‘Suffering’ daughters in-law try divine mediation

Women desperate for help with husband’s mothers

Desperate  daughters in-law are turning to God to change their “Cruella de MILs” and “monsters-in-law” into “mothers-in-love”. They have been dragging their mothers-in-law and even their husbands to a God-based retreat to find a solution to the in-law strife that exists in most marriages.

Makoti and Mamazala Retreats was born out of former insurance account executive Mamanese Mathule’s own “hurt and anger” associated with her mother in-law.

“After I met my husband my mother-in-love – that’s what I call her now because we have changed a lot to love – was OK until we decided we were getting married,” Mathule said.

“A whole lot of things started changing. When I used to buy stuff she would buy the same. If I bought a dress, she would go buy the exact dress.

“To date she still does it, but not clothing. Whatever product I buy she buys, but because of the space of peace and grace that I found myself in, I know that she does it because she is looking up to me.”

For the past year, Mathule has been using prayer to get daughters-in-law to be the “bigger person and positive regardless of their mother-in-law’s moods and actions”.

She admits that very few mothers-in-law are willing to change.

“We target the next generation because most mother-in-laws were abused and treated badly, so that’s all they know.

“We want daughters-in-law to work towards finding peace so the next generation doesn’t catch the cold.

“When you are getting married as a boy child, before you get married, if you were the breadwinner, you need to start having conversations with your mother, where you say you are now moving into a territory ‘where I may not be able to help you with my finances like the way I used to, but if you need help please discuss it with my wife’.

“A man needs to do this.” TV and radio personality Masechaba Ndlovu, a speaker at the retreats, said delegates realised that a lot of their oppression was self-inflicted.

But a Johannesburg mother of-two says her “monster-in-law’s trouble-causing ways” are very real.

“I would not bother with this workshop because it implies that I loved her at one stage. She is a stubborn old cow who believes she knows it all,” she said.

“If she actually listens to anything I say, she won’t agree with me at the time but she will repeat it as her own fact later on.”

A Mooi River mother-in-law said her son’s wife wanted to keep him away from her.

“I gave birth to him. No matter what, I am still his mother.”

Divorce attorney Bertus Preller has been involved in a number of matters where the over-involvement of extended family, particularly in-laws, resulted in divorce.

“It goes without saying that when one spouse has a primary attachment to someone that is stronger than the attachment to his partner, the marriage is in trouble,” Preller said.

“I have met many spouses feeling undefended who said to me, ‘He lets his mother walk all over me’, or ‘she never stands up to her father, or stands up for me’.

“It is extremely important to set boundaries, otherwise your in-laws will become out-laws.”

But not all in-laws despise each other.

Ncumisa Ndelu said her mother-in-law accepted her and had never tried to change her.

Her mother-in-law, Ntombenhle Ndelu, said: “I accepted her as my daughter as soon as my son told me he wants to marry her. She is just like my other children.”

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