Have you ever wondered why a seemingly good, decent person, highly religious if I might add would morph into a controlling, egotistical, seemingly heartless and very selfish warlord and rain fire and brimstone on a man or woman whose only crime was marrying into said warlord’s family?
Yes I said it…Today I am gonna be ranting about in-laws from hell. I have great in-laws to be honest and I’ll always be thankful for them but I have heard so many bizarre stories about in-laws that I just had to scream. Every human being is a potential in-law so you are not exempt. In the African setting even cousins and distant relatives feel they have in-law rights. This is partly true because of the integrated extended family culture, however shouldn’t there be a line drawn somewhere?
Today I am going to highlight the 10 worst in-law behavior ever and in my next two posts will give the 411 on the 10 things you didn’t know about being a bad in-law and the 10 commandments to being a great in-law. The truth about life in general is that whatever you sow, you will definitely reap. So if you are mean to someone because the person is married to your brother or happened to marry into your family, it’s only a matter of time till your own in-laws treat you worse (unless you don’t ever intend to marry and in that case Karma will still find another way of biting you in the arse). Little wonder some women have actually said they wouldn’t marry a man whose mother is still alive (I am utterly shocked by this though, imagine if someone was actively praying away your mum?)
Anyway without further ado, I shall chook my head right into this:
10 worst in-law behavior
- Unsolicited Opinions
- The Ex- comparison
- My way or the highway
- Emotional blackmail
- My family is better than yours
- CNN world report
- His money is mine
- She’s meant to serve us
- Hurting people hurt others
Here we go…
- Unsolicited opinions: This is the most common worst in-law behavior. Telling ‘our wife‘ what to wear, how to act, what to do in every situation, why she isn’t yet a good wife, why she isn’t pregnant yet, how to train her children- your nieces and nephews/ grandchildren, how to cook that meal she has been cooking since before she met you…the opinions are endless. The thing is opinions are like butt holes, everyone has them but it’s very impolite to stick them in someone else’s face! How would you feel if someone constantly had an opinion about everything you had to say or do? Many times the in-laws tell themselves they have their brother or son’s best interest at heart but your brother is a grown ass man who chose the wisest, smartest, most beautiful woman he could find as a wife (and vice versa) and if he can trust her to run his home and life, you should too. In any case it really isn’t your business and most times it isn’t in your brother’s best interest to cause a rift in his home. Recently my friend B complained to me about how her in-law came in to the kitchen and added a cup of water into her jollof rice saying it was about to burn. B had painstakingly followed a recipe she found online and was waiting for the slight burn that gives the party, firewood flavor to home-made rice but instead got stuck with soggy rice and a self-righteous in-law who kept announcing at the dinner table that jollof rice was so easy to make and insisting her cup of water had saved an already bad situation. Sheesh!
The Ex-comparison: Comparing ‘our wife’ to your brother’s oh so perfect ex-girlfriend is utter rubbish. The decision to marry girl A instead of girl B was his to make and punishing ‘our wife’ for your brother’s life choices is sad and petty. A colleague of mine G was complaining bitterly about how her husband-to-be’s aunt kept mentioning the great ex he had and how she didn’t understand why on earth he was marrying her. So many women are not going to heaven simply because of the way we hate on other women haba! I was particularly baffled by an old lady I met recently whose son’s ex was an old acquaintance. Her son was married with kids and yet she spent almost half an hour talking about how great the acquaintance would have been for her son and get this- she was almost teary eyed. Recounting so many fond stories that my ears burned. Woman get over it! Your son is happily married to some other woman, love her instead of this idolized distant memory!!! Don’t you ever stop to wonder how hurt ‘our wife’ feels when she constantly doesn’t measure up to the ex?
Nitpicking: ‘ Fussy or pedantic fault-finding’. That’s how the dictionary aptly defines it. Worst behavior number 3 is nitpicking. It’s so annoying when someone finds fault in every thing you do. I once heard a story about a nitpicking mother in law who would say: “The onions in this egg are too crunchy”, “The floor isn’t properly swept” and would proceed to re-do what ‘our wife’ had so painstakingly done moments earlier. Seriously that woman needed a j-o-b!!! I wonder if she would have been so feisty if her own aged in-laws treated her the same. Dear in-law please save your OCD for your own family or better still get help!
My way or the highway: A church member told about her sister in-law who insisted on handling every little detail of the preparation for her baby even up to deciding what clothes to buy for the baby. She didn’t allow ‘our wife’ pick even a single item and every time she didn’t get her way she would stamp her foot on the ground or bad mouth ‘our wife’ and insist her family wasn’t paying for part of the delivery process in America, a delivery that she had insisted she also travel to ‘help out’ with. ‘Our wife’ gladly paid for each item sister-in-law struck off the list which aggravated all the more the sister-in-law. Oooh poor child, did someone rob you of your fairy tale life oh so long ago or are you trying to live your life vicariously through ‘our wife’ or better still hope stealing her limelight will put a little shine on your dull existence? It’s quite psychotic to believe you can have your way in everything where someone else’s nuclear family is concerned and I don’t care how close you are to the family- you are still extended family!
Emotional blackmail: “I carried you for 9 months, worked 3 jobs to send you to school…”, “…after all we have done for you (sob); how can you pick her over us…”.
Stop it please! Yes he will always be grateful for your love, care and sacrifices but you can’t hold them over him for the rest of his life. What if your husband’s mother had done that to you? And even if she did, it’s not an excuse to do it to your children too. So many in-laws fight dirty, clouding the man’s judgement with crocodile tears. Men, no one can replace the family who brought you into this world but once you are married, your loyalty should be to your wife (and vice versa). A daddy’s girl or a mummy’s boy has no business getting married. Marriage is about a man LEAVING (his family) and CLEAVING (to his wife). The bible says it, the justice system believes it and society accepts it. Every other scenario is an anomaly. If your mum and wife were drowning and you could only save one, you best be saving your wife- it’s your dad’s job to save your mother!
My family is better than yours: Marriage is a beautiful thing because it unites the rich and poor, the learned and illiterates, the classy and uncouth. Why? Because it isn’t about the Montagues and the Capulets but about Romeo and Juliet. Those two people who chose to be together despite the odds. This leads us to worst behavior number 6- my family is better than yours. That statement alone is poison. Children born into that marriage will be a blend of both families and will be exposed to the mannerisms and ideals of both. It doesn’t matter who had what before the start of the marriage. This comparison is hurtful, demeaning and self-righteous and often belies a deep down inferiority complex manifesting as superiority airs and graces. Please stop it! You didn’t do her a favor by marrying her.
CNN world report: Are you that in law who is Mr or Miss Wiki-leaks or Sister i-report? The one who says all including the unseen with added salt and pepper? Then you are a monitoring spirit. Some things are private between a man and woman and their immediate household and because they agreed to let you into their home does not give you right to give CNN world report a run for their money. It’s a breach of privacy and backstabbing to say the least since ‘our wife’ not only opened her doors to you but picks up after you without complaints. No one’s perfect, I am sure if we sent a correspondent to your house to compare we’d have a heart attack. Mama doesn’t need to know everything that happened while you were there neither do the village elders!!!
His money is mine: If a man has a family of his own, how can the extended family think his money is theirs? When you were paying his school fees did you categorically tell him that every dime he made after graduation would be yours? I am so sure he wouldn’t have agreed to such. In-laws this is worst behavior number 8!!! Your man’s money is yours and the kids so why should your son’s money also be yours? Your father’s money likewise is yours and your mum’s so why on earth should your siblings give you all of theirs too? Please go and get a job. There are no hand-me-downs here. Even if you are winning right now, Karma doesn’t play around, you had best be warned!
She’s meant to serve (us): Our wife is not the maid. She cannot clean up after you, pick up after you and care for you like you were handicapped. It’s just plain wrong. Even in-laws who are younger than ‘our wife’ are so guilty of this. This is worst behavior number 9 and it stinks. Treat that woman right or someone else will treat you so wrong. There’s no standing order that marriage is a contract unto slavery. Her bride price was not an advance payment for manual labor. No wonder some traditions return the brideprice!
Hurting people hurt others: This is for those in-laws who combine the 9 worst behaviors listed above with some of their own. No mentally stable, well-adjusted, happy and functional human being will treat another person in the ways listed above. Only a hurting person hurts others. Many times if you look closely, the monster in-law has a bad marriage, deep loneliness, an obvious deficiency, a history of abuse or scars from the past coupled with palpable discontent with life causing them to met out pain in the name of discipline, goodwill or protection of family. Feel sorry for them because truly they live a miserable existence, don’t join them in the bitterness parade, instead pray for them each and every day that the good Lord fills the void in their hearts! Amen.
Jesus please fix it!
So if you have good in-laws type a resounding halleluyah in the comments box and if you have stories on worst in-law behavior please drop a comment. Perhaps a reader will see herself or himself between the lines of the 10 worst behavior and change. And remember to share on social media, you just might save a marriage!
Look out for the next two posts…more on this in-law business.
Sorry for the long silence. This post is dedicated to the after-hours staff at my sister’s office who were complaining about my early retirement. Thanks for the ginger!
Have a great day Chutzpah fam,