BaeWatch: “My Mother-In-Law Gossips About Our Family With Her Friends”
When it comes to India, social distancing is a moo point (yes, it’s a joey reference). I had gone to get the jab and distance was not even remotely in my periphery. We stood in the line, all close to each other but I managed to keep some distance. And then the nurse called us upstairs and for a moment there, I felt the pandemic was over. Nobody bothered but thankfully, nobody coughed either. So if people cannot understand space and boundaries, even when their life is at stake, I don’t think otherwise they’d give two hoots about it. In fact, I feel it comes naturally to them. So whether your mother-in-law gossips or asks you too many personal questions, she isn’t trying to invade your space. She just doesn’t understand the need or the very concept of it.
I think, the older generation has been that way. They sometimes (okay, several times!) fail to understand boundaries. And we, as a generation, that thrives on space can get super annoyed. This is especially true when how much you want to reveal of yourself to the world is at stake. I mean, yeah, we put up pictures of what we had for lunch on social media. We talk about how sleep deprived we are today. But we don’t share how we fought with our husbands because he doesn’t do his part of household duties. Or how he couldn’t get it up the other night. Or how underpaid you are at work.
Privacy is a basic need and we defend it when we feel it’s being taken away. A woman wrote to us whose personal information is being shared with the world, by her mother in law. Team Hauterrfly decided to help her out!
My mother-in-law has the habit of oversharing with her friends and our relatives. She discusses everything – if she comes to know my husband and I fought, how much money I make, how I burned up dal khichdi last night, how we’ve been trying to conceive since a while and just everything. A lot of times, it feels like I am being bitched about. A lot of times, it feels our privacy is getting violated. In the end, it annoys the hell out of me. How do I make her understand it’s not okay to confide in so many people and that too about things that reveal too much about our family?
“Does she have boundary issues at home?”
Jinal Bhatt, Associate Editor: “Yikes, but also I think people who overshare have a multitude of underlying issues that cause them to do so. Is your MIL insecure about her place in her circle of friends and seeking validation? Does she have boundary issues at home? Or is she just someone who keeps it all in and doesn’t have any one person to talk to and therefore, the floodgates just open? Definitely approach with empathy to find out, but also tell her that even people she trusts are likely to spread this information to others or even flip them into nasty rumours which will come back to hurt your family. ‘Reputation’ is always a big deal for our parents’ generation, so it might just work!”
“Old habits die hard… you will have to be more discrete.”
Akanksha Narang, Features Head: “I know it can really annoying when you feel like your private matters are being shared with people. Also, when your shortcomings or errors are discussed with outsiders, you worry that her words may be putting you in bad light. However, anger is not going to solve your concerns. Approach it with compassion instead. Does she feel she has no one to talk to at home? Is it a practice in her circle to share intimate details? Maybe she is trying to fit in! She doesn’t feel her sharing of information is causing any damage. Ask your husband to talk to her about the kind of information she can share and the kind that must not be revealed. And it will be better if she believes that it will somehow have direct bad consequences for her – like it will impact her image if she makes you look bad. Or maybe, that if you start sharing similar things about her with your circle, will she like it?
Open up communication between you and your mother in law. If she knows she can discuss things with you, she may be able to control her urges to share it with outsiders. Having said that, old habits die hard and it’s highly likely that she won’t change her behaviour drastically. She will still have that tendency to gossip. This means, you will have to be more discrete about some things that you absolutely don’t want becoming talk of the town!”
“I would start by talking to my husband about this”
Mitali Shah, Lifestyle Writer: “I have never been married, but I have always perceived mothers-in-law to be like this. Of course, it is annoying to have your laundry aired in public like that but just remember that getting angry or frustrated isn’t going to solve anything. If I were you, I would start by talking to my husband about this and then telling my MIL to not discuss everything with everyone. She might feel bad or she might get defensive and that’s when your husband needs to play good cop. I am sure she means well but she just has no filters. And though it might feel that way, she isn’t bitching about you she’s just an oversharer. Don’t worry, it’s nothing a little communication and good faith can’t solve.”
“That affects the family negatively”
Sama Meerza, Social Media Executive: “Well, this can be quite problematic. I’ve heard of many people unintentionally being incredibly gossip-y and your mother in law is one of them. It’s highly inappropriate that she tells her social circle about each and everything that happens in the house, especially things that should be kept private. Of course, that affects the family negatively because you become the talk of the town and not in a good manner. I think, you have to speak to your husband first. Tell him how wrong this is even though he should have seen it already. Tell him to explain it to her that you are all a family, and anything that makes one of you look bad, makes the family look bad. I mean, it’s not true but she will understand better that way. Not everything is supposed to be told to everyone. If that’s not an option then just play hide and seek. You’ve to be discreet and as private as possible. I’d ask to switch homes but not everyone can do that. I feel sorry for you and I hope this stops.”
“Be nice about it and who knows she might understand where you come from”
Chingsanghoih Guite, Graphic Designer: “I think your mother in law just has this in her nature to look after the kids (even if they are adults now) and since her friends might be sharing their stories about their families your mother-in-law could have been doing this without the intention of hurting you or trying to invade your privacy. She simply must have done it out of concern, trying to get feedback and solutions to your problems. But I can also see how that could seem overbearing. Try talking to your husband about it and finding out what he thinks about it. Especially since she’s his mother and might understand her actions better. Also, you could go talk to her yourself and let her know that you want to keep certain things private, mostly things between you and your husband. Be nice about it and who knows she might understand where you come from.”
Baewatch is Hauterfly’s weekly service to women everywhere. We are giving no-holds-barred, funny, interesting answers to your relationship problems. We’re not experts so you may end up married or broken up. It could go either way. *shrugs*