Mimi, Efua and Omo have a chance meeting at an eatery where Mimi stopped by to pick up a takeaway pack for her hairdresser who would be rendering “home service”. Just as she is catching up with Efua who just flew in from Ghana, she excitedly picks a call. “Oops it’s mum!”, she exclaims. Her two friends watch on in silence as she lapses into an exhilarating conversation interspersed with short bursts of laughter. As she concludes the call, Omo asks in a curious tone “En…en Mimi, but you lost your mum a couple of years back. Who is this that was tickling your fancy. Girl, you really must like the person because it was obvious”.
Mimi responds with a smile on her lips – “My mother like no other! She is first and foremost my mother before Desmond’s. (By the way Efua, Desmond is my significant other)”. She continues “We get along so well, in fact, even better than I did with my late mother. She is such a lovely spirit; she treats me as her very own daughter. She even has a pet name for me – Nneoma, which in her dialect means Good/Beautiful mother. That is not to say we do not have our differences but she handles them with mature understanding and we move above them. I could go on and on about her but …let’s get back to our previous discussion…what’s up with you Efua? It’s been ages?”
Efua responds “Things are going great in Ghana, but I am back to inform my family here about my upcoming wedding in Ghana. I only hope my mother-in-law-to-be is as nice to me and bonds with me as yours does. I really have heard too many unnerving stories about mothers-in-law and have been dreading any confrontation. So far, she seems fine though”.
Mimi counsels – “Let me start by summarising Marriage Counselling 101 into 2 principles:
- Never refer to your spouse’s mother as Mother-in-law. Don’t say it! Don’t even think it! Instead, refer to her as Mother or evolve a pet name for her. That way she starts to envision you as her daughter, not her son’s wife, or a strange lady he brought home.
- See your relationship as a symbiotic relationship between mother and daughter. Treat her like your biological mother extending love to her”.
She continues – “You know, shortly before my marriage, mum (my mother-in-law) told me something I have since held on to. She interpreted her understanding of a mother-in-law role to me and this is a summary of what she said”.
“A Mother-in-law is bound by rules and regulations to act as a MOTHER. She is a mother by virtue of Law and acquires all the rights, duties and responsibilities of a mother. She acquires a daughter or son through the marriage of her child and is duty-bound to treat the acquired child as a biological child. She is accountable to God regarding this huge responsibility and it will be unfortunate if she fails”.
Omo reacts with a spontaneous – “Wow, that is profound! No wonder you guys are having a swell time together as mother and daughter. I wish most women would understand the relationship the way she envisages it. It would make things a lot easier for wives and intending brides”.
Efua caps the discourse with a parting advice – “True, ladies. We must not forget that we all desire to see our children married someday and automatically assume the role of mothers to their spouses as well. May the Lord help us to discover the beauty in each other”.
Havilah is of the opinion that the views and admonition expressed herein are indeed germane to the theme of engendering healthy relationships among women.