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Men also have in-law palaver

Kemi Ashefon - Nigeria

If Tade had his way, he would have stopped his mother-in-law from coming to his home. "I wish she could stop coming forever," the exasperated father of three said. His nine-year-old marriage had been full of much joy and less sorrows, but with large doses of interference from his ever nosy mother-in-law.

"Nike, my wife, is a very good creature and has sacrificially contributed to whatever I am today, but her mother would always visit at the drop of a hat! I would not have given it a thought that she comes uninvited or unannounced because the home also belongs to her daughter; but her interferences are unforgiving! I remember vividly the day she came for our third child's christening and kept asking for the prices of everything bought for the ceremony.

"At a point, she asked our domestic help whose money was used! To this nosey old woman, her daughter feeds me because she works in an oil company. But how do I tell this woman that my job as an insurance broker is also lucrative and I can comfortably feed my family and even be of help to my extended folks? But Mama would always refer to everything as her daughter's. If it were possible, she would have said Nike impregnated herself and had the kids with her oil money!

"I have really exercised patience with the woman, but her recent moves changed that. She was in our home for the New Year and, while we congratulated one another for being a part of another year, she told her daughter in their local dialect that it was time she built her own house and invested wisely because I must stop spending her money this year! Was I angry? Immediately, I replied that she should not pull down our marriage the way she destroyed her's. Of course, Mama cried that I was rude to her and said all sorts of things, but I didn't apologise and I have already told her daughter to do something about her mother's unending visits to our home."

"My parents in-law believe that the best way to take care of their children is to have a hold on their marriages," revealed Amin, 35. Just five years into his marriage, he said, his domineering in-laws steered the ship of his home. "They want to know which schools our children attend, how fat/lean our bank accounts are, who the domestic staff are, and who our friends are.

"Initially, I lapped up all the 'love' showered on me like a puppy, but at a point, I became uncomfortable with the gifts - cars, money and foreign trips - since they are used as monitors. They wanted our kids to remain in their circle, so they chose their schools, where they spent their holidays and lots more. For me, who came from the rustics and always loved freedom, I was restrained from so-called 'bad friends.'

"When I became uncomfortable with their arrangement, I stopped taking the gifts and money. I refused the trips for my family, but my wife would not accept any reaction from me. She was brought up in luxury and could not imagine any form of 'suffering' at all! We argued and, sometimes, she would invite her parents who ended up taking sides with her.

"Last September, I had to invite my parents to talk to my wife, but her parents showed up and intimidated my poor folks. Currently, my wife and kids stay with my in-laws, who wanted to take them on a trip since they have not resumed school. I am getting tired of all these."

Ade's grouse is his mother-in-law who brings ready-made soups and stews for her daughter, who is a bad cook. "My wife cannot boil water without burning it," he lamented. Initially, he never knew what was happening. "I always return late from work and my wife would have 'prepared' my food. I commended her culinary skill and even brought my friends home to show off my wife's meals. But I fell ill and had to go on leave for two weeks. Though whatever mother and daughter did to provide delicious food for me was still hidden, I noticed strange movements in the back door of the kitchen. Whenever I asked my wife, who was just a year old in marriage, she would say it was the drycleaner who brought some clothes.

"When I decided to spend my outstanding leave at home, I discovered that my mother-in-law was always bringing in meals through the backdoor to cover up for her daughter's inadequacies.

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