“All I can do is go to her and ask her about it, when she denies it, what am I supposed to do? It’s my mom.” This situation and statement from Tiawanda Foucha’s ex-husband is all too familiar for daughter-in-laws, and ironically was recently discussed on an episode of Divorce Court. Which brings me to the title of this blog post, “Rite of Passage.” The show introduced Tiawanda and Tyron Foucha, who were recently divorced but contemplating getting remarried. Both were 27 years old, have 3 children together and had been together for 12 years.
According to Tiawanda, her family welcomed Tyron with open arms, yet his family, i.e. his mother, did not, and was never welcoming from the beginning of their courtship. Three kids later, and Tyron has to tell his mother and sister to acknowledge and speak to Tiawanda when they come to HER house to visit HER kids. I think most people are saying to themselves right now that Tiawanda is a better person than they are because the mom and sister wouldn’t step foot through the door if they had a problem acknowledging the lady of the house. Her problem is his inability to step up, translation, have her back and put her first. His problem is he feels she’s forcing him to choose. To him, the situation is no big deal and something she just needs to get over. And like so many DILs, Tiawanda is screaming inside.
The mother’s disdain and discontentment was further revealed during their wedding. The new “Mother-in-Law” didn’t give a gift, a hug, any acknowledgement or congratulations at all to her new daughter-in-law; another all too familiar scenario for some DILs. To her she hadn’t inherited a daughter, but had lost her son to the other woman. It’s interesting how major life moments or celebrations bring out the best or worst in people. I know of so many situations that have the same fundamental scenario. One friend experienced the same situation where her mother-in-law never said one word to her at her wedding, and another friend whose mother-in-law asked her to get out of their “family” photo at her wedding. The commonalities between these situations are so ironic, but then again maybe they aren’t. Could there be something to the Single MIL Syndrome and what our expert, Kim Miller describes as “Enmeshment”?
In all situations, the Mother-in-law downplays or lies about her actions to her son to save face when questioned, and then the son is terribly confused as to who to believe and what to do because he hasn’t gone through his rite of passage; that is, realizing that as a man you can and should be able to hold your parents accountable for their actions, make it known who comes first, and require that they respect the person that you’ve chosen to share your life with. Unfortunately, so many husbands don’t know that this is what they must do to have a successful marriage in this situation, and what is part of transitioning from being a boy to a grown man, no longer relating to your parents as a child.
While we can’t understand the full dynamic of Tyron and Tiawanda’s relationship in thirty minutes, Judge Toler summed Tyron up quite quickly as being “half a jerk and a full plate of mama’s boy.” Her response to his question of what he was supposed to do was quite simple and spot on. In her words, “You Man up!!!” You can’t get married and still be a boy. In other words, you can’t get married and still relate to your parents as a child. “When you say it’s my mom what am I supposed to do, you’re still being a boy, because as a boy you can’t say anything to your mom. But once you’re grown, you hold your mom accountable and say, “Mom, my wife is upset. If you love and respect me you have to respect her, be welcoming and loving to her. If you can’t be that way with her you can’t be that way with me. She comes first. “ Judge Toler went on to say that this is something a man must require, and that this is what a man does. It’s not being disrespectful. It’s being a man.
Bottom line I think it’s hard for husbands to believe, let alone acknowledge the woman who gave birth to them can actually lie, be conniving, and behave in such a way. But if a mother would gladly trade her life for her son’s under a guillotine, as one mother explained to her son, is it that hard to believe she’s capable of this sort of behavior with the threat of not only losing control, but also losing the very person she would trade her life for?