“Leave My Son Alone!”
Marriage Challenges in Africa: Mother-in-law Trouble
Throughout Africa, the family is viewed as the most important unit of every community. Families, not individuals, are the building blocks of African society. This ideology is what makes parents and grandparents to interfere with their children’s marriages without regrets. As a result, for different reasons many women inevitably face mother-in-law trouble in their marriages.
In my article “Son, You Can’t Marry That Girl!” Ozoemena, the only child of Chief & Lolo Anazobe was faced with a dilemma. He had gone to inform his parents about his decision to marry Jennifer, his university heartthrob, but his parents kicked against it. They wanted him to marry Udoka, the daughter of Barr. Nsofor, Chief Anazobe’s friend.
If you were Ozoemena, would you go ahead and marry the girl of your choice? Or would you back down and marry Udoka so as to please your parents? And if you were Jennifer, would you go ahead and get married to Ozoemena amidst his parents’ hostility? Are you ready to face up to the inevitable mother-in-law trouble?
Udoka or Jennifer?
As the only girl among three siblings in the family of Barr. Nsofor, Udoka was made to feel like royalty. Every thing she wished for she got, and this made her somewhat arrogant. Her siblings and friends find her irritating sometimes, and many people avoided her. With her attractive looks and first class honours, Udoka believed the world revolved around her.
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Jennifer, on the other hand, came from a humble background. Her father is a non-academic staff in the Imo State University, while her mother owns a hairdressing saloon in Owerri. Growing up, Jennifer and her 5 siblings learned to appreciate the little their father’s modest salary could afford. Life wasn’t easy for them, but their parents made sure they received necessary home training.
Both Chief Anazobe and Barr. Nsofor wanted their friendship to continue with their children, and they often encouraged them to associate together. As kids, the children enjoyed spending time together, since they all went to the same primary and secondary schools. By the time the children completed secondary school, the situation had changed. Ozoemena would rather go somewhere else than spend time with Udoka, because she was arrogant and bossy. He just couldn’t cope with her.
Ozoemena always knew that his parents want him to marry Udoka, but as he grew older, he dreaded the thought. Even though Udoka is 3 years his junior, she was always trying to intimidate him. That made Ozoemena made up his mind never to marry her, although he never told his parents until that day. Despite all his parents efforts, Ozoemena was determined to marry Jennifer, and nobody will stop him.
Mother-in-law Trouble Begins
Eventually, his parents let Ozoemena have his way, and he married Jennifer. Chief and Lolo Anazobe were displeased that Ozoemena didn’t accept to marry Udoka, and that was when Jennifer’s mother-in-law trouble began.
Ozoemena’s mother thought Jennifer is a “gold-digger” who didn’t deserve her son, and she made Jennifer miserable. Nothing Jennifer did pleased her, not even when Jennifer delivered a set of twin boys for Ozoemena. Whenever she visited their home, she avoided having any conversation with her. Ozoemena was always ready to defend Jennifer whenever his mother tried to confront her. This went on for years, but Jennifer never stopped trying to please her. If you were Jennifer, what would you do under such mother-in-law trouble?
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A lot of women in African marriages experience similar mother-in-law trouble. In some cases, it may be because the woman hasn’t had a baby yet. Others might be because the mother-in-law feels the woman has come to take away the love of her son from her. Like Jennifer, some women also face this trouble because of social issues. This has left many women feeling rejected and frustrated, even falling out with their husbands. Jennifer, however, proved to be different.
For over ten years, Ozoemena’s mother refused to acknowledge Jennifer’s excellent personality, yet Jennifer never disrespected her. Whenever possible, Jennifer would assist her mother-in-law without being asked to, but she never got a ‘thank you’ from her. Still, Jennifer didn’t see any reason to stop helping her mother-in-law.
Lolo Anazobe wanted more grandchildren to fill her son’s home, and this she told her son. This was displeasing to Ozoemena, and he promptly told his mother he was satisfied with the two they already have. This irritated his mother, and she insisted that it was Jennifer’s idea, not Ozoemena’s. She even confronted Jennifer about it, and refused to listen despite Jennifer’s protestations.
A New Twist
A few days later, Ozoemena’s mother visited her son’s home again to make an announcement. She told Ozoemena that since Jennifer didn’t want to give her more grandchildren, they want him to marry a second wife. Ozoemena was shocked! Why won’t his parents just let him live his life, now that he is an adult? How will Jennifer feel if she hears about this latest development? When is this drama between him and his parents ever going to end?
If you were Ozoemena, how will you handle this latest episode in his life? And if you are Jennifer, what would you do if you come to hear what her parents-in-law wanted? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.