How it Feels to be an English Wife Living with my Indian Inlaws

If I had married an Englishman and then went to live with my inlaws, people would think it was pretty absurd and assume we had financial difficulties. They would probably ask, ‘when are you guys getting your own place?’ or say ‘how can you start out your married life with your in laws?’ Here in India on the other hand, it is a completely different kettle of fish. I’m living with my Indian inlaws

Joint families have always been part of Indian society and regarded as the norm. The new daughter-in-law lives with her husband’s family and as the new generation arrives the number in the household grows. The whole family live together and eat together under the same roof.

It does still feel a little odd for me to have moved so far away from my own family to then be living in closer proximity to my husband’s parents than I did my own. I worry it may become suffocating, especially as I am someone who enjoys their own space. My inlaws have been trying to give me space I need to adjust.

Beautiful black saree | How it Feels to be an English Wife Living with my Indian Inlaws

Unfortunately, I do feel that I have lost some of my independence. I think I will feel this way until I grasp the language and know my way around Nagpur. I have to depend on my husband and inlaws for everything. When I can walk out of the door and do things on my own, I will be a lot happier. I have days when I struggle with this living arrangement but I understand I am still in the period of ‘adjustment’ people keep talking about and I can see, in the distance, how my life could be once I get passed this stage.

I also have to gain the confidence to think of this as my own home, I am finding it difficult to shake the idea that this is just my inlaws home and I am lodging here for a while. Maybe it is my Western mindset? When my husband is at work I am yet to have the confidence to start preparing my own food or make a cup of tea. It is not that I am nervous of my inlaws, not at all, it is just I wouldn’t start randomly cooking in someone else’s home and I still feel as if I am a guest.

I am grateful to them for welcoming me into their home and not being offended when I do not like the food that has been prepared or sleep for the whole day because my stomach aches so much. I don’t know if time will change how I feel, I will just have to wait and see…


87 thoughts on “How it Feels to be an English Wife Living with my Indian Inlaws

  1. I can only imagine how it must be. But before long, you will feel like home, no doubt 🙂 – so glad to hear you sounding so happy regardless of your inability to buy something on your own at present 😉


  2. I still think that most of Indians live in joint families due to finance issues on the first place, but made it as respected tradition 🙂 I do find living in joint families much easier, one family – one bill. I have big family myself, so I can say it saves you many times.


  3. It sounds like you’re settling in marvellously! Like you, I was initially apprehensive about shifting to a much more tightly-knit family structure, but my experience so far has actually been really positive. Not only that, it’s made me value my own family much more, and to spend a lot more time with them when we’re in the same country. Of course there are downsides, but I do think we’ve probably gone too far the other way in the UK (at least in my family!).

    What you say about independence is also key though – being able to get shit done on your own is key! As soon as I was confident enough to get around Istanbul on my own, I felt a whole lot more secure.

    Are you taking language classes?


    • Wow so you are going through a similar transition to me then! 😀
      I agree with everything you’ve said, it is a shame that in the UK the general feel is that it is an accomplishment to move away from your family!

      I am really excited for the day I can wander around Nagpur, know where I am going and what I am doing. I am not taking language classes but maybe it is a good idea, it is no fun being oblivious to what is going on! x


  4. It feels so nice to see you happy and satisfied with the circumstances. I personally like the joint family system as you never feel alone and there are many people to help you in every matter. Many Duaa’s for your happy life 🙂 Love xx


  5. You are doing awesome! And yes, it would be bizarre for me at first, were I in the same situation. I admire your optimism. ❤
    I left home at 17, and I lived on my own for a long time. That's just the way it is here.
    When I learned that India is so family-oriented, it was intriguing, but I couldn't imagine living with my whole family. Independence is an achievement here. You are a respectable adult, if you have a job, your own place, etc.
    My family would feel the same, if I got married and lived with my in-laws. "When are you getting your own place??" Haha… I guess it is a Western mindset.
    I'm a bit shy, so getting up and making tea (and whatever else I needed to do), would feel really strange at first. I can understand that.
    But I love reading your story! You are making good progress. 🙂
    I'm sorry if this is a strange question, but do you have any specific duties or chores? Or do you just help out where you can?
    Have a good night!


    • I was living on my own too, before arriving in India. It is a big adjustment but it will be worth it!
      Well, we have maids who cook, clean and do the washing so I don’t actually have to do anything. I cook English things every now and then if I fancy them when my husband comes home. That is another thing to get used to, having maids!


  6. I totally hear you! Although I’m not married I’m Indian and I live in the US. Just adjusting to another way of life is a challenge. I can only imagine your case. Having to adjust to the culture and a different way of life. Bravo girl! You must really love your husband. He is indeed a lucky man to have a wife like you! And don’t worry about getting used to our culture. We might be loud and noisy but we are the most hospitable and loving bunch of people 🙂


  7. aaah I liked that Alexandra…

    I think yes.. its all about our mentality and how we have grown up. Now a days, joints families are less seen bcoz many reasons -nuclear family culture, job outside home city etc… It’s just not you who are experiencing the change but all girls- indian, feel the same way (or at least I feel so :O) adjusting in a new house, with new family members is always a tough task.. but lil adjustments, lil sentiments, lil love will make everything fine 🙂 😀 enjoy your lovely days 😀


  8. Wonderful post! I have also lived with my inlaws in India, and now we live in Canada and my MIL just left after a 3 month stay with me. We had a great time and we get along really well (we are both the same astrological sign!) LOL.
    Adjusting to a joint family is not as hard as it seems, I quite like the togetherness, but I do understand that feeling of the loss of independence. But family – is what it’s all about.
    I’m glad you’re back with your husband.


  9. This blog is very interesting,forces to give a serious thought to social change.Any way,seeing your efforts, we wish the God give you the power,patience and energy to adjust with the new family & new environment.We also wish that the new family must extend full cooperation to adapt and merge you in their family.All the best.


  10. I understand where your coming from and trust me even though I’m an Indian and being the only child I’ve not had to share things 😛 hehe. i still feel uncomfortable at the thought of staying for long with my in laws or anyone else. Had to do that after I got married for a few weeks before I could get here to the US. It was fun staying with them but like you said I would think ten times before I could do anything even if it was just to go make a cup of tea. It happens 🙂 hehe. But I guess as long as people around us are good . alls well 😀


      • it is 😀 your absolutely right and it is so lovely to see someone actually trying to adjust in the whole Indian way, the family system and writing about all the gods and temples n all. 🙂 Also, every time I read your blog it makes me feel so nice like there are still happy things around in the world hehe do keep in touch and also keep writing.
        Would love to be friends 😀
        take care Lauren.


  11. ahhhh.. loved reading this.. hope you soon get over your guest feeling and start enjoy things much more.. These days nuclear families are preferred over joint family.. However I still feel joints are better in many ways. I have seen working couple struggling daily to mange home and kids. And how now they miss and regret their decision of living separately. Yes there are times when house will look crowded and you feel like that you don’t have time for yourself, think positive and everything will tuned out to be good. All the best 🙂


  12. Too many comments. I don’t know if you have been suggested this, but there is a change of outlook required here. They are not your in-laws, that’s a English legal term. In relation, they are also your parents. And it is also your home now. Try realizing these facts and you will find the real bliss of a family, as it should be. There is no such thing as a joint-family. I find these terms offensive to the idea of cultured societies.


    • Hello Vikram,

      I hope you are well. I would just like to reassure you that I call my husbands parents ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ but for the purpose of this post have referred to them as in-laws to be understood. Whenever we are referring to our in laws to a third person we call them sasuma and sasurji (my husband told me this) but I am writing my blog in English, so please kindly accept this.

      This post was written in my second week of living in India and I hope you can see from my post that I am trying to adjust to my new home and country with love and respect. I also hope you can see from my perspective what a huge adjustment this is.

      Many thanks for your comment. Take care


      • Hello Lauren,

        I totally understand your position, and I was not blaming you for using those terms. Just making my point that they are inherently malicious meaning words that break the essence of family. Should be used scarcely.

        Words build up our frame of thoughts, you see. For example, another word that you used – adjustment. It’s the wrong word to use in this context. We don’t try to adjust to home and families, we try to integrate, we merge and blend, until the family becomes our own extension. Hope you see the difference here.

        Many Indians have forgotten this idea of family themselves, but I hope you can understand this and in turn be an example for others to think over this. From what I read from your blogs, I think you have already set great examples and you are doing really well.

        My best wishes!



      • Hello Vikram,

        Thank you so much for your lovely reply. I agree, the words you use definitely do build our frame of thoughts, that is why I always try to be optimistic. I do feel that in order to become integrated I must make some adjustments. Learning the language and customs for example, I think this will make the integration process so much easily, for me and my family. This does take time as my previous lifestyle was completely different (living alone away from family and working full-time).

        I am really glad that you are enjoying my blog posts and thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement!

        Thank you so much again,
        Best wishes and take care



  13. Nice picture! Look at this way, your in-laws are also getting accustomed to having a new family member in their home so it will take time to get used to the living situation. Take your time, pray and ask the deities for guidance, and enjoy the family. They are the most important people in your life. 🙂


  14. What a fantastic blog! I’m loving reading your stories and hearing about your new life, plus I am rounding out my India knowledge with all your explanations of the traditions there so thank you. We loved our time in India, your blog gives me a window back in.


  15. I stumbled upon your blog while searching for people’s experiences with Indian interracial marriages. Many people only look at the negative side of things and thus resent their in-laws. Your outlook sounds wonderful. I’m Indian (raised in America since I was 12) and my boyfriend is Italian-American (his great grandparents moved to the states in 1920s). He tries to understand my parents’ culture by comparing to his own big Italian family culture. Understanding is the key to make it work, I guess. Wish you the best with your married life!


    • Dear Shreya,

      Thank you so much for your kind words!! You are right, understanding and communication are the key otherwise unfortunately resentment can arise. Space and time apart is also important, being pent up together constantly can also lead to recentment!

      I hope you and your boyfriend are well! Thank you again!!


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  17. You are an angel. Just remember even Indian women would not make such a sacrifice for the man that they loved or were arranged to look after. I think you are a very selfless women and you will be blessed. I hope your husband knows what a diamond he has acquired!


  18. You need not feel bad or guilty about feeling like this 🙂 It is hard for many Indian girls also to adjust to a new life, specially in a joint family. I am not staying in one and I surely enjoy my freedom. Possibly a new job (if you wish to) or several DIY projects such as language lessons, Indian cooking lessons, driving (on Indian streets), etc would be a lovely distraction for you. As you start settling down, you will definitely come to love this country. All the festivals, the neighbours with their bits of gossip, quite a bit of the food and all the fantastic holiday destinations will soon inexorably draw you into a beautiful love affair with India 🙂


    • Hey!
      Thank you so much for your message. I am unable to work until I get my PIO card (next year) but until then I want to do some painting and carry on with writing. We are having trouble getting hold of paints and canvas in Nagpur, going to get some online!

      I am very excited to see more of India! I hope you are well! Take care

      Lauren x


  19. Lovely blog ! Enjoyed reading it. I am staying In USA for the past 6 yrs and really miss India especially my family. Lots of fun , activities , festivals , temples , relatives and shopping , medical college days , friends and movies and so on ….Nice to know u are acquainted with our culture and felt India welcoming ! Enjoy and take care 🙂


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  21. Lauren I love your blog and can totally relate to it! I’m British, married to a Sri Lanka, now living in Dubai. I had SO many ups and downs and battles with the culture but ultimately it was worth it. My husbands family only speak Tamil and are very traditional. My first visit was spent in floods of tears and visiting the many many relatives as is socially required! I have adjusted now though and we managed to find a good balance, although I really admire you for making a life in India. I’m still not yet ready to settle down in SL. You can read some of my tales on my blog if you are interested. Wishing you the best of luck in your Indian life 🙂


    • Heylo! How lovely to meet you!
      Only now I am begining to relax again living with my inlaws, after a rocky ride! I hated the hundreds of people coming to look at me, I felt like a zoo animal for those weeks, I know how you felt!
      I am excited to check out your blog!! Take careee xxx


  22. Friend
    Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. Love is blind. Both are contradicting statements. For a successful marriage that too between cultures (East and West) you have given a lot to make your marriage successful considering the mindset of an average westerner which is self centric. Even for an average indian girl, nowadays wishes for a nuclear family, dumps her in-laws within the first year of married life. They don’t realize the pros of having a joint family but prefer….. better left unsaid. A firangi (i would be too mean to say that) has proved a far more worthier than the Indian girls. This is a fact not a praise. I just realize how much you have given to change yourself totally from self to non-self. It is a great feat (too small a word). Surely, you should have too blessed to have such an accommodating MIL (mother in law) and ur MIL should be too lucky to have you.
    Best wishes for a long lasting married life.


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  24. Hi Lauren, my story is kind of different to yours. I am an Aussie girl whom was in a relationship with an Indian man. We have a 9 month old daughter from the relationship, which sadly broke down due to lies and abuse perpetrated by my ex partner. we lived with my mum and sisters in Australia (not his in laws).


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  26. Hi,
    I am following your blog for quite some time now but never posted my comments here. Today I want to write here. I am an Indian and now working and living in Norway.
    First of all I want to congratulate you to marry an Indian man and living with him in India. Its really a great thing. I admire your courage and love for your husband. As per my opinion he is the luckiest man. I must congratulate you and your husband for your marriage anniversary.

    I want to give some advice regarding regarding living with your joint family. As per Indian culture, cast, religion & many other things it is very difficult to live any Indian girl with her in-law’s after marriage. There are so many factors for it. In your case it is quite possible and difficult just because first you are foreigner who don’t know much about culture. Second communication gap because of different languages. You have tried your level best and manage to bridge this gap but I know it will not work. I dont know whether you came to know about the fact that most of the Indian girls after marriage not willing to live with their in laws.
    Its very sad but true because you need to have their blessings every time you do new things.

    I came to know your love story by BBC news. Since then I got impressed and tried to search so many other foreigner girl and Indian men marriages. I have gone through everybody’s comments at your blog. The way your love story started, you got married, you started living In Nagpur. Its all amazed me. Its very impossible to any Indian girl so forget about any foreigner. You need to have lots of courage for this. Hats off to you!!

    The other thing about your mother in law, I think nobody has commented like me. She really happy for both of you. Its off course lack of communications, generation gap and possessiveness. I think she may be thinking that she brought up your husband since childhood and now suddenly someone came and got hold of her son. If you think by her perspective then you will understand it. Of course you are not going to take away her son or got hold of her but she mat be thinking that she lost her son. I think its just natural process nobody is going to stop this but let time pass and she will accept you as you are like daughter in law or may be her own daughter.

    I know you must be thinking who am I to give you all this advice and suggestions. After studying and reading all at your blog I thought I should write something.

    Now I am 45 living alone here. I married once and it was a disaster. Since then I have decided not to marry any Indian girl or for that matter any girl. All these thing came up in my mind from deep of my heart for you. In my opinion both of you are very lucky. You have found your soul mate and he found his beloved.

    I congratulate both of you for your new house. You have already shifted there.

    May God bless you in every moment of your life!!



    • Hey Umesh,

      Lovely to hear from you, thank you for your message and thanks for reading! Some things common in Indian society, especially family dynamics seem very illogical to me but my method is to try and say everything frankly, I see that many daughter in law’s do not do this but I am trying to. I have to express my feelings instead of grudges, in my opinion its the most healthy thing to do.

      Sending you lots of good wishes and happiness! I hope you are well, thank you for your comment again!
      Take care,


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  28. My fiancé lives in a joint family, and I can not move to the joint family. I won’t. The daughter-in-law is expected to cook and clean for everyone in the entire family, and also watch the children – even if she works full time. In addition, the in-laws (or grandparents) pay no money toward mortgage, utilities, food, or other household costs, and do not work in the house. Neither do the men. It’s pathetic. I’m not handing my paycheck over to parents who take it to travel, donate to the church, and act like wealthy philanthropists when we need some of our hard earned money to pay their expenses! It’s insane!


    • Hey Lori,
      From experience and the experience of those I know, it is a wise move. We have a really good thing going on now, we see my husband’s parents almost daily but have our own home. I like it this way! 🙂


  29. Hi. I will be living with my boyfriend’s indian parents too. I don’t know Hindi and they don’t speak English. I’m scared but I love my boyfriend so much. Any advice?


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