Big family with multiple generations and a dog

How to deal with in-laws

‘In Africa, a person doesn’t marry an individual. You marry an entire family.’

This saying was very familiar to Amaka but when she was getting married to Dipo, she wasn’t prepared for how true the statement was. They were both working in Lagos at the time and had family members spread across the country. Even though Amaka met her in-laws ahead of time, she didn’t have enough time to get to know them properly. It was after a few months of their wedding that her mother-in-law came visiting and Amaka finally spent enough time with her.

Doing everything wrong

Dipo’s mother picked a fault with everything Amaka did. If it wasn’t her cooking methods, it was her decision to employ a cleaner for the house. Dipo’s mother had a very traditional background and to her, it didn’t matter what the end result was, as far as Amaka did not follow the traditional method of doing things, she was wrong.

Because Amaka was determined to make things work, she put in the extra effort and kept her issues with her mother-in-law away from Dipo. Unfortunately, things did not get better. The fun and bubbly Amaka soon became defensive and bitter. Even though her husband noticed it and asked a couple of times, she never told him what was really happening.

Be rude?

One day, a friend of hers visited and she opened up to her. Her friend advised her to be rude to her mother-in-law as this was going to make the older woman feel slighted and ready to go back to her own home. She took this advice and constituted a tit for tat rule.

Whenever the older woman did something mean to her, she would respond accordingly – but this did not solve the problem.

On the contrary, their relationship got worse. When Dipo got a concrete sense of the tension between his mother and wife, he asked his wife again. It was at this point that she opened up and told him all that was going on. He immediately went to his mother and spoke to her. He made her see reason as to why Amaka coming up in a different home had her own traditions that she was used to.

Open communication

It wasn’t easy convincing his Mum but after a series of conversations and apologies from both sides, they were able to meet half-way with Dipo’s mother accepting some of Amaka’s new ways and Amaka gleaning from the older woman’s wealth of knowledge. Dipo’s mother soon went back to her own home and a year later, when she was back to celebrate the birth of her grandson, Amaka received her with open arms.

The key thing that Amaka and most women take for granted is communication. Most times, you need to learn what your in-laws want and strive to meet them halfway.

Your best bet for a mediator is your spouse as they have known their family longer than you have and can easily give you a cheat sheet to dealing with various family members.

Always speak to your spouse and try to have them understand you so they can defend you and express your views to their family.

Also, in all you do, be polite to your in-laws while being firm. Because at the end of the day, you do not want to lose yourself in trying to please them. Above all, find love for them in your heart because the truth: they have now become family. And, as Nigerians, we stick with family even when they are being annoying.

Do you have tips and tricks to dealing with in-laws? Share them below or on our Facebook pages Kenya and Naija and help a friend out!

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