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How to successfully tame your hostile mother-in-law!

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DUNNI has been a sort of little brother for years now, and he freely comes to me any time he wants any advice. Not that much was happening in his life, not for a long time at least. An only child, he schooled in Britain and only came home when his mum had a mild stroke and could no longer run the family furniture business. His dad had passed on long before then and he confessed he couldn’t cope. “I’m not the businessman type”, he moaned “the first time he discussed the family business with me. ”I’ve noticed how firmly mum deals with the workers but I don’t really have the bottle. For a start, I know little or nothing about the staff, and for another I can’t really shout when things go wrong. I’m not the aggressive type”. I told him to keep his ears to the ground, look for one or two allies amongst the staff and tap their brain. It seemed to work for a while until one of the ‘allies’ started giving him the eye.

Handsome is hardly a word to described Dunni, but he is intelligent and kind. In his early thirties, he could count the number of girlfriends he’s had on the finger. His idea of a wild night was having a good meal at a decent restaurant and topping that up with choice wine. So when he started going out with Fareedah, his mum’s personal assistant, I was happy for him. When he brought her to the house however, my enthusiasm dipped. The girl was very pretty and extremely extroverted. She was considerably younger. What would she want with drab Dunni when she could have her pick of men? But then, I chided myself, she could have had her heart broken by a few Casanovas and wanted to give Mr. Nice Man a chance. Dunni admitted he was a bit wary of falling in love with her when we next met. “But she is very “caring, Auntie,” he said. “You know I didn’t have that much experience with dating women, but she’d since taken care of that. The shyness I usually felt when I was near women disappeared when I went out with her the first time and she kissed me, I could hardly contain myself. As a result, our first experience at lovemaking was almost disastrous; I had no confidence because it had been such a long time I was with a woman that it was over almost before it started. But she was patient with me and the next time was better. Now we have the sort of sex I’d only ever dreamt of … ” When I asked if he’d met any of her friends and family he told me her parents were dead. “I’ve met her friends and they are really nice,” he assured me. “If they thought it was odd her going out with me when she was so pretty and younger, they didn’t show it. Anyway, I’ve changed so much since I met her. She’s overhauled my wardrobe and made me buy a sexier car.

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“I might be shy and not good at socializing but she’s bringing the best out of me. Mum is my problem really. She thinks she could have her pick of men, so why would she want me if not for the family fortune? She resented the idea that I buy her expensive presents and wasn’t very happy when we both travelled out to Dubai. But I can afford all these things. The girl has given me much more happiness than I could ever hope for and mum needs to really look at me to see how happy I really am. Can you have a word with her, Aunty? Tell her to leave me alone and concentrate on getting better”. When I eventually had time to talk to Dunni’s mum, she told me she employed Fareedah because she was a go-getter. “She had ways of coaxing late payments from difficult customers. I didn’t ask questions as to how she did it so successfully, but your guess is as good as mine. Now she has her claws into my son. She knows how much the business is worth and she’s happy helping him spend the money. Just look at all the expensive things she now has! Even the smart car she talked Dunni into buying is driven by her most of the time as he hasn’t really gotten used to driving on Lagos roads. Sure, she’s brought out the best in my son and he’s besotted with her, but would he have so much patience with a pauper’s son?” I told her to leave them be and let time take its course. “Time is what I haven’t got,” she snapped. “What if she gets pregnant and he wants to marry her? What if I even died before all that happened? She’s not the type of woman I want as a daughter-in-law.” I reminded her of the fact that her son was not a little boy. He didn’t need her consent to marry anybody. Dunni could do worse than what he has now and he.should just pray and.leave the rest to fate.

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Not long after, her worst nightmare came true.  Faredah was pregnant. Dunni was ecstatic but his mother wasn’t. What if the pregnancy wasn’t even her son’s? But that didn’t stop the couple from having a show- stopping wedding. “Sensing her new mother-in-law’s hostility, Fareedah refused to live with her until I pleaded with her to give the poor woman a chance. They both tolerated each other until she had a beautiful son. When I visited, Dunni’s mother wouldn’t have her grandchild out of her sight. ‘He’s an image of his granddad,’ she gushed. She said she didn’t give a hoot if Fareedah was bunking the whole estate – the gift of a grandson has more than made up for her shortcomings! And I was pleased for Fareedah. I mean, how lucky can one person get? At the wedding, you could see the few members of her family that attended weren’t actually rolling in the lap of luxury. Now she’s been transformed into the upper crust just because of a simple ceremony that cost her nothing but her sharp brain! And she’s done nothing new. Women have always married for money and now men are even joining in. A few weeks ago, a friend moaned that her son had turned into an errand boy for his wife of five years. “He helps with the two children of the marriage,” she fumed; “their two children seem to prefer he takes care of them. His bird-brain wife can’t cook to save her life. But my son says he enjoys cooking. What sort of a spineless man is that?” Spineless or not, individual happiness is paramount here. Use what you have to get all you want!

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