Monday, November 7, 2011

Learning from Monster-in-Law

To ease the growing tension while waiting for the flood to come to our area when a 3-day holiday was declared in Bangkok last week, I and my SIL (sister-in-law) did enjoy movie marathons including Monster-in-Law, a comedy. Mother-in-law-to-be, Viola (played by Jane Fonda) turns the life of Charlotte or Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) into a nightmare. I appreciate how Charlie did her best to still try to be submissive at times to her fiance's mother despite all her cunning schemes to drive her away from her only son, a famous surgeon. Viola, whose TV talk show has just been canceled, thinks that her only possession left is her only child, Kevin, so she does everything to catch his attention and solely possess him. But in the end, both women come into terms giving the movie a happy ending. The title character, Monster-in-Law, Viola, has a big heart after all and is just carried away by the uncontrollable circumstances of her life. Charlie also tries to understand how her MIL got affected by the loss of her job and she's forgiving enough so settling their differences seems easy. This is very encouraging for women who are struggling with their mother-in-law (MIL), that's why I thought of sharing it here in Marriage Monday over at Chrysalis, where thinking Christian women meet every first and third Monday of the month.

Personally, I'm thankful to God that I didn't have big issues with my late mother-in-law including the family of my husband as they are nice and unique from each other. Although at the first month of our marriage we had some minor issues having lived with my husband's family, we resolved such issues by deciding to leave their family compound and live on our own. Probably, if we continued to live with my husband's family, it would have taken longer to settle our own individual differences as husband and wife. Well, it's prevalent in Asian culture to stay with the extended family but I have seen a lot of troubled (some broken) marriages due to interference of in-laws, especially MIL. That's why the Biblical principle really makes a lot of sense:
For this cause, a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh... (Genesis 2:24-25)

A close friend of mine lost her marriage due to interference of both side's in-laws. They never got the chance to strengthen their union and settle their individual differences on their own because they stayed with her husband's family and they saw just her negatives. If the couple got a fight, the husband's family would side him and he would  listen to them instead of protecting his wife until such time that my friend's mother took courage to confront the husband's family. And the situation got worst until they separated with their innocent child getting affected with both side's conflicts until now. I asked her recently if the situation would have been different had they lived on their own. She said it could be but it's too late now. She told me that her husband's mind had been polluted a lot by her in-laws drawing a very bad image of her that they thought such marriage would be unfair to their son they love so much (or his big income they also need?). Had they lived on the Biblical principle of leaving their own families early on to establish their own marital relationship, they would have not been torn apart. Although there are a lot of marriages that have been broken even if they live on their own, in many Asian cultures, staying with the extended family or allowing in-law interference has been recorded as one major factor.

While it is our culture to take care of our old folks in which we are bound to keep, it is advisable that  at the early stage of marriage, couples should stay away from them to allow the building of a strong marital bond. It is also reasonable as the parents are still strong to take care of and support themselves so that when the couple is already well established, usually when their own kids are already grown-ups, it is the best time to take in the grannies to stay with them. At this stage, they are too old to criticize and the marital bond of the couple is already strong enough to get affected.

As to the ending of the Monster-in-Law, it's only when Viola, the mom-in-law, left the new couple alone that her beloved son found true happiness with his union with Charlie. But if the couple chose to stay with such a situation and Viola persisted to pester them, they could never have peace and happiness. Since it's not easy to control our parents, taking a big step to stay away from them upon marriage to work things out as a husband and wife is a great way towards the establishment of a blissful marriage. Unselfish parents should be happy to see their children with a happy family, but because there is this tendency for the parents especially the mother for attention rivalry for a son she dearly loves against the daughter-in-law (DIL), then DILs should be more understanding.

Happy Marriage Monday everyone!


Cheri Gregory said...

You spotlight the importance of a young couple establishing their own identity -- their "we" and "us" -- separate from their families of origin. This is SO important!

Unfortunately, some families feel "abandoned" and "unloved" and fail to give the young couple the space they need. And when inevitable failures occur, they are quick to say, "I told you so! If you'd only..." rather than quietly supporting them through this phase of normal growth.

My children are (hopefully!) quite a few years from marriage, but I need to start mentally preparing to give them that "bubble" in which to cleave and establish their union.

~Heather said...

I agree whole heatedly with your post! God totally knew what He was talking about when He said that men had to leave their parents to be joined to their wives. My sisters marriage was ruined in a similar way, while they lived in their own home, it was the same town as his mom, and she wouldn't let them go a day without being involved in some way. It was very sad to see their marriage ruined, and I too believe it could have been avoided. But I also believe that sometimes we need to be more understanding as daughter-in-laws, because some day we will be the mother who loses her son to another woman.

Messy Marriage said...

I wholeheartedly agree that the son and his wife should make their own marital bond and family, separate from the in-laws. This is such a crucial step for a couple and you've done a great job of describing the dynamics and consequences that can occur when it isn't made a priority. Thanks for sounding the alarm!

Lisa Maria said...

Hello.. visiting from Marriage Monday. Very interesting post and I think I agree with your ideology that newlyweds need time to bond and establish their own lifestyle.. its hard enough learning to live with each other without adding outside interference.

Nice to meet you... God bless!

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing, be blessed.

e-Mom said...

A wonderful post! I appreciate your explanation of the difficulties some young couples face in Asian cultures. It's less common for newlyweds to live with their parents here in North America. The current prolonged recession may be changing that, though. It would be an interesting study.

The biblical way is the best way, i.e. for the sons to "leave and cleave." This makes very good sense:

"While it is our culture to take care of our old folks in which we are bound to keep, it is advisable that at the early stage of marriage, couples should stay away from them to allow the building of a strong marital bond. It is also reasonable as the parents are still strong to take care of and support themselves so that when the couple is already well established, usually when their own kids are already grown-ups, it is the best time to take in the grannies to stay with them."

Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday, as always!

Blessings, e-Mom ღ

nice A said...

Thank you very much everyone for your comments. Will be visiting all your posts today and be blessed.

Tami Boesiger said...

I like your point that God had a reason to say the couple should leave their parents. Very important, indeed, to establishing the foundation of a healthy marriage. Thanks for your perspective.

Mac an Rothaich said...

That is the same scripture I think of when discussing the idea of marriage balanced with inlaws. He and I had better put one another first for we have left the father and mother, they can share in our life but not take over.

nice A said...

@Tami and Mac an Rothaich, sure, God has really a big reason to say that couples should leave their parents. Yes, they can share in their life but not let them take over.

tonya said...

I have studied about Asian families and the expectation of taking care of the husband's parents. I think once the bond is strong families can help each other. Thanks for sharing.

nice A said...

@Tonya, actually in our culture, it's not only the husband's parents but both sides also depending on the capacity and willingness of the children. Sometimes, it's the parents who choose with whom they would like to stay. But if they have only one child like in China and Japan right now, both sides' parents may stay together. But many parents decide to stay on their own until they are able.

Thank you for stopping by here.

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