My mother always said, ‘May you marry someone whose family is all dead.’ Years later, I’m starting to understand her point.
Relationships with in-laws can be complicated. They can also be plain weird when they poke their noses where they don’t belong.
I met my husband while he was working away from his hometown so I didn’t meet his family for a number of years. As we lived in the city, there weren’t many occasions where I had to interact with his family. We married, had kids, and moved closer to his family eventually. I still didn’t see much of my in-laws. Once we had a larger place, I started to extend invitations to my in-laws to come and stay with us. I was idealistic and thought that whatever my mom used to warn me against was surely old wives tales.
It turns out that a few hours spent in each other’s company was more than enough. The dynamics of dealing with in-laws was something I never thought about and after their first visit to our home, I was already wishing that my husband was an orphan, or, if I was being generous, an only child.
My husband comes from a ginormous family of 10. My family is quiet.
My in-laws do not have an off button and do not understand privacy. I counted myself lucky that they lived away from us…
The odd thing is, it wasn’t much of what they did that drove me mad. What irked me so much was their misplaced helpfulness.
For example, I cook a wide variety of food. When my in-laws visit, all they would eat would be beans and githeri. My two sisters-in-law were visiting over Christmas and they told me that the spices in our food would surely lead their brother to be impotent. What?! We never talk about their brother (my husband) in any capacity. They were so straight-faced and there I was, blushing from the cuticles on my toes all the way to my kinky roots.
Sisterly sex advice?
On a different visit, I got a bags full of sesame seeds and groundnuts. I was never a fan of either so the bags sat in the pantry for months. When I got a call a few months after receiving their presents, they asked how their brother was doing. He was fine, thriving and certainly not impotent. They asked when we were going to have a second child. There’s really no witty comeback for these kinds of questions. What do you say anyway? We’re working on it! Soon! I’ll you know when it happens! I’m pretty sure I mumbled something that did not satisfy them. And I guess that’s why they sent a second bag of the same things a few days later.
In all honesty, what do you with 2kgs of sesame seeds and groundnuts? When I called to begrudgingly thank them, they were crystal clear what they were meant for. I guess they truly did believe that my cooking was the reason for the lack of child number two. In my sister-in-law’s own words: ‘The groundnuts and sesame are meant to counteract spice kabisa – you give it to my brother so that it can increase his sexual appetite.’ The woman is 20 years my senior and ridiculously unabashed about talking about her brother’s sexual prowess or my lack of fertility.
I can’t recall what I did with my stash of sesame and groundnuts. I know we did not eat them. We have three children now and I’m sure my in-laws are patting their backs for their ingenious ideas for helping us beget more offsprings.
Have you ever received misplaced advice from your in-laws? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook. You can find us at Love Matters Kenya and Naija.