Resolving the Conflict Between Wives and Their In-Laws
By Saleeha Bhamjee
Saaleha Bhamjee is a freelance writer based in South Africa. Her writings have appeared in various print and online publications both locally and abroad. She is an Islamic Writer's Alliance member.
It's a syndrome that we daughters-in-laws all suffer from at times. Disastrous is exactly what it is, for it obstructs peace and harmony in every family where the daughter-in-law manifests symptoms. For some of us it's a passing phase, like passing from adolescence to adulthood, while for others adulthood never comes, so the syndrome becomes chronic and general unhappiness is always the result thereof.
Because I received a fair amount of flak after publishing "Peace in Our Times: Mother- & Daughter-in-Law Syndrome" last month and had a good many daughters-in-law smiling benignly at their mothers-in-law when they shrewdly showed them the article, I felt a crying need to explore the other side of the coin.
"My Parents Are Better than Yours"
And what exactly is this "Disastrous Daughter-in-Law Syndrome" that I have just referred to? It starts with a belief that your in-laws are never good. Quite honestly, there is nothing good in them at all. You're always comparing them to your own parents, loudly and always in the presence of their son, with the express purpose of showing him just how inadequate his parents really are. You make a huge fuss of anything your parents give to you or your children, and even though you never vocalize it, the underlying meaning is "See, my parents love the children more than yours do!" If your in-laws send a gift, your ccomments are usually anything but kind.
You would gladly empty your entire house for your own parents, but if your in-laws request anything from their son, you get angry. It's an ongoing competition.
My parents are better than yours; my brother is handsomer than yours; my sisters bake better than yours; my cousins are friendlier than yours; my mother's house is cleaner than your mother's house; our children love my parents more than they do yours; my mother's cat is prettier than your mother's cat, and so on.
"Annoying, isn't it?" That's probably what most husbands would say. Depending on how fiercely loyal your husband is to his family, the results of this continuous battle will vary. Some men eventually succumb. They declare a cease-fire, promise never to mention anything good about their parents ever after, and are only too glad to spend every weekend thereafter at your parents' place, visiting their own parents only once every two months.
For other men, such behavior becomes an open declaration of war. They begin to keep you and the children away from your parents and insist that you spend every weekend thereafter at their parents' place, much to your ire.
So is there a solution?
Well, this is my well-tried remedy that has worked for me. The rules are as follows:
Now, mother-in-law, pick up that phone and call your daughter-in-law. It's time to get your own back. Provided, of course, that you took the advice for mothers-in-law given the last time around.