Its time we break stereotypes and establish the fact that the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law relationship is just the same as the mother-daughter relationship. All you need to do is hit the right chord and the things will rearrange itself, write Shikha Jain
Who says we are perfect and so are our relationships? We live in such a world where everything under the sun is first created, flourished and then showcased. Talking about relationships and to even name a few wouldn’t be helpful to find a dead end. The relationship that has been influenced the most by the society is the one between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. It has become a belief that mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law can never share a healthy bond.
A normal relationship
Kalpana Baid from Kolkata always dreamt of a close bond with her daughters-in-law and she takes pride in saying that she gets along with them very well, because it is “too good to be true” for some people. It is only possible when you treat them like your own daughter/son, she further adds. She felt free to convey how a daughter-in-law should behave because they always took it positively as she gave them their own sweet time to settle in and nurtured them with all the love they deserved. Meanwhile, she tried to comprehend their nature for everyone’s good. She gets inspired when she witnesses a strong connection between a daughter-in-law and mother-in-law.
Khyati Baid, daughter-in-law of Kalpana Baid feels fortunate enough to be a part of her in-laws family. She tries to jostle the mind and the funny bone by saying, if you are tightly knit with your mother-in-law, it’s handy to have an aide when in a tussle with your spouse. She further mentions, as clichéd as it sounds, but considering your mother-in-law as your own mum has done wonders for her. It has helped her to establish a very frank and genuine relationship with her. So, instead of holding grudges we communicate them to each other with the strong welfare of each – is the base of the conversation.
Khyati thinks not everyone shares the similar kind of bond, because she has witnessed her friends being very sugar-coated with their mothers-in-law and then talking behind their back. “But one wouldn’t do that with their own mothers, they would rather just tell them and that’s what even I would do,” she adds. It is nice to keep your husband in the loop and use his help in understanding the family better. One should definitely seek his opinion, but it is an absolute ‘no-no’ to get him to speak for you or to get him involved in solving issues. Before marriage often people cloud your views by passing their remarks about the new family that you are going to be a part of. She feels one should enter like a clean slate and take her own time to soak in the culture of the new family before hurrying to make changes.
Barkha Singhvee, a resident of Hyderabad claims to have a win-win situation for both of them. She considers herself lucky since her mother-in-law has always been very understanding and supportive, so she never had to adjust. When you know you two are going to live under one roof, then there is no second thought about not sharing a great bond with your in-laws and vice-versa. To avoid discomfort, one should always seek a friend in the other, so you respect each other. Her mother-in-law has become her backbone in the past two decades.
While speaking to Dr Sanjoy Mukherjee said it is the ‘insecurity’ that the mother-in-law has, which becomes the core element for clashes. And when the daughter-in-law arrives to the new house, she comes with her own belief system that she has had in the past comprising of everything as it all starts from one’s childhood – the way your mother and grandmother are connected, gets registered in your subconscious mind.
He also said that the basic culture and philosophy should be changed with changing times. Mother-in-law should ensure that everyone in the family gives the daughter-in-law a warm welcome and help her settle. Daughter-in-law needs to adapt to the new environment, mould herself and should willingly accept all the aspects of the house. There also comes a role of a husband or son where he is an equal participant of all these matters. He should be 100 percent supportive towards his wife and make sure that her emotional and physical needs are fulfilled, because if it is not, then it leads to irritation and hence, results in disputes. It is never about taking sides, but knowing how to balance it out.
Another expert in relationships, Suchitra Banerjee from InnerHour has a slightly different say. She says it is the expectations and the assumptions that trigger the fights. The mother-in-law will have expectations and the daughter-in-law will have her own assumptions, because each one of them operate from own experiences. So, ‘direct-communication’ is of great significance, which can lessen the uncooperative attitude amongst them. She also advices to have an open discussion in the presence or absence of the husband rather than turning it into a complaint.
However, it depends on how people think, because everyone is different from one another. Dr Shefali Batra, founder of MINDFRAMES and co-founder of InnerHour says, the battle between the mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is a universal phenomenon, which is over the son. In the Indian setting, most of the men are usually unable to take a stand, and they refuse to grow up and this is the reason why the mothering or the nurturing is left onto the two women in this man’s life when he gets married – one is the mother, who always was and the other, is the wife. And we all talk a lot about the myth which is, the ‘male weakness’ where the Indian male is an overgrown or oversized little boy who needs to be mothered, nurtured and taken care of. So, the conflict is primarily over his preferences or who can do a better job for him and it is a major source for depression.
And she was speaking with regards to reviewing literature and as well as her personal practice; that it is not the wife who has a personal problem with the way mother-in-law cooks or it is not because of the way daughter-in-law chooses the curtains. Grudges are evitable, but compromising could be rephrased to realising and being able to accept the in-laws with all their flaws just the way you accept your husband with all his flaws, because we become biased when it comes to in-laws. She says that if one can stick with her partner, one can certainly stick with the mother-in-law. In many ways, your partner has the DNA of his parents, right? And since she is his mother, no one can change that. One can change friends, employees and even houses, but not the partner’s mother. It’s about the aspects and attributes that a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law don’t like about each other.
And in the worst-case scenario, all you can do is just accept each other’s differences, because it is not necessary to love each other or to be crazy about each other, you can at least learn to tolerate each other in a way where you respect each other’s individuality. Because each one of us is a human after all. You should always question yourself, ‘why am I being a source of problem for anyone?’