Clash of the Titans

Recently, I have been listening to peers talk about their ill fated relationships with their mother-in-laws. In each circumstance, I am speaking to modern, educated brides who have quite traditional mother-in-laws. Their worlds are clashing and they are struggling to keep hold of and impart their values.

Asian households are notorious for the mother-in-law / daughter-in-law rivalry. For some reason, these women do not seem to be able to offer camaraderie but seem to be set on a destructive relationship. Why?

I do not think there are simple answers to this as relationships are individual and complex. However, I would like to put forward a thought that occurred to me in a recent conversation. As a modern bride, educated British bride, I never once thought that I would encounter a difficult relationship with my mother-in-law. From talking to my peers, we as brides do go into marriages thinking that mother-in-law clashes are something that happens in the movies or in very traditional families. None of us felt prepared for our relationships with our mother-in-laws.

We were not ready for the religious expectations subjected by our in-laws that were not there with our own families. We were not prepared for the negative judgements on everything we did or say. We were not prepared for being told what to wear and when to wear it. We were definitely not prepared for them having a say in our marriage!

I wonder if we had been better prepared, i.e. our parents educating us on how to deal with these situations, that these clashes would have been better handled. That rather than rebelling against the in-laws, having great big fights, or becoming victims, we would somehow be able to work through the issues amicably. Some of my peers have had such troubled relationships that one ended up in hospital with ulcers on her vital internal organs due to the stress of it all and another has no relationship at all with the in-laws.

The answer to this is not simple, but I do wonder how prepared the modern educated bride is with these traditional Asian homes our husbands come from.


One Comment to “Clash of the Titans”

  1. Bunty, I don’t have a single Asian friend that gets on perfectly with her mother-in-law (unless the mother-in-law is white).

    My friend S’s mother-in-law caused a huge argument in the family because S wore a sleeveless dress to a wedding! S had no idea it would cause so much offence and now no longer wears sleeveless clothes which I find ridiculous. S says it’s just to keep the peace but in “keeping the peace” she is relinquishing her right to wear what the hell she wants.

    I have another friend whose mother-in-law always makes excuses not to eat at her house – this really distresses my friend but I tell her to relax and see it for the stupidity it is.

    Another friend is a lawyer married to an accountant and they both commute to London for work – her MIL suggested to her that she get up at 5am and cook dinner in advance so it’s ready for when they get home.

    I could go on ..

    In contrast, my sister married a white English guy and she has an excellent relationship with her mother-in-law. They go on holidays together, go out on Sat nights (sometimes just the two of them) and her mother-in-law acts like she is truly blessed to have such a great daughter-in-law.

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