According to a very interesting article on Huffington Post Research shows that how spouses relate to the in-laws is a strong predictor of marriage longevity. Apparently, A man who gets along with his wife’s parents is a clever chap — his chances of a strong marriage increases by about 20 percent. Women who get along with their in-laws actually have an increased probability of divorce, by about 20 percent.
That was truly an interesting fact to me. Why is it so different for the women?
I believe it’s because women do all the pleasing in order to get along with their in -laws, this all boils down to the self esteem issue. We need to know who we are and what we are. Pleasing people is for those who are not aware of their self worth.
Do not make pleasing your in-laws a way to get along with them. Do not be a “yes doll”, you are your husbands love. You did not get married to get along with your in -laws but to have a happy marriage with your husband. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you shouldn’t try to get along with your in-laws. But what I am trying to say is, get your priorities right and don’t let anyone walk all over you. You are a wife and NOT a slave.
Another opinion of mine gathered from experience and observation is when the in-laws finally see the you are strong in soul and body, they do anything and everything to reduce you, to make you dance to their tone, and keep themselves priority to their son. Basically an attempt to show you who’s boss.
Over 40% of marriages (in the UK) end in divorce. But I am so sure a happy couple who goes through all the trouble of planning a wedding and exchanging vows do not plan to trade in their happily ever after for a painful divorce.
Not being able to cope with your in laws is one of the five major ways to destroy your marriage
Before I talk about how to deal with in-laws and even give a little insight on why some behave the way they do, my advice to the young couples out there fresh out of the reception or still emotional over the proposal:
Asides love, make sure you marry your friend, because at the end of the day love is not all that is involved, as many external factors including your inlaws will interrupt. Proverbs 31 says a wise woman builds her own house. Be wise to build a strong relationship with your husband and vice versa.
Moving on, Why do some In-laws have to be so meddling and abusive?
- Some In-laws are not even happy in their own marriages (if not already divorced, or not even married at all, or maybe even never had a home). They’re not happy, so they don’t know why you should be happy, and they’d do anything to stop it.
- They feel you’re not good enough for their child – every parent has ridiculously high expectations for their sons and daughters. Commonly amongst Asian, African and Afro Caribbean cultures. It’s a very unhealthy thing and it manifests in full fold when the son or daughter gets married.
- Insecurity – they feel their son/daughter won’t give them anymore attention (physical, financial, emotional) because he/she is now married to you
- They just don’t understand you/You’re too different – the son or daughter in question that got married may be of a different race, different culture, different social class, different upbringing, different religion, different mindset and it may almost scare, worry and or intimidate the parent (in-laws).
Now we have a glimpse of why in-laws could be monsters.
In the case where You’re hooked already and there’s no looking back and you really want to save your marriage, here’s how to deal with the (unbearable) in-laws:
- Remember Whose you are: you and your husband will be one, not your husband his mother, not your husband and his brother or sister. This is what God wants, and trust me He knows what He’s saying, so you always have to remember that. You really don’t want a crowded marriage, there are a number of affairs that shouldn’t be shared with you in-laws. It is your Home thus it is your territory so your rules stand. No in-law tells you how to run your house. Your spouse is an individual and even if some cultures believe you are married to the family, you cannot sleep with the family (raw but true!) . You can only sleep with your spouse. “ Shi ke nan magan yakari” (translation -end of story)
- You are a team. Remember, you’re in this together. Never put your spouse in a situation where he or she has to choose between you and a relative. Instead, try to understand the bond your spouse has with his or her family members. If possible, try to support that relationship. Even if your spouse has parents from hell, they are his or her parents. Never disrespect your spouse because of your parents or vice versa. Also, never make your parents feel your spouse is not important to you, this can easily be done when you try to appease your parents to find peace. Remember your spouse is of primary importance now that you are a married. You and your spouse need to show you’re in-laws you’re a super duo and you’re not losing the battle and you’re not giving up your marriage. A supportive partner in this case is super important. May I take this opportunity to celebrate all the men who take their wives as priority even in the midst of family politics. You are the wise ones. First, on my list is My dear Husband and best friend, Sir David Oriakhi.
- Be mature. Accept the fact that your in-laws aren’t your parents and may not respect or love you like they should. Don’t expect too much from them. Learn to see the situation from your in-law’s point of view sometimes. And even if you don’t agree, act like the bigger person. Breathe. Smile. Walk Away. And remember your greatest weapon. Pray. Pray. Pray! Like my late mother will say , Big Mama Dora Otomewo (a great woman of God and philanthropist of blessed memory), “the colour of your spit is white, but what is inside in your stomach is blood and it is red”. Meaning, just because you’re upset about the way they treat you, you do not have to show it.
- Be realistic. Not every mother-in-law dreams of bonding with their grandchildren over tales by moonlight or recipes of generations old. Put away the stereotypes and adjust your thinking to the reality of the situation. As aforementioned, do not expect too much from them. Don’t try to change them, because in all honesty, that is not your responsibility.
- Set boundaries and limits. With your spouse, decide what’s important and what’s not. Then communicate your values to your in-laws. All of your values, don’t miss one out, and make sure it is communicated effectively. Speaking of boundaries, don’t make promises that you can’t keep, and don’t expect them to keep their promises. This may be misinterpreted as pride in many cases, but your peace of mind is more important to you than the names they may call you. That doesn’t mean you should be disrespectful. Also, husbands should remember to take care of their in-laws and treat them well.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up: You are your own advocate, you are an individual. If you do not say “you are” nobody will say “thou art”. Do not be afraid to speak your peace, Don’t be afraid to say your mind but try to do so with some respect.
- Be yourself: Even if your in-laws don’t understand or celebrate your uniqueness, You are who your husband fell in love with in the first place and that is more than enough, you do not need to bend and snap for somebody else.
I’d like to encourage you not to allow such a factor in your marriage affect the way you feel about yourself.
Just because they treat you a certain way, that does not define who you are.
On a final note, In-laws can continue to be outlaws but no matter what:
Oba no dey go transfer (translation – you cannot be moved from where you are meant to be)
I do understand that problems in marriage leave women feeling helpless, sometimes, hopeless, not good enough, which does result in damage to ones confidence and self esteem.
If you have any particular questions relating to this topic and need personal advice, feel free to send me an email : firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a one-to-one counselling session.
Also, if you have any other thing you’d like to add that you feel people should know, type it in the comment section below and let’s have a discussion.
Stay blessed and be who you are, everyone else is taken!
a.k.a. Lady V