One of the major causes of conflicts and divorce in a marriage is the influence some parents have on their children when they marry. Some in-laws interfere in the marriages of their children, thinking they are demonstrating love and care when in fact they don’t give the couple space to nurture their marriage.
Some mothers stay with their married sons and dictate affairs in the home. Others stay outside but direct affairs by ‘remote controls’ because their married sons do only what their mothers tell them.
Unfortunately, a study done by this writer showed that most Ghanaian husbands put their mothers ahead of their wives and claim you can always have an ex-wife but not an ex–mother.
Some wives also resist interference of mother-in-laws and set up a rivalry. In Akan, it is common for a wife to refer to her mother-in-law as ‘ase korafo’ or one who doubles as an in-law and a rival.
Why the rivalry?
We are also born into an ‘abusua’ or extended family for life and in the Ghanaian tradition, a spouse is seen as a mere stranger. Some children continue to seek security and comfort from their parents even after marriage.
The two sides, spouse and family, fight for the same person who has two places in his or her heart for them.
It is also a fact that most in-law problems are basically between a wife and the mother or sisters of her husband. One reason is that unlike a man, a woman sees problems in greater detail and has greater difficulty getting rid of them.
A woman also sees anything that is important to her as an intimate part of herself and does anything to control it.
If she is divorced, widowed or in a bad marriage, her grip over a son becomes stronger because she transfers her emotional ties to her son.
She fights a wife of her son no matter how good the wife is. That is when some women believe their husbands are married in spirit to their mothers.
Some parents demand direct access and help because they see their children as investments. If she does not get the assistance she expects, she sees the wife as leeching her son even if the wife may be self-sufficient and footing most of the bills in the house.
Some wives feel insecure and inadequate in marriage. The parents of her husband may not approve of the marriage and at the same time the man has excessive attachment to her parents.
The wife develops the feeling of competition to fight back, especially if she can’t handle the feeling to impress her in-laws.
Is your mother-in-law running your marriage?
Appreciate the concern of your in-laws. They are genuinely interested in your marriage and by tradition, they must perform the role of a watchdog. In-laws are parents of one who made your marriage happen. Husband and wife must also present a united front to resist any attempt by parents to interfere in their marriage.
Make an effort to know more about your in-laws and what they see as good in marriage. Forge a personal bond with them. Treat them as your own parents and always say something kind about your in-laws. Show interest in everything they do and let them know you are impressed with what they do.
Respect and honour them even if you don’t like what they do. Accept her criticism as her way of seeing things but never confront an in-law. Allow your man to handle delicate issues.
Discuss who comes to visit and for how long. Invite your in-laws when you are prepared before they invite themselves in your difficult moments. In-law visits must be short.
Give her space to make her comfortable and do few things in the home, but don’t let her take over your home. Never quarrel before your in-laws. Instead, make them feel you are taking good care of their child.
Couples must give joint assistance to in-laws. Don’t suddenly withdraw assistance to your parents. They will assume your lover is behind it. Visit each other’s parents. If one has to visit alone, he can send a gift on behalf of his lover.
An in-law relationship can be an important indicator and ultimate success of your marriage because quarrels with an in-law leads to decreased marital success.
Excessive involvement or detachment of in-laws can put pressure on your marriage. Sharing a good relationship with in-laws is difficult but vital.
Your in-law can be of tremendous support to your marriage. Maintain a good balance between your spouse and in-laws to enjoy the beauty of love in your marriage and your extended family system.