|Heart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.
Q: My husband is 70 years old and I am 65. We live with my daughter-in-law, my only son works abroad and the three of us live together. My daughter-in-law is arrogant and spoilt and is a very difficult person. I do all the cooking and supervise the maid. She lazes around, watches TV, gossips with neighbours and goes shopping with friends, but when my son phones, she behaves as if she is exhausted from doing all the housework. My son doesn't really believe her but he keeps quiet in order to ensure that his father and I are treated well. My problem is that my daughter-in-law keeps very odd hours. She gets up very late and so eats her meals very late. She doesn't like it if we eat before her. I can manage, but my husband has low sugar levels and feels very hungry sometimes. However, I am afraid to give him his food. What shall I do? Atiya Hussain, Karachi
A: Learn from your daughter-in-law and lie! The next time that your son calls, tell him about his father's low sugar problem. Then tell him how worried his wife is about her father-in-law and how she insists that he eats first even though she likes the three of you to dine together because this increases family closeness. Your daughter-in-law will then be forced to agree to her father-in-law eating when he is hungry. But as you grow older, other problems are going to arise. For example, you may not be able to continue to run the house by yourself. So the next time your son comes home, you should talk to him frankly about your old-age problems. But do it without seeming to complain about his wife. Talk to him when the two of you are alone and then let him deal with his wife as he feels best.
Q: I am a widow aged 65. I live with my married son and his family. My daughter-in-law is affectionate but rather lazy and so I have to help out with the housework a lot. My daughter resents this and tells me that I should be firm with my daughter-in-law and tell her that I am getting old and that she should manage the housework herself. It is true that I feel rather tired these days, but I am nervous about antagonising my daughter-in-lay. My son is very loving and dutiful, but what would I do if my daughter-in-law asked me to leave her home? Worried Saas
A: Why are you seeing problems where there don't seem to be any? It is good for older people to be active and so it is good that you help with the housework. But if you are feeling tired these days perhaps you are trying to do too much and you should cut back on your work. Since your daughter-in-law is affectionate and your son is loving and dutiful, there is no need for you to fear that they will turn you out of your home if you do this. Perhaps you will need to employ a maid, perhaps your daughter and son will have to take on some of the work you did earlier, but something can definitely be worked out. Your daughter should not interfere and cause problems in your home.
Q: I strongly believe that my mother is having an illicit relationship with my father's brother who is unmarried. I am 45 years old. This results in tension in our relationship, as both of them are dependent on me and living with me. What should I do? Shagufta
A: If you're 45, your mother must be in her 60s and I presume your father has passed away, as he is not mentioned. I personally think you need to think a little out of the box on this one. Your mother is probably lonely and in need of love, nurturing and caring. And it's nice that she can lean on a trusted family member. Why don't you, for a moment, pause and ask yourself why she can't have a love-filled, content life when you can? How does it harm anyone? Why are you holding her age against her?