Meeting The Punjabi In Laws
Updated: Nov 21
I am fortunate that my in laws accepted me marrying their son from the day that he decided to tell them that he broke up with his long term girlfriend and eventually met me, who he believed was the one. I recall my partner making the long distance phone call to India so that he could break the news. We had been dating a couple of months by this time and he still hadn't broken the news he wasn't with his ex girlfriend. Anyone who has been in a long term relationship would know the fear of breaking the news to your parents who thought he or she was the one. This is the very fear he had, as they had also told him they would support his choice to marry outside their culture as long as he did so by a certain age. He was afraid that they would now ask him to opt for an arranged marriage as he was well and truly past this age. His parents had assumed that the girl he had been dating would be the one he would marry but it turned out she was never actually that serious about him. It was a blessing in disguise because we then met and both had the same life goals and interests that it felt like we had been together for just as long.
When he finally made that call I could hear they were in shock and very concerned for him. How could he leave his long term girlfriend to then meet another girlfriend from the same culture. They were concerned he would make the same mistake with me as he had with her, although they begrudgingly accepted us dating and warned him this was his last chance. Whilst they weren't specifically against our relationship they needed time to warm to me.
I ended up proving everyone wrong, and now his family absolutely adore me. Those who are friends of the family or relatives who looked down at us at the start now envy us. We are fortunate that we got to marry for love. My husband's visa expired eventually so rather than renewing it he left the country and we decided to elope to India. We are now in the process of applying for his residency rather than continuing to pay for costly visas.
I have been living with my husband and his family in Punjab for approximately 12 months in total over the past year and a half. This is what solidified my relationship with his family in particular his parents. Meeting me and seeing that I am genuine and being able to spend time with us as a couple they can see how much we love each other. It also helps that they are educated people with my father in law being a retired Army Officer and my mother in law a retired English Teacher. We both come from family's of a similar social standing which makes it easier to associate with one another. It is more challenging when you date a Punjabi who is of a higher or lower social standing as they are very status conscious. It can create problems and they may not be as open minded about a bi-cultural relationship.
It is my father in law who spoils me and always makes sure I am looked after although that doesn't mean my mother in law doesn't also in her own way. She will always find a reason to enter my room when I am sick or have had a fight with my husband. She usually pretends to empty the bin in the room or suddenly sweep the floor when it isn't the time she would normally do it. Most times the bin is already practically empty already. But she is really just checking in on me but doing it on the sly although I know that is what she is doing. My father in law always brings me home sweets as he knows I have a sweet tooth. My husband doesn't like me eating too many sweets as he is a fitness and health fanatic. But that won't stop my father in law. If I ask him for a piece of cake he brings me home two. They also make sure we are stocked up on Coca Cola as they know I enjoy a glass with my meal especially since the water here tastes dirty to me even though it is clean drinking water.
What I love best about my in laws is that when my husband and I have a fight they won't immediately take his side. Although being raised in the same culture they might have the tendency to think the same, they will always make their own decision as to who is right or wrong. So if he yells at me simply because he is in a bad mood they won't let him get away with it which is a breath of fresh air. It is nice to know that your in laws see you as a valued member of the family. They also call me their daughter in Punjabi rather than their daughter in law.
It isn't only his parents who have accepted me, his younger brother has also accepted me as his bhabi jii, or sister in law. In the Punjabi Culture your elder sister or brother is viewed like a mother or father figure. So my brother in law didn't even need to know who I am he just accepted that I am his older sister and respected that.
When I first met my in laws I had just had the longest flight from Brisbane to Delhi with a 12 hour stop over at Singapore. Then after arriving at Delhi had a 10 hour drive to Faridkot. So I was exhausted and emotionally drained I didn't want to meet anyone. Though they were all so excited to meet me that everyone waited at home for me to arrive despite it being 10pm. My husband was also drained and he gets a temper quickly, as does any Punjabi, so he told me in the car on the way from the airport to not cry, suck it up and meet everyone. If you didn't know I manage Bipolar so when I am exhausted or haven't been looking after my health I get emotional. Telling me not to get emotional only exacerbates my emotions. I was teary eyed and everyone was confused what had happened. Didn't I want to be here? It took me a couple of days to recover. This happens when I rush around for days on end, with no sleep, lack of healthy food and excercise.
After it passed and I was settled in I met everyone and each day we had more and more visitors come to greet me. It is very simple to please a Punjabi, flash them a big smile, greet them in Punjabi and embrace their bone crushing hugs. Then sit and listen to them gossip over a cup of cha - tea. I did this up till our wedding day and then after our wedding day it was our turn to return all those visits.
Out of respect I always ensure to bring a gift for my family in law each time I come to India. This is a good idea for anyone who is meeting their in laws for the first time. They will always refuse the gift at least once or twice before accepting it. Children naturally are always thrilled to receive gifts and their smile says enough. It is very simple to please children in India as many don't own much and spend most of their time playing outdoors with friends. Which is how it should be but a child also needs some toys to inspire creativity. So I pack in my suitcase kids colouring books with paint or markers. Oh and don't forget stickers they love stickers. It's a nice gesture when you visit family who have young children and it is cheap. This will immediately make you the new favourite Aunty! Parents also appreciate it as it keeps them busy during the visit.
Once you marry into the Punjabi Culture you will find that you have an extended family you never even knew about from across the globe. I hope those of you who have also married into the culture have a positive story to tell about your in laws. These days our relationship is much more comfortable, I can tell my mother in law when her singing is really bad or when my father in law does something silly. They also laugh at me when I am upset with my husband after a massive argument over nothing or I've got an aspect of the culture wrong. Punjabi People are generally very warm and welcoming which is what I love about them.
Have you married into a Punjabi or Indian Family?
Do you have a good relationship with your in laws?