Please how do I handle my in-laws? Why are in-laws always problematic? My in-laws don?t have human feelings for me; were not there when I needed them most in my marriage? Rather than provide my husband and I with their shoulders to lean on, they instead are fond of pointing out our errors. I think they don?t like my husband and have extended their dislike for him to me.
Dear Confused Wife,
In-laws are every married woman?s nightmare. They are generally blamed for real or imaginary problems in a marriage. Even when they keep their distance, they are still viewed with suspicion by the wife who reads a meaning to their every move.
Before we can talk of handling your in-laws, it is of essence we talk about you first. More often than not, many young women come into their matrimonial homes with prejudices against their in-laws; making it impossible for them to recognise or appreciate the positive qualities in their new families.
As a result, perfectly innocent mistakes on the part in-laws are magnified out of proportion by combat ready wives. Unfortunately, the husbands are the ones who suffer the most as they strive to strike a balance between their wives and families.
The consequences of this is that the man at the centre of it all is seen by both parties as a betrayal. While the extended family fights to retain his interest and obligations to them; his wife on the other hand pushes the button of intimacy to secure her points. Lots of men in their desire to maintain neutrality in a fight they don?t understand or appreciate, end up fighting all parties, earning for themselves the label of the main enemy.
This perhaps may be the point your husband has got to. He doesn?t want to take sides with you or his family. For this reason, his family thinks he is on your side against them and as such decides to be hostile to him. The hostility of your in-laws towards your husband may come from this. They think your husband?s refusal to side openly with them; declare a definite stand on some vexing issues may be because of your influence over him.
Because you will one day also be in their shoes, learn to tread carefully by applying a lot of wisdom.
The first thing you must learn and accept is that you are a stranger in their family hence must create the room for a period of learning. There is no way you will ever be completely part of them. You have to make the allowances that sometimes, the family may just want to have a private discussion with their son just like you too may want some private time with your siblings outside him. It is natural for families to crave for private zones once in a while.
When such demands come, a wise woman learns to step aside. To try to force yourself into such meetings is to create unnecessary tension for your husband as well as friction in the family. Frankly, this is where some of the issues between wives and in-laws originate from ? the inability of wives to discern when they should cling to their husbands and when to release them to their families. As human beings, we are all prone to mistakes and not every blunder is deliberate as wives often think of their in-laws.
To handle your in-laws better, devote time to study them. It might appear to be time wasting considering that some will never like you, but since you plan to stay with them for the rest of your life, get close to them. Pretend not to notice their attitude towards you; it is the best way to learn in life. At times, play the fool, as long as it affords you the chance to get close to them; take no notice of the kind of insults or discomfort their attitude is subjecting you to. Don?t forget you are in-law to another woman and that one day, you too will be a mother-in-law and at the receiving end of another woman?s suspicions.
The essence of getting close to them is to befriend one or two persons; it helps to have a friend in the enemy?s camp. These are the people that will constantly act as your ears, eyes and mouth when issues concerning you come up within the family circle. They will be the ones to inform you about the likes and dislikes of your the critical member of the family as well as the person?s weak points.
One thing you should never do is attempt to fight or quarrel with any of them; when the situation becomes too unbearable for you to tolerate, simply walk away. Always have at the back of your mind that what you are facing in your home is what another woman married into your family is also experiencing with your family. Therefore, try not to conduct yourself the way you would not want your brother?s wife to behave towards you or your future daughter-in-law for that matter.
Life is a process of give and take; a little bit of patience and wisdom would buy us everlasting happiness and comfort.
To help yourself better, be humble. Don?t forget you are the stranger in their mist. Your husband and his family have come a long way; have a relationship and knowledge of each other that predates yours with him. They have established a format which you must never attempt to break. With time, you will be a part of that formation, but it requires a lot of patience to get to that level.
If you know how to play the right kind of politics, you will one day become the rally point; a mother to all of them. The attitude of in-laws is a natural human reaction to someone new. Learn from the behaviour of little children; first they view a new member with suspicion before making up their mind on how to walk with the new member.
A wife is a stranger to her in-laws Her motive for marrying into the family has to be established before she can be fully integrated. Most often the desire to protect their son from the hands of a scheming woman triggers the animosity between in-laws and their daughters-in-law. The simple fact that women are wise to the games they play on men explains why female in-laws are very problematic. Women are always afraid that their sisters-in-law or daughters-in-law will play the same tricks they played on the men in their lives.
To be candid, there are one or two things you have done as a woman you wouldn?t want any girl to do to your child or brother.
If you view the behaviour of your in-laws from this angle, you will have a better understanding of the behaviour of your in-laws.
In Africa, once a man is old enough to marry, members of his family wash their hands off him because he now has a partner to share his burden with. The reason for this is simple, his wife and children will be the first beneficiaries of his riches, success and achievements. Therefore, the wife and not his family members should stand by him during difficult times. If you are truthful, how many times have you joyfully offered help to your married male relatives?
The assumption that only the wife and her children benefit from his success makes it difficult for in-laws to fully offer financial assistance to their married sons when in need of help. This also has to do with the attitude of so many wives to their in-laws when the man is comfortable. So many women make it impossible for their husbands to offer assistance to members of their families. Therefore, this behaviour isn?t peculiar to your in-laws. It is also happening in your own family. Severally, in our own families, we have sat in judgment over the cases of our brothers and their wives; most often, condemning the wives as being the reason our brothers are misbehaving even when we are aware that our brothers have never behaved otherwise.
Likeness is relative here. If they have issues with you, they are bound to let it reflect in their attitude towards their brother to drum home the point that they are not happy with him. Doubtless they love their brother but are not happy with his choice of a wife. They have left him to his own devices because the decision to marry you was solely his own, hence he should be able to face the challenges that come with his decision without their help.
If you want to succeed in your marriage, don?t look too much into the behaviour of your in-laws. Be generally friendly towards all of them. When they come to visit their brother, don?t prevent them from seeing him or offering help to them. Sometimes, help him manage his relationship with them by using your own money to make up for any shortfall on his part. It is a way of protecting your children and husband from more problems.
Keep the ones you cannot tolerate at a distance by being very civil instead of allowing them get close and you end up exchanging bitter words.
As a mother, you owe it to your children to be friendly with your in-laws so they don?t engage your children in needless physical and spiritual battle. Even in situations you know they don?t like your husband, don?t ever join your husband in fighting them. Instead be polite while you pray to God for the protection of your husband and children.