October 18, 2020 at 6:45 am #367916msfuturedoctorParticipant
I’m honestly quite unsure of whether this is the correct forum to speak of this in, since it is not technically my relationship, but my parent’s, but here goes.
My father passed away from cancer 6 years ago. It’s just me, my mom and my younger brother now. And after his passing, our lives changed drastically, and I mean DRASTICALLY. We moved out of our home where my parents planned to live for the rest of our lives, we got out of the businesses that my parents worked and built up together, we even moved states. So now we live in a while different state, with a whole different business, in a whole different house. The changes have been so large that it’s sometimes hard to remember what “my life” used to look like before this. But this really isn’t about me.
My parents come from a time when the traditional culture in India was stuck to the mindset of arranged marriages. And as the second eldest of 6 kids, my mom married pretty early before the others. She married my dad who was an authentic Gujarati man in every way – joint family, small town, family business.
When they moved to the US, all of his side of the family set up to start their own nuclear families, but the dedication my father had to his sister never changed. Don’t get me wrong that’s beautiful. You should never forget your family just because you get married and create your own, but his sister (my aunt) always caused problems in my parent’s marriage. Starting fights between them, saying my mom was being unreasonable. Let me tell you, my dad told my mom she didn’t have to work or anything when they moved to the US, but my mom said “What? Why would I just let you work everything? I will help.” And she’s been working with ever since. Seeing what my other uncle goes through having to provide for the family when his wife sits at home and complains about stuff all day…my mom is nothing like that. She is hot-tempered, but not a bad person.
So anyway, the years went by, and things were going as they went. I saw an improvement in my parent’s relationship toward the end. It was beautiful. I feel you don’t usually see that in arranged marriages much. They stopped fighting. They were more loving. It was perfect. And I will never forget that picture perfect part of our family.
When the cancer started taking over my father, he was hospitalized for the last 12 days of his life. My mom stayed there with him. Every. Single. Day. She sat with him, talked to him, recited Indian prayers, doing anything she could in her power to fix this. I remember when he passed, and they said they have to take him away the nurse that came in told my mom that “He is watching. Don’t worry. I’ve seen you here, next to him all these days. He knows how much you did.”
I knew all this. I knew about it all. What I didn’t know though…was when my father was in the hospital, he told my mom that he ruined her life and that he should marry someone who will keep her happy and take care of their 2 kids. We were 17 and 10 at that point. Being that my parents came from such traditional times, I believe that my mom would never go for it, but it feels like such a huge hit to hear this. I can’t seem to make sense of it. My dad ruined my mom’s life? I asked my mom further what she meant and she said that she never got any good times from when they lived with his parents or when they lived together. And I asked what do you mean and she just said that I wouldn’t understand. I could tell she was visibly upset, of course, that makes sense. Why wouldn’t she be? My beautiful mother 🙁
What do I do? How can I help? I am feeling so lost. I usually have a reaction or a thought of what I could do, but what is it could do besides turn back time? My mom said that after her younger brothers and sisters saw them, that they all swore they wouldn’t marry anyone from the Gujarat area. I hate to see my father in such a bad light, but….maybe there is more to the story. But all these feelings itself feel SO CONFLICTING.
If anyone has any advice…thank you.October 18, 2020 at 9:44 am #367917anitaParticipant
You shared that your mother, a second eldest of six children in India, in accordance with the arranged marriage tradition, married your father, “an authentic Gujarati man in every way- joint family, small town, family business, and the two of them moved from India to the U.S., as well as members of his side f the family, including his sister, with the aim of starting “their own nuclear families”.
* Wikipedia: the Gujarati people mainly inhabit the Indian state of Gujarat in Western India, but millions live in other parts of India, and in many parts of the world. In recent decades, larger numbers of Gujaratis have migrated to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. All through history Gujaratis have earned a reputation as being India’s greatest merchants, industrialists and business entrepreneurs. Early immigrants to the U.S after 1965 were highly educated professionals. “Given the Gujarati propensity for business enterprise, a number of them opened shops and motels. .. in the 21st century over 40% of the hospitality industry in the United States is controlled by Gujaratis… The descendants of the Gujarati immigrant generation have also made high levels of advancement into professional fields, including physicians, engineers and politicians.
Back to your individual family story: for some time, your mother lived with your father’s parents, and with other family members. Your father, although married to your mother, remained dedicated to his original family, particularly to his sister. His sister/ your aunt, a woman who “sits at home and complains about stuff all day” while her husband/ your uncle provides for the family, “always caused problems in my parents’ marriage. Starting fights between them, saying my mom was being unreasonable”.
Your mother, “hot tempered, but not a bad person”, a hard working woman who worked together with your father in the family business, “never got any good times from when they lived with his parents or when they lived together. Her younger brothers and sisters, seeing their marriage, “swore they wouldn’t marry anyone from the Gujarat area.
Toward the end of your parents’ marriage, before your father’s death six years ago, you saw an improvement in their relationship. “It was beautiful… They stopped fighting. They were more loving. It was perfect. And I will never forget that picture perfect part of our family”. And then, your father got sick with cancer. While in the hospital in the last 12 days of his life, your mother “stayed there with him. Every. Single. Day. She sat with him, talked to him, recited Indian prayers, doing anything she could in her power to fix this”. Sometime during those 12 days, six years ago, while you were 17, and your younger brother was 10, your father told your mother that “he ruined her life and that she should marry someone who will keep her happy and take care of their 2 kids”
After his passing, six years ago, your life changed drastically: with your mother and brother, you moved out of the home “where my parents planned to live for the rest of our lives, we got out of the business that my parents worked and built together, we even moved states. So now we live in a.. different state, with a whole different business, in a whole different house… it’s sometimes hard to remember what ‘my life’ used to look like before this”.
At this point, regarding what your father told your mother before his death, something you recently found out, “it feels like such a huge hit to hear this. I can’t seem to make sense of it. My dad ruined my mom’s life?.. What do I do? How can I help? I am feeling so lost.. what is it could do beside turn back time? .. I hate to see my father in such bad light, but… maybe there is more to the story. But all these feelings itself feel SO CONFLICTING. If anyone has any advice”-
1. “My dad ruined my mom’s life?.. I hate to see my father in such a bad light”- when your father, in the last days of his life, told your mother that he ruined her life, I don’t think that this thought occurred to him for the first time in his life. It is likely that your mother, a hot tempered woman, accused him of ruining her life many times during their many fights over the years. While she was upset when living with his parents, while upset that he let his sister cause them problems, she may have accused your father: you ruined my life!!! Fast forward, in his last days, he remembers her accusation, feeling guilty, he addresses it. In reality, they both ruined their marriage, in addition to his sister doing her share, and they both tried to help their marriage, achieving a measure of success in the last years of the marriage.
2. In your May 2019 thread, you wrote regarding your boyfriend of over three years at the time, that he is “so kind and caring.. extremely loyal.. he honestly and truly has never given me a reason to mistrust him”, and yet, you wrote: “I have found it hard for me to trust him sometimes, and I get jealous and mistrusting very easily”. In August 2019, regarding the same issue, I suggested to you: “Your boyfriend didn’t betray your trust, but someone did, someone in your family”. More than a year later, after reading your current original post, I figure that the betrayal you experienced in your original home, living with your parents, is a betrayal by proxy, that is, you heard your parents fight and your mother accusing your father for betraying her, for being dedicated and loyal not to her (and to his children), but to his sister.
Your empathy was and is with your mother, and so, you identified with her struggles, with her pain, and therefore, her pain was your own, the betrayal she experienced and expressed.. was your own.
Because of this powerful empathy for your mother, I don’t think you have had an objective understanding of their marriage, or of your parents (this is most often the case as far as children’s understanding of their parents). It is not likely that objectively your father ruined your mother’s life. First, he didn’t invent the tradition of arranged marriage, second, lots of love marriages are troubled and end in divorce (the love in the love marriages expires), third, being married to a hot tempered woman is not easy for any man- it is not a plus in a marriage. Fourth, reads to me that your father was a hard working, loyal family man, although with an excessive loyalty to his meddling sister.
“What do I do? How can I help?”- if you would like, let me know what you think about my input so far, and I will be glad to try and answer these questions, and any others that you may have.