27th September, 2011
I believe the story of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is not new to anyone in our society. I canâ€™t say what this relationship is like outside Nigeria, but I am going to write from the Nigerian perspective.
We all know that it is always difficult for two women to dwell together and live under the same roof in unity. It doesnâ€™t matter how closely related they are, the truth is that even twins are not left out. I donâ€™t know why this is happening and I donâ€™t know when it is going to end, but as the male folks always say, women are their own worst enemies.
This battle among women gets hotter when a man decides to bring another woman home to become his flesh and body. A man is first his motherâ€™s son and as it is said, no matter your age, you remain a child to your mother. Some mothers find it difficult to accept the fact that their son or daughter has grown and should be allowed some independence.
I have taken time to critically look at this issue because of the problems women are having in their relationships? Why is it that our men donâ€™t have this same issue with their mothers-in-law? I have also wondered why fathers-in-law donâ€™t always have issues with either the son or daughter -in-law. Isnâ€™t this the same case of women being their own enemies? I had this as a post on my Facebook wall sometime ago and from the reactions, I could see that this is a very big problem that may need a very long time to be sorted out.
As you know, my Tuesday column is strictly for women while Friday is for men. I have noticed that when guys read Tuesday articles they are very happy and always bombard me with beautiful text messages. The same happens when ladies read the Friday column; I get wonderful messages from ladies as against the stones thrown at me when it doesnâ€™t suit them. It will not always go the way we want it; that is life.
I will start with daughters-in-law. I believe every woman was, is, and would be a daughter-in-law. The mothers-in-law were sometime daughters-in-law and daughters-in-law will someday become mothers-in-law. This is life;what goes around, comes around. When you understand that life is â€œturn by turnâ€ as the musicians said it, you will be careful how you go through it.
I know how difficult and frustrating it could be when you try and do all you can to make someone happy only for the person to keep on returning evil for good. In fact, it will take the spirit of God, an exceptional one for you to go on in your good deeds. A lot of good women and wives have been pushed to the point where they eventually become, like one of my friends says, worse than hurricane Katrina. I know there are women who are from very good homes with godly upbringing, but they became different people after marriage due to blows received from life and in-laws.
There are also women who are from very bad homes with no good upbringing and training received from the mother. This is why it is always advisable to check out the family and upbringing of the woman or man you want to go into marriage with. If the mother maltreats the father and other people around her, there is every tendency that your wife will have issues with your mother and siblings.
But there are also some girls from very good homes and with very godly upbringing, but from mixing up with peers, have cultivated some attitudes and mentality that are completely opposite of what they were brought up to know.
I have heard girls say they donâ€™t want to get married to a man whose mother is still alive. I know this statement could have been made out of fear and anxiety. I know some girls say things like this after experiencing what their mother or sister went through in marriage. But I also donâ€™t think it is a good enough reason for anyone to wish another dead. If you are someone with this kind of heart, it says one thingâ€”you are not in love with the man because if you are, you wonâ€™t pray for anything that can cause him pain.
Some women, even before getting into marriage, have this phobia for mothers-in-law. This is what makes a girl start fighting every one related to the man the moment she enters his house. Some of these mothers-in-law battles are actually ignited by daughters-in-law. Because of the mindset you carried into the marriage, you are careful not to be turned to a piece of rag by anybody. Your friends and sometimes your mother, advised you before the wedding, not to give her a chance and so even when the woman sees you as her own daughter and is very free with you, you want to protect your home.
You really have to be careful not to start a fire you cannot quench. There is nothing as strong as love. No matter how tough that woman is, you can change her with love and prayers. Your husband may never tell you, but the truth is that he is not happy about your relationship with the mother.
Also know that there are times these mothers-in-law do things, not because they are wicked, but because that is their level of reasoning. You must know that many of them are not educated and exposed and, she could have been too attached to her son before you came into his life.
You may not understand, but it is always not very easy for them. Before you came, she had the son’s attentions whenever she needed it and controlled him at will. Then comes this total stranger who didnâ€™t know what she went through to train him up and now the son is gone. This is funny, but I can tell you that is what plays on their mind.
They see us as intruders who shouldnâ€™t have a place in their sonsâ€™ lives. We shouldnâ€™t blame them because it is somehow natural. We are the ones who passed through the university and read psychology; we should be able to have things under control.
I understand there are times they make you feel like going mad. I know you have tried many times to hold your peace when they do what they shouldnâ€™t do. I have heard friends in church say they attended a particular meeting, not because they wanted to, but because they saw it as a good opportunity to run away from the mothers-in-law. I know there are some very difficult ones who can never be pleased, but as my people say, â€œonye aghugho nwuo, onye aghugho elie yaâ€ (if a cunny man dies, another cunny man buries him). You should be able to match her, not by staging a fight or doing things that are disrespectful; you should be able to use wisdom and love to defeat her.
I told a story sometime ago of how my mother-in-law one day said something that should ordinarily lead to some misunderstanding, but with wisdom, I was able to turn it to a joke. I remember taking her to the hospital when she came to Lagos for her routine medical care. I wore a very long skirt, it was in vogue then, and the slit stretched from my ankle to the knee.
She didnâ€™t say anything until we got to the hospital. In the presence of the nurses and other patients, my mother-in-law complained about the skirt. In my usual manner, I didnâ€™t get upset and I am sure people expected me to be. Amidst laughter, I told her that was the in-thing and that I was going to buy it for her when she was going back. Everyone started laughing and that was the end of that case.
I want you to start seeing your mother-in-law as your own mother because that is the only time you will stop misinterpreting her words and actions. Stop feeling she is talking about you whenever she decides to speak to her son in private. Allow her, after all, the son still comes back to tell you everything they talked about and I can tell you that most times, they donâ€™t talk about you. The greatest problem we have is our heart and that is why you must have to be in control always.
I know some mothers-in-law are reading this now. You really have to understand that your daughter-in-law did not come in to take your son away from you, but to complement him. I want you to count yourself blessed by God; He decided to give you a daughter just like that. I know you had issues with them during their marriage and you never wanted your son to get married from her tribe; that is where your son found love and you have to live with it.
You just have to accept her and no matter what she had done in the past, please forgive her as a daughter and take her in. I know she is there to become a source of blessing and joy to you; please give her the chance to show you how much she loves you. She yearns for that moment when she can freely make your meal without fear of rejection and some scolding before strangers. She wants to be free to enter your bedroom and do whatever she likes with no one being afraid of the other.
Fellow young women, we have a greater role to play in this. Donâ€™t say you wonâ€™t go to her again because of what she did the first time you tried. Allow her to go to your pot and enter your room just the way your mother does. The moment you agreed to marry that man you love, you agreed to have a relationship with everything around him. You can never tell me you love your husband when you hate the woman who brought him into the world. Donâ€™t give up, go to her again and try. Keep trying until you win her over with love. I know you will.