The battle with the -law

An in-law, in my definition, is an absolute stranger with whom you attempt to bond through your common love of your spouse. Please note my use of the word ‘attempt’. This implies that as with any attempt, you may be successful or unsuccessful after one or multiple attempts.

My focus today will be mainly on the females. This is because my brief opinion poll showed that majority of women claim to have very few problems with the males in their husband’s family. The most ‘interesting’ stories I heard were about the women. I think this is probably because whether acknowledged or not, there is always some form of power play between the women in a man’s life. Husbands (bless them) are sometimes blind (or pretend to be) to this subtle battle going on.

This rivalry is a case of history repeating itself endlessly. As a result, the name ‘mother-in-law’ has come to be almost synonymous with ‘formidable’ over time. I have noticed that most single ladies now have a ‘daggers drawn’ approach when it comes to how they intend to handle their in-laws, especially the mothers-in-law. There can be several reasons for this. Sometimes a mother may have disagreed with her son’s choice of a wife and as a result, the wife (if they do eventually get married) tags her an enemy of the marriage. Secondly, we’ve all heard stories of how some marriages were destroyed/almost destroyed by the relentless and bitter pursuits of some mothers-in-law. These stories may make single ladies brace themselves. Finally, she may very well indeed be formidable.

Let’s look at this issue from a different perspective. Some women have a pattern of unstable relationships with friends and even family. They can’t even seem to make up their minds on who is good and who is bad. If a woman has all her life shown a pattern of unstable relationships and fights with acquaintances, why then would her relationship with you be any different? Having this insight might make you feel a little better knowing you are not the problem and this could even provide you a way to cope with the person more effectively. That is, if you are not a person who typically can’t hold on to relationships yourself. Try to understand who you are dealing with, and understand yourself too. On the other hand, an otherwise wonderful and reasonable woman may just not get along with her daughter-in-law. She may have unrealistic expectations of you, making it impossible for you to do anything right…your spirits just won’t click. Maybe she feels threatened by your hold on her son…her son’s love for you. She has been eclipsed and feels you are replacing her as the superwoman and this is her way of reacting to this fear.

I believe that if husbands play their roles well as moderators of this budding bond between strangers, there would be very little problems. Being in the middle, your husband knows you and his mother better than you know each other-at least initially. A man once told me his reason for not allowing his wife and mum live together was that his wife is hot-tempered and his mum is unforgiving. It’s his responsibility to shield each of you from the other’s flaws (which he should know as a smart person) and avoid being swayed back and forth between you two. If he plays the moderator role well and has a consistent and firm role definition for wife and mother, you will both have nothing but absolute respect for each other’s distinct and irreplaceable roles in his life.

I definitely do not dispute the fact that mothers-in-law may sometimes be a handful. However, I want us to bear in mind that one day, the tables will be turned around and who knows what our own daughters-in-law will say about us? Handle yourself with dignity, be respectful and refuse to be disrespected. I believe that women have incredible problem-solving tactics. You need to know what works best for you and stick to it. Know what your expectations are. Try to solve your disputes with your husband if/when they arise. If the visits are uncomfortable, make them brief but don’t stop going. Encourage your husband to be a good son. She can’t be totally bad if she raised such a wonderful son.

Finally, if you are reading this and still single, please go in with an open mind. Be prepared to like and be liked. Do your half. A lot of women love their mother-in-law and confide in her and vice versa. It’s definitely possible. If however, that boat has sailed and yours isn’t as good, then you just have to keep working on this relationship.There’s a method, you just haven’t found it yet but you will. Don’t give anyone else the credit for the success or failure of your marriage. It’s up to you and your spouse.

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

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