This was Mosun’s lamentation over lunch last Friday. I laughed at what I hoped was an exaggeration and then asked what her MIL (“MIL” used interchangeably here with Mother-In-Law) had done to deserve this rather harsh label. It turns out her MIL had decided that her son, his wife (Mosun) and their kids MUST start attending her own church, because her Bishop is “specially anointed” and has “unparalleled spiritual gifts”.
It didn’t matter that Mosun and family live in Ajah and the church is in Isolo. It didn’t matter that for the last 9 years of their marriage, Mosun and her family were already embedded as workers and were very happy in their own neighborhood church. Mosun’s hubby never saw the need to question his mother’s choices so that was that. New Sunday routine. Isolo straight.
My issue isn’t with Mosun’s hubby or his approach, that’s another story for another day. My issue is with mothers who just won’t let peace reign in their sons’ homes.
A lot of our mothers have bitter stories about their own mothers-in-law. You would think they’d therefore be more sensitive and do their best to ensure the cycle doesn’t continue, but no. This does not appear to be the case at all.
I have at least 50 unpleasant stories I could share but I’ll tell just a few, for lack of space and time.
I know of one MIL who came to the U.K. ostensibly for duties of Omugwo (the period just after birth when either of the couple’s moms comes over for a few weeks/months to assist with adjusting to the new baby). Once her son leaves for work, she starts to rain verbal abuse on her daughter-in-law. She shouts about how much money her son spoils her with, how bad her cooking is, how she knows it must be witchcraft that makes her son not see he married a useless woman, how nobody in their family had a C-section until her son’s wife came along to dilute the Hebrewness they were all well admired for etc. Every day the hubby returned from work, he’d see his wife with red eyes and a puffy face from all the crying. Wife never exposed the truth; she told him it was probably hormonal imbalances. Hubby had his own hunches and decided to be an investigator.
One day, he pretended to drive to work, but crept back on foot to stand by the window. And then he heard it all, the unprovoked insults from his mother and the teary pleas from his wife. He immediately stepped in and asked his mum why. She said his wife was over pampered and needed to be taught a lesson. He tried to reason with her for 2 days and when nothing was working, he booked the next flight back to Nigeria for her.
Another MIL showed up, again for Omugwo, and as soon as her son travelled out of town, she made her daughter-in-law her virtual slave, demanding freshly cooked meals daily from her, monitoring her every movement and doing absolutely nothing to help with the baby or around the house.
More recently, I have a friend who’s having some marital issues. She’s not as sexual as her hubby would like (she acts borderline frigid to be honest). He got a girlfriend, she found out, she confronted him, they got into a fight and he moved back to his mum’s house in anger.
Now the trip is, his mum is just so excited to have her son back home and is therefore doing everything to foster more hostility between the couple. We, the friends, are perplexed. We genuinely believe there’s still something to be salvaged in this marriage. They still love each other. They have a beautiful kid together. Things can be worked through but his mum is like “nah, let my son remain here jare”. Hian! This kind of mother-in-law ehn…
Having said all the above, I also know not all daughters-in-law are blameless. Some go into a marriage battle ready with pre-conceived notions, threatening advance fire and brimstone to their in-laws. For this reason, they just can’t be cordial. The love can’t flow. And where love doesn’t flow… wahala…
On the flip side of all of this, I know of some fortunate ladies who have a beautiful relationship with their mothers-in-law; even going as far as saying they feel more comfortable with their MILs than their own mothers. Sadly these are in the minority, as most of the stories I’ve heard from friends and colleagues centre on the Nollywood-Patience-Ozokwor-type experiences.
Now my questions are:
– How many of us women reading this, knowing the vicious circle that exists in this mother-in-law matter, think that we must make a conscious effort to beat the stereotype and do better?
– It’s beautiful that we seem to be placing more and more emphasis on women supporting women in business, in politics and in general enterprise, but what about at home?
– How can we continue to berate men for the increasing cases of domestic abuse but neglect the part we play in emotionally abusing our fellow women? (Chei! I’m just hoping that John and Paul Adeyemo don’t jump on this train, na beg I dey beg una.)
– How is it that the husbands and the fathers-in-law don’t seem to have widespread stories of these issues that we wives and mothers-in-law tend to have? What are they doing right?
I have 2 sons. I’ve started preparing myself mentally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and every other way possible, to try my hardest to be a friend to their future wives. I know I have no control over the character of the women they’ll choose to marry, so I also include this aspect in my prayers and just hope for the best.
A few years back, I told a pal about praying for my sons’ wives and the relationship I will have with them and she started to laugh. She said I needed to chill; “it’s too early to think that far ahead”. I personally do not think so.
For an issue that’s reared its ugly head for decades, centuries even…for an issue that’s so deeply ingrained in our society that you hear some women declare in a most sinister way, that they can’t wait for their sons to get married so they too can reap the “rewards” of subservient daughters-in-law, or young women who say they hope they end up with a husband whose mum isn’t alive (yes I’ve heard this said!), I really don’t think it’s too early to start undoing the mindset, in myself and in anyone I can preach to.
Sometimes I think that if you’re a naturally considerate person, then this shouldn’t be a problem for you. I consider myself to be one, BUT then again, because I’ve seen the sweetest women suddenly turn into raging vampires with their daughters-in-law, I won’t take chances. I will make a deliberate effort, starting from now, to mentally prepare myself to do better and be better.
My BN family, please share your unbiased thoughts. I’d love to hear your experiences too.
Much love X
Photo Credit: Dreamstime