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Tired of my wife’s and in-laws’ boasting


Barbados Nation

Tired of my wife’s and in-laws’ boasting

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LISTENING TO OLDER PEOPLE and observing them have always provided lessons. You can learn so many things and often try not to repeat their errors. Sometimes it is not so easy, and you understand and appreciate why so many compromises are made in life, once you wear the shoe. My experience is a case in point.

I have been married for over 20 years and do have a very happy married life. My wife is the dream of my life as she has been accommodating, easy to get along with, loving and sincere. Her outstanding qualities are what any man would desire in a partner. Of course, she can be fretful at times and even jealous. But her fine attributes far outnumber any faults. And she does have some negatives. There is one in particular which after all these years I still have not had the heart or the strength to deal with.

My wife is always right. Even when she is clearly wrong she will not acknowledge her mistake. Any indication that her relatives are wrong must come from her. But, like her, the only other person who is never wrong is her mother. Yet I know that her mother has made a few stupid blunders which I would like my wife to acknowledge.

One that bothers me tends to surface at the time of Common Entrance Exam results. My mother-in-law is exceedingly proud that all her children and her grandchildren have gone to older secondary schools. They are brighter than the rest from her district. She boasts of the wisdom and ability the surname carries.  Her boasts, however well intentioned, have rubbed many people the wrong way.

The anger of many neighbours and even close friends and acquaintances of my mother-in-law became very apparent when I was outside of a supermarket a few years ago. One of her neighbours asked how a granddaughter of my mother in-law had done. The results were back that day. It so happened that I knew how the little girl had done. Yes, she was going to an older secondary school. I announced the results. The woman said, “Of course, she is a [surname].” When I asked what that meant, she replied, “Well, all the brains with that family.”

I tried to explain that the children were simply hard workers who were given that extra push by their parents and indeed helped tremendously at school. She would have none of my explanation. My in-law was nothing more than a boastful individual and she ought to be careful. Indeed, the woman turned from being curious to downright angry and even nasty. She proceeded to tell me about a host of negatives about my in-laws.

When my wife came out of the supermarket, I told my wife about the exchange, to which she said, “That woman is dangerous.” My wife never spoke to her since then, describing her as an envious neighbour whose own children were lacking in a number of ways.

As fate would have it about three months on I was collecting my mother-in-law and my wife from church and while there a lady who knows them well told me I should speak to my wife’s mum about her joy of her children’s and their children’s successes. She felt that it was not necessary to boast and gloat. Success in education is important, but it isn’t all to life. Her words rang true. A few subsequent incidents show that you must always be humble in life.

Two of my sisters-in-law have had very bitter divorces with all the dirty linen being washed in public. One of them even decided to migrate to another country before it was totally settled.

In the kind of Christian household my mother-in-law leads these developments were shocking. Then two granddaughters got pregnant out of wedlock, which was also shame and scandal. To cap it all off, a grandson announced that he did not want to return to Barbados to live upon completion of his studies in North America. He did indicate that he would come home for Christmas that year for a brief holiday – four days.

Rather than staying with his parents he opted to stay with a cousin who had also studied overseas and returned to Barbados with the intention of leaving again. He turned up with a young fellow whom he described as a friend. On Christmas Eve one of my children told me that he was not just a friend but his “partner”. I said nothing. After service that Christmas Eve my wife said nothing. I know her well: she had been told.

That Christmas Day my wife delayed her visit to her mother. I had to wait in silence.

My wife said nothing. My mother-in-law said nothing. The two youngsters who were the focus of attention ate, drank, laughed and were unconcerned about anyone.

My wife has since that said nothing about her nephew – ditto my mother-in-law. Of course, whatever the outcome they are still right.

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