Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mother-in-Law Wore Black to My Wedding; for a New Reality TV Show, Couples Live with Their Mothers-in-Law. One Writer Reveals How She Fell out with Hers - before She Even Met Her

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mother-in-Law Wore Black to My Wedding; for a New Reality TV Show, Couples Live with Their Mothers-in-Law. One Writer Reveals How She Fell out with Hers - before She Even Met Her

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNA PASTERNAK

THE news that the next reality TV show set to ignite fireworks on our screens this autumn is about mothers-in-law moving in, struck a chill through my heart. I could not imagine a worse fate. I didn't even need to meet my ex-motherinlaw to know that we would be arch enemies. When I entered her farmhouse and was shown the spare room with its mismatched sheets, ancient brown towels and cracked Imperial Leather soap, my obsessive, neat-freak gut went into revolt.

As soon as I saw her 37-year-old son's room (my soon-to-be fiance), I could not have been more appalled than if the walls had been sprayed with blood.

The floor was littered with old school uniforms, every surface piled with exam papers, the mantelpiece covered with Valentine cards and Rubik's cubes, while the teddy bear bedside lamp illuminated the glow-light stickers on the ceiling. His bedroom proved that he was not a man, but a boy stuck in the past and "Mater" was happy for him to stay there.

In my demented mind, the chaos was a form of abuse. I mistook pity for love and with astonishing arrogance, set about cleaning the room. It took eight hours to fill 10 bin bags for Oxfam and 11 of rubbish. When his mother returned, we both knew war had been declared. She knew the point I was making: don't you love your son enough to help him grow out of his adolescent muckfest of a bedroom?

By the time we got engaged, my pentheraphobia (fear of mothers-in-law) was in full force. Actually, it wasn't fear but chemical hatred - and it was mutual. For a family with such an extensive wine cellar, I had assumed that we would toast our future happiness with vintage champagne. But their disappointment with me - which was as acute as mine was with them - was registered with warm Moet and Pringles.

At dinner, Mater took charge of the seating plan. …

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