Mothers-in-law and Daughter-in-law Misunderstanding
A problematic relationship exists particularly between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and mother-in-law has been blamed for many misunderstanding in marriage. There is a general pre-conceived notion by many wives across the world that mothers-in-law are mean, wicked and wish them dead. There have been more problems created in a home because a mother-in-law wanting to tell the couple what to do. The causes of the breakdown in many marriages have been traced to the overbearing attitude of mothers-in-law. Very few wives have ever had anything good to say about their mothers-in-law. Therefore it is apparent that mothers unwittingly bring about more difficulty in marital adjustments than do fathers.
The degree of anguish and unhappiness that an improperly handled mother-in-law may produce is tremendous. The inability on the part of a mother to become reconciled to taking second place in a child’s affection is most noticeable in the relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. The mother is still as solicitous for her child’s welfare as when the child was a child was a teenager, so out of the goodness of her heart, the mother naturally offers counsel in whatever situation she feels should be improved for the benefit of her son or daughter.
The mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law relationship is a delicate one. Because of pre-conceived notions about mothers-in-laws that many wives had while they were spinsters, many of them came into their marriage prepared for the battle that must be fought to put their mother-in-law in the right place. So if these wives have naturally loving and caring mothers-in-law, they would misconstrue everything done and said by their mothers-in-law.
Another cause of the problem is the illusion that many wives have that their husbands must dissociate from his parents and cling to them. It is natural for the son-in-law and the daughter-in-law to assume and insist that he has the primary right to the affection of his partner. Each therefore resents what he/she considers to be the selfish intention of mother-in-law to cheat him/her of the first place in the heart of his/her partner.
There are many circumstances which seem to bring tension between couples and their mothers-in-law. The tension practically always results from a tendency toward over-domination on the part of the mother-in-law and a resentment of this domination by the son-in-law or daughter-in-law, who feels that his/her home is established and the decisions affecting the family should be determined by the husband and wife, not by the mothers-in-law of either. The African mother-in-law is more domineering than her western counterpart. The African mother-in-law derives her enormous powers from cultural and traditional values.
Mothers naturally love their children and this love does not terminate when they are married. They were there for their sons while young at his most vulnerable periods and bore the burden of his upbringing when he was growing up, learning to take his first steps, during sickness or struggling. Such mothers would look to their sons for solace and want to be accepted and loved by him and his wife. When you have the confidence and competence to handle your mother-in-law with care, then you’re less likely to succumb to the stomach churning anxieties that come from not knowing how you will deal with whatever problem that may develop.
In many parts, open display of affection for a wife by her husband is often viewed as unmanliness or personal weakness so husbands watch helplessly while their mothers undo their marriages. Therefore, many husbands support their mothers against their wives even when it is clear that the wife is the aggrieved party.
But affection between a mother and a child should not be so constantly and continuously manifested that it deprives the child a fair opportunity to develop his/her independent personality. It is all right to advice people, but it’s not in order to run other people’s lives –even if they are your children. Any reasonable mother-in-law would spare herself a lot of blame if she’d she accepted the newly established home is an entity in itself and that the husband, even though her son or son-in-law is the rightful head of the house. When they become adults, they are accountable for their own lives. Children should grow up and get out on their own. Parents should teach their children to make decisions for themselves. Parents are not responsible for their grown up children. Adults must continue to honor their parents.
But a mother with a healthy outlook in will realize that a time will eventually come when her child will establish his own home and that it is best for a married child to be free from parental interference. Such a healthy attitude enables a mother to rejoice with her child at the time of marriage rather for her to enter a long period of mourning over her loss. If she understands that she a guest in the newly established home rather than a matron, she would prevent the misunderstanding between herself and her daughter-in-law or son-in-law.
A wife is expected to humble herself before her in-laws, be accommodating, tolerate and love them. Love is the foundation and the bedrock of every marriage but this love should be extended not only to the husband but also to the in-laws even if the wife thinks that they do not like her. She cannot obliterate her in-laws and should check herself to see if there are any issues within her which caused the friction. She must not be on the offensive through pre-conceived notions that mothers-in-law are evil.
The most common circumstance that precipitates these unpleasant feelings is the arrangement by which married children and parents-in-law live under the same roof. Genesis 2:24 states, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Physically moving from the parents’ home is just one kind of necessary departure for a healthy marriage. The logical way to maintain a friendly relation is for the young couple to establish their home as a separate entity so that, it may consequently be recognized by themselves and by both of their parents that the new home is discreet.
Husbands and wives also need to depart emotionally. Too many married adults have never consciously stepped away from their parents’ emotional control. The process of stepping away emotionally will be gradual, and that process is longer when strong controlling parents are involved. If the daughter-in-law also realizes the years of affection which has been built over the period of years between mother and son still exists and that the established habits cannot be easily terminated, she might be more tolerant of her mother-in-law and more patient with her husband as they tend to come to terms with the new situation. It is ironic that the same wife, who wants her husband to dissociate from her his parents in the name of clinging to her, would have her own mother in her home at every excuse. Unfortunately, some husbands who did not realize the manipulative politics of their wives aimed at creating a bad impression about their mothers, have on account of the mischievous reports given them by the wives, spoken harshly to their mothers and have alienated them.
Financial independence is another important aspect of leaving home. Leaving financially means we are free to accept financial assistance from our parents but we no longer depend on them for the funds we need. Again, many adults have not tried to achieve financial independence because they are counting on dad and mom’s money to be there for them. Achieving independence from one’s parents can be long or short, easy or difficult process. Again, departure doesn’t mean that parents and their married children will never see each other. It does mean a new phase of relationship in which parents regard their children as independent adults capable of managing their own home, their emotional lives, and their own financial situations.
Despite being married to their wives, some sons are still emotionally attached to their mothers or tied to her apron strings and would run to their mothers for succor at every turn. Such sons contribute to the conflict by granting their mothers the power to meddle or to interfere in their marital affairs, by their immaturity to face their responsibilities as men. A son who allows his parents to interfere in his marital affairs has set the stage for conflict which must occur if his wife resents such interference.
Complications that develop with respect to mothers-in-law can be avoided if the young couple presents a united front. How does a man cleave unto his wife without straining the relationship with his parents? Each couple must be frank about the influence parents, so that each of them will know in advance what to expect. The new couple will not make an absolute break from their parents, but they must realize that they are now a family, and they need to make their own decisions. The husband and wife must be greater loyalty to each other than to their parents.
It is not always possible to keep the obligation to parents and spouse entirely discreet and separate, they sometimes overlap. However, while there are touchy mothers-in-law who are difficult to please no matter how a wife strives, some mothers have genuine intentions and a sincere concern for the welfare of her son but the way her good intention will be received by her daughter-in-law will depend on her diplomacy. However, there should be no excuse to neglect their parents or disregard their comfort once there is decrease of their vital forces.