Put a group of young women in a room, and you are bound to have at least seventy percent of them rant about their mother-in-laws. From time immemorial this relationship has been the butt of all jokes. Scores of forums across the internet are flooded on a daily basis, with questions pertaining to tackling the Mother-in-law. Often conflicts turn bitter, and may well become the reason for many a marriage to crumble down.
The Modern Day Mother In-law & Daughter-in-law
The modern-day Mother-in- law, is far more educated than what her own Mother-in-law was. From the personification of pure dominance, today, she is a more sensitive individual. She is more suited to treat her daughter-in-law with respect as she has learnt that to get respect, one must give respect. The Daughter-in-law of today is independent and is well aware of her rights. She believes in equality and thrives on mutual respect. She is receptive and is open to expressing not only her feelings, but her views too.
“Yet, despite these changes, there seems to be no end to the conflicts between a Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law.”
The Clash of the Titans
I consider myself lucky, to belong to the small percentage of women, for whom, the Mother-in-law factor isn’t really a big issue. Of course, we have had our share of differences too. But over the years, we have managed to settle down these differences amicably.
You’re the daughter she never had, is what it all begins with. And well, you do assume that this purely means she’s going to be supportive of all your choices, staying out of your life and marriage, just being there at the time, when you ask her for help. Looks perfect, isn’t it!! On the other hand, the Mom-in-law has her own little picture of what the Daughter-in-law must encompass. She knows you are crazy about her son. But she also assumes that you see her as an authority on her son. She assumes, you would seek advice from her, and the end result, she can’t wait to start helping…
What ensues is the clash of the Titans, and the reason why women begin to discuss how strained or infuriating their relationship with their Mother-in law has become.
Tracing the Problem
The problems can be traced back to the unspoken yet conflicting expectations and assumptions. For the Daughter-in-law, no matter how modern is the Mother-in-law, she is constantly judged on the standards of a traditional housewife– which is her ability to cook, maintain a home clean, and raise children. On the other hand, for the Mother-in-Law, her decade old pattern of decision-making is suddenly under threat, as the daughter-in-law now likes to do it all her way.
There is, thus, an underlying disappointment felt by both women, giving rise to a distinctive negativity. Add to this, a mother’s possessiveness over her son and a wife’s difficulty as she balances work and home responsibilities. You have the perfect formula for years of trouble. These tensions do more than cause friction within families. They can put even the best marriages at risk.
The Solutions Lies Within Both
As long as there is no abuse, there surely is a solution in tackling this age-old problem. By abuse I mean, dowry harassment, physical, mental and verbal abuse, irrespective of who inflicts it on whom. When such issues arise, there should surely be no compromise and it is not to be tolerated.
“Love begets love; let it once begin and none can tell its end.”
For the mother-in-law, who may feel her domain threatened, must accept that the son is now the object of his wife’s affection too. Don’t pin down expectations. The mantra is to forgive and forget without any animosity against your son’s bride.
For the daughter-in-law, remember she comes with years of experience. Do not take offense at the smallest of things. Give a relationship time. If your mother-in-law expresses a view that differs from yours, you don’t have to accept it in entirety. Show respect for her experience and at the same time, make it clear that you want to do things your own way.
What surely worked for me is the assurance I gave my mother-in-law that she would continue to be respected, and be an integral part of the family. It made her respect our boundaries, which she seldom crossed over.
For the man of the house, you may feel like as though you are between a rock and a hard place, with a possessive mom on one side and a sensitive wife on the other. But remember you are the link between the two. Either you ease out the tension with your calm and collected way or, simply allow the tension to mount by being a silent spectator.