In India, you do not marry an individual. You marry a family. We all have heard this at least once in our life. And it couldn’t be truer when you are married into a joint family. If you too come from a joint family, you would have a fair idea of what to expect in such a matchmaking experience. But if you have grown up in a nuclear family, chances are slim that you would be prepared for the avalanche of changes and expectations that come along with this setup. With an open heart and a positive approach, you can not only blend in the new scheme of things at home but can also become an integral part of your new family.
Here are some things you might want to be prepared for before moving in with your new family, surrounded by relationships that have the scope of turning into great relationships with the right approach.
1: The new way of life
The way you have lived your life, be at your parent’s home or on your own, before marriage will not matter once you become a part of the new family. Life is no more the same after marriage. While it holds true for both—the boy and girl—it is mostly girls who face an immediate transition. This is where acceptance plays a crucial role. Entering the new phase of life with a mature, understanding and empathetic mindset can help in avoiding initial glitches and clashes. It will also give you more time to connect with each family member at a personal level.
2: Finding ‘me’ time
It is easier to carve out time and space for yourself when you live in a nuclear family. A small family means that there would be a certain time in the day when the family comes together, say for meals, common TV time or joint activities and then go back to their own comfort zones to unwind. It may not be so in a joint family where there are more members, round-the-clock household activities and lesser space to claim as one’s own. Amid this, finding some personal time and space, or maybe even a romantic moment with your husband might prove challenging.
Strive to strike a balance between family time and personal time. Turn your room into your personal haven. Do it up the way you and your partner like and make it your comfort zone. At the end of the day, retire to your room early and indulge in something you like such as reading, playing board games, listening to music or just spending time with your partner.
3: Take a step back
Just as the more the merrier, at times it can be more chaotic too. You could be a social and outgoing person who loves the company of people. But there you do not have to interact or live with them day in and day out. It is the difference between spending time with your best friend and living with her. Sometimes a good travel partner may not be the best roommate. But what choice do you have with your family? And the bigger the family, the wider the range of personalities, temperaments and sensibilities. You know it is as applicable to your family as it is to your husband’s. Just that the way you deal with it in each case would be different.
Within a joint family, there will be many layered relationships, some of which can lead to tricky situations. Avoid getting entangled in family matters early on. Remember the rest of the family members have been living together for a while and have their own equations with each person. Give your relationships with them time and play by the rules of the house till you figure out what works best for you.
4: The thin line between being modern and disrespectful
Respect elders. A joint family or not, that goes without saying. While arguing with your mother could be considered playful banter and not really count as being disrespectful at your home, doing that with your in-laws might backfire big time. Respect is subjective. What could be respectful enough for you might be offending to others.
Be sensitive and empathetic with elders, even if they are older to you by only afew years or hold a higher place in the relationship quotient, and interact accordingly. Be open to their opinions and criticisms. Without being rude, silently ignore whatever you disagree with. Be respectful not only in words but also in your mannerisms, body language and attitude with them.
5: Shouldering extra responsibility
One cannot deny the excitement that often accompanies the nervousness of walking into a new household and taking to the new role as fish takes to water. Marrying into a joint family means you are not to manage only your husband’s and your own expectations from the relationship, but also accommodate that of other members of the family. Do not set the bar too high for yourself. Or, be too harsh on yourself. It takes time to adapt, to embrace the change and become a part of it. It is okay to fail. Not everything you do has to be perfect. And give a chance to your new family to love you for who you are, rather than who you can be.
Walking in as a newly-married into a joint family could be intimidating, especially if you come from a nuclear family that met the rest of the family only on vacations or for festivities. But that should not stop you from exploring the various facets of living as big families. The bigger the family, the more people you have to call your own. To rush to in time of need and to celebrate small joys of daily life. Even children get an opportunity to grow up among grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins helping them develop closer bonds and family ties. Being a part of a joint family may at times get overwhelming and exhausting, but that’s what makes it endearing too. Don’t you agree?