In-laws: Is there a difference between mine and yours?

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Why am I bound to form relationships with random people just because we are now related by law? What’s the punishable offence if I violate this law?

Marriage is supposed to be as simple as two people in love coming together, putting aside all others just to be together. This may be practical in the Western world but in this part of the world, it is impossible to be alone with your spouse in marriage. It’s either you have your sister or brother come stay in your new marriage or your spouse’s siblings or even parents have the need to come stay over for one reason or the other.

In most cases, the wife’s family who come to stay with them often serve as a support system helping her around the house till she stabilizes into her new role as a wife. If the wife’s family remains a silent support system to the marriage, even the husband won’t mind having them around as long as it eases stress in his marriage, giving time for some deserved quality time with his wife. Because of the practice in culture in Nigeria, in-laws from the husband’s side feel the need to be dominating over the wife in defensive support to their kin. If the wife becomes too tired to cook for some reason, it’s an issue. If the baby cries longer than necessary, she’s not a good mother. If she plays and jokes with her husband in certain ways, she’s disrespectful. If she goes out and comes in a second late, it’s interrogation time. If friends come over to visit, it’s a tug of war and all of that. So even if in truth there shouldn’t be a difference between the two families, some in-laws with the encouragement of one of the parties in the marriage, make it impossible to overlook the fact that there is indeed a difference in hers’ and his’. Little wonder some women just can’t stick their in-laws.

When you married, you also became part of another family with its own set of expectations. There is need to recognize and respect those expectations within limits. However, none of those limits include:

  1. Submerge all your own feelings, desires, preferences, and needs in the service of “doing things their way.”
  2. Permit them to disrespect, control, or manipulate you for their own selfish ends.
  3. It doesn’t entail “obeying” all their “parental” requests or requirements which, in some instances with some in-laws, may get out of control once entertained out of “respect”.

It beats me when a man has issues with his wife and the next person he feels to report his marital issues to is his sister or mother. With the same intentions of reporting your wife to your sister or mother will they come after your wife. If this continues, at what point really do you make your wife your better half or your confidant or your friend? How much of fun, freedom and respect are you encouraging in your marriage if you’re such a weak sissy? In-law conflicts grow more complicated when a spouse seems to side with his or her parents and against his or her mate. The mate may rightly feel outnumbered or “ganged up on.” This isn’t so much an in-law problem as a marital one. If one spouse remains too dependent upon his or her parents or siblings, that needs to be addressed in a straightforward way. If one spouse is blaming the in-laws for a disagreement the couple is experiencing, that should be dealt with, too.

Both parties need to put their foot down in matters affecting their long term sanity and well-being in their marriage. The best place for in-laws in a marriage is outside the marriage, hypothetically speaking.

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