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The daughter in-law and her mother-in-law

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Charles Ighele


Before some ladies get married, they’ve already drawn the battle line with their future in-laws, especially their mothers-in-law. It’s not uncommon to hear a lady say, “You better be careful with in-laws. If you do not put them where they belong, they can control your marriage. I will not take nonsense from anybody. After all, the Bible says the man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” Some use this scripture to vow to put asunder any mother-in-law they think will want to put their marriages asunder.

When I handled a course known as “In-law Relationship” in our Institute For Marriage and Family Intimacy Studies some years ago, I had cause to tell the students that everybody is an in-law. I told them that if they keep saying in-laws are bad, they are saying that they are also bad. It is true that some mothers-in-law are good, while some are bad. However, this is not enough to categorise all mothers-in-law as bad. Drawing a battle line with a mother-in-law before one gets married will certainly produce battles, because an innocent error by a good mother-in-law can make a lady say, “Didn’t I say that mothers-in-law are bad?”

A lady who went into marriage with her mind set on the belief that mothers-in-law are bad, decided to make life uncomfortable when her father-in-law and mother-in-law visited the first time. Her welcome and how she hosted them was cold. She would serve them any food without the asking, “Papa and mama what would you like to have for dinner?”

A daughter-in-law refused to give her mother-in-law food after her husband had gone to work. The mother-in-law had to return home, because she did not want to cause problems in her son’s marriage. In the process of drawing a battle line with mothers-in-law before marriage and during marriage, some daughters-in-law have fought mothers-in-law, who would have turned out to be a blessing to their lives and marriages. This attitude of drawing a battle line with mothers-in-law has also brought out the worst of some potential gbagbati (quarrelsome and trouble seeking) mothers-in-law. It’s like inviting the devil to dinner. Every day, it is one trouble or the other. No peace for the daughter-in-law and for the mother-in-law.

I strongly recommend that just as my mother made up her mind to live at peace and respect the women and men who married her sons and daughters, no matter how troublesome they might be, that is how ladies who are yet to get married or already married should make up their minds to live at peace with their mothers-in-law, whether good or bad. Psalm 34:14 says “…Do good; seek peace and pursue it”. If a lady does not want to go into marriage with the attitude of “…Do good, seek peace and pursue it,” even when she has a good mother-in-law as good as Ruth’s mother-in-law by name Naomi as narrated in the book of Ruth, she will scare her away.

Females, should bury it deep in their hearts that mothers-in-law are to be respected, whether they are good or bad. A wise lady should make up her mind before marriage and during marriage to respect her husband’s mother. It does not make sense to love and live with a husband and decide to dislike the woman who gave birth to him. When you become a mother-in-law, would you like your son’s wife to disrespect you and separate you from your son? You should, therefore, do unto others what you would like them to do unto you. Love you.


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Charles Ighele
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