The Mothers-In-Law: I’m happy with her; I hope she feels the same about me

I’m hoping for that mother-daughter relationship between us someday.

The Mothers-In-Law: Glass Half Full Edition

In Nigeria, the relationship between wives and mothers-in-law can be full of resentment. Other times, it’s nothing but pure bliss. ‘The Mothers-In-Law’ editorial series by Pulse will be exploring the dynamics of these relationships to find out the rules guiding the Nigerian women of today in them. We’ll bring you stories from different Nigerian wives and mothers-in-law every Saturday.

*Chichi, 28, is a Nigerian woman who dreamed of having the best mother-daughter relationship with her future mother-in-law before she got hitched. Over a year into her marriage though, what she has is nowhere close to her dream. In this edition of ‘The Mothers-In-Law’ by Pulse, she candidly talks about how the situation; and how she’s choosing to see it as a half-full glass that can be filled with a little more effort.

Would you say you had any serious fears about your potential mother-in-law before actually meeting her?

I think I had seen too many Nollywood movies for this to not be a thing. LOL. So, yes, I had serious fears. I had seen so much of it play out in movies where the MIL would mount a lot of pressure on the wife. For instance, where you don’t get pregnant within a certain amount of time and they start to tell you ‘give me grandchildren, I want kids, etc’. So I was so scared that I made it a prayer point that I didn’t want a monster-in-law.

And?

Omo. The very time I met her, I naturally thought she would be stern because there is this bad notion that women with low-cut hair are usually stern. And then I saw her and my fear heightened but in the end, that first meeting turned out to be very pleasant. Of course, I had to be on my best behaviour, too, as per wife-to-be. So when they served me food, I just pretended as if I wanted to wash the plate and she was like “no no no, don’t bother with that.” In my mind, I was like: “Nice! This woman don score 100% for my hand!” Because I wasn’t about that housegirl life.

All in all, I’d say my first meeting with her was very pleasant.

So far, how’s it been since you married? Has any of your fears materialised?

Uhm, not really. But it is very important to note at this point that my husband is this kind of person who does not need anyone’s opinion in his personal affairs and everyone in his family respects that. So I think I’ve not felt any type of pressure or scrutiny because of that personality trait of my husband’s. Maybe things would have been different for me if he wasn’t like that. It’s also possible that they have things to say about me but because he’s made it clear that he doesn’t need any of that, I think that makes life a bit easy for me. Also, moving out of the country almost immediately after our wedding may have helped matters too.

How would you describe your relationship with your MIL though?

Because she is not social media savvy, we don’t talk a lot. But I am pregnant at the moment, and she’s been very supportive. Of course, I am not as close to her as I am to my mum, but I have to be honest, she’s been just as interested in my wellbeing as my mum. Because she’s not great with technology, she’s not into video calls and voice calls and all that but she would text to check-in and drop prayers. So we’re cool. It’s very cool.

There have been no regrettable moments, I hope

No, not really. I’m kinda newly-married, plus my husband and I dated for a short while and I only got to meet with his mum just twice or thrice before we married. Coupled with the fact that we left shortly after the wedding… so we really didn’t get to spend so much time together to the extent that we’d have a situation like that. Although I remember a particular thing that happened during the marriage rites… it’s not so serious though.

OK. I’m definitely all ears

So when they came to pay the bride price, I was under a lot of pressure because this woman [my MIL] kept coming to meet me to complain about how my people were killing them with demands. I mean, she kept coming over and over again till I was like “ma’am, could you just please leave me alone and stop stressing me out?” I didn’t say this out, of course, but it was rubbing off on me some type of way as I was already under a lot of tension because I arrived late. The day was crazily hectic for me so having her buzz to and fro to complain about something I had no control over was just somehow. But like I said, not so serious like that.

Best thing she’s done?

Again there hasn’t been much time to have a huge sample to pick from but her being nice to me while pregnant feels good. And generally for not trying to make life hell for me in my marriage with her son. I mean, my husband is not one to be influenced by external opinions that much but still, I’m glad she’s not trying to stir up a ruckus.

Would you rather improve on your relationship with her or leave it the way it is?

Oh. What I envisaged was to have a MIL who I’d be super-cool with. Like, I was hoping to be able to replicate the kind of relationship I have with my mum. You know, the type where you can call her up to talk about anything and everything from the most unimportant to the most serious. And I think there is still a lot of time for our relationship to get there. I think we are still where we are in our relationship because we didn’t really have a lot of time to bond. But I am hoping that once we settle down here better, then we can invite her over, I believe there’s so much time in the future for me to build that kind of relationship with her. It wouldn’t be based on her son, it’d be me actually working on the kind of relationship that I want. Currently, it’s peaceful. I’m very happy with her and I hope she is with me as well. But I know there’s still more work to be done.

I love this energy. Tell me how you imagine yourself as a mother-in-law in the future

Oh, I want to be everything I have spoken about so far. Like, I’d want to know as much as you’re willing to share. I want to be the really cool type honestly. I mean, one of the things that have hampered my relationship with my MIL so far has been that she’s not into social media that much. So we have been limited to just texts and stuff and there’s only so much you can say via text. But by the time I grow old enough to have a daughter-in-law, I hope to have a broader scope to relate from, and that my relationship will be very great with her or them as the case may be.

NB: Name changed to protect subject’s anonymity.

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