How couple-dynamics have changed across generations, for the better

There is a generation gap in how couples communicate, as both mothers and mothers-in-law would agree

Alpana Deo | Posted on 03 Nov 2016
Time to read: 3 min
How couple communication has evolved | Bonobology

It was a beautiful morning. I set the breakfast table and poured the tea for both of us. Lately, I am taking a break from work so I don’t have the morning rush and I am able to enjoy my morning tea with my dear husband. When he came in, I sensed he looked a little off. When I asked him, as usual, at first he didn’t say a lot. I decided to give him some space. But then he opened up and discussed what was bothering him.

He always respects my opinion. We are open in conversation, share views and at the same time know the importance of giving each other space. We are a team and that is our motto.

My mom is visiting us. Whilst we were engaged in this discussion, she joined us for breakfast. After my husband left, my mom sung praises of her son-in-law and commented warmly on the sweet and open relationship we shared. According to her, we are like rab ne bana di jodi and we communicate more than usual. For me, it was quite casual, but for her it was somewhat special.

I pointed out the kind of family support they used to have in their time. We have to handle stressful situations on our own. My mom said, “This brings the two of you closer, as you discuss even a small issue and find the solution. Joint families have their own pluses and minuses. You definitely get family support, but limited space as a couple. While performing our filial duties for each and every member, we hardly used to get time for each other. Plus, what would others think if we asked for private time?

For any mother-in-law (MIL), accepting the truth that her son is being shared and now he will seek his wife’s permission too and not just his mom’s was quite hard. Today, expression is more open on the part of both the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law. The same applies for husbands too.” She recalled, “Even for going out once in a while we were never sure of getting permission. My MIL was a blend of softness and strictness (disciplined, actually). There were occasions when I got to see her softer side, too. But when the question was of daughter-in-law duties, there were no ifs and buts. Often, your dad wanted to have lunch/dinner with me knowing that I would be eating last, but he couldn’t say so openly.” There was a line of respect that they never crossed while talking to their elders. But today, sons can openly say such things, with respect.

Pleased and impressed with her son-in-law, my mom said, “You are so lucky, my daughter! So much has changed – for the better, no doubt. I have been married to your father for the last 40 years and it took me these many years to understand him. I don’t blame him for that.”

“It’s how our generation was. They never used to ask for help or inputs, regardless of how much they respected our views. For many it might be because of their ego and attitude or because of the idea that most of the wives were stay-at-home so they wouldn’t understand.”

“So different from what I’ve seen with my son-in-law! You have what we missed. I feel happy to see that.” My MIL also pointed out something similar: “If the wife was lucky enough to have the husband seek her opinion (which was quite rare), family members might ask what was the need to seek the wife’s advice all the time.”

I consider myself lucky in having a quite informal relationship with my MIL. We talk quite openly. She pointed out the same things as my mom. According to her, my father-in-law hardly shared any work related issues. She added, “I like talking to my daughters-in-law. It should be a two-way process. I do not like getting into unnecessary discussions which create misunderstandings. Today’s generation should enjoy their life with their own family if they want, because of the changes in the lifestyle. The main thing is the harmony in their relationship no matter where they live; there shouldn’t be a difference of opinion.”

Our mothers see present day marriages as an ideal union of two people following a perfect definition of ‘I love you’ – where warmth, listening, expression, understanding, valuing the union, all play a major role. Somewhat different from theirs!

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