- Background of the study
A mother-in-law is the mother of your spouse which could either be the mother of your wife or husband. In this write-up, I am focusing on the mother of the man the husband. The mother-in-law is the woman who carried your husband in her womb for nine months, breastfed him and underwent the stress of being a good mother to your husband. There is joy in having a mother-in-law as the role of the mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law cannot be underestimated in our society. The mother-in-law plays a very vital role in taking care of her son’s wife (daughter-in-law) when she puts to birth. The mother-in-law plays the role of ensuring that all is well with her son and the wife by giving the wife some useful tips on how to maintain her home and tips on what her son loves the most.
It is a known fact that the role of the mother-in-law to her daughter-in-law cannot be underestimated in a successful marriage because, she alone knows the secret of winning fully the heart of her son.
Over the years, mothers-in-law have gotten a bad rap, jokes and otherwise. This has long been part of our society and the challenges don’t seem to be letting up. Looking and thinking about the mother-in-law wahala in Nollywood movies especially when the mother-in-law happens to be “Patience Ozorkwor”, many 21st century aspiring wife would wish not to have one especially the educated and career women.
The issue of most young ladies saying that they don’t want to marry a man who has a mother is so rife in the 21st century. These women feel that having a mother-in-law can be cumbersome and troublesome and the only way that they feel they can avert such trouble is never to be involved in it in the first place. And never to be involved in it means never to marry a man with a mother. In other words, they wish the man they want to marry loses his mother before they marry him.
This is quite disheartening as these set of people who are wishing not to have a mother-in-law because they feel they don’t want to undergo the stress of facing such a mother-in-law like Patience in Nollywood movies, are placing a curse on themselves. Because, the cause and effect of law of karma state that “every action generates a force of energy that returns to us like kind… What we sow is what we reap. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of Karma is happiness and success”. What this law simply means is that, when you wish your mother-in-law to die before marrying her son because you are afraid she will turn out to be difficult mother-in-law, also have at the back of your mind that your own ‘to be’ daughter-in-law will also wish not to marry your son when you are alive. In essence, you also will not live to enjoy the joy of being a mother-in-law to your daughter-in-law and the joy of being a grandmother to your grand children. It is not a curse from me don’t get me wrong! It is only a law which karma states.
It is important to know that this write-up came to play after a conversation I had with a friend few days back. She said she wished not to marry a man who has a mother. Because according to her, having a mother-in-law is same as having Patience as mother-in-law in Nollywood movies. This kept me thinking for days. Wishing your ‘to-be’ mother-in-law to die before marrying her son; will that guarantee peace in your marriage? Instead of wishing her dead before marrying her son, because you don’t want her trouble, why not find out the reason behind her action. There are often many reasons why a mother-in-law may be difficult towards her daughter-in-law. She may feel less important to her son or see her son as still a child and not someone’s spouse especially when the son happens to be her last born. She may have difficulty standing behind someone else in her child’s life. It could be because she was never in support of your marriage to her son due to either ethnic, religious, status differences and even your attitude. Understanding the reason behind her behaviour instead of taking it personally) will make you profound possible solution in other words, knowing her reason will make it easier to deal with her if you are already in or aspiring to be in the marriage.
I am not disputing the fact that some mother-in-law are very difficult to handle. But instead of praying and wishing not to have them, it is best you think on how to build a good relationship with them and enjoy all the benefits of having one in your marriage. Here however are some ways by which you can maintain and build a good relationship with your mother-in-law. Show respect even when it’s not reciprocated: Respect ought to be a reciprocated gesture but some mother-in-law however, doesn’t reciprocate this gesture, Instead they would want to frustrate your effort. If she tries to frustrate your effort, also try to frustrate her own effort by continuing being respectful to her, never give up. It will get to a point where she will be forced to reciprocate such respect you have shown to her over the years. It is very crucial if you must succeed in your marriage to show respect even to people who deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours. When you show honor to difficult mother-in-law, you are building bridges of peace that will positively impact future generations. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort.
Don’t show favoritism Often time, the issue of favoritism is what usually brings dislike and hatred between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. This is because most wives after marriage forget that their husband actually has a family. They will make their husbands to forget about his family and focus on their own family. This ought not to be so as your husband is likely to be the bread winner of his family before marrying you, if he stops what he was doing because he married you; it makes the mother to think you are the cause and will want to use it against you. Therefore, as a wife or aspiring wife, if you must build a good relationship with your mother-in-law, you need to do everything in your power to give equal time and attention to both sets’ of relations especially to your mother-in-law. Favoritism usually leads to resentments while consistency leads to trust. Treat her like your mother: a very good way to start building a good relationship with your mother-in-law is to treat her like your biological mother. Call her the way you will call your mother ‘mum’, do for her what you will do for your own mother.
Bridge the gap with communication: Communication is a powerful tool for settling of any kind of dispute and building any kind of relationship. Always take the initiative to call and chat with your mother-in-law with news and update, even if you think it’s about mundane, trivial matters. Always remember her birthday, anniversary and special occasions like mother’s day and call her on that day to wish her good wishes as well as buying gifts to make the day a remarkable one for her. Invite her for special meal from time to time. Ask her for recipes of your husband’s favorite meals while he was growing up; she’ll love it.
Never see your mother-in-law as the witch disturbing you as many would do. For if you do that; you will never go down well with her. It is best you see her as the woman who gave joy and add a meaning to your life by bringing him to planet earth. The joy of your life which is your husband. If you see her to be that, you will definitely want to tolerate every of her actions even the one’s that might sometimes be unbearable. Always pray about your challenges with your mother-in-law for if the dry bones in the book of Ezekiel 37 could rise again, also the worse mother-in-law could turn out to be the best in the whole of the universe. All you need do is, commit your mother-in-law into hands of God in prayers then be patient and watch out if she would not turn out to be the best mother-in-law.
If wives and aspiring wives could instead of wishing their mother-in-laws dead do these things, they will not only enjoy having a peaceful marriage, they will also enjoy the joy and benefit of having a wonderful mother-in-law to their son’s wife and their son’s wife in return, will also be a good daughter-in-law to them. Just as the cause and effect law of karma state ‘what goes around, comes around’ in other word, what you sow is what you will reap.
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Though multi-country global studies have not been conducted to date, in many developing country contexts, violence against women has been documented to be perpetrated not only by male partners but also by the family members of male partners (i.e. in-laws); with prevalence of violence from family members ranging from 5 to 26%. Similarly, a notable collection of studies has found increased likelihood of in-law-perpetrated violence when male-perpetrated IPV is present. Abuse, including maltreatment and violence, from the extended family members may be similar to experiences of IPV in which a woman may have restricted ability to seek health care and may experience emotional and physical abuse; however, maltreatment from the extended family may take other forms, typically not addressed within the IPV literature. These additional manifestations may include encouraging the husband to perpetrate IPV, domestic servitude, criticizing a woman’s natal family, and complaining about dowry. It is in view of this that the researcher intend to assess the effect of interpersonal relationship between Nigerian mother in-law and their daughter in-law.
- OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to assess the effect of interpersonal relationship between Nigerian mother in-law and their daughter in-law. But to aid the completion of the study, the researcher intend to pursue the following sub-objective:
- To assess the importance of a healthy relationship between mother in-law and daughter in-law on the peace of the union
- To assess the role of mother in-laws in the success of their children marriage
- To investigate the causes of negative perception of mother in-laws in Nigeria
- To proffer suggested solutions to the identified problems
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
To aid the successful completion of this study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher:
H0: healthy relationship between mother in-law and daughter in-law has no impact on the peace of the union
H1: healthy relationship between mother in-law and daughter in-law has impact on the peace of the union
H02: mother in-laws has no role in the success of their children’s marriage
H2: mother in-laws has a significant role in the success of their children’s marriage.
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to marriage counselors as the study seek to assess the role and importance of healthy relationship between mother in-laws and their daughter in-law, the study will also be of importance to newly married couples as the study seek to explore the role mother in-laws plays in the success or failure of their children marriage, the study will also be of great importance to researchers who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point for further study. Finally the study will be of importance to student, teachers, lecturers, and the general public as the study will also contribute to the pool of literature already available on the subject matter.
- SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers an assessment of interpersonal relationships between Nigerian mother in-laws and their daughter in-laws. But in the cause of the study there were some factors which limited the scope of the study which was out of the control of the researcher:
(a)Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
(b)Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
(c)Finance: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
A mother-in-law is the mother of a person’s spouse. Two women who are mothers-in-law to each other’s children may be called co-mothers-in-law, or, if there are grandchildren, co-grandmothers
Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity (in-laws and other family through marriage). The definition of marriage varies not only between cultures or religions, but also within them throughout their histories, evolving to both expand or contract in what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc. Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter. Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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