Love Thy In-Laws

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Over the years, it been found that in-law relationships are important to a couple’s well being. Establishing a healthy relationship with the in laws is of utmost importance. But having said that, this is an equation very few seem to have the solution to. For centuries now, it is known that the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law chemistry, if handled correctly, can go just right or nuke everything that comes in the way. Shweta Bhatia spoke to a few women who seemed to have cracked this code

‘SHE BECAME MY FRENEMY’

Zoha Mubarak, 46, is a mother of three and has been living with her mother-in-law for over 20 years now. “In the beginning we had a huge communication gap which caused many conflicts between us. She didn’t like anything I did and I just didn’t know what I could do to please her. She’d complain to my husband about how I was a bad wife and daughter-in-law and didn’t take care of the house. The situation reached to a level where I couldn’t bear to live in the same house. I asked my husband to move out as our marriage was in trouble, but he didn’t agree considering that his mother was a widow and couldn’t be left alone. I felt bad suggesting it but that seemed like the only solution at that time. Things changed the day my son was born. I didn’t know whether it was my son or just the fact that she got tired of being rude but she completely changed. All of a sudden, she appreciated all my work. She even helped me take care of my son when I was busy taking care of the house or wanted a date night with my husband. I, gradually, found myself getting close to her. She became my frenemy. I knew her habits and she knew mine. One day, over tea, I mustered up the courage to ask her why she was so indifferent towards me and what brought about the change. She said that she had lost her husband very early on in life. She had worked very hard to raise my husband and run a house. She felt my arrival would mean a change in the system that had been set by her and proven to be successful. Her son, my husband, gave me more time than her. The fear of losing ‘power’ transformed into a deep animosity towards me. But over the years, when she realised that her behaviour was causing more harm, she decided to come to terms with the end of her reign. It’s been 20 years now and she is more of a friend to me. We still have our differences but we’ve both learned to ignore the little things and concentrate on the bigger picture.”

‘MY MOTHER-IN-LAW IS A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE’

Julie Mayers, 35, has been married for six years and is a doctor. Her in laws are both doctors as well. “I think education makes a huge difference in anyone’s life. It helps bring a lot of maturity to any relationship. Being a doctor means working odd and long hours. Being a part of the same field, both my in laws are very supportive of my work, are extremely understanding and caring. I have never had an issue. When I got married, my mother-in-law sat me down and said that we are two women in one house and there are bound to be misunder standings. If that happens then it would be better to have an open discussion between the both of us instead of talking to everyone about it. That, for me, was sound advice. Following that advice, I have always found my in laws to be extremely approachable. I can safely say that I feel closer to my in laws than I probably was with my own parents. My mother-in-law is a woman of substance. She has raised her children with a lot of love and taught them to respect their partners. It is because of her teachings I have a wonderful and caring husband. I have definitely learnt a lot from them. I just had a baby boy who is three months old. I aim to pass on the same values to my son and be as good a motherin- law to my future daughter in law.

‘SHE’S MY BIGGEST CONFIDANTE’

Faika Hasan, 38, claims that she has a dream mother-in-law. “I think I must have done something really right to be blessed with a mother-in-law like mine. She is more than a mother and one of my best friends. I’m a lawyer today but when I got married three years ago, I was still studying and taking my bar exams. Long hours at college didn’t allow me to give any time to my domestic life. My mother-in-law never once complained and instead asked me to let the domestic chores be so that I could concentrate on my studies. She’d stay up with me if I were studying in the night, making coffee for me to survive the late hours. She took care of all the meals for everybody in the house including me. I am diabetic which means my health and diet must be carefully monitored. She’d make sure I was eating the right food, taking my medicines, scolding me to rest when I overworked myself. I graduated with distinction and have a great job all thanks to my mother-in-law. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without her and my husband’s support. She shared with me that she too had an equally loving mother-in-law who took great care of her when she got married. Today, she is my biggest confidante. We spend a lot of time together going shopping, watching movies and cooking together in the kitchen. I share everything with her and will do anything to make sure she’s comfortable and happy in life. This is the least I could do.”

‘WE RESPECT BOUNDARIES’

Hadiya Adwan, 56, has been mother-in-law to both Hala and Raziya for over 10 years now and she shares how it is all about the boundaries and respect for one another. “I have two daughters of my own who have been married much longer than my sons. I always noted my daughters concerns when they got married and the adjustment problems they had to go through. I never wanted my daughters-in- law to go through the same. Women leave their families and life to come into your own and make it theirs. This is not easy for any woman and this process needs love, support and most importantly, an open mind. I was well aware that like any young married couple, my boys too would need their share of private time with their wives. So for their wedding, I thought the best thing to gift them would be their own house. They live in the houses down the street from mine where they get their space and privacy. We all meet at mine about twice a week for meals. Every couple is different and wants to run their house in their own way. As a woman, one should respect that for the other women as well. They are young, they probably want to entertain their friends with loud music and greasy takeout whereas I’m at an age where I need homemade meals and quiet time. These may seem like little things but these are the things that clash later on, causing unnecessary negativity within the family members. They have their own space. I have mine. Yet we meet and I’m here for them whenever they need me. Having boundaries and respect for each other’s needs always works in any form of relationship. My daughters-in-law are beautiful, loving and wonderful girls. They take care of my sons and their house really well. Any parent’s wish is to see their children happy and if the kids are happy and getting along, what more could you ask for?”

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