Saturdays With Shivani- My Mum-In-Law Can’t Be My Mum

My Mum-in-Law can’t be my mum. One is legal and the other is biological. When the difference is clearly laid out, why that pressure? When we know that it’s a long-term relationship why pile it up with unrealistic expectations?

I have been married for almost sixteen years and I can say this with a lot of confidence that expecting your MIL to be your mum or your DIL to be your daughter is asking for the moon. Aside from the fact that they are two different people, how can you overlook the fact that you have grown up/ along with the biological version whilst you hardly know the legal one?

With that myth out of the way, allow me to shatter another one. Marriage is a life changing event for most Indians especially the women. We are so preconditioned into putting our best foot forward that often we do not express ourselves for fear of being rejected. Going by my own experience, I’d say avoid that. Give your opinion, put your foot down, set some ground rules.

This goes for both the generations. The area that needs your attention is building up a robust communication channel. Put forth your points clearly, emphatically BUT politely. There will be tiffs and arguments but when both of you would have worked on your communication, at some point you would find your middle ground and neither would feel short changed. This is especially true for those who live under the same roof.

The earlier you start, the better it is. With time this dynamic would involve children, your parenting techniques, ideas on schooling; any or all of which are potential war zones. Relationships are tricky and extremely sticky. There is no guarantee that you may enjoy a smooth relationship even after you do all of this. You can hope for a cordial one though and above all, you would have the satisfaction in the knowledge that you tried and you didn’t compromise. When you know that you have tried with all sincerity, it becomes easier to move on without burdening your conscience.

Any relationship is like a building. We can’t expect a jump start from the penthouse on the top and enjoying the view. We have to start from the foundation and work our way upwards. We need to build the scaffoldings before we can attempt to cement a structure. All this needs time, patience and a bucket loads of maturity; from both the directions.

I say this from what I have learnt over the years. Ours isn’t a perfect relationship but we are ready to make the effort to accept and navigate our way through each other’s imperfections. My mother always says that if any one loves your husband more than you; it’s his mother and you should never forget that. I’d say both the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law need to be mindful of the fact that both of you love the same person because it makes things less complicated.

I am extremely fortunate that my actions have been reciprocated with equal fervor by my mum-in-law. So yes, my mum-in-law can’t be my mum, but she comes closest to that. She has been an ally, a wise counsel, a sympathetic ear, my shopping partner and so much more than I could have imagined.

Dr. Shivani Salil

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