The causes of the breakdown in many marriages have been traced to the overbearing attitude of mothers-in-law. It is in this regard that mothers-in-law are often seen and regarded by many as troublesome, poke nosing persons, aggressive and the greatest enemy and rival of her daughter-in-law.
There is also general conceived notion by many across the world that mothers-in-law are mean, wicked and wish their daughter-in-law dead. Therefore the mother-in-law is a person that many wives wish they never had anything to do with. Many spinsters dread the thought of having a mother-in-law when they marry and very few wives have ever had anything good to say about their mothers-in-law.
In a chat with some people both married and single, they have different reactions regarding the issue. While some said that mother-in-laws bring peace in the family, others maintained that some mother-in-laws always bring quarrel in the family especially in favour of their sons.
According to Boniface Nwoye, women all over the world are trouble makers; he maintained that his mother-in-law or even his mother cannot stay in his house more than the required period. As according to him this will help to avert any misunderstanding between him and his wife.
On her own part, Miss Oluchi James vowed that she will not permit her mother-in-law to live in her house no matter what happens.
“I have not married but I know that I will marry tomorrow, I have seen some situations where mother-in-laws treat their daughter-in-laws as if they were not born by a woman, commanding them as if they are the ones marrying their sons, I will not permit her to come and stay too long.”
However, Angela Okoli, said that she will only live with her mother-in-law if she is not troublesome but maintained that the best way to avoid their trouble is to stay away from them and visiting them occasionally.
Nevertheless some still maintain that mother-in-laws do not need to live with their married children because women are naturally jealous in nature no matter their age, so long-distance calling keeps getting cheaper.
But the question that is begging for an answer now is; Are mothers-in-law truly mean and wicked and why is it so? The question is necessary in light of the fact that the mother-in-law was previously a daughter-in-law.
To be able to provide answers to these questions, it will be necessary to critically analyze and examine the roles played by the daughter-in-law, the mother-in-law as well as the son/husband. Through the analysis, the causes of the conflict will be determined and solutions provided.
It is believed that some wives came into their marriage prepared for a combat that must be fought to put their mother-in-law in the right place. So if these wives have naturally loving and caring mothers-in-law, they would misunderstand everything done and said by their mothers-in-law.
Another cause of the problem many argued is the illusion that many wives have that their husbands must dissociate himself from parents and cling to them. These wives are quick to quote the Bible verse which says that a “man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife”. However, the wife seems to fail to realize that the same Bible says that “a man shall honour his parents”.
It is ironic that the same wife, who wants her husband to dissociate from his parents in the name of clinging to her, would have her own mother at home. Unfortunately, some husbands who did not realize the manipulative politics of their wives aimed at creating a bad impression about their mothers, on account of the mischievous reports given them by the wives, spoken harshly to their mothers and have confused them.
Therefore, another cause of the raging conflict between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is a battle for who gets the attention of the son/husband. Plainly, it is a battle for control of the attention of the son/husband.
In many parts of Africa, open display of affection for a wife by her husband is often viewed as unmanliness or personal weakness. Therefore, many husbands support their relations against their wives even when it is clear that the wife is the aggrieved party. These husbands prefer to lose or strain their marriages in order to be in the ‘’good books’’ of their relations. These husbands watch helplessly while their mothers undo their marriages.
In the instances stated above, the son/husband takes the whole blame for his inability to break loose from this absurd orientation in the name of tradition. The basic problem here is the son/husband’s failure to leave and to cleave unto his wife as he is always at the centre of the conflict which is a battle for his attention.
For the wife, some advised that she must realize that her relationship with her in-laws is a sensitive one. She should know that when she marries, she marries her husband along with his family and that her husband’s parents are also her parents.
A wife is expected to humble herself before her in-laws, accommodate, tolerate and love them. And this corroborate with the opinion of some marriage councillors who maintained that love is the foundation and the bedrock of every marriage but this love should be extended not only to the husband but also to the in-laws even if the wife thinks that they hate her.
She must not be on the offensive through pre-conceived notions that mothers-in-law are evil. She should realize that what she sows in her relationship with her mother-in-law, she will reap in the future when she becomes a mother-in-law.
From the above, it has been established that the solution to the conflict lies in the hands of the husband and his wife to maintain cordial relations with in-laws while ensuring that their own marriage is not strained.
The ball is in the court of the couple to stand as a united front to protect their union from external attacks and this is realizable when they can recognize that persons such as mothers-in-law are external parties to the marriage. He should not take any steps that will create an occasion for third parties to come into the affairs of his family.
The two however should not allow the parental bond which existed before the marriage to destabilize the marriage and stand together to protect the marriage against external attacks.
When these are done including giving the mother-in-laws some breathing space, some believed that it will help in averting some quarrels that use to occur between daughters-in-law and their mothers-in-law.


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