My husband and I had agreed to live separately from our own parents. However, years have passed and my mother-in-law has requested to stay with us due to loneliness and weak health. She has been staying with us for almost a month now. However, it has been causing problems and small heated arguments between my husband and I. How should we go about this? – Struggling Mae
There is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that goes: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes”. I think he forgot another one – mother-in-law issues!
It is good to know that you and your husband agreed in the beginning. And I would assume that you both also agreed in taking in your husband’s mother. This means you two can discuss and talk about conjugal matters well. This situation you are in requires for the same kind of intimate talk. In your heart-to-heart conversation with your dear husband, you may want to keep in mind, first, that somewhere in the distant future, you will also be a mother-in-law yourself. And, second, you don’t want to force your husband to choose between you or his mother.
In a dialogue with your husband, you could also share your sentiments of how much of a factor a husband’s treatment of the situation is, too, when it comes to his in-laws. Things get really ugly when a wife feels that his husband is starting to take sides. A wife will always look to her husband to make her feel protected and secure in such situations of conflict.
Needless to say, your mother-in-law is very much “in” your marital life now, physically and conscientiously. So whatever your decisions and actions are, these have great and lasting effects on your relationships, to your husband, and to your mother-in-law. Let love be your guide, love that is patient, love that is kind, love that does not envy, love that is not proud. Pray and let Jesus, the author of love, be your guide.
This reminds me of a story that I love to tell.
There was a young lady who married the man of her dreams, a fine, young lad, handsome, and gallant. The only drawback was that they had to live with his mother. It seems that no matter what the young lady did, the mother-in-law would always find something wrong with her.
It got so unbearable that she began to formulate a murderous plan to rid herself of the problem for good. She went in search of a medicine man. She told him her problem and asked that he give her poison that would be untraceable. The wise, old man, listened and sympathized. He gave her a vial of fine powder with very strict instructions: She had to be patient and administer the powder little by little in the old woman’s food. And so as not to arouse suspicion, she had to treat her mother-in-law very, very well.
Hurrying back, she did as she was told. From then on, she treated her mother-in-law in the most respectful and loving manner she could muster. This went on for days and days, and slowly, the mother-in-law’s attitude toward her began to change. So much so that she felt that now the old woman appreciated her and was beginning to treat her like her own daughter (her plan was working!). Months passed and slowly, the young lady began to have a change of heart. She now realized how much she actually loved her mother-in-law and no longer wanted her to die. So one day, she went back to the medicine man in secret. She told him she had learned to love her mother-in-law and could he please give her an antidote because she didn’t want her to die. The wise old man, listened and nodded. Then he revealed to her that what he gave her in the first place was harmless herbal powder. The real cure to the situation was the daughter-in-law’s change in attitude, her change of heart because of the decision to manifest this coming change first through concrete actions. It was only when this happened that they were able to live in loving harmony for the rest of their lives.
So you see, dear Struggling Mae, substance follows form. Even if inside you may still be unwilling to run the whole nine yards of loving your mother-in-law, if you make a firm decision of showing her love, consideration, and respect at every turn, her heart can’t help but melt. Of course, you don’t need the “fake poison” accessory to get this done, just offer it up to God and for the sake of loving your husband more. Try it and you’ll be amazed.