ABSTRACT

In her own home the husband's mother is dominant. She has looked after her son all his life and knows (or thinks she knows) his little likes and dislikes far better than anyone else. Her daughter-in-law may seem an outsider trespassing in a province peculiarly her own; an outsider who threatens the mother's eminence in the household and her place in the affections of her son. The wife's plight may be worse. Coming with ideas about house-keeping formed by her own mother which may not agree at all with her mother-in-law's, she must adapt herself at one and the same time to the new relationship of marriage, a formidable enough task in itself, and to the ways of her mother-in-law. 'I didn't', said Mrs. Banks, 'get on all that well with her when we were living with her. She starts cooking something and it's something you don't like, or she starts something in a way that you're not used to. It's different from the way that your own mother used to do it.' It is no wonder if she becomes as hostile to the mother-in-law as the mother-in-law is to her. Mrs. Flood's experience is not unusual.