Your In-laws Are Not Your Friends



Before I got married, my mantra was “Your in-laws are not your friends.” As mantras go, I repeated this often to myself and my friends, and believed it with all my heart. Each time one of my friends got into trouble with their in-laws or prospective in-laws, they were sure to come wailing to me with ‘my stone’ (in our local language you tell someone “take your stone” when you want to say they were so right.) If only I had a stone for each time this happened; I would have built a house by now (okay, I exaggerate. But just a little!).

Then I got married! And God, being the gracious God He is, did not allow me to eat the fruit of my lips but gave me the most amazing in-laws possible, especially by way of a mother-in-law; the relationship I dreaded most. Let’s face it, most women think their mothers-in-law have it in for them, and if we will be honest we have it in for them too. I have had a friend tell me that “Fortunately my mother-in-law is dead.” Yes, it is that bad. So after God gave me this precious gift; who sometimes I consider a reward for all the ‘wahala’ my husband gives me sometimes I found myself wondering why I had believed my mantra with all my heart. My mother had had an okay relationship with my paternal grandmother as far as I could remember and, to the best of my knowledge, no one close to me had horrible in-laws so why, why had I believed they were ‘monsters-in-law’ with all my heart?


Maybe it was all the Nigerian and Ghanaian movies I had watched, or maybe society had conditioned me to think or expect that, or maybe I was just incredibly lucky. You see my mother-in-law breaks all stereotypes. Her son is her only son, and yet most days he feels like the two of us always gang up against him. The expectation when a woman has just one son, who also happens to be her first born, is that he will be a proper mama’s boy and woe betide the woman who is unfortunate or foolish enough to marry him. Not the case here. Almost always, the accusation is, “You supported my wife against me” or “You supported my mother against me”. Tough luck, honey! I know there are incredibly horrid in-laws out there, and my view on those is that incredibly horrid in-laws are a result of incredibly horrid human beings. I don’t think in-laws are bad people per se, but rather that there is a direct correlation between a person’s character generally and the kind of in-law they are. If you are not a nice human being you cannot be a nice in-law.


My mother in-law is an incredibly nice human being, as are my other in-laws. When my husband does something that pierces my heart like a sliver and venting to God doesn’t cut it, it’s not my own  mother I call oh, I call my mother-in-law. My reasons for this are simple. One, there’s absolutely nobody in this world who will protect my husband’s reputation more than his mother. I can trust that whatever I tell her will not be repeated to anyone else or even the beau himself – save when she has my permission to blast him on my behalf. Two, she won’t think less of him or love him any less – a risk I stand if I tell my mother. Three, she will pray and pray and pray – because every mother wants the best for her son. When we have disagreements she almost always takes my side – she is a woman after all. And when she doesn’t, she explains why this time she thinks I’m in the wrong without being judgmental. In this my TTC journey, I do not know what I would have done without her support. There have been days that the only thing that pulls me out of my black hole is her prayer and her understanding.

I do not mean for this to be a tribute to my mother-in-law. Well maybe a little. My point though is that I have eaten humble pie. “Your in-laws are not your enemies” is my mantra now. And just maybe, if given the chance, they may even become your friends. Look at it this way, they love your spouse as much as you do and want the best for him/her; even if that best is you.


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  1. My mother in law is like this too, infact other than the fact that she’s isn’t my biological mum, that is where the difference ends.

  2. My husband grew up in a large polygamist family. Bear in mind that I am Black American so this type of family is extremely rare and almost unheard of in the US (unless you’re Mormon). On most days, I’m trying not to rock the boat with all his other mums. My greatest accomplishment was pulling off successful weddings without ruffling feathers. By his grace. But his own Mum is as real as they come and I love her dearly.

  3. Wow. Such a good read. Yh…..there are so many good ones out there. But the bad ones quite scare the rest of us of even getting married. One of my sister’s mother-in-law was so bad that everytime she visits, my sis loses weight.
    But my other sister’s mother-in-law treats her as her own daughter. So it’s true that ut depends on the character of the person


  5. I had a wonderful mother- in -law though she is late now. She was the best of them all and I loved her so much. She was indeed a real biological mother to me. But that’s as far as it goes. My other in-laws are something else. God help me.

  6. My fellow ganyobi @amerley hmmmm the number of times I have collected my stone for this same mantra. Hmmm, then I met my mil and well, I could have written this post myself. To God be the glory.

  7. My MIL is very kind, she helped me when I had my son and my mother couldn’t stay on for long because of her work. I did enjoy our long conversations, mostly about my husband. But the truth is I don’t want to be close with her. I don’t understand why.

  8. I always had this impression of keeping your inlaws at distance as they are not your friend, well I couldnt be more wrong! my mother inlaw is a blessing and I thank God for her life. Just like the poster said I tell her things I dont tell my own mother concerning my husband and she is sure a prayer warrior. Need I say she always have my back! My husband sometimes complain we are too close for comfort and thinks he needs to watch his back when we are together. she also have her own shortcomings but then we are all human, if she wrongs me she apologises and vice versa. My hubbys sisblings too are amazing, they are amazing and I treat them just like mine. My husband and I decided to wait a few years before we start having kids and she is not putting pressure on us at all, instead she prays that whenever we are ready we wont have any issues conceiving. My mum on the other hand is not taking the news lightly at all.

  9. Have the best ever mother-in-law that always fight her son for my well being. In fact the truth is that she is a good woman towards everybody. It is very unfortunate that she had very bad in law,who eventually destroy her marriage.

  10. My mother in law is exceptionally exceptional and seeing as i already have a super awesome biological mum i feel triply blessed. If my B.M can go a mile for me,my MIL will be ready to do ten….
    Infact my inlaws are all amazing people,simple,kind and very supportive and am sure God gave them to me to make up for all the wacky folks i met in the name of ex fiancee relatives. I really agree that bad inlaws stem from bad people or at least selfish people who care nothing about how their actions hurt or affect others ordinarily. Also some people just hate your guts or dislike you for no reason and when that happens you just cant please that which kinda brings out the worst in them when they relate with you…



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