Mothers in Law or Monsters in Law?
I decided to write about mothers in law because I know too many stories and have read too many jokes for me to just ignore it. So I decided to delve a bit into this social phenomenon that is more often than not, the bane of most married people’s lives.
Mothers in Law or MIL as they are so ‘fondly’ referred to are in basic effect women and often the mothers of the partner you choose to marry. They are human beings. However somewhere down the line, in most cases they are the cause of a lot of woes and more so to do with mothers of men than of women.
So what’s this Mother in Law issue? Why are they nasty? Why do they make your lives a living hell?
One of the things to consider is that a lot of women live in very unhappy / dysfunctional and unfulfilling marriages. They stay to please society and for fear of retribution. In this scenario, the children become their source of love and happiness (this is toxic and lays undue pressure on the child but it is a fact in South Asian societies). In an unhappy marriage where your husband doesn’t meet your love and emotional needs, you are gifted with a little man who turns to you for everything. Your son in effect becomes the giver of the love you never got from your partner. This isn’t necessarily true for everyone but it is more so the case – hence those silly memes – “I asked God to give me a man who would always love me and he gave me a son”. Honestly how toxic is this? But this is how it is today. Mothers find their love needs in their sons. And so a woman who takes the place of the mother (this is base primal instinct we are talking about) is always a threat to her. The son’s partner for life becomes a threat to the mother who has got used to unconditional love from her son.
This is where the tussle lies. Freud did make some sense with his Oedipus complex. And so the battle rages and the son is caught in between his mother’s toxic overbearing love (once your son is an adult, he is not yours for the taking – even daughters for that matter – but most South Asian parents don’t want to accept this) and the love for his life partner. It’s almost like a battle for attention, affection, love and care. It’s crazy and it’s rampant in our society.
Understand though that the Monster mother in law is actually a very unhappy woman. You have to be miserable to want to make others miserable too. Happy people don’t do that. And so the hatred and the memes are in effect to someone who is suffering inside. A woman who has given up her life for her children sees them as her property. But if we want to address the issues of mothers in law and their nastiness – we need to first address the need for encouraging fulfilling marriages between partners and rearing children in a manner that is not overbearing and toxic. Many don’t know the boundaries and many labour under the delusion that because they ‘made’ the child, they own them. Read Khalil Gibran and his poem on Children. That tells you all you need to know on the role of a parent.