Hello Professor Nadine,
I am a 48-year-old man, married for 22 years, father of two teenaged daughters. Ours was an arranged marriage. Despite that, my mother started having problems soon after. It’s not only my wife my mother dislikes, but also, my brother’s wife. My mother is a very gullible person and is easily influenced by what my sisters say. My sisters don’t like many people, including their bhabis. In short, they behaved horribly with my wife and my sister-in-law and insulted them in front of everyone, so we had to separate. When we lived in the same house with them, we had no peace of mind. Now that our kids are older, my mother and sisters still interfere in our lives. When I got angry once, my mother fainted and my sisters blamed me for it. Now, my sisters want me to marry my daughters to their worthless sons because I don’t have a son; and I have already put my property in my daughters’ and wife’s names. My sisters were furious when they found this out. They said according to religion, I had no right to do so, but it’s done.
I should mention here that my parents did not have a good married life because of my mother’s attitude problem. However, for the sake of his children my father made the marriage work by taking refuge in silence. Commendable, it may have been, but his way of appeasing my mother was wrong; he let her do what she wanted. Of course, my mom became very stubborn and wilful. As a result, we are now suffering. My mother is now pressuring me to say yes to the proposals. I don’t want anything bad to happen to my mother, but I just can’t say yes. How can I refuse without making my mother ill? If my mother has a heart attack, which my sisters assure me would happen, I would be blamed. If I say yes, my daughters’ life would become living hell. What should I do?
Dear Desperate Father,
Your mother and sisters have been getting away with a lot of bad stuff just because the men in the family did not stand up to them. Fainting spells are a favourite ruse of some women, and they employ it when they want their husband or children to fall in line. People don’t have heart attacks merely if their grand daughters are not given in marriage to their grandsons. Your duty is to do the best you can for your daughters, and it’s their interest you must watch out for. Speak to your mother in the absence of your sisters and tell her why you don’t want to accept the proposals of your nephews. If she tells you that all boys become fine after marriage, simply inform her that you don’t want to take the risk. You have to be firm for the sake of your daughters. And, even if your mother faints, don’t panic. Take her to a good doctor immediately and let the doctors run scans. Good luck!
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