This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
It was 9.30 am. Riya was still asleep. Sumita, her mother, made a face, banged on the door and shouted, “It’s not good to sleep till so late.” If I ask you to comment on the above para, you’d probably say, “What’s there to comment. It’s perfectly normal. If a mother won’t lovingly scold, who will?”
Now replace the word ‘mother’ with ‘mother-in-law’ and read it again. Suddenly, you’ll visualise the situation rather negatively. Depending on your age, you would either side up with the mother-in-law or label her as an unreasonable dictator. If you’re wondering why I’m suddenly talking about mothers-in-law in this column meant for sharing calmness tricks, the reason again is our very own Pappu Singh.
By the way, Pappu Singh is becoming a threat to me by the week. A lot of fans (please let me use the term instead of ‘readers’, it’s just so more glam) of this column have started addressing their letters to him instead of me. Well he’s cool but don’t be under the impression that he’s immune to stress.
Just the other day, he was sitting with his head in his hands. When asked, he said, “Kya karein madam, sab tension chhotti, bas biwi aur ma ke jhagde ke tension moti (all other tension is insignificant in front of the stress caused by a fight between the wife and the mother).” So now you see where I’m coming from.
No matter what age you are or where you live, you would’ve been a witness or victim of the ‘mother-in-law stress’ — why, the term even fetches a whopping 800,000 results when Googled. But before the mothers-in-law of the world decide to collectively issue a fatwa against me, let me clarify that the term refers as much to the stress suffered by mothers-in-law at the hands of the younger breed.
Not to mention the respective husbands and the poor fathers-in-law, who are secondary victims. A 27-year-old cousin recently told me he’s too scared to get married because he fears his wife won’t get along with his mom, whom he loves the most. He has seen that happen with many of his married friends. Basically, this one form of relationship, from Mumbai to Milan and Delhi to Dallas, is most prone to stress.
Psychologists and sociologists across the world have tried to analyse why the same response to a situation coming from one’s own mother seems so reasonable but so unacceptable if it comes from the mom-in-law. They suggest dramatic improvement by understanding the very premise underlying the relationship — two women who love the same man. Now, all the conflicts and criticisms make sense.
This column is too short and the author too incompetent to suggest solutions to this heavyweight problem. The only humble suggestion for all the daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law who sare facing stress in everyday lives, each thinking that they are right, just ask yourselves a simple question: “Would I rather be right or happy?” The man you both love equally would live much longer if you save him from the tremendous stress of always trying to strike a balance. Isn’t that incentive enough for calmness?