Married life is a cheerful period in a person's life. Newly-weds will always be languishing in a dream world. They, especially the girls, would be dwelling on the knowledge they might have gained from books or friends. In the olden days, the young women would be briefed by their grandmothers or mothers on how to conduct themselves in the company of in-laws.
Concept and reality
It should be kept in mind that a newly-wed woman should not enter the in-laws' house with a pre-conceived notion or judgemental mindset. What we have known about the in-laws' place was what we have imagined or seen in others' life. We face the reality only when we enter a new home. We should have the maturity to accept that reality. We should gain some life skills to earn that maturity. We should understand that we are not going to join someone, who is a blood relation. The bride should never compare it with her own home or insist that the new place should offer the same treatment as in her own house. We should learn about the new people and place. It means we should try to change ourselves. If we learn and change ourselves a bit we won't feel the new place alien.
A bit of preparation by the bridegroom's mother
The way a bride prepares herself, the mother of the bridegroom too should make some preparations mentally. The mother would be of the age between 45 to 50 years. Many experiences she had undergone might have influenced her. The mother too should give some thought into her own character. She should ask herself if she is someone who is short-tempered, does she nurse jealousy or other ill-feelings towards anyone, is she judgemental and so on. Taking these aspects into consideration, with the arrival of the new person into the house, the mother should be making some changes and adjustments in her own character as well. The new girl would need some time to adapt to the new environment. If some care is given to the girl to adjust with the new situation, the mother and the daughter-in-law can move ahead, balancing a good mental wave-length.
The son should ensure detachment from parents
What should be the role of the man vis a vis his relationships with the mother as well as with his wife. It's the mother who had been giving him all the support so far. He had been discussing all important matters with her. It's natural that mothers get possessive about their sons. As far as a mother is concerned she is wary about losing her importance in her son's life with the arrival of the bide. Knowing well these aspects the son too should make some preparations. There is a very important thing a son must follow. He should ensure a physical and emotional detachment from the mother. It shouldn't be done all of a sudden. it has to be developed `slowly over a period of time. A person who can find importance in the self need not always cosy up to his or her parents. But at the same time it is necessary to maintain a good relationship. Taking them to hospital, giving the needed care and financial support are all the responsibilities of the son. But an excessive emotional attachment should be avoided.
Responsibility towards wife and the balancing act
Meanwhile, the responsibility towards wife is also very important. The bride would be a stranger to the new place, knowing only with her husband, especially in an arranged marriage. The mother may sometimes brief the son the drawbacks or mistakes of the daughter-in-law. But the man shouldn't be raging at his newly wed wife at once. As a husband and as well as a son he should be trying to tell his wife the ways and customs in the house very patiently with love and compassion. If the newly wed is derided on the basis of complaints from mother or sister it is never going to make a married life healthy. The man should have an emotional, intellectual, physical, sexual and spiritual maturity. Only then would he be able to balance his relationship with his mother and wife. There should always be a differentiation of the self. That is the only way to carry on with family life smoothly.
Role shifts of family members and giving space to each other
We are all individuals and we have a role to play in the family. A mother can be a mother-in-law, a daughter can be a daughter-in-law, a father can be a father-in-law and so on. We should always respect the each of the role shifts. There is need of privacy when there is a role shift. So is space and freedom. The mother should give freedom to the son and daughter-in-law. The young couple needs to be together in the initial stage of married life. It is the crucial stage they should develop intimacy. It's important to give space to the newly-weds. Sometimes the mothers complain that the she is being neglected ever since the her son got married.
When some one complains of being neglected it happen due to anxiety in a person. Sometimes the daughters-in-law would complain that they are avoided and not included in general conversation of the family. We should know the new woman has been given role and that she should be in the know of any development in the family The mother too should be invited to the join the cheerful moments the couple enjoy after a couple of years of their marriage. She could be a widow or may not be having any other entertainments. Similarly the father in-law can be taken to a park to a function. There should be a sharing of joys in this manner so that no one ever feels neglected.
(Maya Susan Jacob is counselling psychologist with Girideepam Group of Institutions)