But now, she wants us to move back with her or else she wishes to come and stay with us. Even thinking about it gives me an anxiety attack. My husband says he will never move in with her. He doesn't say much, but he knows his mom is doing something really wrong. Though he respects and loves me the most, but still blood is thicker than water. Hence, I don't know what to do in such a situation. Hope you can guide me.
Answer by Zankhana Joshi: Getting along with your in-laws can be a very tricky situation. It is definitely one of the most challenging relationships, no wonder it features in the main storylines of our television shows and movies, not only in India but world over. Even if you don't land up being best friends, you still will remain in each other's lives, thus it is important to deal with the disagreement.
The mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship is the most critical relationship in any family system, because the resulting tension affects everyone in the family. The husband is in a no-win situation, getting grief from both sides. The perpetuating tension strains all other relationships too.
The main factor affecting this relationship is an undercurrent of competition between the two women. One may think that they are competing for the husband/son's love, but that's not it. At a deeper level, it is actually for the influence each woman has over this man in the middle. In my practice, I hear common complaints, like the husband's mother is controlling and won't let go, or that the daughter-in-law wants to keep my son from the rest of his family. It is a reaction to the covert competition, not the cause of the strain. This maybe the insecurity your mother-in-law feels when your husband dines out with you, and thus insists on her alone time with him too. Her competition is to keep her influence on the son stronger.
Why is this influence on the man important? Because it helps in the preservation of the culture. The daughter in law, who is an outsider, is perceived as a threat to the existing cultures and systems, thus the attempt to control her. The mother-in-law exerts influence on how the house should be run, how the son should treat the daughter in law - to perpetuate patriarchy, how the culture - food, festivals, religions etc are maintained as status quo. Often, it is what was passed on to them when they got married, and now that is the reference point of the relationship with their daughter-in-laws. However, gender roles of women have shifted with women becoming more educated and independent, unable to remain submissive and retaliate to this control, expectations and impositions. This could be causing you inner conflict and anxiety.
Space and boundaries are also newer concepts within families in our society that follow patriarchy. Thus they find themselves treading into their son and daughter-in-law's personal space out of the belief of right and ownership, without realizing the changing individual needs.
I would recommend you to take a step back from the friction, take a deep breath, and take an honest look at the bigger picture. Somewhere you will find that you too are competing for the influence over your husband. Move away from villain or victim mode and start thinking about what you can do to make things better. Remember that you are the one who has the power to turn things around. I believe understanding and acceptance can be the first starting point.
Understanding how the mother-in-law can feel threatened by the fear of being unimportant or devalued will help you develop some compassion towards her. It will make you less reactive and anxious. Understand her intention behind the controls, and extend acceptance to your mother-in-law - accept that she is different but not evil. And you will be surprised that acceptance will come back to you too.
If your anxiety continues and you find it difficult to manage the interpersonal equation, I would strongly recommend seeking family therapy - as it would help to put everyone's viewpoints in perspective.
An ideal world would be where individual differences were accepted, and people were allowed to grow and choose what they like. The only culture to preserve would be that of love, connectedness and acceptance. A happy individual, who is free to grow, would be a healthy link to the family tree and would not resent being controlled or asked to belong. If families shifted from expectation to acceptance and started respecting each other's space and boundaries, there would be more collaboration and integration in the families.
- Zankhana Joshi is a practicing counselling psychologist in Mumbai
Want expert advice for your relationship? Send us an email at
Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.
Поделись с друзьями
Рекомендуем посмотреть ещё:
In the News PC Jeweller Raresome winter christmas jewelry
[Updated April 2017 Snow may be thawing in most parts of the US, but we are still keeping.