How my mother always complained about my sister-in-law from the beginning
When I got married, I enjoyed a very happy life with my husband. I was fortunate to share a wonderful relationship with my in-laws which is continuing to this day. But when my brother got married, all I heard was complaints about my sister-in-law. I pleaded with my mother to give her time to adjust. But she would not listen. My mother’s grouse was my sister-in-law does not keep the house neat and clean. She does not cook properly and wastes the food. She doesn’t value money. These were the other complaints. My brother was caught between respect for my mother and love for his wife. He adopted a policy of no interference and that made matters worse. When I stopped listening to her, she started visiting my sister-in-law’s family and relatives and complaining about her. I would feel bad that family problems were discussed in public.
Why complain when you’re being looked after?
I would advise my mother that she is being taken care of and she should be happy. But she would not listen. With her constant complaints that she is not taken care of, wasting money, etc., she created a rift between my brother and sister-in-law.
When I look back, as a child I remember that my mother herself never took up her family responsibilities seriously. She never bothered about our studies or cooking and feeding us in time. As we grew up, my brother went to a hostel to study. My father was busy with his job. As soon as my father left for office, my mother would join the gossip gang of the neighbourhood.
After my brother’s marriage, my father retired from his job. Though he could see what was wrong with my mother, he was unable to have any influence on her. After few years, he passed away. I invited my mother to stay with me, so that matters could improve.
She wouldn’t listen to advice or solutions
But then she again started her grievances. She wanted my sympathy by speaking ill of my sister-in-law. I would tell her that she is in a far better situation than other elders in our family, as she is well taken care of by her son and bahu. But then she would not listen, instead complain about me to my brother. She would visit relatives and start unfolding all her imaginary problems with my sister-in-law.
She would visit relatives and start unfolding all her imaginary problems with my sister-in-law.
During the summer vacations, my sister-in-law would spend a few days with us along with her kids on her way to her parents’ place. I enjoyed her company. She would cook unique dishes and would be very caring, giving me the right advice whether on a health issue, shopping or a personal problem.
Once, when I was very ill, she cancelled her trip to her village, to stay with me. I was surprised that she never complained about her mother-in-law once, even when I asked her about things. She mingled well with my family. My husband was happy that there was one person on his in-laws’ side who cared. Slowly I distanced myself from my mother and started supporting my sister-in-law. My husband and I encouraged her to become independent by starting a home-based business.
We showed my sister-in-law she could stand up for herself
Seeing our support, my mother became very resentful. She felt that financial independence would make my sister-in-law arrogant, whereas she wanted a docile daughter-in-law who would dance to her tune. I advised my sister-in-law to ignore my mother’s attitude and encouraged her to focus on her family. Now my mother’s grouse is that my sister-in-law has brought a rift between her and her daughter (me), because I don’t listen to her ranting. But I don’t care. With our support, my sister-in-law has become bold and learned to put her foot down. The result is that my mother now hesitates to complain. My brother too noticed the positive change and started supporting his wife.
Related reading: How to be financially independent as a married woman
I am happy for my sister-in-law, who has a life ahead. My mother has no right to mar her family life. Instead she should pursue spiritual activities. Sometimes my mother says, “Wait, I will watch when you are in my shoes.” I say, “Sure!”, for I never intend to fight for the upper hand when my children are adults. Thanks to my sister-in-law, I learned an important lesson in relationships. It is in our own hands whether we share a wonderful relationship or spoil it by dominating, comparing or poisoning it.