Balancing expectations is never easy, especially if they are they are expectations of your mother and your wife. To resolve the eternal mother vs wife problem, I turned into a juggler, dividing my days in a week between three houses, to be a good son, a husband, and a father.
My wife believes every modern man and woman, despite being married, should fulfill their individual responsibilities towards their parents. But that’s often easier said than done. No in-laws take it well when they think the bride of their son is continuing to prioritize her own parents over the needs of their precious son. In my family too, this led to a conflict between wife and mother. So, how did I manage to appease a mother and wife? Read on to find out.
How To Balance Wife And Mother
In the initial years of marriage, we decided we would stay together as a married couple only over weekends. The rest of the week we would meet and then give time to our respective parents and stay with them. It seemed like the perfect way to avoid a marriage crisis.
At one point, I thought we were insane, but years later I realized this was the best compromise we made, even with our son, to get the best of the time we spent together, free from quarrels and irritations, and remain guilt-free as far as duty and love for our parents went.
My wife, the only child of her ailing parents, could not neglect them and live in my home as a traditional wife. I knew from the beginning she would not be able to accept the framework of my family where ambitions and typical, Bengali, middle-class barriers exist. This led to the usual mother vs wife problem.
She tried for a time, dividing her time between my house and her house, but that became next to impossible after our son was born. I too couldn’t leave my parents as my elder siblings (brother and sister) were out of the city and couldn’t take care of them. My wife was also very particular about such commitments; she felt if she took care of her parents, it was my duty to live in the house that my father built. Thus, our somewhat different family life flowed on and we took care of our mother vs wife problem.
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And we enjoyed every bit of it.
Even after 15 years of marriage, it seems like we have a honeymoon every weekend!
We all look forward to it when every Friday we move to our weekend bungalow that we have all to ourselves. Even my teenaged son enjoys it as a weekend retreat. We’ve asked him many times if he feels bad that daddy doesn’t stay with him every night. He made it very clear he enjoys staying with his grandparents and also spoke of friends whose fathers are out on tours for most of the month.
Thanks to my son and my ‘different’ wife who finds fun in everything that this society calls abnormal, I do not feel guilty or trapped in my marriage. So, how to balance wife and mother? Communicate and come up with solutions that work for you. There is no one-size-fits-all situation. But that does not mean one has to succumb to a life quarrelling and unhappiness.
I won’t deny that there were nights when I felt lonely. But I always knew my wife was just a phone call away. And that eccentric woman in my life says talking on the phone is like having a clandestine affair at times, and she enjoys it, just like she would do with any other man.
For that brings out the lover in a husband, not the typical Indian patriarchal husband. As for my ailing mother, she is relieved that at least one of her children is still around. It’s the sort of support every parent in their old age needs.
How do you solve the mother vs wife problem?
You need to figure out your priorities and those of your loved ones and you work your way around them. This may lead to a shift in beliefs and some adjustments. But, as long as you have the love of your life by your side, every barrier turns to dust.
I had never believed in the concept of a nuclear family, but in the modern setup, we cannot think otherwise.
We have made our own weekend family setup, where the child gets the joy of staying with his grandparents, we have the bliss of living like lovers. Our parents feel secure that we are with them at every step and will live in the houses they built with their sweat and blood.
Needless to say, such an arrangement didn’t go down well with my extended family and many asked if I was divorced or if my wife had left me because of the mother vs wife problem. My wife was at the receiving end of constant criticism. I’ve never tried to make anyone understand anything, because I never felt that I needed to justify it to anyone. I know certain things can never be understood unless one goes through them.
And to some extent, I believe that our smiles have remained intact despite the many challenges because we chose to be a ‘weekend family’ instead of taking relationships at face value.
You communicate with both of them and try to find a balance. You, your wife, and your mother would have to recognize priorities and make adjustments. Petty arguments and scream-fests won’t help. But rational, calm discussions about everyone’s needs, will.
Both. Your mother gave birth to you and took care of you all your life. Your wife is your partner, your beloved, someone you chose to share your life with. So, both of them, and their emotions and needs are important.
Both your mother and your wife should come first in your life. If there is a conflict of interest, healthy communication can help resolve and determine everyone’s needs and opinions, and you can decide your course of action accordingly.