All Woman

Our threesome: My guy, his mother and I

BY MARSHA WATSON All Woman writer

Monday, May 30, 2011    

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THE Bible directs man to take a wife and cleave to her so they can become one. There's no clause for a mother hen to watch over the nest, yet many couples face the problem of an overbearing mother-in-law who insists on holding on for dear life, and staying one with her son.

In many cases, the mother has been the primary caregiver for her son, and feels she has a vested emotional involvement in his welfare. She is more likely to be mistrustful of her daughter-in-law in this scenario, since it means entrusting her son to another woman.

Candice Pitters divorced her husband of more than 10 years after growing weary of her ex mother-in-law. She summed up their relationship in one word — "Horrible".

"She was just not a nice person to deal with from day one," said Pitters.

It's a similar position held by Loraine Scott, who said that after their wedding night, her husband's mother, now deceased, called to ask her husband whether Scott was indeed a virgin.

"It was a tumultuous five years that I had to endure before she passed," Scott said. "She wanted to know why he was getting skinny, why I was getting fat, why he was looking depressed, why we had no children yet... it was faith and respect for her age that made me hold my tongue."

Counselling Psychologist Lola Allen-Jones said mothers are protective of their sons and see their duty surpassing the delivery room, years through college and even seeing them make vows to their women in white dresses at the altar.

"Mothers do not believe there is anyone good enough for their sons; they are insecure and afraid that the love and affection that was once theirs will be shared with other women," said Jones.

Pitters said she tried to make peace with her mother-in-law but it was not working. Her mother-in-law was unrelenting and would not meet her midway.

Allen-Jones said one way to overcome the obstacles with a mother-in-law is to communicate and be honest. Communication can eliminate misunderstandings that many times are the causes for conflicts.

"Many conflicts between a mother-in-law and wife are caused by misunderstandings. Misunderstandings stem from perceptions -- perceptions that are not necessarily true," she said.

Simone Richards said her mother-in-law was "two-faced", and that although they communicated she would still go behind her back and say bad things about her, and things that she didn't even say.

"If I said I wouldn't cook she would say I must cook the food for my husband because he was working the money to take home to me, and behind my back say something else."

She added: "She is possessive of all her three sons and tells them that if they carry their wives home she is going to interfere."

Some wives are caught off guard because they did not foresee the challenges that would be faced by having interfering mothers-in-law.

Pitters recalls her mother-in-law's attempt to stifle the growth and prosperity of her family.

"I remember one year his father wanted to give him a piece of land, he said that it was his only son and he wanted to give him something. The father said that he would survey a portion of the land and get the title for the land. The mother said no because whatever he has I am going to benefit from it, not realising that I was not the one that was going to benefit from it, it would have been his children."

For Richards, who lived with her mother-in-law when she first got married, it was a struggle because she was under her mother-in-law's roof and was constantly criticised.

"Because of her we had to leave there and go to live with my parents. Before we even got married she would spy on me at all hours of the morning to see if I was cheating on her son. She did not want us to get married and it was after a long time I found out that she told him not to marry me. She did not even come to the wedding."

The bullet in the heart for some wives is when the husbands fade into the background and allow the abuse of their mothers because of fear of taking sides.

"He defended her," said Richards. "I was always in the wrong and she was always in the right."

"A husband needs to establish the boundaries and let his mother know that he loves her but his wife is important and should be respected," Allen-Jones explained. "A mother has her role and a wife her role. The two have to exist in harmony because it is not a choice between a mother and wife."

'A she name mother'

Edward Johnson, who is the only child for his mother, strongly believes that his mother's role surpasses that of a partner.

"A she name mother enuh and she has always been here, wife might be there for just a five to 15 years [and] when she gone mommy still there."

He said the connection between a mother and son is intangible and will never change.

"Me nah give up mommy for wife; mommy is from birth."

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