In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be living it up in beautiful South Dakota. The occasion: my new grandma-in-law’s octogenarian birthday and combination family reunion. I hear there will be picnics and jet skis involved.
I am petrified.
But Andrea, how can you be petrified when there are jet skis involved, you ask? Well first off, I’m afraid of watercraft, so there’s that. But there’s also the fact that these jet skis belong to my new-in-law family, and what am I supposed to do around these perfectly nice, terrifying people for three whole days in beautiful rural South Dakota? Also, “beautiful rural South Dakota” is a few kinds of redundant, right? Keep reading »
Like most freshman wives, I assumed that my mother-in-law (MIL) and I would enjoy an affable relationship, for she is no monster-in-law Jane Fonda and I am certainly no J.Lo daughter-in-law (DIL). I mean, why wouldn’t we be as close as bona fide mother and daughter? We are intelligent, respectful and kind women who care deeply for the same man. My naiveté conjured images of us laughing over tea together, trading recipes and wrinkle secrets, and bragging to anyone who would listen how we were best of friends.
One year later, that idealistic notion of a legitimate mother-daughter relationship is laughable and overrated at best. If I had a time machine, I would go back and hunt for the ultimate handbook on how to handle MILs from A-Z and read it top to bottom with a highlighter. No one warned me about the multifaceted nature and complexities of a MIL/DIL relationship. Nor did I realize the toll it would take on my marriage.
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A woman wrote in to the Guardian this week seeking advice in dealing with her jackass of a husband who makes her feel “deeply inadequate as a wife” because her parents aren’t rich like his. She writes that she and her husband are both in their late 20s and come from Indian backgrounds. “It is a very Indian tradition for a woman’s parents to provide anything their sons-in-law ask for and treat them as princes. It is an old custom dating back to the days when women were not independent,” she writes, but explains: “My parents are from much humbler origins with very limited means compared to my in-laws.”
Her husband wants to begin his own business and her parents aren’t in a position to provide the capital he needs, “although they would probably mortgage their home to help him if they were asked to.” She says her husband has berated her on several occasions for her parents’ “lack of wealth, education and polish,” and though they love each other a lot, but his obscene jerkiness is putting a strain on their two-year marriage.
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Despite all the mother-in-law jokes that poke fun at the tension between a woman and her son-in-law, a new report reveals that the real tension lies between a woman and her daughter-in-law. For her new book, “What Do You Want From Me?,”Dr Terri Apter, a psychologist and professor at Cambridge University, studied hundreds of families over two decades and discovered that while 15% of men reported issues with their female in-laws, more than 60% of women “admitted the relationship with their female in-law caused them long-term unhappiness and stress.” Though some daughters-in-law reported abusive emails and the like from their husband’s mothers, a significant number of mothers-in-law also complained of similar exclusionary behavior. “’My daughter-in-law is so cold towards me,” said one 64-year-old mother-in-law. “She begrudges any time or attention my son gives to me and takes every opportunity to minimize the importance and depth of the bond he and I have.” Keep reading »
There’s no doubt that breaking up with anyone is a crappy, painful rite on par with Chinese water torture. You put so much into the relationship, and for whatever reasons, it just doesn’t work out. You lose your lover, you lose your friend. But, forget about the man in the equation for a second, and think about all the other hours you put into “making it work.” No, not with him—with his family. When you’re in love, you take in everything that comes attached to the boy, and I’m not talking about his penis: you also adopt his cracky sisters, creepy brothers, horny uncles, his divorced parents who bad mouth each other, precocious nephews who finger paint your brand new silk cami at family BBQs—you know, the whole extended family gamut. As if having to deal with your own annoying brood isn’t enough. Keep reading »