My Mother-In-Law Often Sleeps In My House, Help Me

Dear Kim

My name is Harrison. I am married to a beautiful and kind lady from a different community. Kindly allow me not to say which communities we come from. I met my wife at University of Nairobi where we were both students. She is sweet and loving in every regard. She works at a real estate firm while I work at a Supermarket as an accountant – a job I got through her mother’s connection.

We have lived for one year as husband and wife and all has been well. My wife just delivered last month – and the baby is doing just fine. My wife too is doing okay – and is already regaining her strength and shape.

My worry, however, and which has brought a lot of arguments between us, is her mother; my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law has the tendency of coming to our house, sometimes unannounced – and sleeping over. I come from a community where this is not culturally right. It is against our culture for a man to sleep facing the same roof with his mother-in-law and her daughter (my wife).

My mother-in-law has slept in our house a number of times – but I have always kept this a secret. If my kith and kin get to hear of this… I fear it would not augur well with me. They can even place a curse on me. I have tried to reason with my wife to ask her mother to stop coming for a sleepovers, but she doesn’t seem to understand. I understand it’s not their fault – it’s that culture thing. In fact – anytime I raise the issue – my wife always reminds me about the countless number of times she has hosted my mother in our house. I get her point – but then this is our culture.

Something else. The last time my mother-in-law visited, she strayed into our bedroom to pick our young child from our bed. She touched the bed – where her daughter and I do a lot of things when it is dark. This too is a taboo in my culture. What should I do?


Dear Harrison

Thank you for being open.

Yours is a very difficult situation, but one which can be resolved through proper communication. Truth is that love should never be confined by the thin walls of race, color, tribe or education. It is perfectly okay to marry someone from a different community or society, provided you are compatible – and love each other. I suggest you take time to discuss the matter.

If possible, invite elders from both sides and share your challenges. It is normal for cultures to clash because they are diverse by nature – but a middle ground can be reached if we discuss openly – and without fighting. Most importantly, remember that these are our mothers and all they want is love and care.

As the man of the house – talk to your wife and reach an understanding. Let her know how you feel. You can also ask her to politely talk to her mother about some of these things – like storming into your bedroom lest she finds you naked or having sex with you wife. Some of these things are not cultural, but rather self etiquette.