I am a 40-year-old married woman. I have two children, and my husband is all a woman can pray for. My problem is that we live in a joint family and I don’t get along with my mother-in-law. My mil is a controlling busybody. She has to know each and everything that happens in the house. I cannot even order a pizza for my children without getting permission from her. The problem is that my husband doesn’t say anything to her when she complains to him about my sloppiness or extravagance. He doesn’t say anything to me either, but what irks me is that he doesn’t defend me at all. He tells me to not answer back and do what I want, but what about my pride? His mother criticises me all the time, and doesn’t care who is around when she shouts at me. I lose my temper when she does it in front of maids, and answer back, which makes things very tense in the house. My husband’s sister-in-law doesn’t say anything to our mother-in-law, but she does what she wants and my husband says I should follow her example to maintain peace in the house. He says he knows his mother is wrong but as her son he cannot say or do anything to hurt her. I asked my husband to get an apartment of our own. He did show me a few he said he could afford but they were too small whereas my children are used to living in a big house. In the house I live in, we have a three-bedroom portion with a kitchenette. But I can use it only to make tea or sometimes snacks as all meals are made in the common kitchen. I want peace and quality time with my husband and children without the interference of my mother-in-law. What should I do?
Dear Fed-up Wife,
You are a very lucky woman because you have your husband’s back. As a good son, he doesn’t say or do anything to hurt his mother, but admits to you that his mother is wrong - not something most men do in our society. You should appreciate that he doesn’t say anything to you as well, which must be very frustrating for your mother-in-law. You should not let your mother-in-law get under your skin, and ignore what she says like your sister-in-law. Also, you can have a heart-to-heart talk with your mother-in-law and tell her that you would not answer her back if she doesn’t embarrass you in front of your maids or other people. Try to make her understand that you feel hurt and humiliated when she shouts at you in front of others and, if as an elder she wants to say something, she should discuss it with you alone. Your sister-in-law also stays quiet but ignores what your mother-in-law says because she probably understands that having a shouting match is not worth anything. For any woman, a house with her husband and children minus her in-laws is a dream, but reality is that the cost of living is increasing almost day by day. Good living spaces are almost unaffordable for most salaried people, and, money is a serious issue when people want their own place. So not many people cannot afford to live their dream, but they can make the best of their situation. You and your children are used to living in a spacious house and it will not be easy for you all to live in a small apartment. My dear, if you opt to move into a small space, you will still be making a compromise, and your children will not be happy, either. So, make the compromise that does not interfere with your family’s happiness. Try to have that talk with your mother-in-law; it just might work.
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