In-laws or Out-laws

16 Sep

They would always be there either invited or uninvited (mostly uninvited) peeking into your affairs and offering u7nsolicited advice. If they had their way they would tell you how to sleep with your spouse, how to cook for the family (if you a wife), how to raise your children, how to budget your income (and that of your spouse of course). They are the in-laws, or would you rather they were called out-laws?

The existence of in-laws happen to be a thorn in the flesh of many wives, and even husbands sometimes. For what it’s worth, you wish to high heavens that they only exist in the backgrounds, faaaar backgrounds. But alas, they would rather  have centre stage!

In Africa, a young woman is married into the FAMILY of so and so. Therefore she is married to the entire family. She needs to do everything to satisfy the entire clan because she is married to THEM, not just to their son. If any of the husbands siblings stay with them in the house, the wife does the laundry, the dishes, the cooking, the raising of the children, the shopping…. She must do all of this because there is a ready made reporter in the house. If the husband helps out, the story is, “She has turned our brother into a houseboy.” If he scolds his siblings, “Our brother has changed, she has turned him against us”. If she complains that she does not fancy a particular behavior from her husbands siblings, the story is “She has no respect”. She works and they say she is wild and too exposed (akada). She stays at home and they say she is too lazy to do anything.

Just as the woman faces the in-law problem so does the man. But that of the man may not be as direct as the woman. The problem the man often has is in-laws accusing him of being stingy and not wanting to take care of the woman’s family. When the man spends on the woman’s family, his family would complain that his wife in manipulative, and they start to draw comparisons as to how they are treated when they visit their brother home. (The accusations could be so petty as to include the quantity and or quality of food they were served when they last visited.)

The matter is made worse if the man is fickle-minded and therefore is unable to keep is parents or siblings out of HIS family life. When he is the mother’s boy or father’s pet and is the “I can’t offend my family” type; you are so in for it!

Question therefore is, Do we outlaw the in-laws?


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