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August 7, 2018
By you desk

I am a 35-year-old married man, and I have three children. My wife and I were in the same department....

Dear Professor,

I am a 35-year-old married man, and I have three children. My wife and I were in the same department of our university, but in different years. To cut a long story short, we fell in love, and despite my mother’s opposition managed to get married. My wife, S, is a gem of a person; she is a dutiful daughter-in-law to my parents and has never had a problem welcoming my married sisters and their families. She is a great mom and as a wife, I think she is fabulous. Despite all her qualities, my mother has not forgiven her for what she calls ‘ensnaring’ me. I am ashamed to admit that my mother treats her very badly and even in front of guests and other family members, she often speaks to my wife in a harsh, taunting manner. My wife never answered her back all these years, but few days back, at our youngest son’s birthday party, she snapped at my mother when she overheard her speaking to our neighbour. She was, as usual, talking in her usual derogatory manner about my wife, but this time she went further and called her ‘a woman of loose character’. My wife confronted my mother in front of the neighbours and asked her to take her words back. Instead of becoming embarrassed, my mother started calling my wife names and my wife gave it right back and called her a dragon.

After the guests left, my mother told me to divorce my wife for insulting her, and my wife demanded a separate house after 13 years of our marriage. I tried to calm her down, but she said she would not live with my mother. My sisters agreed that my mother shouldn’t have spoken ill of my wife to the neighbours, but they say that my wife, being younger, should have stayed quiet, because as a daughter-in-law it was her duty to show respect to my mom. They are adamant that my wife should apologise to my mother in front of all those who were present, or I should leave her. They say that I can get another wife, but won’t be able to get another mother. I love my mom but I also love my wife. I just don’t know how to resolve this issue. My wife has gone to stay with her parents, and my sister says that I should not bring her back unless she says sorry to my mother. My wife, who has always been so docile, is not budging. I asked her to say sorry, as my mother is a lot older than her, but she said she would only apologise if my mother takes her words back. What can I do to make things right?

Perplexed Husband

Dear Perplexed Husband,

Of course your mother is older than S, but she had no right to malign your wife’s character. It’s very unfair and cruel of your mother and sisters to ask you to leave the woman you love; especially since the culprit is your mother. S has always been a ‘dutiful’ daughter-in-law to your parents, and a loving wife and mother. You should have taken a stand for your wife instead of asking her to apologise to your mother. How can you punish S for your mother’s fault? Your sisters’ assertion that your wife is replaceable is simply deplorable. You love her and she is your children’s mother and you should protect her rights. She is justified in demanding a separate house and since your mother hates her so much, it is your best option to keep them apart. Find accommodation for S near your parents’ house, but not too close to them. In this way, you will be able to look after your parents also, and your wife will have some peace of mind. I think she has earned it, and had you been man enough to support her from the beginning, your mother would never have dared to go so far in her bid to insult S. So, don’t listen to your mother and sisters and save your home from breaking by doing the right thing. Best of luck!

Problems that need a solution? You can e-mail Prof. Nadine Khan at nadinekhan_34@yahoo.com

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