We will call them James and Nancy. The Mungais. A young couple who had a disagreement and sought help from their respective parents and siblings. Big mistake. Nancy’s family hit the roof. They soon turned against James, just as did his family against her when James turned to his mother. His mother told off Nancy and called her unprintable names.
“I don’t even know how she was raised. Have you seen her house? Her meals are overly spiced….” James was surprised because his mother always complimented Nancy’s cooking. Then, the families turned against each other.
Within months, the Mungais private, solvable tiff had turned into a major feud between their respective families of origin. The couple made up, but their families’ relations remained icy. It is interesting that two strangers met, loved, married, created new relationships from the two extended families, then created hostility between the families.
Marriage, like any other human relationship, is not perfect. Hubby and I also have our share of drama. We have learned the hard way that our relatives, as much as they mean the very best for us, are not the best peace brokers when we fight. If you have a tiff with your husband, do not rush to report him to your sister. She will go bonkers on him.
She loves you, hopelessly, and every vice you mention about him will look one thousand times worse than it is. When you report your wife’s misdemeanour to your mother, her motherly love and instincts will scream every conceivable label.
Your brother and sister will fight because each will have a different opinion about your issues and your relationship. His parents will quarrel for the same reason. You will then be left defending her against your relatives. If her family is the dramatic, expressive type, she will come home one day and find her sisters waiting.
“We are leaving. Pack up!”
“You cannot continue to live with that monster,” one of her sisters will say.
“Dave is not that bad…we just disagreed on…”
“Look how thin you look since you married him!”
Unless the relationship is abusive, please get a neutral couple and walk with them. Leave your relatives for happy celebratory times, not for mediation.
Sometimes, I have discovered that it is better to turn to your spouse’s family and report them there than to your own family. This, of course, is a gamble, because I know of someone who turned to her husband’s mother to report him.
The mother-in-law was very upset that she thought her son could do anything wrong. She iced her out, and their relationship became cold and distant. I had met only one woman who developed a closer relationship with her mother-in-law when she reported her husband to his mother. His mother cursed him out for acting just like his dad.
“Mama! Whose side are you on?” he asked his mother, who hands akimbo shouted, “Cathy’s, of course! Don’t be an idiot.” They even go golfing together, mother and daughter in-law. They laugh over high tea about the men in their lives. Her husband will usually beg her not to tell his mother when they have fought.
Since conflict is guaranteed in our marriage, we entrenched ourselves in a couple’s group. We meet once a month. It is the safest, most honest space we have entered as a couple. They will call me out, and they will call him out, no favouritism, and no drama.
We all share the common roadblocks we face, and we tackle those issues, sharing what has so far worked, going through a guidebook on relationships and so forth. Let us say that to stay sane together, we enrich this relationship by advancing our knowledge about marriage. And it works.
Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]