Relating with Hostile In-Laws

I got a message in response to last week’s post on the Psychology of In-Law Relations from a lady who wanted to know the best way to deal with outrightly wicked in-laws. In her words, she mentioned those who are witches (lol) and those who though are of marriageable ages and are not married, thereby visiting their frustrations on their sisters-in-law.

Even though I had a hearty laugh reading the words ‘wicked in-laws that are witches’ I guessed the choice of words must have been as a result of the bitter experience she must have had.

In marriage generally and in in-law relations in particular, unpalatable situations that bring out the worst out of people do occur and reactions that can be adjudged extreme or wicked can be elicited.

I will like us to therefore note the following:

  1. In-laws are not wicked, troublesome or nasty. Rather, human beings have the capacity to be so. The reason they act wickedly or are nasty is not because they are in-laws, it is because that is who they are. This understanding frees you from taking their actions or words personal. The nastiness is targeted at you because you are either the one within close proximity or they reckon they can get away with it when it is targeted at you. Some people are not nice because they cannot give what they do not have.
  2. It is your responsibility to meet and study your prospective in laws before marriage. We foolishly overlook many warning signals. When a guy keeps trying to keep you from meeting or relating with his family members, then there is danger around the corner. You owe it to yourself to sniff around and get information. Our parents used to engage in investigative journalism where prospective in laws of their children are concerned. It is a practice we must resurrect and take to sophisticated heights.
    Information of their tendencies or nastiness puts you on guard and makes a honest conversation with your fiancé possible. Should you decide to carry on with the relationship, it will be because you have both agreed on ways to keep their possible overbearing influence on your marriage at bay and concrete steps taken to ensure compliance. Not having this conversation makes the woman vulnerable especially where the man conveniently plays the ostrich when these evil manifestations come up.
  3. Daughters and sisters in law are advised to climb down from their high horses to understand their in-laws. Who are they? What have they been through? What are they reacting to? What are their expectations of you and are you able to meet up?
    If for instance they are cultural in their approach to issues and you are not, there will be sparks especially if they believe they should have a say in your affairs and your husband has not indicated otherwise. Your contrary reactions will be seen as an affront and they will do all they can to cut you to size.
  4. If before marriage you allowed them walk all over you in a bid to present yourself as the perfect ‘wife material’, then your attempts at asserting yourself after marriage will kickstart the Third World War, right within your marriage and you know, all is fair in war, witchcraft inclusive…lol
  5. If your husband was the dutiful provider before he married you and was never able to say no to all of his family’s demands wether reasonable or unreasonable, any appearance of a decline in the quality or timeliness of support given will be automatically traced to you, the only new factor in their circumstances. A local adage says that anything that affects your source of livelihood is actually a threat to your life. Your guess is as good as mine as to why all sorts of meanness and nastiness is deployed against the innocent daughter or sister in law.
  6.  If your in-laws are less financially endowed or socially exposed and you have your nose up in the air, rubbing your parent’s affluence in their faces or dealing with them as if they are inferior beings, you can be sure that all their fangs will be out and they will strive to teach you some lessons in humility.

There are other reasons why in laws may be at logger heads and the above are just a few. My next post will address in practical terms how these issues can be handled in such a way that there will be a measure of civility and eventually cordiality.

Please watch out for the next post and feel free to share your experience.

Let’s walk it together.

Bisi Adebayo
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Bisi Adebayo

I am Bisi Adebayo, a dynamic woman of many parts. I am a lawyer with over 27 years’ work experience spanning maritime practice, commercial law and general practice. I have had a decade long foray into the Financial Services Industry and at various times oversaw the legal, marketing, credit and treasury (assets trading and intermediation) functions of the organization I worked for, a testament to my versatility.

3 thoughts on “Relating with Hostile In-Laws

  • March 27, 2018 at 12:36 am

    I think it is helpful to approach in-law relationships with an open and unbiased mind. Too often these days, in-laws are portrayed as negative baggage and a young bride may subconsciously go into the marriage with a biased opinion even before the in-laws have had the “opportunity” to bring out their fangs. Women especially must recognise that there is a natural conflict of interest situation which needs to be managed carefully. In the lives of most men, the mother had been the most significant woman in his life for about 3 decades and suddenly, out of nowhere, she loses that position to “one young girl who did not suffer for this guy” like she did. Surrendering that position does not come naturally to most women. It is a road that is awkward and fraught with mistakes. Here is when the new bride needs to cut them some slack after all she is usually the one who is in a position of ascension. Mothers-in-law are not intrinsically bad people. After all, that mother-in-law in one relationship is often a wife herself in another relationship.

    • March 27, 2018 at 1:01 am

      Spot on! I agree with you that :
      *In laws get treated like the dog that is given a bad name so as to be hung, treated and viewed with suspicion from day one. This is however due to the many stories heard and experience garnered through observation. It has became an age old conflict
      Careful management is indeed key.
      We the ladies are the only ones who can change this culture of suspicion and hostility, reason being that the persecuted daughter in law is most likely a sister in law to some lady who is somewhere being persecuted too and will one day become the almighty mother in law herself.

  • March 27, 2018 at 5:40 am

    I think the issue of hostile in law’s are overated, ladies these days even before getting married already have a biased mind concerning the matter. My opinion is to have an open mind towards your in law, understanding what drives them is very important, a trait that most people ignored.
    My father advice me against marrying my hubby then fiance because he heard that his mum is WICKED in his word, I did not pay heed because as a rule I don’t deal with people based on hearsay but my own findings, I later realise after many years the heartbreaking experience my mother in law went through with her husband and in-law. It was a case of betrayal, hope dash, adultery, abandonment and total hostility that made her so bitter and incapable of forgiving, when I realise this, it became easier for me to overlook her fault not without the help of God for flooding my heart with love for her.
    My advice to young and intending brides to be, think of your in-laws as your family and give them the respect you will give your own, do unto others as you will want done to you should be your mantra, don’t forget that you are in law in the making to someone in future, the law of karma is very real and potent.


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