A woman sees anything important to her as an intimate part of herself. A wife, therefore, has greater emotional bond to her husband as compared to a husband to his wife.
A wife’s life, therefore, revolves around her man and anybody coming close is seen as a rival who must be pushed away.
Unfortunately, at the opposite side of a wife is the mother of the husband who also has great emotional bond to her son. She sees her son as a ‘little husband’ who must be owned and protected.
A new wife may feel insecure and inadequate as she compares herself to her ‘rival’, the mother of her husband and may develop a feeling of competition. Wife and mother in law rivalry is, therefore, common and it is in fact a leading cause of conflict and divorce in marriage.
Some wives handle the situation tactfully to nurture their marriage; some fight back relentlessly to keep their husbands but others simply spiritualise their problems, especially when a husband shows excessive attachment to her mother.
These women claim the mothers have married their sons in spirit. No matter the stand of a wife, the quality of your relationship with your mother-in law can make or unmake your marriage. It is, therefore, important for a wife to know if she is a good daughter-in-law or not.
Qualities of a good daughter-in–law
Have a positive view of your mother-in –law. Be friendly and respectful. Treat her with great love. Call her ‘mum’ or pet name as her own children do. She is more likely to accept you as her daughter, if you accept her as your own mother and do not interfere too much between her and her son. Do not compete with her. Instead compliment her and make her feel special because she has invested resources in her son to make him good enough to be your husband.
Know your mother-in-law very well. Know her background, custom, lifestyle and temperament. This makes it easy to understand her. For example, if she is a choleric, she may command and issue instructions unawares; if she is a supine, she may offer to help you in your home even when you don’t need it. If she is a sanguine she may be friendly and show great sense of humour. Know who she is and accept her for who she is.
Show interest in what she does.
Let her know you are impressed with what she does and always say something positive about her and behind her. If you say something good or bad she may get to know. This means you never criticise her, especially her excessive attachment to her son.
Forge a personal bond her. She is older, more experienced and knows your husband better. Call her often just to say ‘hello’. It is also healthy to seek advice from her on simple issues like what to cook for the day even when you don’t hope to follow through. Share details of your work so that she feels involved in your everyday life and makes her feel you value her.
Be kind to your mother-in-law. Support her. Know her needs and make every effort to meet them. Send her gifts often and give her personal care even without your husband knowing.
Accept criticism from your mother-in law. She belongs to a different generation so see her criticism as her way of seeing things differently. Never confront her even when she makes unfounded allegations that hurt you deeply. Instead, let your husband handle your problems.
Draw a good balance between intimacy and distance. You may invite her to spend a couple of days in your home when you are ready before she invites herself in your difficult times. Give her space in your marriage but don’t let her take over your home.
Treat your husband well.
A mother is happy and comfortable, if her son is well taken care of. Show your man each time that you care. He will talk well of you to his mother and also love you the more. Let your mother also know your in-law is good and you are happy in your marriage.
Are you a good daughter in law?
Appreciate the concern of your mother-in-law. She has loved her son since birth and will not give her away in the name of marriage. She is genuinely interested in your marriage and, by tradition, must play the role of a watchdog. She is someone special, who gave life to your son and the reason for you being the wife.
Your rivalry with your mother-in-law is natural but a good wife uses it to grow her marriage. A good wife takes a positive view of her in-law relationship and thanks the woman who made your marriage possible.
See your marriage as a blessing because through it you get two mothers. Enrich your marriage by simply loving your mother-in-law.