Monster-in-law or angel-in-law?

Sahar Moussa

It’s been a year now since I got married – and the comments that I hear the most are: You got married? Congratulations! So when is the good news? Anything on the way (with a suspicious smile)? When are you planning to have a baby? It’s better to have babies quickly! These are half of the comments and pieces of advice I have heard since I got married regarding pregnancy and expecting.

The ‘babies topic’ opens with the closest member of your family – your mother. She will call and speak with you differently (now that you are married), eagerly wanting to pass her 20 years of marriage experience to you all at once. She tries to put ideas in your head that getting pregnant as soon as you tie the knot is a guaranteed way to keep your husband attached to you.  In her opinion, (along with some of your girlfriends ), the only way you can be sure that your husband will not cheat and leave you is by bringing a dozen children to tie him down!

Then the pressure accelerates with every married woman’s nightmare – the parents-in-law; or to be more specific – the mother-in-law. According to some mothers-in-law, a wife is useless (even if her husband loves her) until she gets pregnant and delivers a child (preferably a boy) to carry the family’s name, as if a woman is not complete until she delivers a child. Because newlywed women desperately want to please their mothers-in-law, they buckle under the pressure to get pregnant very fast.

Arabs in general have adopted this kind of mentality since forever, but it is also not so different in other cultures as well. In Kuwait, the majority of mothers have a lot of influence and power over their children’s married lives. So either she will get the monster-in-law-award or angel-in-law award. I think I’m one of the ‘lucky ones’ and my mother-in-law is really an angel , but even this doesn’t  prevent her from  popping the famous question every time she sees me with my husband: “So any good news yet? ”

During the first two months of marriage, I developed a new smile which I named ‘the cold smile’ every time his parents told me, “We want to see your babies before we die”. This issue started to bother me so much because it extended to my friends at the gym, my colleagues at the office and everyone around me who knows I’m a newlywed. As if the only purpose of a woman when she gets married is to have children as quickly as possible! I do understand that some women were brought up to think this way, and their only purpose in life is to get married, have children and become housewives.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not judging these types of women and I do respect their decision if this was their dream or ambition. But there are other women (like me) who think that there is nothing wrong with women who choose not to get married or don’t want to have children, or if they take their time to get married, either because they are not ready or because they haven’t found the right person yet!

I got married really late – it took me forever to take this decision. And God knows I was pressured by society, family and people around me. But that didn’t stop me to take all the time that I needed to take this big step and I don’t regret it one bit – and the decision of bringing a baby will not be so different. The idea of getting pregnant as soon as you get married really creeps me out. I really don’t understand why you want to bring a baby into this world in the very first year of marriage?!

In my opinion, the person you are married to is technically a stranger to you as you are a stranger to him. Even if you know each other for years, it is never like living together. You need at least a year to know each other’s habits, routines, likes and dislikes. Even if you love the person you married, it will take time to adjust and tolerate each other’s tempers and lifestyles.

I do understand that every mother’s dream is to see her grandchildren, but I think it is totally a personal and private subject when it comes to making babies – me and my husband will try whenever we are ready, and not because society forces us to.  Nowadays you really need to calculate each and every step before doing it, because bringing a baby to this world is a big responsibility. You have to make sure that you are financially, emotionally and physically ready before bringing a fragile human being to this world.

You have to think of their school fees, clothes, food and providing a healthy environment.  Last but not least , it really annoys me when I hear this famous proverb, “with every child that you bring, prosperity comes with it”. Well, it is not an offer – with every baby you will get a free gift!  After all, it’s a baby we are talking about, not a car!

By Sahar Moussa
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