Difficult In-Laws



Aidy Thomas

Dear Mrs. Thomas,
Having been following the way you handle issues, I feel motivated to share my long  lasting battles of acceptance with my in-laws just to hear your own counsel.

Richard, my husband, is a very nice guy and we’ve known each other for quite some  time ever before we got married. Although not living together in the same house  before marriage, we saw each other quite often and related as friends, sharing and  helping each other through the challenges of life.

I graduated before my husband and got a job in a bank which was relatively doing  well and when Richard finished his course, I used my connection in the industry and  he also got a job in another bank.

Things were really looking up and it wasn’t long, Richard proposed marriage to me  and, of course, I agreed. This was the first time he mentioned to me about going to  see his parents in Ife as I hadn’t met either of his parents nor siblings except his  youngest sister who lives with him in Lagos.

When we got to Ife, it was very clear from the reception that there were  reservations on the part of my in-laws about me, but Richard kept telling me it was  because they were meeting me for the first time and that things would definitely get  better with time.

As we got talking, my father in-law asked about my state, village, family and  parents. I was talking about my parents when my mother in-law interrupted and asked  for my age. Totally unprepared, I told her my real age and she almost screamed her  head off. “For heaven’s sake, Richard, what are you doing with a woman older than  you?” I was pretty embarrassed and wondered to myself when did age become a  yardstick for marriage. If my husband doesn’t mind and I look really young and trim  (it’s difficult for you to believe I was actually past 25 years), so what is his  mother’s headache? I’m suspecting Richard’s younger sister would have been feeding  her with all sorts of crab. There was even a day I saw her look at my driver’s  licence, maybe that was how she got a wind of my age to broadcast everywhere.

My husband was firm enough to stand his grounds and insisted he wanted to marry me.  When it was clear there was really nothing anyone could do, they gave in and we got  married, but ever since then, it’s been very difficult to relate with his people.  Anything I do or say, they’ll always find faults.

I decided to write this letter after the last incident that occurred last month when  we visited Richard’s parents in Ife again. My husband had not been working for the  past six months and his parents know about this. There’s a fraud allegation in his  department and eventually, they were placed on suspension without pay. Since my job  was okay, I provided for the family without complaining.

A colleague was getting married in Ife and Richard wanted us to go and attending a  wedding in Ife meant we’ll also see his parents, so I bought a whole lot of nice  things for my parents in-law, packed in a suitcase.

When we arrived, I removed the suit case and handed it to mama, as we all call my  mother in-law. She collected it, walked over to Richard and gave him a big hug,  totally ignoring me, not even a thank you, not to mention a hug. She then danced and  praised the son for spending so much money on her and taking good care of her.

I felt so bad and hurt that I couldn’t even eat her food and made up my mind never  to give my hard-earned income nor visit again.

Is this the right decision?

—Sylvia, Lagos.

Dear Sylvia,
Problems with in-laws are common ground but yours went a bit too far. If you permit  me, I’ll say to Richard that he’s the only person who can douse this ‘fire’ for you.
When his mother treated you that way, he was expected to tell her you actually  bought those things for her and not him. He would have simply said “please, thank my  wife because she did all these without me even knowing,” then the mother would have  been in a tight corner to appreciate you.
I can perceive there are some petty quarrels trailing your marriage as you rightly  said that Richard’s younger sister lives with you and may be the one spreading false  information about you. There is nothing much you can do than settle whatever  differences you have and overlook some things that might bring problems. I tell you,  marriage needs a lot of maturity and patience.
Don’t stop visiting your parents in-law, show them love as you can and be positive  that things would change in your favour some day.
One thing I’ve come to discover about parents is they need to be sure their children  are happy and safe with whoever they are marrying but sometimes, they get it all  wrong and go to the extreme.
Men should please protect their wives and let the parents know that they are also  children of other people.

This is the conclusion of the whole matter, men should fear and worship GOD.

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