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The Colorful Mil vs Dil Relationship in Pakistani Society : ALL THINGS PAKISTAN
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The Colorful Mil vs Dil Relationship in Pakistani Society

Posted on November 10, 2009
Filed Under >Irum Sarfaraz, Humor, Society
Total Views: 60535


Irum Sarfaraz

What is a discussion on contemporary Pakistani society without a discussion on the relationship of mother in laws and daughters in laws. Though this unique relationship is a bitter fruit in all cultures across the globe; regardless of race, class and ethnicity; in few other places it is as prominent as it is in Pakistan.

May be few other countries, where the concept of joint family systems still exist, can also lay claim to this eternal tussle. The MIL-DIL (mother in law-daughter in law) configuration is not only the sore of our society but also the core of the juiciest scandals in any given household.

The most hilarious part of this ‘comedy of errors’ is to note is that rarely does any unmarried girl ever believe that these stories could ever be repeated by her. After all she is educated and has the mental stamina to ignore the jahalat her married friends and female family members tell her that MILs are capable of pulling off. Above all she has the wisdom and patience to ignore the usual abhorable tactics observed by MILs to make the lives of their DILs miserable.

In my guestimate eighty percent of these newbies sign the marriage contract with an; in their opinion; unyielding resolve and uncompromising determination to make their new home,

‘the envy of all the bickering, wrangling, backbiting and squabbling two-some known as MILs and DILs’

Sadly it takes just a few months for this part of the contract to fall through. Even if they are not living in a joint family system, they lose their patience and become part of the time old crowd of women who have fought since time immemorial over one thing alone; the guy they marry.

If you are wondering about the remaining 20%, they enter the contract with gung-ho.

They are in no mood to give the MILs any kind of leg room to start exerting pressure on them and plan to capture the enemy from day one. Whether part of the optimistic 80% or the growling 20%, the end result for all is the same. The 80% just get there a little later than these 20% who are there from day one. It needs to be mentioned here that there is a breed of DILs out there who croons praises of their MILs. Upon a deeper inquiry it is however revealed that either their MILs are far, far away in other countries to be visited by these crooning dils once every two or three years or they are dead. There is no third scenario!

In the highly educated Western society, where there is no concept of joint family, the DILs are equally flabbergasted over the antics of their MILs hence proving that the joint family system cannot be deemed the primary reason for the war between the two stalwart figures in any man’s life. The cold war between Diana and the Queen was hope to millions in Pakistan. Thousands of heartbroken DILs were comforted by their counterparts with,

yar tu dil kiyoon chota kartee hai….jab Diana kee us kee sas say naheen bun saki to teri kiya banay gee…!!!.

This war is time tested and there is no reason to believe that it is going anywhere in near future or even the far future. MIL and DIL have not learnt to co-exist in any culture; our society just has a larger chunk of this bickering as part of our social setup.

The jokes on the relationship are as endless as the war itself. For instance, a man’s rich MIL was kidnapped presumably for ransom. The kidnappers called two days later and told him,

‘pay us this amount of money or we’ll send her back’.

The guy responds,

‘I’ll pay you this this amount if you’ll agree to keep her’.

Here is another classic. A guy’s mother in law dies and at the funeral his friend comes to him for condolence and says, ‘

So sorry about your mil. So what happened to the poor lady’ The guys says, ‘Well I recently got a dog and he bit her and she died’. The friend looks around carefully and then says, ‘Um…could you lend me this dog of yours for a day?’. The man says, ‘sure…just get in line’. .

So why do they fight?

The common notion is that they fight over the man that one has married and ‘taken away’ from the other. Women are known to be highly possessive and territorial. Unfortunately, the ‘territory’ in this case is the bone of contention as well so there is no peace at all. This is not a sharing problem. After all the MIL has no issues when her son spends time with his male friends before or after the marriage. The problem is when he spends time with the wife. She is the thief who has stolen her ultimate treasure. It can be assumed that it is a classic case of one woman against another woman, a form of fight that has gone on for ever and has given rise to the popular view that a woman is a woman’s worst enemy. Some DILs see their hopes in him, he belongs to them. Sure they bring the ultimate hoor-pari (fairy princess) for him to marry but that hoor-pari is to stay in the background and should make no emotional claims on him. She is to be as obedient and as meek a servant to the MIL as the son is expected to be. The moment the hoor-pari starts displaying her ‘par’, ‘let the wars begin!’.

Some DILs point out the fact that the other in law wars are quite equally dynamic and forceful but no one can argue that the real and classic in law war is the MIL vs DIL war. In many homes, the curiosity kills the peace of house, the mental health of the guy and the hair on his head. From curiosity arises interference and from interference the feeling of lack of privacy and from lack of privacy the feeling of being psychologically invaded. It works similarly for both parties. In the end they both lash out in defense. The result is a cat fight that has the neighbors glued to their walls. There have been instances where the neighbors plant their ‘moles’ in the ‘juicy’ households on the street in the form of highly paid cleaning women who spy for them and work as the daily CNN and BBCs. One DIL suggests that our society needs a special education program for the MILs and SILs (sister in laws) before their sons and brothers get married.

The party who suffers the most in this battle is the poor guy. Most of them spend their entire lives trying to keep both these very important parts of their existence assuaged and happy. But few ever really succeed. Where the wife rages on about ‘your mother’, the mother refuses the let the fight out of her hand with ‘your wife’. I am sure there are times when a lot of poor guys wished they had neither mothers nor wives! There is little they can do to help the situation for the simple reason that they are the reason for why they are fighting. I feel sorry for the husbands but again, they are the reasons for the loving MIL and DIL relationships in the first place.

Needless to say the colorful MIL and DIL relationship are one of the things that makes our society so unique. The fighting is incessant and persistent; the reasons why they fight ceaseless; the ways to make peace non-existent; the fun the onlookers get out of it immeasurable and the misery it inflicts on the son boundless. Who said Pakistani society has so little to be proud of? We Pakistanis are very proud of the cultural heritage of the mother in law….!

Amjad Islam Amjad has said:

farq hai kuch kirdaaroN meiN
baqi khel puraana hai

To conclude I must say that for humor and satire sake I may have generalized the whole MIL population into one category but in reality they are all individuals. I am very sure there are ‘shafiq’ and ‘mohtaram’ MILs out there too who treat their DILs with respect and earn their own respect in return. I want to believe there is more good than evil out there.

36 comments posted

Comment Pages: [5] 4 3 2 1 » Show All

  1. Pramod Vaid says:
    February 18th, 2010 4:38 am

    I have also posted my views on 31/03/2009 on ‘MIL & DIL’ which are very precise. Pl go through it & comment.

  2. Tahira Masood says:
    January 5th, 2009 10:22 am


    I was sympathetic to you regarding the situation you are in.
    Well you said your wife is highly educated, caring and helpful only when it comes to her own immediately family but is bewildered when it is about your side of family.
    There are so many aspects of this issue. That arise so many question in mind;
    Was this her attitude from the day one?
    If so what was done to bring her closer?
    What was the attitude of your family towards her from the day one?
    Did their behavior made her adopt this tone?
    Is your family too highly educated compatibly to her? ( although this is not necessary though but some time becomes an issue)
    Does she give every due respect to her own parents and mostly listen to them or mostly trust her own decisions?
    Is she religious and hold respect for family value?
    I mean is she an obedient daughter?
    Is she religious?
    If it is from the beginning without any obvious reason it might be that she is scared of the myth of this relation by default. You know people , specially women folks create a fear and hatered in the minds of young girls unknowingly from thier child hoof creatig and image of aglaa gher or susraal a jail and the MILs as the supreme jailer.
    Or she may be just very possessive about you.

    As learned as she is she is in a position to better understand such situations as his seeking worldly knowledge can also enlighten a person. It gives a person an inner vision to resolve the things.
    I think you and only you could have played a very strong part to bring her closer to your family. Initially. Had she known from the day one the value of your parents and family you hold, she;for your sake would have given them some space in her heart. But if you had taken their connection in your life for granted how would she show any connection?
    It is your duty as a son to make her intimate and make her love your parents,in spacial and brothers,sisters in general.
    I hope it is not too late. But it should only be done with love and patience.
    Remember while dealing with an educated person that education when used wrongly by an individual is the worst kind of disaster.
    May God Help you.Amen

  3. A Battered Husband says:
    December 25th, 2008 11:41 pm

    The comment is late but I would very much like some response from the ladies.

    Well in the comments section it has been mostly portrayed in the comments sections as if it is always MIL’s who are to blame. Let me tell you my own story (which I can because of the anonymity over the internet).

    My wife is “very” highly educated. We have a very good relationship generaly. I have had her full support in everything especially in my career and in my dealing with tough situations. I would say she is perfect in every regard.

    But when it comes to my family she just loses her mind completely. She can not stand even the mention of their names literally. My family does not even live in the same country. I can call my friends in Pakistan happily for hours and she will be happy about it because she thinks I do need break and connection with old friends. But every time I ring back to my family she creats a huge drama. And I mean realy huge, on the pertext that I am wasting time and not giving enough time to my career and to her. She doesnt even talk to them, nor do they visit, but still she breaks into tears and hysteria everytime there is even a minimal interaction of them with “me”. Can somebody explain what is this?

  4. Judd says:
    February 25th, 2008 2:17 am

    My wife and I read through this article together and we’re thoroughly entertained by the content and comments by other readers. We have talked about many of these issues several times and have drawn similar conclusions as “Tina” has: The importance of the MIL having some purpose in life…the lack of intimacy in many Pakistani marriages (hence creating an unnatural dependency by mother to son)…the high drama created from banal daily events. I think the one issue I would add is the Islamic dimension as “respecting” ones mother is a key theme in Islam and I think can often play a role in this age old relationship. The one phrase I remember hearing over and over again is the “the doors to heaven are at the feet of the mother”….tough to argue your way out of this one. To me, it is really important that I fulfill my responsibilities as a son and a good Muslim but it gets a bit tricky when this is co-mingled with the dysfunctional relationship of MIL/DIL.

Comment Pages: [5] 4 3 2 1 » Show All

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