While discussing the focus of this website with a friend, he shared his thoughts on in-law challenges. This is what he had to say:
“Mothers, especially in South Asian cultures, often lack sexual intimacy, closeness, and deep companionship with their spouses. Though they would dispute it in conversation, this is in part due to the nature of arranged marriages and the semi-archaic purpose of marriage within these cultures. Indians regularly defend arranged marriage by claiming that they ‘learn to love,’ yet this form of acquired closeness is usually very different from the modern, Western notion of married love. As a result, psychologists claim, mothers form distorted relationships with their sons. When their sons get married, a variety of conflicts arise.”
Some South Asian mothers that I have observed become excessively attached to their sons, oftentimes expecting their sons to fulfill their emotional needs that normally a spouse would fulfill. In these types of relationships, the mothers naturally crave intimacy and because they don’t receive it from their spouses, they try make their sons their “substitute husbands.” Westerners would usually view these relationships as “dysfunctional” or “overly dependent,” however many South Asians may view this as normal. When a new daughter-in-law comes in the picture, she may be the first to point out to the son (her husband) that he has an unusual relationship with his mom. Because a son’s role changes once he gets married, the mother naturally has a hard time adjusting to the changes. This can cause further tension in the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship.
What do you readers think? Have you seen this occur? Where do you draw the line?