From time immemorial, relations between daughters-in-law and their mothers-in-law have been known to be less than cordial usually, all because of the attachment of the mother to their son that they somehow have problems letting go.
However, the Christian and even traditional understanding of marriage is the union of two adults, that “leave their parents and cleave to each other”. It then becomes worrisome and quite an abomination to see lines between these relationships becoming blurred.
There is an expectation that mothers-in-law should respect their daughters-in-law and moreso for the daughters-in-law. Close association of the daughter-in-law with her father-in-law is unheard of. Once the boundaries become unclear in the relationships, it then leads to dysfunctional family relations, with sometimes fathers-in-law seen falling for their daughters- in-law.
Elsewhere in this edition we carry a story of a father-in-law that is accused of beating up his daughter-in-law each time she has disagreements with her husband. If we are to go back to the marriage principle of leaving home and cleaving to one’s partner, we would discover that this relationship between husband and wife fails on all fronts.
How does the father get to know about the disagreements in his son’s home? Also, where does he get the strength to beat up his daughter-in-law? Apart from it being illegal and serious abuse we wonder what gives him that “perceived right” to discipline his son’s wife?
And finally, where is the husband to the poor woman in all this, and how does he explain or even justify the beatings by his father, or could he also be subject to beatings?
While this is quite an extreme case of parents interfering in their offspring’s affairs, this should be a lesson to all married couples to insulate their unions against unnecessary encroachment from relatives.
We wonder what else the father-in-law is capable of instructing his daughter-in-law to do against her will, and with the blessing of the son.
We believe such relationships need serious attention and counselling could be important for both the father-in-law and his son and his wife so that proper boundaries, based on acceptable values, are re-established.
We cannot have abuse tolerated under any guise, whether tradition, religion or any other flimsy reason. Let us say no to abuse. The son whose wife is being abused deserves our sympathy since he is also being subjected to abuse by having his wife being thrashed, the community knowing about it and him being powerless to stop it. Police stations were established for such cases, we believe.