relatives have been pretty awful and now I am freaking out my upcoming interactions with them.
1) Attempting to ruin my parents’ marriage by provoking fights: they do this deliberately. My parents had an arranged marriage but their sibs/relatives hate one another. My parents are doing a lot better in this but their sibs provoke fights between them.
2) Being as nasty to me as possible and watching me squirm because I cannot say anything without getting my parents angry about my “disrespect”-my relatives love saying nasty things to my face and then hiding behind “but we’re family, why are you upset” bullshit.
Things they have said to me in the past:
You’re stupid (I am a JD/MBA and they still ask my parents how I ended up as the failure daughter)
Your hair is thin and ugly (I now wear extensions after a bout with CTE in addition to diagnosed androgenetic alopecia…I am dreading them touching my hair but it looks 100% normal and even movie-starish now)
You dress like a slut
You’re fat-they’re obsessed with my weight. Oh wait, I mentioned that. I was a chubby-ish kid and they delighted in mocking me and telling me how ugly I was. I am currently Kim Kardashian shaped without the plastic butt, so not thin, but not fat. I wear a size #*##&# four. I am pretty proud that I have become a much healthier adult and I like the way I look even if my physique is not what you might say is fashionable.
Snarking the fact that I got married later in life (33). I am sure they’ll also have shit to say that I am marrying a North Indian/someone not from our community.
I don’t know if this is a rant or a wail for advice on how to deal with difficult relatives, but I am just not looking forward to going there or my wedding. My relatives have systematically ruined every single trip to India for me and I am dreading what I will have to face.
Post # 3
@monkeyinasuit: I don’t know how you put up with it honestly. Insult after insult….I would erupt into a fury of profanities towards each and every one of them. I would have also just eloped! No advice I can really give you, sorry 🙁 Those people really suck!
Post # 4
Wow…that sounds pretty serious. Try to warn your Fiance about your family and brace yourself. You know how they are and that they probably haven’t changed since the last time you’ve visited. They sound horrible 🙁 I hope that somehow you are able to tune them out and enjoy your day.
Post # 5
@monkeyinasuit: Why do you put up with this? I would seriously consider eloping. My family is NOWHERE near as bad and I still want to elope to ensure a drama-free day (among other reasons).
Post # 6
Hi guys-to answer your questions about why I put up with it…I don’t. I have not been back to India in 15 years because of the horridness of the last visit. Unfortunately we can’t hold the wedding there and withhold invitations from them. I’ve begged my parents to keep them away from me and they’ve mostly agreed although they are saying the worst offenders will not be there.
I am not sure if you guys have been following what has been happening in the news over there but even amongst the upper middle class women are seen as a sort of free for all everyone can comment on and being a bride is another example of how women are just fodder to be ripped apart by everyone.
I am honestly most concerned about my hair and them trying to yank my extensions off or humiliate me in some manner.
Post # 7
My first thought was to tell you to just not go. But I reread your post and given that it’s only 3 weeks away I don’t suppose that that’s an option (why you agreed to begin with I’m not sure). Just remember: no one can take advantage of you or make you feel inferior without your permission, at least according to Eleanor Roosevelt and Dear Abby. 🙂
If it was me and someone hurled an insult, I would probably say something like, “Aww. Isn’t that sad that the only way to feel better about yourself is by trying to hurt someone else.” Of course I would say it with a great big smile and then walk away.
Post # 8
Culturally speaking, you need to “play the game”. I have family who was born and raised in India, but I was born and raised in Canada. All those nasty comments they make, you need to be able to let it roll off your back, take the hit gracefully or lash it back without being disrespectful.
The LAST thing you do is to let what they SAY affect your decisions and who you are.
It’s definitely not a healthy practice in any culture to be rude or snarky, but you need to have thick skin if you really are heading back into the lion’s den.
Simple phrases like “Yes, aunty, you would be the expert in that area.” Or “Yes, I’ll be sure to come to you for advice next time”. Or “My husband to be likes me this way.” or even “Well I prefer ______. It’s more efficient/better looking/etc”. You need to be vocal, assertive and just as loud.
Another approach is to just say yes/agree to everything. And then do none of it. If they say “You are ugly/dark/fat.” Just agree and kill them with kindness. “You’re completely right, cousin. I’ll be sure to get your beauty secrets the next time I am here!” Smile.
Post # 9
Tricky one. If it were me, I would try to do two things:
1. Drink. I find it always helps.
2. Agree with everything they say. This helps if you have followed point 1, above. This tends to wrongfoot people, and if you can muster up some sort of sincerity then all the better. I used it on a ghastly relative who loved to bask in the failure of others a few years back. It works a bit like this:
Horrible Relative: You’re fat.
You: Yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds. If only I had a beautiful figure like you, I feel I would be happy. I cry myself to sleep every night because I do not. Men must simply worship your voluptuous behind….
It works so well because they can’t tell if you’re mocking them or if you’re actually serious.
As far as your hair goes, I would probably coat it in something horrible and pretend I had a debilitating condition. Preferably something sticky, but harmless. Or you could pretend that you have an infectious skin condition, or nits. I know it all sounds really horrible, and it is, but you could also try and have some really evil fun at their expense. Make them think that you might infect them with something horrible… the more embarassing, the better. Of course, this only works if you have no shame yourself. Perhaps you have shame. I have no shame.