“When I first got married I thought life could not be any better. My husband took care of me loved me and everything seemed picture perfect in my life…till that SHE interfered in my life….my life went for a toss….and this house did not feel like home”
“This” is the key word here. Most newly married women only think the relationship they need to secure are the one with their husbands.But what they do forget is that there is another person whose company and relationship is more vital than the one with their spouses.
SHE Exists……the Mother-in-Law
After Nisha got married and stepped into the domain of a new life whose reigning queen was the Mother-in- law as they say the in any story with the entry of another antagonist plot gets interesting;
Mrs. Sharma was genuinely nervous about how to welcome this new person in their lives especially in her son’s life.
Mrs Sharma’s major concern was:
“Well things will change I suppose but not in her way. I want everyone to be happy but I don’t want to lose my son to her. I hope I never fade away from his life. Hope she puts him first in all her concerns. If she doesn’t work the way she is supposed to I will take control, it is my family first”
One can clearly see here we are not discussing Mother-in-Law as an Antagonist or the Daughter-in-Law as the Protagonist or vice versa. Here the focus is in the thoughts and how both of them have their respective concerns that never get addressed.
Whenever we step into a new relationship, new family’s new rules and expectations that task is daunting for a Daughter-in-Law in question. But however it is equally daunting for the Mother-in-law as well for whom welcoming a new person, giving her the space and to extend her well defined territory to include her is equally daunting.
It is daunting for both of them because it s NEW!
New things, relationships and environment scare us at first and when we do not have enough awareness how to deal with the newness of the situation, it leaves us frazzled, overwhelmed and exposed. According to Terri Apter, psychologist in University of Cambridge, stated after years of research,
“Most in-law problems can be traced back to unspoken but conflicting expectations and assumptions.”
The major clash that occurs after marriage between husband and wife is the result of the tug of war that happens between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law, seemingly it is about the husband, the kitchen and who has more control, but generally it is about Boundaries.
So what are boundaries?
Boundaries do not imply there are brick walls but these are invisible lines of understanding that both parties after an open discussion and acceptance agree on and decide to follow them.
For Nisha and Mrs. Sharma developing an understanding of boundaries will be the key to change their relationship of animosity to a relationship of acceptance.
In order to do that both Mrs. Sharma and Nisha need to have a clear understanding of their complaints and expectations of each other.
The most popular complaint of any mother in law is
“Your wife does not listen to anything I say, she does not do things the way I did. She argues with me and tells me I am wrong.”
For a daughter in law
“She never listens to my way; she forces her will on me. She expects me to do everything exactly the way she wants and she always interferes in our relationship trying to take our decisions for us as well”
For Nisha and Mrs.Sharma the situation was similar as well, there was a pot of conflicting expectations and assumptions about each other, spiced by the dispute of boundaries most importantly what was lacking in the cauldron of brewing distress and pain was a touch of understanding, acceptance and healthy communication.
SO WHAT SHOULD BE THE FOCUS ON? / THE FOCUS
Contrary to the popular belief that a mother in law and daughter in law can never co exist in peace and harmony is untrue!
The focus should be on how both are not wrong in their own perspectives. It should also be on how their perspectives differ from each other and what can be done to bridge the gap between both of them. It is apparent that both mother in law and daughter in law have the family’s best interest in their hearts but after marriage both faces their respective challenges, never realizing that their purpose are common but paths are different.
In order to make seemingly impossible possible, we will focus in the next article on the following strategies: working towards acceptance, developing a stronger communication and establishing a boundary, to help us reconcile the differences so that there is a common path too, if not generating the understanding to appreciate the difference.