What Amazon says
The Daughter-in-law Syndrome investigates the complicated relationship causing much friction between Grandmother Edna Deane and her daughter-in-law Arla. In addition it focuses on the sometimes tumultuous partnership between Arla and her husband Ric.
Arla Deane sometimes likens her marriage to undergoing daily psychological warfare. Husband Ric will never voice an opinion, and puts his mother Edna up high on a pedestal. Arla is sick of always feeling that she comes in at only second best to her mother-in-law, who much to Arla’s fury is never told anything by Ric or his sisters that she would not want to hear.
This novel explores the husband/wife, mother/son, and mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships. After twenty eight years of marriage, Arla, the daughter-in-law, is at the end of her tether and persuades a reluctant Ric to accompany her for marriage guidance. As they look back over their lives with Counsellor Toni Beecher, Arla slowly comes to realise her own failings, and eventually discovers the long-hidden reason why Ric will never utter a cross word to his mother.
Also, adding to Arla’s stress is the fact that her son Stuart will soon be marrying Ria, a girl whom Arla feels is just looking for a free ride. Arla is convinced that Ria will be no asset to Stuart at all; her new daughter-in-law just wants to be a mother and has no intention of ever working again once the babies start to arrive. After visiting Stuart and Ria for Sunday lunch, Arla is convinced that her son is making the biggest mistake of his life…..
Everyone who has a spouse and children should read this book which exposes and examines many of the emotions and attitudes that impact on relationships with our in-laws, from mother and father-in-laws to son and daughter-in-laws.
I was amazed, as I listened to the audio book version of this book, how it pulled me up and caused me to start examining my own relationships with in-laws and my two sons as well as with my parents and my husband. I was really grateful to be given this warning about how I could feel in the future when the time comes for me to meet and accept future daughter-in-laws into our family. It has given me an opportunity to examine how I feel about my children and prepare for any future feelings of jealousy and dissatisfaction. This book teaches the reader about acceptance of other peoples choices.
Richard and Arla have been married for thirty years and the relationship between Arla and her mother and two sister-in-laws has been fraught with problems right from the beginning when Richard, who calls himself Ric, first introduces her to his mother. The story starts with Arla, at the end of her patience with Ric’s seeming indifference about his family’s rudeness towards her and his inability to ever defend his wife against their digs and unkindness, attending marriage counselling to try and work through her frustration. Ric, says he is happy with the status quo, and cannot see the need for the counselling. While he is not very supportive of the idea, he does agree to attend the counselling sessions. Arla is so fed up with the situation that she wants to leave, but feels trapped into staying due to her own lack of a career and income, which she gave up when her daughter was born.
Initially, as Arla tells her side of the story, I felt horrified by how rude Mrs Deane has always been towards Arla and her complete lack of acceptance of her son’s choice of life partner. She has influenced her daughters, Jan and Val, and turned them against Arla too, making family gatherings uncomfortable minefields.
As the book progresses, Arla discovers things about her husband’s past and his relationship with his domineering mother that she didn’t know and she begins to have a bit more understanding of the entire situation. Arla also gets introduced by her son to his intended wife and she starts to discover things about herself and her own nature that led her towards being more understanding towards her mother-in-law and why she has behaved as she did.
I enjoyed the positive outlook of this book and the fact that Ric and Arla are able to rekindle a bit of romance in their relationship and get to a point of trust where their secrets can finally be revealed. It is a lovely journey of self discovery by an ordinary couple with common marital problems and provides some insightful and useful advice in an interesting and entertaining way.