Women-in-law can be a problem

As we promised last Sunday, this week we focus on the two case studies that were handled by the ladies at one of our latest family meetings. These case studies may sound fictitious but they are largely based on the experiences of some of the people that we have counselled on similar or related issues over the years.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

It is our fervent hope that you too may find some of the suggestions that are proffered here helpful in your own family situation. We wish to also quickly add that not all relatives or in-laws behave in the manner depicted in some of these cases.

It may be possible that some of our readers are blessed with wonderful members of the extended family that never ask for anything nor bother them in any way. For the majority of us, however, these cases do qualify as the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

LADIES: Your baby sister, who is a student at the local University, is very fond of your loving husband. One day she asks your hubby to attend Tuku’s late-nite show with her. Your ever-so-nice husband agrees to the request, but asks you if that will be okay with you. What will you say and what advice would you give to your baby sister and your husband? How will you stop this from recurring?

The opinions were largely divided on this one. Some wives felt that if she expressed any reservations about such an outing for the two it would be misconstrued as demonstrating lack of trust on the husband, and that would negatively impact on their marriage. Others felt that the wife needed to simply say no to the outing as well as discipline her baby sister advising her to know her place and stick to it.

The baby sister would need to be advised that the gentleman concerned is married to her sister and not to her. Less emotive responses indicated that perhaps the best approach would be for the wife to threaten to go along as well. You may have even better possible solutions to this one since you know both your husband and your naughty baby sister best.

LADIES: Your mother in-law enjoys visiting your family to see you, her son and her grandchildren. During her stay, she sometimes spends a lot of time in private conversation with your husband behind closed doors.

During that time, you are not allowed to enter the room where the two are talking except to bring them food and drinks. After their private talks your husband does not share with you what they will be talking about. How will you resolve this unhealthy situation?

Responses varied from: the wife should forcibly enter the room and listen to the mother in-law and her son; the wife should take off to visit her own people for the day; she should refuse to serve them any food or drinks while they are in those silly secret talks; she should tackle her husband about what they talked about, and if he refuses to tell her the truth then she should inform the pastor and ask for counselling.

We sadly noticed that none of the responses was aimed at the notorious mother in-law. In our view, this is the main cause of the trouble and she should be tackled at the earliest opportunity. Mothers in-law who disrespect their daughters in-law are clearly doing their sons a serious disfavour in the long run.

Usually these are mothers-in-law who have failed to let go of their sons when the latter got married. Husbands that agree to this sick arrangement with their mothers need to know that they may be seriously undermining their marriages.

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Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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