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I Grew Closer To My Mother-in-Law After I Divorced Her Son

04 Apr 2017

Her voice used to irritate me—it was nasal and halting. Every time she called I would want to hang up as soon as she said hello. I wasn't exactly her favourite person either, going by the stories Arun, my husband, told me. I knew his mother's life trajectory had been similar to mine and I kept thinking that would make her my ally, till I realized that was never going to happen.

After my son was born, I saw Arun had no intentions of changing as a person and I was sure I didn't want my child growing up around someone like that. I decided to divorce him and was happy that I would be getting rid of the whole family. I would never have to see them or talk to them again. So when my soon-to-be-ex mother-in-law landed up at my parents’ home, where I had shifted back, I was surprised to say the least. She said she'd come to meet her grandson, and I felt like I couldn't deny her.

As we sat down with tea, she said something that stunned me, "I'm glad you got out of this marriage Ratika, I'm glad you're building a better, healthier life for you and Kapil.”

She told me she knew and understood that it was her son's shortcomings that had led to our marriage's rapid decline. Coming from a mother, that's a big thing to admit about your own child. And then she said something that melted my heart and made me realize that I had in her the strong ally I had always hoped for. "I chose to stay, and that one decision ruined many lives. None of us could find happiness. You're leaving and I'm happy that you're not compromising like I did. I am so proud of you, and I hope we will build a new relationship."

From that day on we became friends. We'd talk to each other on the phone every week, with her asking me about every small detail of her grandson's life. Twice a month we would visit her, my son loving the biscuits, chaat and chowmein that Dadi fed him. She offered me unconditional love and support. She was also the only person who showed such interest in my child's life. If ever I was in doubt about my parenting abilities, I would call her and she would remind me of the terrific job I was doing. She was my cheerleader. It was hard to explain to my friends—who'd heard me complaining about her during my marriage—how things had turned around, and how much she meant to me today. From my ex mother-in-law, she became my son's grandmother. I would often wonder at the irony of the situation, about how as soon as her son was out of the equation, she and I had grown so much closer.

Now, six years after my divorce, we are thicker than ever. I marvel at her strength of character, her ability to take things in stride, to accept people for who they are. These days she's been hinting at remarriage for me, and I know if I ever do she'll be my biggest support.


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Tags: mother in law, bonding, closeness, marital issues, relationships