Wives go online to vent about in-laws

By Pham Nga   August 23, 2023 | 04:58 am PT
Wives go online to vent about in-laws
Most of the time women complain to simply relieve stress and not for any harmful reasons. Photo illustration by Pexels
When her mother-in-law demanded Thu Ha and her husband hand over their salaries, it was the last straw. She then created an anonymous account on social media to vent about her husband’s parents.

After nearly a year of living with her in-laws in Hanoi's My Duc District, Ha says she has had to swallow her anger when dealing with her harsh, difficult mother-in-law more times than she can count.

She says the woman is spiteful and acts petty over trivial things, such as Ha’s clothing style and the dishes not being arranged the right way.

What exasperated her even more is that her mother-in-law insisted on controlling the couple’s salaries and spending, intent on keeping the entire family "frugal."

While Thu Ha vehemently denied the demand, her husband acquiesced to keep the peace. The tension became so palpable and thick that even a pin drop could push anyone in the home over the edge.

"I feel suffocated in my house," Ha says.

She decided on the anonymous account on Facebook to share her feelings. Seeing all of the groups for women venting about their family, marriage, and in-law issues, she felt like she was in her element. Each group has thousands, even millions of members, with the majority of the posts about their hardships as wives.

Hoang Anh Tu, an administrator for a group about marriage with nearly 140,000 members, says that 93% of members are women. Every day, he approves posts like Ha’s, where posters portray themselves as victims of their in-laws.

"There were so many lambasting posts that I had to remove the members that overstepped their bounds," he says.

Disputes between mothers and daughters-in-law are tales as old as time, songs as old as rhyme.

According to research by Le Ngoc Lan of the Family and Gender Research Center, over 30% of daughters-in-law do not have good relationships with their mothers-in-law, while 9.5%. 85% of mothers say that their daughters-in-law are not as affectionate as they want, 37.7% say they are careless, 18.2% are messy, and 16.9% are disrespectful towards their in-laws.

The points of contention in this relationship primarily focus on everyday habits, speech manners, and the "how-tos" of raising children.

In Anh Tu’s opinion, the reason for this phenomenon stems from the stereotypical tension in the "mother vs. daughter-in-law" dynamic ingrained in the human psyche. As soon as a newlywed bride steps inside her husband’s home, she already has that dynamic in mind and becomes constantly cautious. The result is that as soon as a quarrel happens, they complain and often go on a tirade.

As stated by Nguyen Thi Tam, a psychologist with 20 years of experience in the love, marriage, and family domain, for every 100 women there will be 90 who will criticize her in-laws’ behavior.

But the wife is not solely to blame, says Tam. There are indeed many families that act harshly towards their daughters-in-law, which forces them to share their stories to release tension.

In her professional opinion, "complaining about the in-laws" is a way for women to release their pent-up anger. However, the mistake of most of these women is that by sharing personal details with too many strangers who do not have the same insights and context, they are creating a reason for arguments to erupt in the household.

Although she has done her best to please her mother-in-law, Quach Kieu in northern Ha Nam province is still criticized for being "messy at home but dressing flashy as a peacock when going out." After having a heart-t0-heart with her husband that went nowhere, she decided to vent about her problems on a group chat with her female colleagues.

The psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam says that most of the time women complain to simply relieve stress and not for any harmful reasons, but it is inevitable for the in-laws to be hurt and annoyed by these comments.

She advises women to respect their in-laws and know how to act and control their emotions. Instead of berating them behind their backs, they should talk directly to the people that they have a problem with.

"Vietnamese women are praised to be tolerant and amenable, but it’s also due to this that they tend to hold everything inside, which can cause them to act irrationally if pushed past their breaking point," Tam says.

Tam asserts that the in-laws also need to understand that once married, the daughter-in-law is also part of the family.

"We need to be more understanding of the differences. As long as the daughter-in-law is a good person, then everything will be fine," she says.

Nowadays, the relationship between Thu Ha and her mother-in-law is not as tense as before she moved out. However, the mother has not forgotten that her daughter-in-law had berated her online and occasionally brings it up casually, further emphasizing the gap that has yet to be bridged.

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