Who do you choose? The answer is no one. Now, this might be very tricky. Often, people will nudge you to side with the strong, caring woman who has made you the man you are today. Then there are others, who will probably call you a mama’s boy, will pester you and tell you how you have a mind of your own and how traditional sentimentality does not suit a man. The third group will urge you to get yourself a lot of baby oil owing to the position you find yourself in. And the rest will stand for diplomacy. Any man who lives in a joint family will have faced emotional strains when conflicts arise between his wife and his mother. You have been a caring son and there has not been a day when you weren’t a loyal husband to your wife. So at a time when the tensions are high, you are common ground for complaint and venting of emotions. Even small differences that crop up when both women are living under the same roof can grow exponentially with or without your aid. It won’t be an easy thing to manage the vivacity of the women.
The wife-mom issue is inevitable in a modern joint family in India
If you are living in a joint family with your wife and tension is running high, here are some tips to deal with it.
1. Understand it is very personal to both
Your mother has nurtured you. Your wife has moved in to build a life with you. Both women are right from their individual perspectives. Each assumes they have a more firm grip on your life than the other.
After marriage, the priority changes. You have a wife now. You might want to side with her for everything but understand this is a huge change for your mother as well. Your wife has moved in a totally new home. Your mother is witnessing changes in her own home that she has built for decades. Both of them are running high on emotions.
It is not just about diplomacy for you; it is about being empathetic to both the ladies. It is personal for both of them. It might be frustrating for you to deal with the drama all the time, but putting yourself in their shoes and diffusing the situation is what you have to do.
2. Pre-marriage planning
You know you will be married and your wife will have to move in with your joint family. Make some pre-wedding plans. Get to know your to-be bride and how she works with your family. Before the big day, start involving your soon-to-be bride in matters of the household. Involve your mother in it too. It is important to let both the women know that you love them.
Any insecurity your mother might face is the thought of losing you to another woman and not holding that position of importance in your life. To ease your mother into this, let her know what she thinks is important for you. Let the women spend some time alone. Let them get acquainted with each other. Let them decide things on their own. If they can trust each other completely, your life will get a lot easier.
3. Settle cooking wars
The kitchen is a major war arena. Living in a joint family is often about women in the kitchen and them taking pride in it. Your wife might have a job and cooks every other night for the family.
The conflicts arising in the kitchen can be solved if you just help in the kitchen on a daily basis. Any complaint from your mother can be resolved right then and there. Your mother might be tempted to blame your wife for not helping out much, so it is up to you to show her how big a modern man you really are by helping in the chores. This way the work gets done and your wife is happy as well.
Also, refrain from praising each other’s cooking in front of the other. Bad move!
4. Don’t encourage complaining
See what’s important here. One is your mother. The other is your wife. If one complains, maintain a neutral tone. If your wife says “You mother is always picking fights” don’t say “I will talk to her”. Sometimes being neutral is important. Even if both are loved by you, they are adults. Encouraging one to complain about the other, will make you lose your patience and peace of mind. Imagine getting to listen to stuff like “You mother is so and so” or “You wife was doing this and this.” Listen to them vent, but do not make a habit of it. You might excuse yourself too if you feel the wave of complaints hitting you. It is okay to let them resolve it among themselves.
5. Do not lash out on one in front of the other
If you Hulk out on one in front of the other, they will be incentivised to do the same too. When you are stuck between a rock and a hard place, your anger must be bottled up. What you say and how you say will reflect on what they say and do when you are not around.
6. Set quality time apart with your mother
If your mother is micromanaging everything after marriage and is not willing to let go of you which is pissing off your wife, it is because she is beginning to feel slighted by you. Ease her into the situation by setting aside time with her- taking her for dinner is a nice idea. But do not complain about your wife when you are out. It is to show your mother how loved she is and that nothing has changed. A small gesture like that will assure her.
7. Neutrality is a great shade
When there is a lot of arguing, yelling and complaining, instead of trying to calm everyone down, tell them to woman up and deal things on their own. Ask them to communicate and that you cannot always be there to mitigate between the two.
It is not going to be an easy task, but it is certainly doable.