“You don’t really think about everything beforehand, you just go with the flow."
Long gone are the days when the bride was expected to live with her in-laws. But there are some that continue to follow old cultural traditions. Whatever the choice, all that is wished for is a happy and prosperous marriage. But is it really as simple as that?
The build up to the big day is a stressful and exciting experience, and every member of the family comes together to make sure that the bride and groom’s day is special.
Soon, the wedding is done and dusted. The honeymoon is in sight. And then finally after all the celebrations are over, there’s the hard part—the marriage.
Settling into married life can be a daunting yet exciting experience. One 26 year-old female, married almost for a year, says:
“You don’t really think about everything beforehand, you just go with the flow thinking that it can’t be too bad.”
The stereotypes of a fierce and demanding monster-in-law is always a worry for the newlywed bride. But is this just a long-lived myth or does the protective and demanding mother-in-law still exist?
One married man insists: “I think the stereotype of a bad mother-in-law exists, although I don’t necessarily agree with it.”
“I think external variables have an influence over people; they believe that they’re mother-in-law is against them. Things that have been said may be taken in the wrong way only because that person is not the parent but the mother-in-law.”
They say marriage is about compromise and balancing life. But transitioning from a young adult into the shoes of a responsible life partner, daughter or son-in-law can be hard for anyone to accept.
For a young woman in particular, adapting to a new family and occupying a new house is just many of the hard-hitting facts they have to come to terms with.
In some cases the transition is not always as smooth as you might expect. And as Asians living in Britain, the role of the working woman also comes into play. Many newly married women are determined to fight for their independence and their working lives, but they are constantly at war with fulfilling domestic chores and providing income.
This is where the saying: “I feel like I’ve married the family,” might be echoed by most females living with their in-laws today. Are expectations just getting higher or are British-Asians hanging on to their cultural values for dear life?
But it’s not only the women who find it tough. Many men have spoke out and jokes are often exchanged about their in-laws, their wife’s demands and how marriage has cost them their freedom.
Jokes aside, we spoke to a married man who believes marriage is hard work but it’s worth it in the end: “You just have to work at it hoping you’ll pull through in the end.”
So how do Asian married men differ from the other men out there? DESIblitz spoke to one man who said: “I got married recently, and you can just feel the difference between the dating stage and married life. I think as Asian men we have to consider all aspects and opinions not just what’s good for ourselves.”
So is the idea of living with in-laws outdated? One single female in her 20’s says: “I think it is outdated because people are not as traditional anymore. We have adopted the lifestyle in Britain.”
“Also, women do not want to feel inferior to men and so they stand their ground, for example they will choose to move out and live separately. At the end of the day it depends how the wife feels about it.”
Marriage in the British-Asian community has definitely changed from previous generations. With interracial marriages becoming more prevalent in this day and age, the cultural values shared by our ancestors are slowly but surely vanishing.
Additionally, the rate of couples living independently is on the increase, with more and more people wanting their own space and privacy. But sometimes this can come at the expense of family and unity.
Life after marriage for any young couple can be a challenging adjustment to make. Everyone talks about issues of compromise, but the importance of balance and cohesion between the husband, wife and their families is a necessity for South Asian communities.
As with many other aspects of life, marriage in the British-Asian community is on the verge of becoming westernised. Attitudes have changed with the new generation of British Asians, with many now doubting the traditions and cultures of their elders. But the question remains, is this for the better?