The terrifying picture of how unbearable in-laws can be does not wait for you to marry. It manifests in your neighbour’s house, reaffirms its existence in the gist your mother and her friends share. And if you need any confirmation, Nollywood will gladly do the honours. The result is that long before we say ‘I do’, we have already mapped out strategies to say ‘I don’t’ to our in-laws, especially the mother-in-law.
However, this is merely a single story, unfair in its one sided representation. Adjusting to your in-laws is mega work and many husbands have been forced to choose between their sweet mother and the love of their lives, but are these feuds really necessary? Perhaps there is a different perspective from which we can consider these issues.
First, I don’t understand why the wife and mother have to compete for the man’s heart. In my opinion, both represent different kinds of love and should have separate places in your heart. One is your beginning; the other is your future. It is therefore very myopic to compare one with the other, their purposes are different. I love my mother extremely and I appreciate her sacrifices for me but I think men greatly overhype ‘a mother’s love’. Yes, your mother loves you. But she should, she is your mother! You are an extension of her, her most involving investment. A large chunk of who you are is consequent on what she taught you. She is probably the reason you don’t like boiled fish and if she had insisted, you would probably know how to clean. She is biologically programmed to love you; to do otherwise is an anomaly.
Your wife, on the other hand had a life of her own – values she treasured and hopes for the future. Then you came along and despite everything, she chose you. She noticed the way you chew but it didn’t matter. Your snore keeps her up at night and your meals keep her busy all day long. She could have had any other person, but she chose you as you are. That there is noteworthy love! Consider it deeply, if your mother was in her prime again and she met you as you are, do you think she will marry you? But your wife did. They both represent different kinds of love crucial to your wellbeing. Don’t lose one because of the other. Create enough time for each one and enough distance between them, assure each one of her value in your eyes and your undying devotion to her, take each of them serious and discharge your duties to them. I bet you, the competition will fizzle out.
Next on my list is you- madam wife. Where were you when your darling boo had chicken pox at age 7? What did you do about it when he fell off the fence and almost lost his legs? Did you contribute to the money when your mother-in-law had to sell her gold to sponsor his dreams? Cut that woman some slack, if you put in half as much as she has put into your husband into anything, you will carry it on your head and sit down there too. Your MIL is not your foe; she should actually be your partner. You both have the same goal- you want this man to succeed. There are certain spots in his heart only her hands can touch. Accept it, accept her. Make her feel secure, assure her you are here to do her son good and you appreciate her presence. Listen to her, or at least pretend to listen. Like one of my friends often says, she is your Mother-In-Love, the mother love brought your way.
Mama, I know you want only the best for your son, you live to protect him from life’s ills. But you can relax, that girl he brought home is not one of them. You trained this boy well, you should be able to trust his judgement. If he chose her, then there must be something worth loving about her. Welcome her with open hands, show her the way to your son’s heart and make a place for her in yours. She’ll stand with you, she is the guarantee that your son will turn out well.
I agree, these things are easier said than done. However, we should begin with a change in mind-set and give each other the benefit of the doubt. What tactics have you found useful in dealing with your mother-in-law? Are you mother-in-law phobic? Let’s rub minds in the comment section. We all deserve happy homes. Sisters-in-law are another matter, a phenomenon for which I cannot offer solutions to yet.
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