His mom INSULTED my cooking
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Dear Counsellor,

My husband and I are from two different countries and we met overseas where we had both gone to work, got married, then decided to settle in Jamaica, my home. I met his family at our wedding, and only communicated afterwards via Skype. Recently his mom and sisters have visited us in Jamaica, and they're making my life hell. The mom first commented on how skinny he was, and said I wasn't feeding him (even though he's the one who insists that he's now a Rasta and is on a vegan diet), and they pick apart everything I do to run my house. The last straw was when his mother said I can't cook. I run a restaurant, by the way. I'm annoyed and irritated as my husband never takes up for me. How can we resolve this, without me just sending them home on the next plane?

This issue has destroyed many good marriages. I remind couples on several occasions about the importance of realising that their spouse and children are their family — siblings and parents are relatives. Your priority is to your spouse and to your children. I have heard the saying "blood is thicker than water" many times, where it's assumed that since your parents and siblings are connected to you by blood, they are your priority. However, it's not so. When you decide to get married, even governments hold you more accountable for what happens with that relationship. Put your spouse and children first! Support them and defend them from the words and deeds of your relatives.

This is not to say that care and respect aren't due to your siblings and parents. It absolutely is! However, it's just not due in the same way as with a wife/husband or children. And yes, in my experience, it's often mothers (mothers-in-law) that have caused challenges in a marriage by what they say. And yes, sisters (sisters-in-law) are often the next verbal assault culprits. Having a mother (mother-in-law) or sisters (sisters-in-law) move into your home, or yard space, for a prolonged period, can be quite risky. This is not to say that no such situation has worked, where it's a happy home with in-laws living with the couple peacefully. There are instances, it's just that it doesn't seem to be the norm. In-laws, please be duly advised — minimise interference in your child's/sibling's home and marriage. Love them but let them be.

My advice:

Speak to your husband: Let him know it's time for your in-laws to go. It is not acceptable for you to feel maligned in your house. Let him know that you love him and that you love and respect them but it's time for them to leave. Set a timeline too. Let him know that they are putting the stability of your home in jeopardy and that you only want to secure your family. Let him also know how his not defending you from their tirades has hurt you.

Stand your ground: After you've spoken to your husband be prepared to 'disarm' the tirades of your mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. Be bold to speak to them firmly about anything you are dissatisfied with. Show them due respect, but defend yourself and your family from their assault. You can remind your mother-in-law that a well-raised healthy man can also feed himself.

Keep confident: Do not let your confidence be easily shaken. You have established a family and a business, celebrate your competence indeed. Applaud yourself for all you've accomplished. Protect your self-worth and self-confidence from assault. Your self-confidence is something you can ill-afford to have compromised. It's central to your well-being and success.

Get further help: Get support from other family members or long-time friends that your husband respects. You may also want to speak with a counsellor.

I pray your in-laws will leave your home in love and peace.

Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com.

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