Confessions: I feel like I’m married to my husband and his meddling mother : Evewoman - The Standard
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Confessions: I feel like I’m married to my husband and his meddling mother

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I have been married for a year now and we live with my mother-in-law. The problem is that she has taken control and is the one who seems to be making all family decisions. She restricts my movement so much so that she doesn’t even allow me to go to church. I am not allowed to have friends visiting me and he tells his mother every little thing we discuss, including our personal secrets. I feel like I am married to both mother and son and this is becoming really stressful. I don’t want to get between them but, every day, my tolerance for this is going down. Please advise me.

{Caroline}

What the readers say:

Caroline, I faced the same problem with my husband where he brought her to live with us for two years. Those were the most stressful two years of my life and one day I just left and went back home. He came looking for me and I told him to choose who he wants to live with. When he chose me, I told him I would only be going back home if she moved back to their rural home. He had no option and we have lived happily since then. In fact, we are now very close friends with my mother-in-law.

{Veronica}

Get him to choose what he wants in this life. If you are feeling like you are married to the son and the mother at the same time, you probably are. He should respect the fact that you are his wife now and you ought to be his greatest responsibility. Get him to think about this and give him a chance to consult with his friends and other people if this is fair for you. Involve some elders to help you deal with this.

{Marianne}

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The first year in a marriage is delicate and you will come to see that life has many different phases. Living with or staying close to your mother-in-law is never easy and this is a chorus memorized since time immemorial. They will do everything to control everything in the marriage and whenever she is around, you cannot and will not be able to separate them. Discuss this calmly with your husband and explore the various options available for you. However, avoid being overly nagging and stubborn if you want your desires to be met.

{Ouma Ragumo – Sifuyo}

I suspect he just feels insecure and that’s why he always crosschecks with his mother whatever you discus and restricts your interaction. Work to gain his confidence and you will be safe but try as much as possible to avoid what may bring you into any verbal or emotional confrontations with your mother-in-law. Please share with him your thoughts and feelings and the pain all this is causing you. He seems to really love you and that is why his mother may be trying to interfere with the marriage.

{Tasma Saka}

Simon says:

Caroline, you have been married for just about a year now and you are learning some of life’s critical lessons early in your marriage. Within marriage, there are many rules -- some of which are written while others remain hidden and unspoken but are there nonetheless. One of the unwritten rules of marriage in the African setting is that in-laws (especially those from your husband’s side) should only be hosted for short periods and should not overstay their welcome. This rule however does not apply to in-laws from your side.

For you, things are tough because you are living with your mother-in-law which is a difficult call for any woman. You see, to a mother, no woman will ever be good enough for her son and so she will be all up in your business in everything you do. She will always have a better way of doing things and will always know what is good for him. This breeds unhealthy and bitter competition between the two of you and of course you know which side he will always favour.

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This situation is not going to get any better if she continues living with you. The bottom line is that she has to leave and let the two of you learn your way around life and to make your own decisions. Extended stay for her will only provide for deeper contempt which will result in deep hatred. This will also get to him since he will not be able to take sides and will eventually have to separate the two of you for peace to prevail. You ought to talk to him with a candid but firm approach to make him understand that this is difficult for you. He may not fully understand this as no man will ever find fault with his mother but if he does not take action, you may take it a notch higher by inviting your own mother to stay with you.

Take heart through this but do not allow this situation to remain as is without your undue effort and attention to get her to leave. She built her home, raised her family and so she should leave and let you do the same. There is never a justification for having a live-in mother-in-law unless circumstances demand for it to be this way.

Simon is a relationships counsellor

Boke says:

The first year of a marriage is crucial for the individuals because this is the time they get to bond and gel as they settle down in the institution. It is advisable the couple should try as much as possible to avoid distractions, particularly from relatives who may come to live in.

We do not know the circumstances that led to you living with your mother-in-law. Did she leave her home to come and stay with you? Or are you the ones who have gone to live with her? If you are at your mother-in-law’s place, you need to discuss and make your husband see the need for you to move out. You can do this yourself or identify a couple that is close to both of you to talk to your husband. As a young couple, this is where your mentors come in. You will also need someone to help your mother-in-law see the need to let her son exercise his maturity as the head of his family.

Besides moving out, your husband needs to ‘leave so as to cleave’ as the Holy Book states. This leaving is not necessarily physical but much more psychological so that, together, you can build an autonomous unit. Clearly, your mother-in-law has a lot of influence on your husband, which is a very common scenario if she is a single parent.

You or the third party you intend to use, need wisdom and tact to present the matter such that there will be no sense of disrespect or disregard towards the mother.

If it is your mother-in-law who has come to live with you, it will be more prudent to have an elderly person talking to her about the harm she is causing her son’s family. If she must stay with you then boundaries must be introduced so that there is no meddling.

Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology

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