RELATABLE: How a mother-in-law broke her son's marriage
SHAH ALAM - The third person in a marriage can be a friend, lover or even your own family member.
Family and couples therapist Bawany Chinapan shared a couple's experience after having a child.
The mother-in-law had come in to look after the newborn in Singapore.
“In this case, the mother-in-law came in with good intentions and she was there to help the couple with their newborn as the couple were busy with work.
“But when she came in, she eventually took over the kitchen and the household, dictating over the wife of her only son. The wife became so severely depressed that she came for counselling,” said Bawany during Sinar Daily Relatable show held today.
The live show titled ‘Marriage, Interrupted: The Third Person’ was held at Me.reka Publika, Kuala Lumpur with family law lawyer Ainie Haziqah, family and couples therapist Bawany Chinapan and entrepreneur Muizz Nasruddin as the panellists.
As she called in the husband for a counselling session, they found that he could not "separate his mother and wife because he needs them both", failing to set a boundary between the women in his life.
The wife eventually gave up on the marriage due to depression. “That’s how a mother-in-law can be and it is scary,” she added.
Such interruptions, she said are "intergenerational intimidation" as the interference can be overwhelming, disrupting the marriage.
Ainie said the third person is anyone who is interfering in the marriage, including parents, siblings and friends even though there is no clear definition of a third person from the legal perspective.
“We do have some cases where friends intrude into marriage, or in a relationship that has caused disruption to the marriage.
“So we’re not just talking specifically about the third party which could be a lover, but could also include others,” she said.
The other side of the coin
Bawany said it is important to see the other side of the coin in regards to the problems faced by couples due to interference.
She said distressed couples seek solace from those who are close to them such as their parents, siblings or best friend.
When asked if family counselling or couple therapy will be the best next step for those who are aware of the third person in their relationship, she said that it is best for them to go for couple therapy.
During the therapy sessions, couples need to address the pain, the betrayal, and the hurt experienced.
For couples who come in and want to work on saving their marriage, she said that they need to look at the strength they both have and despite the terrible setback, there is still strength and hope for them to move forward.