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Feminism: chat

Tired of society's expectations of me

31 replies

Debbierocket123 · 15/06/2021 10:52

I was brought up in a reasonably modern family. My Dad was my main inspiration, he always told me I could achieve anything I wanted in life, get an amazing job, sleep around, travel and just enjoy life. I am now in my 30s and growing tired of societal pressures. My fiance's family in particular expect me to cook and clean and take care of my H2B as if he is a child. My fiance and I have both made it clear this isn't something I am interested in and certainly not something HE expects of me but they never stop asking and never hide their disappointment in me. For example, yesterday I met his MIL for a quick coffee in the afternoon but I had been working since 7am and had to get back to work (ended up finishing at 9:30pm) I told her I had a big project and deadline for an exciting new client. The only thing she had to say to me was why I didn't make lunch for my fiance. He finishes work earlier than me and actually enjoys cooking but that's absolutely unheard of in their culture. I am made to feel lazy and selfish despite how much I work and provide for our little family. It's all getting too much and am considering cutting them off for a while because the comments never stop (I have stood up for myself BTW). Any advice would be appreciated

OP posts:
SweetGrapes · 15/06/2021 10:55

Just breeze through it. Smile and nod and say how well she has brought him up.

It'll get better in another 20 years.

CrazyNeighbour · 15/06/2021 10:57

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EmbarrassingAdmissions · 15/06/2021 10:59

I can see this is a matter with various facets - for some of them, I wonder if you would find some good advice if you posted on the Relationships board as well (covers family as well as romantic relationships):

You might be interested in both the pinned post on that board and the Stately Homes thread:

MouseyTheVampireSlayer · 15/06/2021 11:04

Sounds like you are doing great things in your career op.
Perhaps a bit of careful flattery: Oh but DH is such a good cook, did he learn it from you?
I think I actually scare my in-laws a bit because I am a vocal feminist. It's a very common problem.

CeliaCanth · 15/06/2021 11:18

I have exactly the same with my PILs. Despite my having a professional career and a life generally, they have clearly pegged me, merely by virtue of having married their son, as someone whose chief role in life should be Looking After Him. It all got worse after we had DC and all they would ever talk to me about was cookery and childcare. It’s as if they are determined to make me fit their expectation of what a wife and mother should occupy herself with and they need to direct me along that path every opportunity they get.

My advice would be to challenge it every time. Be as gentle or as forceful as you need to be, but keep pushing back. And get your H to do so too. If it becomes too tedious cut down the amount of time spent with them.

Debbierocket123 · 15/06/2021 11:32

Thank you CeliaCanth. You understand where I am coming from. I continue to push gently and sometimes when I speak to my MIL she sounds like she understands me but she never stops "guiding" me. I think I need to be more direct. My fiance has offered to have strong words with his mum but I don't want to upset anyone myself. I just want to be respected as an equal and not treated like a second class citizen or a servant to my family. It hurts when I've come from such an open and forward-thinking environment.

OP posts:
timeisnotaline · 15/06/2021 11:34

Response to mil: because he has hands? Two of them, fully functional? My mil knows I would say that and have since we were both 20 and dh expected his mum to do something for him and I’d ask what his last slave died of.

timeisnotaline · 15/06/2021 11:35

With a dead flat stare.

MoonCatcher · 15/06/2021 11:42

Be prepared for it to get worse if or when you have children.
If your work demands are such that you are working 14 hour days rethink coffee breaks with MIL during the day. She probably sees this as evidence that you can take time out of your day whenever you like (and spend itooming after your fiance).

Egeegogxmv · 15/06/2021 11:46

Laugh in their faces and ignore them

Datun · 15/06/2021 11:49

It's tricky, because it probably goes directly to her core values. If she is being valued and given credibility on the back to what she does for her husband, and son, it would appear to her that you not doing it is challenging what she sees as her own value, maybe?

She might also see double value in how she is able to advise you, about those roles. Her utility goes up a little.

But you're doing her out of a job!

It's quite complicated, because people's self-worth is at stake. And something has to give.

Would it be possible to sit her down and have an honest, open conversation with her about why it is different for you than it was for her? And comprehensively explain it? And yes, a bit of positive feedback for her to have raised a son who understands.

It's really asking for her to do a crash course in feminism, isn't it.

For what it's worth, it's an incredibly common issue.

My own mil used to complain if, when they came round, DH made them coffee and not me.

MarshaBradyo · 15/06/2021 11:51

That’s difficult. Especially as you say it’s cultural.

It may get more intense as you get married and have dc (if you do), can your dh speak to them?

I think the cultural part is strong here as you say your family were more open.

PicsInRed · 15/06/2021 11:59

Be prepared for your husband to revert to his family opinions when you have kids. That's very common. You may come to find that his tolerance of his family's opinions is actually his agreement with them.

Few men will stand up to families like this - most prefer an easy life and/or agree with them as it's what they've been brought up to believe and despite movie plots, the love of a good woman really doesn't cure that. If you stand your ground and push back on misogyny you will find yourself labelled "crazy", "bad wife", "bad mother" and/or a "problem".

Think very carefully before going through with the wedding. Love isn't enough.

partyatthepalace · 15/06/2021 12:48

Sorry to be a bit hard here, but you are being your own worst enemy. You are the one treating yourself like a second class citizen - by saying that you would rather not upset anybody despite the fact that you are clearly being very upset by everyone else. If you don’t start standing up for yourself and setting clear boundaries your relationship with your in laws is going to be a life long nightmare.

You can be polite but extremely firm. Take your DP up on his offer to speak to his mum. He can phrase it in a way she will understand better than you can - he needs to tell her, and his father that you two are going to have a different marriage to them, and that’s what he wants.

Every time your mother in law makes a comment, pull her up on it ‘our relationship doesn’t work like that’. If she doesn’t show signs of learning to control it, then spend a bit less time with her to give yourself space.

But most of all, you need to give yourself a good talking to. You cannot get through life treating your own needs as less important than anyone else’s. You cannot rely on other people’s approval for your own self esteem. Your in laws may never understand you, or why your husband chose you - that’s a a shame if so, but really - so want?! This is going to be as true in other areas of your life as it is with your in laws so you might as well practice.

PatsArrow · 15/06/2021 13:04

I used to get similar from my MIL (although me and Dh are from the same culture).

I have worked from home for nearly 30 years. I work for myself, long long hours. It's stressful and tiring but flexible to certain extent. I brought up my 2 kids by being there for pretty much every school drop off and school event. I baked, cooked, threw great kids parties etc.

DH does pretty much all the other housework - laundry, cleaning, tidying, diy, bills.

One day my MIL told me off for not being very domestic or 'into' housework. She ran her finger over my spice rack and was faux shocked at how dirty it was. Then she asked how my 'little job' was going?
For the first time in my life I threw back at her my exact salary that I'd earned the year before. I pointed out that my 'little job' brought in MORE money that her son. I passive aggressively told her that if she was bothered by the dusty spice rack that she should clean it herself.
Which she did.

She's never commented on our domestic arrangements since though and that was 10 years ago.

JustcameoutGC · 15/06/2021 14:44

You are not pissed off at society, you are pissed off at your MIL, a much easier prospect to handle.

You have lots of options how to deal with this

  1. Ignore. This is what I do. I don't give 2 shiny shits what my MIL thinks of me or our family dynamic. She can take her "very heavy sighs" out of my less than spotless kitchen. Her time was different. I get this. I also really don't feel the need to explain myself. I let it alllll roll over me.

  2. Get your husband to wade in. This might stop the comments, but she will still be thinking it, and you know it.

  3. Tackle it head on yourself, either gently explaining how things are different in your relationship, picking her up on every comment, or by full frontal assault. Again, this might stop the comments, but she will still be thinking it, and you know it.

    You need to decide what you want. Do you want the comments to stop, or do you want to feel more at peace with your set up, regardless of how others judge it?
Opticabbage · 15/06/2021 15:14

I agree that you are being your own worst enemy by trying to be nice. She's being completely disrespectful to you. Would you choose to socialise with any one else that treated you in the same way? Trying to shove you into a wifey box?

OneEpisode · 15/06/2021 17:06

The op doesn’t say what culture MIL comes from, but I quite liked General Electric India’s healthcare division’s “bring your mother in law to work day”. The older woman needs to value the work of the younger one, without being told that the work the mil did, raising her family, was valueless.
In modern India the hard work of raising today’s children and producing nutritious plant based diets often falls on these older women, whereas they might have had expected the graceful retirement their own MIL had.

KimikosNightmare · 15/06/2021 19:46

It isn't "society's expectation" - it's your husband's family's expectations but it's easier to blame society than do anything about it.

TRHR · 15/06/2021 20:32

This is a really tough one. Not really practical advice but always remember that your partner loves and respects you which is what matters. My mum always said that she'd always treat our partners well, mostly because she's kind, but also as they're the person we chose to be with, so putting your child into a position where they have to 'choose' between partner and parent would never go well for the parents!

DolphinFC · 15/06/2021 21:18

Your dad encouraged you to 'sleep around'?

Debbierocket123 · 18/06/2021 10:56

DolphinFC - I never said he encouraged me to sleep around. He encouraged me to live life the way I wanted to and he would never judge me for it. He only loved and respected me no matter how I dressed or how many boyfriends I had. I am so grateful for him allowing me to just be myself.

It isn't just my MIL who says these things to me, but also my family and friends - this was just an example to keep the question short.

Thank you all again for the amazing advice. I have been distancing myself from some people because I am sick of "standing up for myself" and feel that I am just causing arguments.

I really just want the comments to stop. It feels like a death by tiny papercuts - constant little digs for not being "enough". My fiance is my biggest cheerleader and always encourages me to chase my career. We'd love for him to be a stay at home dad one day now that would shock the in laws wouldn't it! LOL

OP posts:
KimikosNightmare · 18/06/2021 11:11


“… he wouldn’t respect me if I thought of myself as his maid rather than his equal.” Then a puzzled “don’t you think?” or if by chance she understands German “Oder?”

What a horrible comment. His "maid" might not have the wealth, power and social status of OP's husband and the OP but to suggest the maid is somehow lesser is horrible.
MeridasMum · 18/06/2021 11:37


Just breeze through it. Smile and nod and say how well she has brought him up.

It'll get better in another 20 years.

Yes, when they die

(Sorry, I guess I'm just in a bad mood today) Blush
WarOnWoman · 18/06/2021 12:09

OP, I get this from my own parents, even now at my age. Hmm But they are my parents and I can roll my eyes, ignore, tune them out or confront as I see fit.

Much harder with in-laws. Your DP needs to be much more active in speaking up and telling them to stop. A united team. They will not be critical of him.

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