Cross Connections: A+B+C=Disaster!

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Who is a good person? In my mind, that’s anyone who understands that she is filled with human flaws and tries to be better. That she unfortunately can be bitter and petty and angry, at times; but tries to learn how not to be so in future.

Take two such good persons. Let’s say for argument’s sake that they never knew each other, until one fine day a third party brought them together and insisted (despite all good logic to the contrary) that they were ‘Family’. Let’s also say that this third person, is, due to complicated Freudian reasons on both sides, the most-loved person for both these good people. (Let’s call them A and B).

And now say, especially in the Indian context, that both parties (A and B) believe they have an equal right over the third party (C – who’s strutting around like some kind of prize rooster, by this time. “Ooh, I’m such a swell guy; everyone loves me!”). And say C also decides to ‘stay out of it’ and lets A and B ‘settle it’ between themselves, regardless of the nastiness zinging around.

Recipe for disaster, right?

And it is a disaster, most of the time. While one increasingly hears of wonderful stories of mothers- and daughters-in-law getting along like a house on fire; the sad truth is that the relationship is predestined for failure unless one of the two bows out or bows down. Or a conscious reshuffling and throwing out of expectations is done by both women.

Say it with me all Daughters-in-law: “No, I don’t consider you my mother, I just met you last year!”

And repeat after me, all MILs: “No, you aren’t the daughter I never had, because that would make your having sex with my son a little gross, wouldn’t it?”

And why should the husband/son be left out of this; keep chanting this aloud, especially if the two women in your life are in the room:

“My wife is not my mother. And my mother is not my wife. And the twain shall never be mixed up again. Not in my head or theirs.”

Believe you me, it’s really as simple as that. The whole problem is such MILs thinking their sons are still little babies needing them for every little thing. The trouble is doubled with the DIL (out of a bit of spite, and again thinking the man she’s married is an infant) trying to supplant the MIL by babying the husband equally.

And the baby… (I’m sorry Son/Husband) makes matters trebly worse by thinking he is a baby as well, to be coddled, cosseted, fed, wiped.

The moment everyone accepts that he’s a great, big person who can take care of himself, that grey area disappears. Then the mother can be exactly that, the proud parent of a grown up, fully formed person. The pride should lie in the fact that you’ve trained him well enough to be an independent person who has his own life. This is not easy, and involves a lot of letting go, but really if you’re a good person, you know you should, don’t you? This of course doesn’t mean you languish in an old people’s home and wait for death. It means you finally have the time to sit back and relax and/or do fun things and live your own life. You have every claim on your son’s time, his thoughts, his finances and his energy, but maybe not all of it; like it used to be when he was 2.

Let’s put it another way, think of your son as your married daughter (do you expect her to hang about you all the time? I think NOT.) and the rest is easy-peasy.

The wife is no innocent bystander in this epic tussle. She has internalized all the nasty mother-in-law stories told to her from the day she could understand. So to her, every move her MIL makes has some hidden nefarious purpose to it. Her MIL helps out, she’s taking over her life. Doesn’t help out, “she thinks I’m her servant!”. There’s no winning with such pre-conceived hate. If you’re both good people, just throw out the baggage, and start afresh.

And if you’re not good people, that’s a different article altogether!




I am Anonymous. I want to be heard, but not necessarily known.

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