When an in-law becomes an intimate partner
Published On July 25, 2022 » 2624 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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WHATEVER game this could be, surely sleeping with your mother or father in-law should not be part of it.
As unimaginable as it may sound for someone to have intimacy with their in-laws, this shows how sex for some people is slowly becoming an issue of mere gratification.
I have read with sadness a few stories, both on social and traditional media platforms, how women have sued their partners for divorce resulting from their partner’s sexual affairs with their mothers.
Just a stone’s throw away from my house, a garden boy working at a neighbour’s house committed suicide a few months ago as he could not handle the pressure from his relatives and the family of his partner after making both his partner and her mother pregnant.
And so the mother-daughter feud is not only a shameful experience for families, but a challenge for society and a source of concern if we are to preserve family families.
Technically, we all know that a mother-in-law or a father in-law is not your blood relative and it surely is not incest, but a mother-in-law is also your mother when you marry her daughter.
Generally, when a man and a woman marry, their families automatically become one.
Moreover, in Africa, any dealings between the two families must be handled with utmost care and respect.
In addition, parents, mother and father’s in-laws are described as immediate family members and we are to build mutual respect with them.
The author of African Religions and Philosophy rightly puts it in his book when he explains the place of sex in marriage.
John Mbiti observes that in many societies, sex organs are the gates of life and it is a great offence on the part of children to look and talk about such organs of their parents.
He further observes that it is perhaps the religious attitude towards sex which has produced the social uses of sex.
Mbiti says in African societies, for instance, the kinship system involves, among others things, relationships in which physical avoidance between given individuals is carefully observed.
He cites the case of individuals, such as a man and his mother-in-law, or a wife and her father in-law, whose physical avoidance protects the individuals concerned from sexual contact.
Either way, your in-laws are part of your life.
It is important to assess your relationship with your spouse’s parents particularly that of the opposite sex with you, including setting boundaries where necessary.
For many others, although no unique profile can explain a person who chooses to have sexual encounter with a close relation who may include a mother or father in-law, this reveals problems in their areas of sexual satisfaction and their control struggles.
Like other similar stories, we hear how the parties involved justify how their sexual needs are deprived by their partners and describe their wayward actions as a way of satisfying their sexual needs.
Even though certain values have been overtaken by modern events, family values still influence how some African communities recognise in-laws.
This is still considered one of the worst forms of shame, more so when the act brings forth a baby, society views this as disrespect of family values.
In fact, in the early days, such an act would mean automatic expulsion of the two partners involved from the community.
Psychologists have observed that impulsive displays of sexual behaviour in people is prevalent in those who have experienced disturbed family behaviour.
And a senior citizen who preferred to remain anonymous said what is happening in our society in terms of morals leaves much to de desired and is also a concern for our future generation.
She said mothers and fathers in-laws are not blood relations, but whether you are in Africa or the western world, sleeping with your in-laws is disrespectful.
“This is a man your spouse calls your father or mother, so technically, they are also your parents and to think of having intimacy with them, how do you relate as a family? Imagine children seeing and hearing their parents having sex with their grandmother or
father, or being made pregnant, this will give children the wrong idea about sex,” she said.
She said similarly, if the children are going to regularly witness such things, it will have a great impact on how they relate to intimacy as adults.
Society may try to justify how people have been seen to marry their sister or brothers in-laws, but this cannot equate with one being intimate to one’s mother or father in-law and should not be tolerated.
The woman said even our ancestors and in the Bible, including today, people have been married off to their sister or brother in-law in the event of death or certain circumstances, but not a son-in-law to mother-in-law or father in-law to daughter in-law.
From the many cases that have been reported, it is evident that incest, defilement and other immoral acts are more prevalent in slums and high density townships.
Take a walk today in any township and see how people are living in makeshifts and unplanned structures which on the Copperbelt are called ‘utuboba’, for lack of decent accommodation is not always affordable and this leads to overcrowding.
Every country in the world is experiencing urbanization in different dimensions.
This has different manifestations.
There are high numbers of cases of illicit alcohol, and sex in slums is common place, involving individuals who even include older citizens.
Such bizarre activities are even happening in open spaces like bottle stores as well as markets.
So, we have parents coming from the rural or peri-urban areas to visit their children, who have migrated and are renting makeshift structures.
They spend nights together with their grand children as they sprawl on the sofa or whatever has been provided for them to relax and there is no privacy for the couple and their visiting in-laws.
Perhaps one would suggest that people living in such households adapt to their circumstances and find ways of doing things in private.
It is in these same slums that some husbands, who go off to work, are said to come back home when their partners are out making a living on the streets or markets only to defile their neighbours’ children.
Is it not in these same circumstances that some perpetrators of sexual violence, such as rape and defilement, claim they were under the influence of alcohol and the devil when involved in such acts encounters?
We have witnesses how some vices are now becoming a ‘new normal’ in some people.
The moral decay we are seeing should act as a source of concern to society if we are to see responsible citizens.
Equally, we can only address problems of incest, defilement and other unpleasant sexual practices that may threaten the existence of family values positively when we identify certain factors that continue to cause them.
For comments, email jessiengm@gmail.com

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