Thinking of getting married? Looking to move out and start a new life with your significant other, away from the prying eyes of relatives and close family members? Or maybe you are hoping to stay where you are, and hoping against hope that everyone gets along.
Its a dilemma that plagues every newlywed couple. What to do and what not to do when one starts the next major phase of their lives. Marriage can be a beautiful thing, or it can give rise to unforeseen tensions. Especially when it comes to the wife vs mother dynamics.
While some folks have the means and the will to move out of their parents’ house at an early age, especially in western countries, things are pretty different when it comes to Pakistani households. Most of us don’t do it even after marriage. Regardless to say, this almost always increases the family’s involvement in making decisions about their life partner and their married life.
When it comes to desi households, we know a thing or two about the saas-bahu fights and the effects it has on the son/husband. Mothers are always going to be territorial and would want to protect her ‘cubs’ in their own little bubble, and wives often feel the same way.
What most people seem to ignore is the fact that a man is a bridge between his wife and his mother. As long as he maintains both the relationships and his unbiasedness, both his wife and his mother will remain in a peaceful relationship.
So what can a man do to avoid any future misunderstandings and fights that his wife and mother might get into?
The answer is not as plain and simple as we like. It goes back to your roots and your upbringing. Let’s go through this step-by-step.
The Man’s Role
When it comes to financial dependence, we know that men are always taught to be the backbone of a desi household. This focus on their financial earnings increases the pressure on them to provide for the family.
As a result, men seem to forget about their own and their family’s emotional needs. An emotionally absent man makes for a bad son and a bad husband.
If one has to go by Islamic teachings, a man is required to be loving, respectful, and kind towards his wife. He needs to be empathetic towards her and take care of her needs.
The same is true for his duties as a son. However, in an attempt to become an ATM machine for the family, men are left with no time to focus on building their relationship with their mother and or wife.
When it comes to Islam, wives are expected to be kind to her husband’s parents. However, it is important to note that she has no obligation to serve his parents. That role is reserved for the husband alone.
A lot of desi households expect their daughter-in-law to cook and clean for them. It doesn’t matter if she has a professional job or not. Often times she is expected to do things for her husband’s parents that should be the husband’s responsibility.
We should also take into account that women spend a major chunk of their lives living with their parents and are then made to move out and live in a completely different setting.
So, men need to understand that it is their responsibility to take care of their parents. And desi wives need to understand that he can’t devote all of his time to her. In an ideal world, things could be like this. But unfortunately, real life is a whole different ball game altogether.
Letting go of your roots
Desi families take pride in their unity. Most are proud to highlight how they have been living together in one household for decades on end. It’s great if a household provides support and a loving environment for all. But sometimes, things can become very toxic and challenging.
Most kids are not taught how to be independent while growing up. Moving out is frowned upon and relationships are destroyed if someone as much as talks about their plans to start a new chapter of their lives, away from home.
As a result, men are always their ‘mama’s boy’ and don’t know how to step up when times call for it.
This attitude has to change.
Things to do for maintaining healthy relationships
While there is no actual rule book for maintaining relationships and ensuring a peaceful household environment, there are certain things that men can do from the very beginning.
- Unrealistic Expectations
Stop telling yourself that life is a perfect journey and that there will never be problems amongst your wife and mom. If you set a realistic approach, you won’t get hurt in the process of resolving the issues, and you will be mentally ready to act for damage control when things go astray.
- An Open Book
If you don’t speak your mind about the things that might concern and worry you, to both the parties, they will not understand your approach. Encourage, both your wife and your mother, to be kind and generous to one another.
If you’re a desi man please stop over-selling your wife, and try to do the same for your mother. And vice versa.
- Don’t fight anyone else’s battle
Whatever misunderstanding or quarrels your wife and mother might have, let them resolve it on their own. You don’t have to come in between and ruin one or both of your relationships. Make it clear that your relationships are separate and that they are both important in their own separate ways.
If things get out of hand, instead of making impulsive decisions, seek the help of a therapist.
- The power of love
Both your mother and your wife love you to the best of their capabilities. Let them know what does and does not make you happy. Set the boundaries of respect that both of them should have for each other. If not for their relationship as an in-law, then for YOUR own peace of mind.
Making sure that no hostility or hatred is portrayed to the other is very important in every meeting.
- Quality Time
Spend quality time with your mother and your wife separately. Go the extra mile and put in the extra efforts to bond with your mother/parents as much as you do for your wife.
Being overly involved in one relationship and over-looking the other is one of the main reasons for misunderstanding and hatred.
However, all these tips and tricks might not be suitable for all relationships. If one of the parties is toxic and intolerable, to begin with, you might need to step up. Sometimes this could mean moving out of your parents’ house. Or even a divorce.
Remember, this is life. You are allowed to make mistakes. But of course, every person is different and sometimes certain relationships are not meant to last. It is no shame to seek help from friends and people you can confide in and get some guidance from.
Have anything to add to the story? Let us know!