A friend, Vinny* recently shared with me how he disagreed with his mother-in-law concerning the conduct of his wife. His mother-in-law is always taking the side of her daughter. Vinny has tried to make his mother-in-law see things from his perspective, but the woman has dug in her heels.
Vinny and his wife have been married for nine years. He met and married his wife when she was 27 years old.
“How many years have you known this woman as your daughter?” Vinny asked his mother-in-law.
“I’ve known her as a daughter longer than you’ve been married,” his mother-in-law replied. “36 years. That’s how long. Where are you going with this?”
“And how many years have you known her as a wife?” Vinny asked.
“But, this is my child,” the woman doubled down. “I know her."
“But, mama, with all due respect, you don’t know her like I know her,” Vinny countered.
“You know her as a daughter, but I know her as a wife. However long you live, you will never experience the wifely side of your daughter.”
Vinny told me that this is where some mothers-in-law get it wrong and, if they are not careful, can cause a marriage to break. When some mothers-in-law go to the defence of their daughter, they already have biases. They do not know that, in relationships, one person can have multiple personalities. They may be a great daughter, but an awful wife.
“It’s so hard for this woman to hear me out. She thinks my wife is this innocent girl who can never hurt a fly,” Vinny moaned, “and this is making my wife to grow bigger and sharper horns.”
The growth and sharpening of horns is bound to happen if a mother-in-law is always taking her daughter’s side. Two bulls cannot live in the same barn. They will lock horns until one gives up. And this may come with a huge price.
The price can be that the daughter will remain unmarried for the rest of her life, or until such a time as the mother decides to ditch her biases. Her daughter may be married multiple times, but if the mother keeps taking her daughter’s side without hearing both sides of the story, men will end the marriage rather than deal with perennial pesky interferences in their lives.
Husbands do not want to fight their wives and mothers-in-laws. Whenever this happens, they feel they are being ganged up on and they will go on the defensive. And there is no dangerous husband than one who feels women have unfairly pushed his back against a wall, and he has to defend his ego and territory.
“When a mother-in-law tries to resolve her married daughter’s marital issues, she should set aside her biases and traumas,” Vinny told me.
“If, for instance, the mother-in-law was in an abusive marriage or she was single mother, coming to resolve her daughter’s issues if she has not healed may cause her to bleed, contaminate and pull the plug on the marriage she is trying to resuscitate.”
A man can only have so much of their mother-in-law. Back in the day, I remember a mother who used to visit her married daughter daily. She was her only daughter. She was from an affluent family and was married to this man from the ‘hood'.
One day, when the mother-in-law visited her daughter, the man told his wife to pack and leave with her mother.
“It seems your mother is not ready to let you go yet,” the man said to the startled mother-in-law.
Fortunately, this mother-in-law got the message. Loud and clear.
The last time Vinny and I spoke, he told me him and his wife had gone their separate ways. He does not see them getting back together again.
“At times, mothers can, unknowingly, be their daughter’s worst enemies,” Vinny remarked. “Pity. I loved that woman.”