By Hope Nwawolo
Women need to begin to understand that the little boy of today will one day be a man of his own home. The same way you as his mother got married to his father, a young lady from the blues will walk her way into his heart one day and he may decide to make her his life partner. This is a marital circle that cannot be broken whether some marriages are successful or not. Therefore, that your husband did not or is not treating you well, does not mean your son’s marriage must tow the same line. And if you did not see yourself as the cause of the friction in your marriage, do not become suspicious of your son’s wife from the day you set your eyes on her as his fiancée.
On the contrary, be intentional and consistent in advising your son against treating his wife any negative way his father treated you. Many battered women forget to de-brief their sons who were witnesses to the maltreatment of their fathers towards their mothers, not realising some children imbibe what they see their parents do. Though this may not be in all cases but the early years of a child is a moulding period which may be impacted upon by what the child sees adults do to one another. Luckily, there are some men who vow not to treat their wives the harsh ways their fathers treated their mothers. This becomes their motivating factor to being caring husbands to their wives.
Sometimes, there is a bit of jealousy in some women. They cannot bear to see their sons’ wives looking good or happy and enjoying what they did not have in their own marriages, particularly for those of them who invested so much in bringing the male children up.Even before the young man marries, there is already the fear of the other woman…his wife, in his life. This should not be. A line should be drawn between a mother’s home and her son’s home. In her home, she had or has her husband to love, cherish and obey. She must have prayed or is still praying for him to have the wherewithal to take care of her. In the same way, her son’s wife is the queen in their home to love, cherish and obey her husband who also has the responsibility to take care of her as his wife. This of course is not to say he should abandon his parents who saw him through to what he has become as a man. However, his wife should not be immediately blamed if he fails in his responsibility to his parents. It may be necessary to examine the following instead of heaping blames on the wife:
- What was his relationship with his parents before marriage?
- Did he have the financial capability to take care of his parents and also start a family?
- Was he fully responsible for them before marriage?
- Is his wife financially stable to take care of herself without extra contribution from him?
- Are his wife’s parents dependent on their daughter for their upkeep?
Sometimes, when people talk about a wife not allowing her husband to take care of his family, they hardly mention the lady’s parents. What if the lady does not have brothers to take care of her parents just as it is expected her husband should take care of his parents? Even if she has brothers, what is their position in the family as well as their financial capability?
It is high time parents, particularly mothers, exhibited understanding towards their sons as they begin their marital lives. Have a relationship with your son but do not be overbearing. Respect his choice of a wife if you had prayed for him to choose rightly. Believe God has answered your prayers when your son presents his choice to you. Let her feel comfortable with you. If you want to dig into her family or past, do it secretly and without bias. Her ethnicity should not affect your initial reaction at first sight. Everybody has a past (including you). Do not immediately judge or predict her future with her past. See her as your daughter and make her feel real warmth being around you. Encourage her to be herself. You may identify some etiquette flaws. And so what? Give her room to see your flawless etiquette and be drawn to change gradually. You can even influence this change indirectly. Never stop praying to God to sustain their union if he brought them together. No marriage is made in heaven. Try to imagine your son’s wife as you did when you married your husband. If you were harassed, intimidated or looked down on by your in-laws, break the jinx or circle and ensure your son’s wife does not suffer any such, at least from you.
It is high time parents, particularly mothers, exhibited understanding towards their sons as they begin their marital lives. Have a relationship with your son but do not be overbearing. Respect his choice of a wife if you had prayed for him to choose rightly. Believe God has answered your prayers when your son presents his choice to you. Let her feel comfortable with you.
Welcome her warmly. It is not out of place for a young girl who is meeting her would-be mother-in-law for the first time to have trepidation and anxiety. Usually, she is not sure of the reaction she will get no matter how much her partner had tried to reassure her. At this stage, a mother should try to minimize her fears and look out to make the lady relax in her presence. A genuine smile will go a long way to relax her nerves. If the lady feels unwelcome on her first visit, the tendency is for her to put up a mental defence that may translate to arrogance or pride as soon as she takes over the rein of the man’s home.
A mother should endeavour to have a mother-daughter relationship with her son’s wife so she will feel comfortable in her presence at all times. If this exists, the wife is likely to ensure her husband does not lack in his responsibilities to his parents. This is not to say there will not be times when both women will have a misunderstanding. However, just like her biological daughter, a woman should be tolerant of her son’s wife and give her the space to be herself and not pretend to be perfect in her presence. Mother – daughter relationship is like any other that should be tended and nourished. It should not be one-sided with endless expectations by the mother-in-law and constant criticism of what the wife is not doing right. Let acknowledgement and praises also follow her good acts.
It is important to understand that relationships with other persons must be sustained by the effort of all concerned. Therefore it is my duty as a mother, to ensure l sustain a good foundation of a relationship with my son’s wife. It is unfair to expect her to make all the effort to please me while l seat on the judgement seat to monitor and criticise whatever she does not do to my satisfaction. Sometimes, mothers-in-law forget they also have children, especially girls, who will one day marry and become daughters-in-law to some women. Treat someone’s daughter the same way or even better than you will want your daughter to be treated in her husband’s family.
It is worse when ladies in the family also join their mother to ill-treat their brother’s wife and hope to be happy at their husbands’ homes. Somehow, karma always happens to them directly or indirectly.
A call is therefore to the female gender to look out for each other in the marital institution which sometimes can be very demanding with expectations of perfection from different segments of the family and society at large. Let us not add to the stress by pulling down each other as we journey through this school in our lives. We all started it as young or middle-aged ladies who probably did not know more than our mothers told us. Many did not even get the opportunity to be tutored before getting into it and went in not equipped for the politics in the institution.
Hope Nwawolo, Ph.D