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In-laws from hell

TUMIE MODISE
Whether they are critical and interfering, spoil your children or have even tried to break up your marriage, stories about in-laws from hell litter the cyberspace. Paradoxically, finding anyone to talk about their personal experiences publicly is almost impossible.

Radio talk shows tiptoe around this issue and would rather discuss politics all day long than discuss this one issue. In-laws have been around since the first marriage (or the second nuptials since  either Adam nor Eve had one when they tied the knot). These men and women earn the title ‘in-1aw’ just by virtue of being parents or siblings to one’s spouse, that’s what makes them relevant. Many people I know, even yours truly, has had in-laws at one point. And as everyone will tell you, having in-laws is akin to having that one sore tooth in your mouth. You can fill in the cavity, fit it with a new crown but as long as it’s still there, it will keep bothering you until you have it removed completely. A friend of mine came to me in tears a few weeks back. Yet again, she has issues with her mother in-law. This time around she came to me not to bawl her eyes out; maybe her tears have dried up.  She came to ask me, for the umpteenth time, what she can do about her situation. I must have missed my calling (whatever it is) because most people come to me about such things almost in a daily basis. Now, one thing about me is that if you really want honest opinion and advice, I am the last person you should ever come to. I have been through many dramas and comedies, mostly started by me, and so the advice I am likely to give is likely to be unconventional, even shocking.

So after pacing up and down, she sat down. I was busy on my phone doing what I do in my spare time, not really paying attention to her. I have a new lifestyle and fortunately in-laws are not part of that mix. Sitting next to me, she cut a lonely but funny figure with her constant sniffing and red nose. I have been through this road before and it is not a laughing matter. Joining someone’s family isn’t a small matter by any measure. Expecting members of that family to like you and accept you as one of their own is like hoping for a white Christmas in Africa. Her story is by now very familiar and very common. Female in-laws are forever

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at war with wives. The bickering can get very intense to a point of physical altercations. There are so many books published about in-laws from hell, even movies about that. This just goes to show that the bad in-law phenomenon isn’t just an African thing; that it happens even in developed countries where no bride price is paid. Studies show that over 60 per cent of women said that their relationship with an in-law caused them long-term unhappiness and stress, and affected the quality of their marriage. In this country the figure must be higher.

As a woman, if you marry into a family where the mother is deceased or the man has no female siblings, count yourself very lucky. I am not suggesting anything sinister, just stating a fact most women would never admit. Fact is, these family terrorists are worse than Boko Haram and ISIS combined. When a woman first joins their family, they will act like angels but once you are legally in, they will waste no time putting on their Kung-fu panda costumes and start harassing you. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to fit in and be nice to them, most will never accept you. And if your in-laws are from the part of the country where I hail from, even miracle waters and oils won’t save you. One thing about African men is that they tend to respect their female relatives a lot, which is great, but unfortunately it also means they are powerless in cases where those females lack better judgement. I have put it very mildly, what I really want to say here is that our brothers allow their mothers and sisters to harass and bully their helpless wives. They never do anything about it.

Is it not time to form an association for female in-laws where these people can receive proper counselling? Children have advocacy groups, battered women, people with disabilities too and recently homosexuals legally registered their association too. How come this group is allowed to run riot? Or is it already categorised under terrorist groups? This group is the number one cause of social problems in this country; divorces, insanity, murders and suicide, even teenage delinquency. Waiting for them to meet their maker is a futile exercise. I should know.



Tumy on Monday

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