By A’xia, Macao
“It’s all your fault! You washed too many clothes at once, and it broke the washing machine. And the power strip for the TV, did you break that too? I’ve been using it for more than a decade and it never broke. Everything is breaking since you’ve come …”
“Even at the beginning I didn’t agree with my son marrying you and bringing you here. The only reason you married into our family is to get Macao citizenship, isn’t it? Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do. I’m warning you, don’t think it’s going to happen. I’ll have my son divorce you later!”
A’Xia returned home with her son as usual, and as she listened to her mother-in-law listing all the ways she was unsatisfactory, A’Xia felt deeply insulted, and her temper suddenly flared.
“I don’t need Macao citizenship! If your son wants to, I’ll divorce him right now, and I’ll take our son if you won’t raise him!” The more she spoke, the angrier she got.
“And since you do everything so perfectly, why did my father-in-law have a mistress?” The moment A’Xia said these words, her mother-in-law lost control of her temper. She pointed at A’Xia and howled, “Get out of my house right now!”
A’Xia, who had never been abused like this in her entire life, pushed the stroller out the door and left without looking back.
A Pampered Mainland Chinese Wife Meets an Overbearing Macanese Mother-in-law
A’Xia is mainland Chinese, and had been spoiled by her parents into adulthood. She never had to do housework. But after she married, her mother-in-law disliked her because she came from the mainland, and that, in addition to her mother-in-law’s overbearing temper, was the beginning of a ceaseless war between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.
A’Xia was used to leaving the faucet running when she washed vegetables, but her mother-in-law said she was wasting water. A’Xia was used to leaving a nightlight on when she went to bed, but her mother-in-law said she was wasting electricity. Even when A’Xia bought a second pair of shoes, her mother-in-law was angry that she didn’t wear out her first pair before buying another. When her mother-in-law said things like this, A’Xia always got in a very bad mood. She wasn’t spending her mother-in-law’s money, she thought, she resented that her mother-in-law tried to control too much, and she believed no one on earth could be stingier. Her mother-in-law would wear her clothing until it was in tatters before she bought a new item. A’Xia thought living like that was too tiring.
Later, after A’Xia quit her job to stay home and raise her son, her conflicts with her mother-in-law only intensified. Even over things as minor as making too much rice or paying too much for vegetables, A’Xia was blamed for anything her mother-in-law found displeasing. And A’Xia didn’t want to appear weak in the face of her mother-in-law’s overbearing temper, so she refused to do things according to her mother-in-law’s demands. She simply acted as if she hadn’t heard her mother-in-law’s words, intentionally ignored her, and continued to do things as she liked. Her mother-in-law deliberately slammed drawers and cupboard door to make extra noise when she closed them to express her dissatisfaction. A’Xia responded by slamming her bedroom door shut to express her opposition. They went days without speaking to one another as part of a tacit understanding to reluctantly maintain the appearance of “peace.” But this time, A’Xia finally let out all her anger at her mother-in-law.
How Can a Broken Relationship Be Repaired?
A cold breeze blew as A’Xia sat on a bench in the park thinking about how she had just rebuked her mother-in-law. She felt guilty, because it was a bit too much, and she was a Christian, after all. But on the other hand, she couldn’t endure her mother-in-law’s scolding and abuse forever, could she? Ugh! Forget it, she thought. It would be best for everyone involved if she moved out.
But when she told her husband her ideas, he immediately rejected them. That night, she went before God and prayed as she choked down sobs, “God, I know I dealt with what happened today with anger, and that I didn’t practice the truth, but I don’t know how to handle my mother-in-law. God, I ask You to guide me, and help me understand how to get along with my mother-in-law.”
Finding the Root of the Problem in the Revelations of God’s Word
A few days later, at a meeting, A’Xia opened up about her difficulties to her sisters and sought their help. Her sisters found her a passage of, “Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, his original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan.” And a passage from the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, “Presently, everybody’s interpersonal relationships are abnormal. The main reason for this is that people have been corrupted by Satan very deeply and their integrity is extremely flawed. … People live for themselves and for their flesh. They are absolutely not concerned at all about others and they do not even have the loving emotions that they should possess. Men fight and scheme against each other and they do so both openly and covertly. There is no way for mankind to get along with one another in a normal fashion. The conscience and rationality that man should possess has vanished from the face of the earth. There is no spirit of cooperation amongst mankind. Without a little bit of patience, people would be enemies with one another. Man’s heart is filled with evil, conflict, hostility and irreconcilable differences. It’s as if man does not have the image of human being at all. He is completely possessed by Satan and his inner heart is filled with Satan’s philosophy.”
A sister fellowshiped, “In the beginning, when God created mankind, mankind listened to God’s words, had humanity and wisdom, and could get along harmoniously with one another. But after we were corrupted by Satan, we became arrogant, selfish, and vicious, and evil satanic thoughts like ‘Heaven destroys those who are not for themselves,’ ‘All lay loads on the willing horse,’ and ‘If we are attacked, we will certainly counterattack’ became the principles by which people live. Controlled by these notions, people have no tolerance, understanding, or consideration for one another, and the moment another imposes on our own interests, we angrily resist with that person, to the point of fighting and attacking one another until our disputes are irreconcilable. This is the result of living by our corrupt satanic dispositions, and the root of why people cannot peacefully get along with one another. So, to establish a normal relationship with your mother-in-law, you must focus on knowing your own corrupt dispositions within this environment that God has arranged for you and seek the truth to resolve it. Only in this way can you resolve the root of the problem.”
Through her sister’s fellowship on God’s word, A’Xia reflected, and realized that she had always viewed her mother-in-law as too overbearing and picky, while never seeing her own defects. A’Xia remembered that she certainly did deal with some chores very badly, and she knew that she and her mother-in-law were people of two different generations who grew up in different environments and had different habits, so it was only natural that her mother-in-law would have opinions about her. But, because she lived within her own corrupt dispositions of arrogance and self-importance, she had refused to accept her mother-in-law’s suggestions, and she had been fighting an unspoken battle with her mother-in-law, tit-for-tat, with neither side giving an inch. When her mother-in-law suspected her intentions in marrying her husband, she vented all her dissatisfaction, even using her father-in-law’s mistress to return the attack. Wasn’t this an expression of viciousness? If all that remains in a relationship is struggle, if not even a single kind notion remains, if one has no love, care, understanding, or consideration of the other, then how can a normal relationship between them be produced? When she thought of these things, A’Xia’s heart began to soften, and she silently prayed to God, “God, I don’t want to live by my corrupt dispositions anymore. I am willing to put myself aside and learn to get along peacefully with my mother-in-law.”
Putting Herself Aside and Practicing the Truth
But when A’Xia was ready to call a truce and made amends with her mother-in-law, she saw her mother-in-law’s hardened face, and again thought of how overbearing her mother-in-law usually was, and she no longer wanted to speak. She knew she had to take the first step, but doing so always felt difficult. As she struggled, A’xia read a passage in the book Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life that said, “To treat people fairly, we must not seize upon people’s deficiencies and never let go, we must not see ourselves as stronger than others, we must not always assume that we have acted correctly while others have done badly, and we must not assume that all problems are other people’s problems and that we ourselves have none. Examine your own problems more often, and look at others’ advantages more often, because in this way we can avoid being self-important in front of others, humble ourselves, and see others as stronger than ourselves, and thereby we can accomplish these words. Those who believe they are perfect, that all problems are someone else’s, and that they fail to cooperate with another because the other person has a problem will never achieve change.”
This fellowship made A’Xia understand that if she wanted a genuinely normal relationship, she first had to learn to treat others fairly, do more self-reflection, and then voluntarily put herself aside. By doing this, she would learn to consider problems from other people’s perspectives, see their advantages, treat their deficiencies with tolerance, patience, and consideration, and treat others with love. Her mother-in-law’s humanity was decent, she just had a bad temper and spoke too harshly sometimes, and as her mother-in-law’s junior, A’Xia knew she ought to forgive it. And when her mother-in-law pointed out A’Xia’s deficiencies in life, she wasn’t deliberately trying to find problems, she was simply being thrifty and attempting to eliminate waste. Wasn’t this one of her mother-in-law’s strong points? When A’Xia considered the problem from this perspective, she felt much calmer. A’Xia realized that she had been trapped in a cold war with her mother-in-law since the time of their fight, and it was miserable for both of them. She knew that she had to consider things more from her mother-in-law’s perspective and put herself aside to ease the tensions in their relationship.
Afterward, A’Xia left her room and saw her mother-in-law sitting in the living room, and her heart began to struggle, but by calling on God for help, she was able to calm herself. After she prepared dinner, A’Xia shouted, “Mom, dinner is ready, come have some soup,” and her mother-in-law actually answered her. Then, A’Xia saw her mother-in-law applying rubbing alcohol and went to help, and it was as if the barrier between them had vanished.
One day, after dinner, A’Xia’s mother-in-law told the story of her younger days. It was only then that A’Xia learned her father-in-law never took care of his family, and that her mother-in-law went through many difficulties to raise two children alone. A’Xia realized that she had been too insensitive. She had never considered her mother-in-law’s difficulties, that for so many years, her father-in-law had never cared about her family, so she was under incredible pressure, which is why she often lost her temper. Wasn’t that understandable? Meanwhile, A’Xia had been pampered and spoiled since childhood, and had never learned to understand or care for others. Wasn’t God using this environment to teach her to be tolerant, patient, and understanding of others? Once she understood God’s will, A’Xia’s opinions against her mother-in-law began to disappear.
From then on, when A’Xia’s mother-in-law expressed displeasure or became picky with her, she focused on reflecting on her deficiencies and the corrupt dispositions she exposed, and when her mother-in-law lost her temper, A’Xia tried to practice the truth and understand her mother-in-law by seeing things from her perspective, and slowly, without A’Xia realizing it, her relationship with her mother-in-law improved significantly. Sometimes her mother-in-law would buy A’Xia her favorite foods, and they would sit together and talk happily. A’Xia saw the change in her mother-in-law and knew that this was God’s doing.
A’Xia thought to herself in surprise, “It was God’s word that changed my relationship with my mother-in-law, and broke the curse of ‘the age-old battle between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law!’ This fulfills God’s words, ‘With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible’” (Mat 19:26).