My husband was living with his mother before we got married. Where to live after marriage became a hot topic while we were dating. I told him point-blank that I was not going to move in to live with him in the same house where his mother lived. He said, “Don’t worry about that, we’ll find a new place and live after marriage. When the wedding date was getting closer, I brought up the topic again; “When are we going to start looking for a place to rent?” He said, “Martha, why don’t you reconsider? There’s a huge space in our house. Why do we have to move out and pay for accommodation when there’s some free space here?”
I told him, “If you continue living with your mom after marriage, I’m scared she’s going to continue to treat you as his son. We need our own space. Even if it’s small, we get to manage it until we get our own.” He’ll understand me today but days later when we talk about it again, he’ll behave as though he didn’t understand what we discussed the previous time. It only meant one thing—after talking to him, he goes and discusses it with his mom too. It’s always about what his mom said or didn’t say.
Finally, he agreed that we’ll move out. We started looking for a place but didn’t get one before we got married. After marriage, it got harder to convince him to move. I told him I was not moving in with him and his mom until we got a place. One morning his mother called me. She spoke to me for a while, convincing me to move in; “You both are married and have to live together. If you live apart, people might think I’m the one preventing you to come live here. Just come. When you get a place, you can move out.” So I moved in with them. Six months later, my husband had stopped talking about us moving out. Whenever I did bring the topic, he asked if I’d gotten a place. I got many good locations but he rejected them all, using flimsy excuses such as the floor is terrazzo. I want tiles.
Two years later we got a place we agreed on. Moving into our new place also became a problem. Whenever we decided to move, the mother would either fall sick or complain about something that would hold us back. My husband was always listening to her and disregarding my views. When it came to what to eat, his mother decided it. It was his mother who went to the market and bought the foodstuff. She’ll cook and serve her son. When I washed, she would go and pick them up, fold them and wait for her son to come for them. She was virtually doing everything, reducing me to a spectator in my own marriage. We rented a new place but waited for almost a year before we moved in.
The day we moved out, my heart couldn’t stop singing praises to God. At long last, I could own my marriage and make decisions with my husband without any external interference. The mother wasn’t happy about the decision to move out. She blamed me and said we were making a huge mistake. Later she said I was draining her son financially. She didn’t say it to my face. She told her son and somehow he told me about it.
I got pregnant and delivered. When I came home from the hospital, his mother was already in our house. She welcomed me and said, “You need experience hands that’s why I’m here.” I was wondering why my husband didn’t discuss with me before the coming of his mother but I said nothing. For the sake of peace.
I and my husband agreed to name our daughter Shantel. He brought the name and I agreed. His mother said, “Let’s call her Comfort.” I laughed and said, “We decided to call her Shantel.” She asked, “Shan..what?” I looked at my husband, expecting him to add his voice. He only sat there as though he had no interest in whatever we were talking about. I thought the matter had been settled. During the naming ceremony when the pastor asked the name of our daughter, my husband said, “She’s Comfort.” I said “Huh?”
I got deflated. I planned to fight him and I guess he sensed it so when we got home, he got stuck to his mother, barely leaving her side. In the night when we were about to sleep, I started ranting. “How could you do that? How do you decide things with your mother without telling me about it? Am I just a shadow in your life? If your mother is all the support you need, then why marry me?” He turned his back on me and slept as if I was some mad person screaming at the marketplace.
His mother came to live with us and continued calling off the shot. She was so comfortable deciding our lives because she knew her son would support her when push comes to shove. When our daughter was six months, I told my husband to ask his mom to leave us. He asked, “For who to do the work she has been doing?” I said, “We don’t need her to do all that. I’m your wife and that’s my work. If it becomes critical and we need someone to take care of the baby while we are away, I’ll bring my mom in.”
Guess what my husband did…
The next day, he walked to his mom and said, “Martha said you can go now so she brings her mother to continue the work.” Her mother was so livid. She called me and asked so many questions I didn’t have answers to. She said, “The fact that you married my son doesn’t mean you’ve bought him from me. If you want your mother to be here, bring her. We’ll live together.”
She continued living in the house, setting aside the decisions I’ve made with my husband and calling off the shots when she wanted to. The way she did it and laughed over it, I realized she did things just to mock me. One night before sleep, I told my husband, “Your mother. I don’t want her to get the impression that I don’t like her. I do. I love her equally as I love my mother but can she leave us? She has a big place so why doesn’t she want to go away?” He responded with anger in his voice; “You can’t make me a messenger when it comes to my mom. If you have anything to tell her, she’s in her room, go and tell her.”
I knew I’d lost. I knew if I keep pressing, I would lose my husband’s interest totally so I stopped right there, refusing to complain but bearing it all. One day I broke down. I called my mom and told her everything. She said, “Come home if you ought to. You also have a mother who will side with you.” I was tempted to leave for a while. I was tempted to go and not come back until the mother leaves. I started going home every weekend after work and returning on Monday morning to go to work. It was hard going back home each time but I had to.
His mother no longer lives with us but wherever she is, she’s able to influence our decisions and set aside what we believed can lead us to progress. She comes around often. She comes and goes whenever she wants. I’m no longer fighting her. I’m used to her tricks now so I’m no longer affected. One day, I believe, she’ll get tired and rest. Nothing is forever.