Navigating relations between married couples and their parents-in law

What you need to know:

  • Amidst all the challenges there-in, no child deserves to pay a price for the in-laws’ relationships that didn’t work out way before she even came into place!

A couple of days back, I woke up to a very busy social media controversial chat about a scenario where a Spanish actress Hiba Abouk, the estranged wife of Moroccan professional footballer Achraf Hakimi, filing for divorce after the Paris Saint-Germain defender was accused of attempting to rape a 24-year-old woman. 

However, the demand for 50 percent of Hakimi’s wealth by the ex-wife, yet 80 percent is said to be registered in the footballer’s mother’s names didn’t not only break the internet, but awakened the very many grievances the community has been battling with. 

Many male netizens praised Hakimi, giving him titles like the ‘Legend/ GOAT’ due to the fact he escaped the ‘greedy’ wife’s schemes of ‘stealing’ his wealth. However, a section of some people expressed bitterness regarding the footballer’s actions.  As a social worker who equally engaged in the same discussion, many married women flocked my inbox with complaints of how their families are managed by their mothers- in-law indirectly.  And in the same vein, many men came up to complain about how many young girls and women enter marriages targeting the men’s wealth. Just like any other institution, marriage has been under attack for long, worsened by the recent big parenting gaps. 

Nevertheless, should we continue to clap at these challenges, or is it high time we confronted them with practical solutions?

The Bible in Matthew 19:5-6 says “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’, so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate”. 

The marriage connection is the most tender and endearing of all human relations, more tender than even that bond which unites us to a parent. However, the worsening rates of broken families have recreated relationship/ marriage failures. For instance, when a mother of two sons separates with the husband or father to her children, she strongly clings to her children, birthing statements like, ‘Mama tasobya’, literally meaning, a mother doesn’t err; a typical idolisation of mothers. Sooner than later, the mother will find it so hard to let the son ‘leave his father and mother, and be united to the wife’.

It should be kept in mind that couples should not enter relationships with a pre-conceived notion or judgmental mindset. 

Reality should be accepted that someone has entered a new world that will require them to adjust. Like the old adage goes, you can’t eat your cake and have it. You, therefore, can’t enter marriage and still enjoy a ‘mummy’s or daddy’s girl/ boy benefits! 

Patriarchy is one of the grounds for mother-son clinging. Some mothers have beliefs that that they have raised kings and so they should be treated as such when they get married, hell no!

Maybe, the same way a bride prepares herself, the mother of the bridegroom too should make some preparations mentally, as well as make some changes and adjustments in her own character. 

Amidst all the challenges there-in, no child deserves to pay a price for the in-laws’ relationships that didn’t work out way before she even came into place!

It is necessary to maintain a good relationship with one’s parents, in fact, no religion condones disrespect for parents, however, excessive emotional attachment should be avoided.  Else, we shall live to witness many relationships/marriage breakups out of selfish interests and ignorance. 

As long as boundaries are set, there shouldn’t be any unnecessary fights between the two families. The couple should have emotional, intellectual, physical, sexual and spiritual maturity. Only then would peace prevail.      

Caroline Nyangoma Mukisa, Gender analyst & executive director, Warm Hearts Foundation.