Are Some Indian Mothers-in-Law Causing Divorces, Especially In Arranged Marriages?

Ironically, these women cannot breathe a sigh of relief until their son is married. And yet, the moment he is married, they spend their entire time and energy instigating the son against his wife.

Alright. Even before I start writing this article, I know there will be a dispute just by reading the title. #NotAllMILs! No third person can break a marriage – only the two people involved

As much as I would like to believe the above, I don’t think it is true. Unfortunately, in the Indian set-up where the in-laws start living with the son and daughter-in-law, yes they are very much capable of breaking the marriage.

A lot of women who have been divorced would vouch for this: The marriage was destroyed because of the direct words and actions of the MIL. 

Following are some of the many hats the MIL dons!

The (fiction) storyteller

The Hindi TV serials are not that dramatic after all. The MIL skilfully distorts any conversation between her and the DIL, and waits for alone time with her son to falsely represent the events of the day.

Twist any story as long as the end result is portraying the wife as the villain and the MIL as the victim.

The son thinks that his mother is a saint and religiously believes every word she utters. At times he is not even willing to listen to the wife’s version.

Supreme accredited institution for household skills

The MIL considers herself a self-proclaimed expert in everything from cooking and cleaning to raising kids. She will keep comparing how she managed her house beautifully versus what a miserable failure the DIL is.

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The MIL’s wrath will not spare a working DIL either, who is contributing to the finances of the household.

The working DIL will be given examples of other working women whose cleaning skills would put janitors to shame.

The MIL will also compare how much her poor son does compared to his father, who did zero “baby sitting” of his own child and how lucky the DIL is!

Lady, that is not a fair comparison! Do not compare the housework and parenting done by your son to what your husband did. That is not a fair comparison. How about comparing how much work your son does in comparison to his partner, your DIL?

Basher of the DIL’s parents

The MIL cannot see her son treating the DIL’s parents well.

She might expect her DIL to treat her like God but the son should not even be civil to his in-laws! She will keep telling the son that he is doing ‘too much’ for his in-laws. And that ‘no other’ man would do all this. She makes him believe that he is being ‘too nice’ for meeting the bare minimum qualification of a human being and that his in-laws are taking advantage of his ‘goodness’!

Often this MIL has deliberately kept her son only close to her side of the family. The son only talks about Mausis and Mamas and never about Buas and Chachis. Yet, the DIL should not even meet her parents and devote herself to this evil lady who would be happy to throw her out of her house and her son’s life!

Catalyst of the worst possible behavior of the son

The MIL has a magic wand. With the secret poison (oops potion!) that she feeds her son, she brings out the worst in him!

A wife cannot believe that this was the person she married, thanks to the dose that the MIL gives the husband. No matter what the husband does – whether it is doing the dishes, clearing the table, or boiling eggs she does a great job in convincing him that the wife has turned him into a joru ka ghulam!

The proportion of housework done by a man is inversely proportional to his manhood, according to MIL, the in-house genius! Now the ego of the husband is super fragile to begin with. And this woman who has raised this man knows exactly when and how to poke it!

Abusive son’s lifelong witness and supporter

The MIL also has another very important role.

In case the husband is abusive, and there would be situations where both families will do the post mortem of a fight, the MIL will compulsively lie about her son’s actions! She will project all the wrongdoings of her son on the DIL!

Abusive men do not become abusive all of a sudden. They have been abusive since they were kids. The MIL must have received so many complaints throughout the son’s school, college days. She is fully aware of the son’s temperament. And she is also good at hiding his flaws. She has years of experience in doing so! Yet after marriage, she deceives everybody into believing that the son has always been gentle and ‘how come so many conflicts are happening only with this new woman?’

The most effective birth control

This kind of MIL also does not like the thought of her son getting intimate with his wife. She is jealous and insecure because with so many years of experience, she knows that sex is the one thing that holds a marriage together.

The first attack is therefore made to the very basic foundation of marriage!

Speak to a lot of women, and you would know that once the MIL started living together with the couple, the husband always ended up sleeping in a separate room because of the fights caused by her.

Thank you, dear MIL. You are a walking birth control!!

But why this Kolaveri di?

The question is why! Why on earth would a woman want to destroy her son’s marriage? Why would she even arrange his marriage, find a woman who she chose, and then go ahead and spoil the relationship?

Patriarchy pits women against each other. Patriarchal women believe that the power lies with the men and that other women are a threat. The DIL unfortunately is just considered another woman, not anything close to a daughter.

The MIL at older age may feel that if a the son and the wife will get along well, the son would spend less and less time and money on her. She may end up alone, neglected and uncared for.

The MIL may have refused to take care of her own MIL and is afraid that karma might strike her. She may have been extremely controlling towards her husband, and is insecure that the DIL may end up being like her too. She knows what she is capable of! Why would she give the opportunity to her DIL to become her? She controlled her husband. Now she needs to control the next powerful male in the house – her son.

In a different scenario, if she was ill-treated by her husband, she may feel jealous that the DIL has it easy and is living a decent life. It’s payback time! She does everything in her power to make the DIL’s life difficult!

I remember an interview of the late Kamla Bhasin. She had said that patriarchy is not about gender, it is about power.  You would see the change in the demeanor of the most subdued woman the moment she becomes a mother-in-law because she has power over her son!

To the sons of such an MIL

If you have a mother who continuously creates stress in your married life and you are gullible enough to believe her, side with her and ruin your relationship with your wife then, congratulations! You will be the loser in this game called life! I feel sorry for you.

The one person who gave birth to you cares zero about your happiness. She forgets that in ruining your marriage due to pure hatred for your wife, she is also ruining your life. She is causing you pain. She is causing you stress. She is causing you high blood pressure. She is causing you heart disease. She is causing you to lose precious years of your life.

She doesn’t want to be alone at 60 or 70, and yet she wants YOU to be alone at 30 or 40! And she is able to do this, because you my dear friend are a fool! Wish you and your mother happily ever after! You deserve her!

Image source: gauravfkumar from pixabay Free for Canva

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About the Author


I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel that the concept of gender equality is still alien , and that has been the focus of my articles and posts. read more...

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