Love your in-laws as you would your own parents, says K. K. Lee, with wife Racheal Kow (far right) and mother-in-law Mary Ting. — SAMUEL ONG/The Star
Mary Ting and her son-in-law have even taken to watching TV together in the evenings, passing the remote controls back and forth.
Many of his friends view mothers-in-law as formidable figures, and it made K. K. Lee nervous when he first met his (then) girlfriend’s mother, Mary Ting.
“I did have my reservations, but I wasn’t terrified or anything. I just didn’t expect that I would be asked to fix the broken bulb on the front porch, which was what my future mother-in-law requested of me just as I walked through the gate,” recalls the retail manager who of course carried out the task.
If that was a test, 40-year-old Lee passed. That was three years ago. Since then, Lee has come to realise that Ting is a practical and kind woman who put her family first, and has a soft spot for her youngest daughter Rachel Kow, whom he was dating.
Lee and Kow got married and have been staying with Kow’s parents for over a year.
“I was worried when we first decided to live with Rachel’s family. Although I did get along with my in-laws, I was concerned that there would be clashes. After all, getting along with someone is one thing; staying with them is another,” Lee opines.
Fortunately for him, he was welcomed into the family fold with graciousness and warmth. Lee says that staying at the in-laws is not unlike staying in his own home.
“My mother-in-law regards me as her own son. She’ll pack breakfast for me to take to work and cook my favourite dishes for dinner.”
The mother and son-in-law have even taken to watching TV together in the evenings, passing the remote controls back and forth.
“I’ve always been close to my own mum and now I’ve gained another mother. I’ve heard some scary mother-in-law stories from my friends but at the end of the day, it all boils down to how you manage your relationships.
“I think respect must always be there whether or not you get along with your in-laws. There’s not a lot you need to do – just love them as you would your own family,” Lee quips.
To Kow, there’s not a more heartwarming sight than that of her husband and mother sharing a laugh together over something as simple as a TV commercial.
“One of my main criteria for a husband was that he loved not only me, but also the two most important people in my life: my parents. I really feel blessed that K. K. can get along so well with them. I think there are times when he puts his ego aside just to make me and my family happy. Living together is a lot about give and take,” Kow, 33, says.
Described as quite the easy-go-lucky mother-in-law, Ting isn’t one for having high expectations of her daughter’s husband.
“My requirements are simple: as a son-in-law, all I ask of him is to love my daughter, and have respect for his elders. I must say that K. K. has been brought up very well in that aspect – he never fails to greet me and my husband in the mornings and evenings, and always lets us know when he is leaving the house, or when he’s back. It may seem like something really unnecessary, but the acknowledgement means a lot to us old folks,” Ting, 65, shares.
Ting is pleased that Lee has also willingly taken on the odd jobs around the home – the occasional spring cleaning and bathing of their three family dogs.
“He’s not someone that needs to be asked to do something – he takes the initiative to help out around the house. Based on what I hear from my friends, I would say that that’s quite rare when it comes to sons-in-law.”
The mother-of-three says she cares for Lee like she cares for her two sons.
“A lot of my relatives are envious of my relationship with my son-in-law. Some even think that I’m spoiling him because I’m always cooking for him and providing for him, but it makes me happy to see the children happy.
“I think whether you’re a mother or mother-in-law, one has to be understanding when it comes to living with adult children – they already have enough pressure at work and in their personal life without having you nagging after them. To have a harmonious relationship in the family, one shouldn’t harp on the little things and instead, focus on the big picture,” says Ting.
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