"My mother-in-law saved my marriage…Hard to believe but its’ true!"
"With two elder sisters who were married much before me, stories of mothers-in-law and their cunning ways were nothing new in my household."
We all have heard those monster mum-in-law tales, but all stories need not be the same. In this refreshing tale, Mumbai-based Srishti A, shares with our writer Zofeen Maqsood the extraordinary bond her mother in law shared with her.
"When I was getting married five years ago I had very mild expectations from my in-laws and from my mother-in-law in particular. Since it was an arranged marriage where we met through our family friends I knew that I was charting an unknown territory and a lot depended on my fate. With two elder sisters who were married much before me, stories of mothers-in-law and their cunning ways were nothing new in my household.
But there was another complication that we were aware of and entered into knowingly. My husband had a broken engagement before he approached me. I remember during the time when my husband’s family arrived to see me they very categorically revealed that they had to break an engagement because the girl had changed her mind.
My mother-in-law explained to my mum that the girl’s family got a richer, NRI proposal and they chose them over her son. ‘How convenient,’ my sisters remarked, smirking at the ease with which my future mother-in-law shifted the blame.
I took the tough call
However, my parents asked me to go with my gut feeling. I was nearing my mid-thirties and my parents were visibly stressed about not finding a suitable match for me. My would-be husband seemed a decent man, he was well placed and the family seemed like any other regular Indian family.
I wouldn’t deny that I was tired of this whole match making game and wanted to settle down too and hence I decided to go with the flow and said yes.
I was married in a simple ceremony without much fanfare. The boys family wanted to keep it low-key given their past unpleasant experience and my parents though didn’t express it, I knew were also exhausted both financially and emotionally marrying off two older daughters.
Honestly, my marriage was quite uneventful and the days after that went by just knowing my new extended family and smiling at many family dinners we as new couples were invited to.
In between all these formalities, my husband and I were hardly getting any time to bond. In the first month of my marriage I once cheekily reprimanded him for not even planning a honeymoon for us. But I got a cold, hard stare in response. It’s not that we were not having sex, but our encounters though frequent were mechanical. There was no romance, no small talk… just plain sex.
He would never talk to me at length and we were like two strangers living under the same roof but sharing the bed.
My mother-in-law smelt the rat
It was now that my mother-in-law stepped in. One day she sat me down and bluntly asked me if there was something missing in my marriage. She said her motherly instincts have been sensing that something was amiss and she chose to speak to me first as she didn’t want to be influenced by her son’s side of the story.
I broke down and told her everything. She calmed me and advised me to talk to my husband and ask him to confide in me on what was holding him away from me.
That night I spoke to my husband and he admitted that he was still hurt was his broken engagement. The truth was that the girl who broke up with him was his long time girlfriend and he couldn’t deal with the fact that she dumped him for a richer man. My world shattered at the thought of playing second fiddle.
I went to my mother-in-law and told her the truth expecting her to defend her son. But what she said blew me away. Next day she sat down both my husband and me together and gently asked her son to stop ruining my life.
She bluntly told him that had she known he was still grieving she would have never rushed him into matrimony but now that he has taken up this responsibility it was his duty to give me all the love I deserved. That day, her place in my eyes went up a notch.
We worked on it
In the days to come my mother-in-law and I worked on my relationship like a team. But she never forced me, she asked me early on if I was ready to work hard and try and get my husband off his grief and accept me as a wife or would I want to call it quits. She said, she would understand if I choose to leave my husband but would be happy if I would be patient.
I chose the latter, honestly not because she would be happy but more so because I did not want to transfer my grief to my parents. In the days to come my mum-in-law arranged for our dates. Sometimes she would just book a table at a restaurant for two of us and order us to go.
Sometimes she did really simple things like, she cooked custard, which my husband licked off the plate and told him that I made it for him. I looked at her in disbelief and she winked like a partner. At other times she did meaningful things like ordered my husband to book a holiday for two of us on my birthday.
She would praise me a lot in front my father-in-law, making sure that my husband was around. And on top of that, she would also speak to her son in private about how I am the most patient girl ever to be putting up with his mood swings.
We became friends first
I wouldn’t say that my husband mellowed down. The truth is that he got married as a form of revenge to get even with his ex and wasn’t prepared for another intense relationship. I gave him that time. Yes, I did feel like a loser when we shared the bed as it felt I was giving in to his needs without getting the love I deserve.
But here also my mum-in-law turned out to be my savior. She would very nonchalantly ask me about our sex life and I would share with her that I felt used and empty. She told me to concentrate on my happiness first and give in only when I felt like it. All along she was my friend, guide, and mentor.
There were moments when my husband turned snappy and irritated but she was always there to point out his mistake. A year into our marriage things looked a lot better. My husband was beginning to fall in love with me and we were sharing things and not just the bed. I was happy to see this change and this is when my mum-in-law did something that stumped me.
She asked my husband to take up a job offer in another city that he had got. She stressed that this would give us an opportunity to enjoy living alone and cherish the togetherness away, from in-laws. We resisted but she said that it was important for us to bond with each other and her doors were always open for us.
I gingerly acted on her advice and guess what, she was right. Now when my husband was doing meaningful things like getting me flowers on Valentines Day, I knew he was doing it for me not because his parents had asked him to. We also learned a lot more to share with each other, as it was only two of us.
I call my mother-in-law more often than I call my own mum and she continues to be that special figure in my life. I would never be able to fathom why I got so lucky to have her guidance. My friends tell me that she was saving her son’s marriage. Maybe they are right. But I also know that she was saving me from a lot of grief and heartbreak too and I can never forget this.
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