When parents control their children’s relationships

Timothy took a while before getting married and as a result, enjoyed a long relationship with his mother. Let’s call him ‘mummy’s boy’. He depended on her for everything. When he moved out on his own, he rented an apartment close to home because he wanted to drop by whenever.

He ended up joining his mum for dinner every night. He introduced several girlfriends to her and whenever she would say no to a potential suitor he would end the relationship. To him, her opinion really mattered.

 

When Tim finally settled for someone that got the approval of his mother, let’s call her Ruth, some people breathed a sigh of relief, saying he was now grown. Others were not as optimistic, they sympathised with the woman who had put herself in that position; they looked on pitifully, saying she would from then on be viewed as ‘mom’s rival’. 

 

Even before the wedding, mother-in-law was calling the shots. She wanted to select the venue, be in charge of the guest list, gifts and et cetera. This did not go down well with the bride-to-be but somebody’s son would tell her to relax, ‘that’s the mom she will come around, take time to know her.’ 

 

The newlywed woman took time to know her mother-in-law but was not getting it. She complained when they moved a bit far away from her home, saying it would make it hard to see her son. She found every reason to sulk and when she made peace with their moving away from her, she now wanted to visit more than she was welcome.  

She stayed within the same city but insisted on visiting and sleeping over. Ruth understood this was her only child, and for someone who raised him singlehandedly, it was understandable for her to miss his company. However, he was no longer a boy and now needed to build his marriage and home.

That was not going to be easy with someone constantly snooping. After two-and-a-half years of marriage, they started having problems which would have been easy to resolve were it not for the mum being ever-present.

Ruth rarely spoke to her people about the marital woes but for Timothy, every single quarrel or misunderstanding would be relayed to his mum verbatim, as a result, Ruth received calls from her mother-in-law berating her. There is a time she asked her why she wanted to kill her son. Ruth could not believe it; what led to that was a minor quarrel over an SMS.

Had she been married to an independent, mature man it would never have ended up that way. They now have two children and whenever they have a misunderstanding, Timothy cares less about remorse or apologising.

He will remind his wife that his mother lives close by and is capable of looking after the children. If she wants to leave she can do so. To many onlookers, this would not have happened had the mother stayed away from that marriage. The billion-dollar question is; how much involved should parents be in their children’s marriages?

My response, they should stay as far as they can. They will always be biased.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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