The happiest day in your life is when you marry: when you finally sport your immaculate wedding dress and you’re looking angelic beside your Beloved. At the ceremony’s end, vows have been taken and the knot has been tied but while family members bow out of your new life, only one moves in with the new set of furniture – the overbearing mother (in-law). Every married man and woman have a story to tell about meddling mothers. What you want to know is, “Why do mothers interfere with your marriage?”
Mothers are nurturers and are born with the need to protect their children. Sometime between your pre-teen years when she has to sort and shelf the cluttered toys in your bedroom and your adolescence at your graduation from University, the boundary thins out and she doesn’t see the difference between dressing your nappy and straightening a wrinkle on the collar of your dress-shirt as a working young adult. After years of cleaning after you, the role of sole-protector becomes more or less self-assigned and she instinctively becomes controlling. This role is further legitimized by the rule that you never grow up to your mother – you never talk back, never disrespect her. No Sir.
Unfortunately, you’re married now and your mother brings her influence to bear on the decisions you must make with your wife, in your home. Mothers are territorial with their children and this is expected, even in the mildest of meddling cases. From the naming of your children, to feeding and clothing, they want to be heard but more importantly obeyed or, to put it more succinctly, to be in control. At such times, you wear out from emotional exhaustion and your self-assertion is quickly eroded in the face of your hurt mother.
Interfering mothers bring tension between the husband and wife. How do you set them straight on their role without coming off as disrespectful or putting your wife in a tough position? Here are a few suggestions:
You are married now and there are times when your independence from your external family members is clearly non-debatable. The boundaries need to be clearly defined. You must understand, however, that no rule is carved in stone – roles and rules do change but setting clear rules from the start serve as a guide. If any family member oversteps this line, you need to set the person straight from the get-go. Playing the ostrich and burying your head in the sand will only make room for the interference to re-occur. In the case of a meddling mother, it is important to speak to her respectfully and firmly about your reservations. You must be assertive.
Most of the time mothers mean well with their words of advice and opinion but sometimes they lose the balance between their roles as nurturing mothers and intrusive third-party. You must remember, they are not monster-mothers; approach her with the right attitude because attitude or mindset unconsciously moulds your tone and choice of words when you speak. Women are naturally intuitive but mothers are even more so with their flesh-and-blood – she will sense any antagonism in your voice even if you mask it with cunning words. Be “gentle as a dove but wise as a serpent,” as the Bible instructs.
Tension on the home-front should be managed. Never speak ill about your mother and don’t allow anyone bad-mouth your mother, not even your wife or husband. Given a tense environment, it is expected that emotions will take the better part, nevertheless, they must be managed and a loud no-no is bad-mouthing. While you speak with your mother, don’t allow your wife say something bad about her; otherwise, you may find that even after speaking with your mother and she concedes autonomy to your marriage, some tension might linger between son-/daughter- and mother-in-law leaving you thinking, this could have been better avoided.
Mothers are golden and deserve our love and respect. No matter the circumstance, never lose sight of this perspective. She may not give in to your will at first but she will respect your wishes, surely.