I’d expect some of the women reading this post will not find it very agreeable, and I can already see it in my mindall the heads shaking even before finishing the first sentence! So let me hasten to say that this is just my general observation, and obviously there are exceptions to the case.
Women in general have an unfathomable sense of authority when it comes to their loved ones. I’m not suggesting that all women can’t get along with their mothers-in-law, but there is enough precedence to indicate some sort of “competition” between the two. They may not realize this so-called “competition” though; or even if they did realize it, it’s likely that they won’t admit it!
When in due course, there is a clash between a woman and her mother-in-lawand trust me, it happens quite a lot in some familiesshe would expect her husband to support and protect her, because as far as loyalty is concerned, she deems it only logical that her husband’s priority should be for her, and not so much for his mother. Once a man marries, it is almost like he has pledged his life for his wife!
However, after many years have elapsed, and when that same woman has a son of her own, and when that son grows up and marries, the woman’s logic can suddenly change overnight. Suddenly, she will deem it only logical that her son should be loyal to her, and not so much to the wife. After all, she was the one who went through the pains of bringing up the son for many years. I suppose both parties have their respective justifications to demand the loyalty of the man, and the arguments for and against those justifications can have no end. I don’t propose to discuss the merits of those justifications in this post, because I think it’s difficult to say what’s right and what’s wrong in this matter.
Mothers are sometimes inclined to share some of their many valuable experiences in life, such as that of the “perfect” way to raise a child. This so-called “sharing” may not necessarily be hostile in nature though. In fact, it is quite often done with good intentions. The voice and intonation will be carefully checked to ensure that the sharing process really sounds like sharing instead of teaching. And of course some mothers just can’t control themselves from sharing their opinions. In fact, they never seem to run out of opinions on raising kids, doing house chores; even about how to manage household expenditures.
Nevertheless, good intentions as they may be, the receiving end may not always see it as a good thing. Maybe the first few “sharing” sessions may be OK, but when the sharing process becomes more frequent, it can become intolerable. It may be interpreted as the mother-in-law trying to teach the daughter-in-law how to organize her household! There are many other examples of how the relationship between a woman and her mother-in-law can quickly go south, and sometimes the issues can seem so ridiculously petty when seen by an outsider from afar. But how should the man react? The clash is between his wife and his mother. Of course he can opt to stay out of the dispute, but in most cases that is not even an option; the women demand for his support!
From conversations I've had with some male friends, the impression that I get is that most men, when faced with situations where the wife and mother can’t get along with one another, and when both parties seem to have about 50-50 justifications to stand their grounds, then the men would take the mother’s side. The ultimate loyalty is reserved for the mother! The most common reason for such an attitude is because “there is only one mother, but many potential wives out there in the world”.
Well I am one of those in the minority group. If both my wife and my mother have more or less equal justifications to stand their grounds, there is without any question that my support will go to my wife. This is in no way an indication that I love my mother any less than my wife; or that I’m ungrateful for her service and sacrifice. It’s just a decision that I’ve made many years ago; that once I’m married, my wife comes first before any of my family members, including my mother, unless if it is very clear that she is in the wrong.
Knowing that some of my family members are followers of this blog, I thought it’s a good idea that they should know my stand on this matter. But then again, I think they knew already even without reading this post anyway.