| March 19th, 2007

* relationship – get what you want

[From our archive]

My Mother in law hates everything I do, always she finds fault in me, I don’t feel like talking to her

I am very unhappy with my daughter in law… all these time we looked for a nice girl for my son (and thought we found this one) but now she misbehaves with us!

That wife of his is not good for our son, he never behaved like this before, its all her doing…

I am the one work all day and my husband just lies down in the couch and watch TV

My husband never understands my feelings

Dear readers, do these sound familiar to you? If so then you are not alone. There are millions of women out there irrespective of race and ethnicity have feelings like these. Not only the home makers, we have many women today studying Science, Engineering, Economics and are doing very well in their professional lives but struggling hard when it comes to dealing with relationship conflicts.

How many of us give any serious thought for improving our relationship health and analyze our feelings in a scientific way? Very few.

In Adhunika we think there are ways to think differently, to have a better relationship health. The best relationship tip we got from our mothers is “tolerance”, means just keep your mouth shut and say nothing or at most shed tears, blame your husband (in private or with a freind) if you want. This “technique” is known as “no confrontation”. Being extra nice, “ignoring” or “tolerating” everything doesn’t help. Anyone with a little knowledge in conflict resolution would know this seldom improves the condition, it just makes it worse day by day and might eventually lead to (unintentional) ugly exposure (termed as negative confrontation). It has so many negative consequences as well. In this adhunika forum we will be focusing on how to deal with day to day realtionship issues.

There are many things in our lives we can “let go”; it doesn’t help if we fight to have everything in our own way. At the same time there are a few things, if not taken care soon, really hurts in the long run. Sometimes there are things that becomes simpler when we see it from the other person’s eye. When you find something you didn’t like, try to see what your long term goal is, if that is something going to hurt in the long run then focus on the issue. We would suggest you to pin point your real issues. Deal the priority ones using what we call a “positive confrontation”. What is meant by that is to think in a cool brain, talk to the person you are having issues with, realize what his or her view points are, let them know what you feel and possibly come up with a middle ground. This sounds scary… right? Well, we don’t expect you to fix your worst relationship right now. Try baby steps, try controlling your emotions, try think clearly, do practice – apply positive confrontation technique on simpler situations. Relationships are built on trust and respect. When you build a relationship based on trust and respect, when you earn respect from your partner, you can fix anything that comes on your way.

Dear readers, lets form a team and see how we can think rationally. When we bring our brains together and leave the heart where it should be then we can really help make our lives much happier ones.

If you want to share your experience with us or have comments please drop us some lines either in this blog site or mail to blog AT adhunika DOT org. We will try our best to give you some constructive suggestions. From time to time, we will invite experts who have insights into the various topics raised by our readers in this forum to contribute their ideas.

-Sharmin

 

16 Responses to “* relationship – get what you want”

  1. Sawsan says:

    I think relationship is a great discussion topic for women since it seems to conquer our lives at times. It’s important to realize that one should never make any impulsive decisions based on strong emotions being felt at a certain period. This is very difficult to do but I think the first step to any healthy relationship is to be able to have good control over feelings. By saying this I don’t mean that you should remain silent and accept everything that bothers you, rather, you should be able to recognize the short-lived nature of certain emotions and not react until you’ve let the intensity subside. That way you will be able to avoid any hasty reactions that might exacerbate the situation, and can eventually resolve an issue more constructively and maturely. This can be applied to various areas such as anger, infatuation, jealousy, etc.

  2. Nabeel says:

    In reference to Sawsan’s post, I was thinking that there is something to be said about sponteneity. May be women in the west have had the opportunity to explore their impulses and sponteneous feelings and emotions, but out here in places like Bangladesh… people are quite restricted and to ask them to settle down and decide with a cool head and all is something redundant. Women here have been doing this all along. It is nothing new for us here. Women always give second third and fourth thoughts to their feelings while men never do. Men have the freedom to explore all of their emotions, while women sit and contemplate and never actually be sponteneous.

    Anyways, just a thought.

    Nabeel.

  3. Sharmin says:

    Hi Nabeel,

    Your comments are right in many cases. As I was telling Sawsan before, lets do some case study here. Talking too general doesn’t help always.

    Here is one example I can think of:

    The husband came home after grocery shopping. As the wife opnes the bags she finds ther is some not-so-fresh fish (POCHA MAACH), she yells, “you again brought POCHA MAACH”!! (And then cites examples from past 20 years all the incidents when the husband was unable to do perfect grocery shopping).

    Think about this: is this act of yelling/complaining making the fish any fresher? Or is it making the husband learn that he needs to be more careful next time he goes for grocery shopping? NO.

    What could be a better way to handle this? I would say don’t say anything right away or better thank him for doing the shopping. DO the best you can with the available items. Then after the dinner is over, say camly or better with a smile, about the condition of the fish. Also you might help your husband saying how to verify if the fish is fresh or assure that if fresh fish is not available we can get our protein from other sources.

    I understand, women are in tremendous stress all the time, that doesn’t mean you have to create more stress for others (including your children). If you can overcome the situation then you know you have done something otherwise you are acting just like an ordinary person.

    The example I have cited here is a real one.
    There are so many small things in our life that makes thing much better or worse, many times its your call to pick one.

    Please note that there is no cure all solution for each and every situation. Each situation needs to be evaluated and acted upon accordingly. Bottom line is when someone is angry the brain doesn’t work well, so it pays back if you don’t continue argument when you are too angry and wait until you can think clearly.

    -Sharmin

  4. Sawsan says:

    I agree with Nabeel that many women in Bangladesh remain silent but the problem lies in the fact that they refrain from speaking up even after the situation has calmed down. Controlling one’s sudden emotional outburst and giving several thoughts to one’s spontaneous feelings is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s a very healthy way of resolving an issue.
    If we look at Sharmin’s example, I would not want the woman to ignore the incident once she has calmed down since it will provoke her again the next time it happens. But controlling her temper at that moment and having a talk once she has regained composure would surely be a smarter way to fix the matter.

  5. M. A. Kabir says:

    The nature of reletionship between mother-in-law and daughter in-law is a cruicial one especially in an extended family. In our society this is a very common phenomenon. The mother-in-law in general fails to accept her daughter-in-law. However, in contrast, in general the father-in-law accepts the daugher-in-law coordially. So, ultimately this is a tension between two women in the context of this particular relationship. Can anyone explain the very psychology behind this?

  6. Sharmin says:

    Dear Mr Kabir,

    That is a good obesravation. I will write a seperate post on my explanation on the Father-in- Law, daughter-in-law case.
    Also I am going to seek some expert opinion for this.
    -Sharmin

  7. Bilu says:

    I think the following article would be helpful to understand the relation between mother in law and daughter in law:
    When newcomer “wife” comes to stay in the new house with husband who is already with other male members, becomes favorable atmosphere for her. Tendency of males to attract females facilitates her to take advantage to establish own atmosphere that matches her identity. This facilitates her to run the home as she wants. On the other hand, if there is already an adult female member (mainly mother-in-law) who controlled the house, turn out to be problems for her and her. Her survival is by surrendering to adjust into the existing environment or fight to gain control to establish own environment. It is a war between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, most popular of any war. It is egoistic war to establish own superiority.

    A home adorned by woman is her entity. Her own values are involved in making a home that reflects her qualities. Each house interior is different from other is because her deep involvement to decorate that suits her taste. We can observe in a house purchased or hired, woman takes special interest and involve her feeling to decorate and arrange interiors that makes her comfortable. Woman modifies her house to suit her taste is the environment she makes that suits her.

    The mother who is already in control of her house would not easily leave, is the same case as of politicians who hates to leave legislation membership or seat whatever we may call. This is her house as she has been involved to nurture the house since the beginning. Any challenge is the challenge to her emotions, sense of worth, identity, fondness and finally her control for own security. Thus, she would never wish newcomer to have control on what she amassed for long-long time. This is the psychological behavior with every individual/ any life form. Who creates own territory by involving sentimentally and marks psychologically or physically to declare. Depends how species behave as human declare with flags and animals with other methods. Declaring territory is the sense of security. Similarly, mother too has marked her territory and would resist to any challenge.

    A son for the mother is the outgrowth of her efforts and emotional involvement. Mainly when she has one son, she expects her son to become security for the family and the old age. Honestly, no aged man or woman would wish to go to old age houses for rest of the life as long as the son is alive. Differences of new generations, old generations, and psychological war between in-laws force to leave the house.

    When she hands over her son to a new woman, she is cautious that her influence on the son is not disconnected. Her influence on him is the sense of security as he obeys, cares, and respects are his attachment. The new woman (WIFE) cannot tolerate because her sense of security expects 100% involvement from her husband. Wife needs him for her and children’s safety, security, comfort and sensual attachment. The diversion of her husband’s attention would minimize her expected desires. Therefore, she declares a war against her mother-in-law aggressively to thwart the weakening realm. However, the outcome depends on how psychologically strong the son/ husband is. How much his attraction or submission to the influence is? How strong the religious influence is? How he handles the situation? Who of two women are more influential is?

    99.99 % mothers win over daughter-in-laws in the countries where religious dominance rule. All religious scripts direct the son to follow, respect, care and worship mothers. Therefore, aged are still safe and living with their children. However, in the urban and advanced countries it is the opposite. In such cases, the mothers are psychologically weaker and get defeated to daughter-in-laws.

    In most cases, wife’s inclination is towards her own parents above the husband’s parents. She would prefer her mother-father to stay with her provided she wins her husband’s mind to agree. The reason of this is that she lived for long-long time, made her involve and attached emotionally with the parents and mixed up intensely to understand the needs of parents and parents understand her needs subsides only when she bears her own children.

    One thing I would wish to stress that even wife loves and has respect for the mother-in-law; only psychological issues disconnect them. It is not any personal conflict rather is the personality conflict. They involve in the conflict to gain/retain the status and claim rights on the son/husband’s attention. So, can retain their say and pull major attention of son/husband towards them.
    • Daughter-in-law should also realize that she too would meet her daughter-in-law in her future when she becomes the mother-in-law. On the other hand, mother-in-law should realize the same way.
    • Wife need to understand that mother-in-law is now aged. The behavior developed from the very beginning, some times is not easy to change. Thus becomes responsibility to understand the situation and act to drag mother-in-law towards her by affection. This technique is an influence to convince mother-in-law that “I care her more than even her son.”
    • Do not hurt any one’s sentiment. Sentiment is the personal value and ego. If you hurt, you become enemy. Besides, putting your own values in front of her, listen to her too and tell to agree which ever is best. Forcing opinions and values is a root to clash.
    • It is a conflict between the new and old generation. Thinking and behavior differ generation to generation. Present generation is more open, free, and demanding than the old. Mother-in-law need to know it is not her era.
    • Opinion and ideological differences lead to misunderstanding.
    • Psychological feelings and horrifying stories about mother-in-law create misunderstanding.
    • Besides, understanding each other’s stand and responsibilities should work to eliminate feeling of insecurity.
    • Egoistic approach is the root cause that I am the one who is responsible for him. Now he is an adult man can take care himself and your both.
    • Exchange the affection, views, chat, good moments of your life, gifts etc to get closer.

    Two different identities of different ideologies fight each other to gain control on one man. These two beloved women crush this man in their skirmishes. They do not realize the affect on the man they are fighting-for. In most cases, mother gets defeated in this episode and ends up rest of her life in the old age homes. If wife looses the war, she ends up in marriage failure. Finally, who is the looser?

    Link to this article:

    Marriage dreams when fails


     

  8. Sharmin says:

    Regarding Mr Kabir’s question on Father in law-Daughter in law relationship, here is my take:

    Ususally their territory is different, so none of them has to forgo their “ownership”. Fathers usually are not too much attached to their offspring’s day to day activites. So it really doesn’t affect them too much when the new daughter in law is comes in his son’s life. Instead it helps them find a daughter figure in their life (especially to those having no daughter of their own).

    I have seen intersting cases where the Father in law (wife’s father) and the Son in law in common territory becomes uncomfortable. Usually powerful Fathers don’t want to rely on all the decisions made by their new son in law especially when it comes to something related to their daughter. I have seen such daughters has to maintain both sides (i.e. to keep both the father and her husband happy) still some glitches often happen.

    Another fact can be brough here that men ususally don’t remember too much detail about an negative incident (ref. the book I mentioned before), so it doese’t usually gets too worse like storm in a tea-pot.
    It will be intersting to see how it goes if a son in law is satying in the same house with the father in law for an extended period of time.

  9. Sharmin says:

    Found an intersting article in MSN:

    “It’s very common for first-time parents to lose intimacy after their child’s birth. Most couples, however, regain their footing once they’ve adjusted to their new roles — usually by the baby’s first birthday. The fact that Beth and Rick were still drifting apart at the two-year mark suggested a deeper issue.”

    “After hearing about their upbringings, I realized they were locked in a power struggle. Both had low self-esteem, the result of being raised by highly critical mothers; both had an unconscious need to prove they were capable, knowledgeable, and right. Our first step, then, was to examine how unresolved issues from their families of origin shaped their marital behavior. Many people unconsciously pick partners who re-create childhood feelings. Beth and Rick found in each other the very behaviors they loathed in their mothers. Beth felt emotionally threatened by Rick’s criticism and different parenting ideas but accepted his nasty remarks because that’s what she’d learned to do with her mother. (When you come from a verbally abusive family, as she did, it can be hard to see your spouse as a verbal abuser. That’s why Beth’s anger was so much more focused on Rick’s physical outbursts than on his name-calling.)”

    Read more here:
    We Became Parents … and Stopped Having Sex: The Counselor’s Turn

  10. Fariha Sarawat says:

    here are my thoughts..
    1) the mother-in-law had unfair expectations to begin with. i think the time has come for mother-in-laws to accept the new-age wives who wont always choose to be homemakers. also, they should realize that the wives arent wonderwoman, like the ones on the hindi soap. truth is, you can’t manage it all together, equally well. either your work or your domestic responsibilities will be ignored at one point for the other.
    2) sometimes, to-be-wives let the mother-in-law harbor the unfair expectations. you know why mother-in-laws keep thinking that they’re bringing home the perfect, can-do-it-all girl? because in the desi culture there is this tendency either on the part of the girl herself or her family to show her off as the epitome of perfection. i think both parties should make their expectations perfectly clear before entering into any kind of agreement. the in-laws should make it known that they want a homemaker who’s only there to take care of them, their son and the house. and the wife, instead of showing how she’s perfectly willing to do all that, secretly hoping to change the mindset after marriage, should just let it be known earlier that she intends to work and sustain a career. i think it’s unfair to the shashuris sometimes when they bring home a seemingly ‘homely’ girl who till then was only pretending to be one.
    3)i think women tend to get more emotionally invested in fights (especially when fighting with boyfriends, husbands, spouses etc), than men. therefore, i would suggest not getting in an argument when your emotions are still running high. try to remove yourself from the situation temporarily (go out, take a nap, take a shower or go shop). think about the whole situation again once you’ve cooled down, deliberate and then decide. i get very emotional during fights and doing this (especially shopping) really helps.
    4) ‘my husband/bf doesnt understand me’ is too blanket and ambiguous. does he not understand your emotional needs? wat are your emotional needs? do you want more time? figure out the answers first. then, instead of telling him ‘you don’t understand me’ try telling him, ‘it really bothers/hurts/ me that we dont spend enough time together. i would really like to spend more time you, if possible’. or just try asking him ‘why dont we spend more time together? dont you want to spend more time together?’ i know this is very oprah-like but i’ve seen it work.
    5) be honest. with your bf, spouse or even your in-laws. don’t get forced into doing something you dont want to do. at least let the other party know (trying ofcourse to not hurt any sentiments)that you’re not comfortably doing the dishes every night, watching serials with shashuri when you’d rather be sleeping or staying at home when you’d rather be out. if you’re being taken for granted, it’s usually because you’re making yourself a grant.
    i could be wrong, but just my thoughts. criticism is welcome :)

  11. Samiha Esha says:

    In Every Relationship the most important thing is understanding. So As Soon As We Develop this quality in our relationship with our better half and his/her family, It will be better for us. Another point should be noted, this understanding should be valid for the whole family. Not only for the bride or else.

    Anyways, Thanks for a nice article.

  12. Sharmin says:

    Samiha,
    You are right that “understanding” is important. But how exactly the “understanding” is built?

    Effective positive confrontation technique would be a nice tool to build that “understanding”.

    Fariha,

    Good thoughts.
    Good luck to you for asking the BF/Husband, ‘why dont we spend more time together?” I think this is the last thing they want to hear from us:).

    One thing to be careful about is even one is a full time home maker doesn’t mean she can meet all the typical expecations (from the Mom inlaw).

    Also note that, its not very intelligent to say like, “its time for the inlaws to realize” because it may work negative way if you say so. You need to find the right way to make the positive confrontation. It is all about being polite yet powerful.

    To learn more obout this, take a look at this book, The Power of Positive Confrontation: The Skills You Need to Know to Handle Conflicts at Work, at Home and in Life.

    -Sharmin

  13. Phantom says:

    Bilu,
    Refyr #7- Good points.Four of yr points that I wish to comment on:
    1.”99.99 % mothers win over daughter-in-laws in the countries where religious dominance rule.”-Thats because people lack the proper understanding of the religion- and then even in free societies too this happens thats a common problem. In modern days, however due education and people settling abroad , the win-win situation I think is gradually reducing.
    2.”All religious scripts direct the son to follow, respect, care and worship mothers.”- Follow,Respect, Love etc is all OK but I dont think religion teahes to worship mother–atleast not in ISLAM- no worshipping Mother,Father or any except PRAYERS to Allah (SWT)- unless if you are implying that the respect,love is so overdone that it tantamounts to worship- but then ISLAM doesnt allow that either- in ISLAM respect,love etc are all to be done in measured terms–no partiality n no humans r to be hurt.
    3.”Therefore, aged are still safe and living with their children.”- Thats the way it should be unless due some practical reasons thats not possible but then arrangements are to be made to settle them in the residences of next of kin. In ISLAM we pray to ALLAH(SWT)”to take care of our parents just as they(parents) have taken care of us when we were born n young.Sending Parents to old homes is not allowed- Family is the next Top priority after the 5 Pillars thats to be strictly followed.
    4.”In most cases, wife’s inclination is towards her own parents above the husband’s parents. She would prefer her mother-father to stay with her provided she wins her husband’s mind to agree.”-
    This inclination and preference again shouldnt be there– both husband n wife must realise that when they are married they are receivers of additional parents or parent as the case might be-both must equally respect the parents of each other- this shouldnt be lopsided or artificial -so that relationships are strained.

  14. Dream says:

    Nice topic…

    I would like to put forth my 2 cents. I am a business graduate, married to the man I loved and working for one of the biggest multinationals in the country. Sounds dreamlike, eh? Take a stroll down to my daily life routine…and u’ll think differently. My mom in law is the singlemost biggest hurdle that I ever faced in my life toward happiness. What I get from my other achievements, is more than balanced out by the brutality of emotional torture I am faced at home. Its not that she is against my career or her ownership of her son, it’s much to do with her personality, which unfortunately for me, is vocal and largely skewed to her twisted thought process. I dunno how I can explain it, but take 1 example, I come back from the market one day and she suddenly bursts out…out of nowhere,; I don’t even know what my fault is. When I tried positive confrontation after everything had calmed down in 2 days (or so i thought), there was another bashing; she thought I was ‘challenging’ her, and that I was full of jealousy of my other sister in law (no idea where that came in though). God help me. I am really at a loss for what to do, as I have always tried to keep her happy, since Ive got ‘the man’ in my life, who is her son; but it simply doesn’t work.

    I think in my case it’s easier, or let’s say, less tougher to just keep my head down and tolerate everything that comes my way. Positive confrontation is just not the thing in my case (even though my hubby tells me to confront). It doesn’t work for her.

  15. Sharmin Islam says:

    Dear Dream,
    Why do you have to tolerate an intolerable mother-in-law? If you have made the effort to be good to her and make her a part of your family, and yet she refuses to cooperate and treat you with the love and respect she should, then why do you have to “just keep your head down and tolerate everything that comes your way” as you have put it? Your happiness lies in your own hands. You’re an educated, self-established woman, married to the man you love. Your husband and children deserve to see a happy spouse/mother. You owe it to yourself and to them as well. So if your mother-in-law is selfish enough to ruin your peace of mind and not care about how it’s effecting you (and therefore her son’s marriage/family life), then you need to put a distance between your life and her’s, for the sake of your family. If she is living with you, can you not talk to your husband about how you feel and make arrangements so that she doesn’t have to live in your household? At least that way, you get to have some peace and a break from her. Seriously, I don’t know why you’re letting this woman suck the happiness out of your life and marriage. This is your marriage. Protect it!! You owe it to yourself and to your husband/children.

  16. Sharmin Banu says:

    Dear Dream,

    Thanks for trying. I hope you have a better life.

    One note about the “positive confrontation” technique is you have to practice it on smaller matters first. The author herself advised us not to use it to solve our “worst problem” on the first day. Seriously if you want to learn the technique read the book that elaborates it very well.

    I used it once at my work when I had a situation and I wanted to quit my job. I thought let me try this, it took a lot of my energy, but it worked!

    Readers, feel free to share what worked well for you.
    All the best,

    -Sharmin

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Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more

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