Valencia had found the man of her dreams, very sure that he was the one with whom she always wanted to spend the rest of her life.
She surely had chosen her husband, but she didn’t choose his family. His parents were an integral part of the package and somehow she had to learn to get along with them.
Issues, though kept coming up at holidays and birthdays and the family events. Her husband and she decided to live far away from his parents so that she didn’t have to deal with them daily.
Was becoming in-laws not a milestone in terms of aging which they should feel proud about, Valencia would think. But she could not understand that their behaviour raged out of control because they didn’t want to lose that role, or that honoured position, in their child’s life. What she perhaps could not fathom was that it affected them on a profound level for them to feel they had become somewhat secondary in their child’s life.
The parents-in-law showed their displeasure by way of mixed emotions sometimes with cloudy or even harsh communications as if they were trying to vent out their frustrations on her.
Valencia had no clue why she should be blamed for even the slightest fault of their son, as if she had the supreme power to influence him and could have made him change his decision. Valencia knew that she could never be best-buds with her parents-in law but she definitely tried to be friends trying her best to develop the mutual respect and admiration.
Unfortunately it all ended up being one-sided. What was going wrong, she wondered. Why was there a competition? They had some much in common. They all loved the same man, their son, her husband. This doesn’t need to be a competition for his time and attention since they all held a distinct special place in his heart.
Why did they always show an attitude of ingratitude? Valencia knew that if it weren’t for her parents-in-law, her husband wouldn’t be there and she thanked them enough for that. They had a lot to do with the man her husband was today, all those good qualities he has, whether genetic or learned.
But she wondered why they would want her to keep showing her gratitude in each of her deeds. And why did they always want to prove that they were right and she was wrong? No doubt they have been through a lot in their life and that should be valued. But it did not mean she should discard the wealth of knowledge which she has imbibed from her parents and her life.
Why could she not speak up and they listen? Valencia wished that if something was bothering her, or if she felt like she’s being put in a situation where she wasn’t comfortable, they should give her an opportunity to clear the air. She never wanted to let things fester. It was better they became clear so that there were no misunderstandings. She just wanted to be allowed to talk to them when she needs to, and they listen to what she had to say.
Why did they want to change her? Valencia wanted them to understand that one can never change another person, rather one can only change one’s response in any situation. She always wondered why they had so many expectations about what she “should” do or say or how she “should” behave. She prayed that they learn to love her for being who she was, as she was, not for being who or how they wanted her to be.
Could she not be herself? Valencia knew she wasn’t perfect but she also knew that there wasn’t anybody who is, including her parents-in law.
Marriage shouldn’t change the rules, she sadly it had. From being the chirpy little girl that she was and had wished to remain, she was expected to be a superwoman, who would never be allowed to let her guard down in that house.
Occasionally, her parents-in-law would, with great eagerness, ask her for “good news”. And every time Valencia heard that, she wondered what she should wish for as her bundle of joy.
If it were to be a son, she wonders if she too would be a similar parent-in-law. If it were to be a daughter, she shudders at the thought of her child growing up to face all that she is going through.
Parents-in-law or parents-in-love!
When the Supreme Court passed a judgement that a Hindu son can divorce his wife if she tries to separate him from aged parents, it seemed as if the wife was a wicked woman out to break up families and separate her husband from his parents. But behind that story is another story. Valencia’s story or rather that of an every woman, is a story that would resonate with most married women. It is their story, of not just being wedded to the man of their life but wedded-by-law to their parents-in-law as well and the issues they face.