What are the characteristics of a wife/husband and a mother-in-law? 

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What are the characteristics of a wife/husband and a mother-in-law?

a) Study the following characteristics of:

1. Wife or husband: tolerant, considerate, faithful, affectionate to husband/wife, affectionate to children, hard-working, tidy, home-loving, good-looking, rich, thrifty, quiet, well-educated.

2. Mother-in-law: willing to baby-sit, attractive, generous, young (relatively), well-dressed, rich, good at organizing home, has telephone, has many interests, does not interfere, has other married children, lives nearby.


b) Put the characteristics in order of priority.


c) Cut them down to the five most important.


d) Expand them to describe exhaustively the most perfect wife / husband and mother-to-law.


8. One of the main problems of family life is the relationship between young adults and parents. Discuss the problem considering the following:


1. When do usually young people move out of their par­ents' home and start living in their own place? Is it different for sons and daughters? How and why?

2. What are the advantages of living with parents? What are the disadvantages? What kind of problems do young adults have when they live with their parents?

3. Should young adults live with their parents until they get married? Why or why not? When should they move out, in your opinion?

4. Are you living with your parents or relatives now? Would you rather be living in your own apartment? Why or why not?

5. In many countries young married couples live with their in-laws after marriage. Is this good? Why or why not?

6. If you are a parent, do you want your children to contin­ue living with you until they get married? When do you think your children should leave home?


7. Pair work. Read the quotations given below and agree or disagree with them. Your opinion should be followed by some appropriate comment where possible:


1. Love is just like the measles; we all have to go through it (Jerome K. Jerome)

2. A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband. (Montaigne)

3. All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Leo Tolstoy)

4. Man for the field and woman for the hearth;

Man for the sword and for the needle she;

Man with the head and woman with the heart;

Man to command and woman to obey;

All else confusion. (Lord Tennyson)

5. Home is the girl's prison and the woman's workhouse. (G. B. Shaw)



6. Marriage is like life in this — that it is a field of battle, and not a bed of roses. (R. L. Stevenson)


8. Work in groups of three or four. Decide which of the following state­ments yon agree with and which statements you disagree with. Discuss these with the other members of your group. Be ready to report your discussion to other groups:


1. You should always ask your parents for permission to marry.

2. Children should only leave home after they are married.

3. You should always be ready to help a member of the family.

4. The members of a family should live in the same area so that it is easy for them to visit each other.

5. Old people should be encouraged to stay in old people's homes rather than with the family.

6. Family life is less important in the modern world than it was in the past.


9. In many women's magazines there is a column on personal problems where a journalist running the column tries to answer the readers' letters. Be­low you'll find a woman's letter to Mr Know-It-All and a stereotyped reply to the letter, imitating the kind of "sensible", inoffensive advice offered hi such columns in women's magazines.


a) Read the letter and the reply. The expressions in bold type show the ways English people give advice. Note them down:


Dear Mr Know-It-All,

My father-in-law died about two years ago. Of course my mother-in-law was very upset and lonely, so my husband invited her to live with us. I don't know what to do — I'm going crazy. My mother-in-law and I don't get along very well. She's a won­derful person and is very helpful to me in many ways, but she thinks she's the boss in our home. If I try to discipline the child­ren and tell them that they can't do something, they go running to their grandmother and she tells them they can do it! My hus­band and I have no privacy. What's worse is that she constantly criticizes me to my husband behind my back. I'm afraid this is going to break up our marriage. What should I do?



Dear Jean,

Do you think you could bring yourself to ask mother-in-law to leave? (Maybe explaining that now the children are growing up they need more space.)

If you think that the old lady would then be too lonely don't you think it would be a good idea at least to ask some­body, probably some of your husband's relatives, to invite her for a couple of weeks. It would somehow release tension in your family and entertain the old lady. I realize it's much easier to give advice than really tackle the problem, but if I were you I'd think of some regular house chores that would keep her busy. And, Jean, why don't you try to show now and then that you appreciate her help. However it is very important for your mother-in-law to feel that she is needed in the house, but let her know that the children are your responsibility. Your hus­band will no doubt be grateful for your effort and things will turn out for the best I hope.


b) Turn the above situation into a dialogue and act it out.


10. Look at the following ways of giving advice (some of which appear in the text) and accepting advice or rejecting it:


Giving advice


I would advise you to DO...

Personally, I think your best course would be to DO...

(slightly formal)


It might be a good idea if you DID... (tentative)

Your best bet would be to DO...

I suggest you DO...

Why don't/can't you DO... (direct)

I think you should DO...

(If I were you) I'd DO… (direct: informal)

Accepting advice


That sounds a good idea

(certainly) seems like good advice) Thank you.


That's certainly a possibility. (slightly tentative)


Right. do

I’ll that. Thanks. (direct: informal)

Yes. try

Rejecting advice



I'mnot sure I do that. You see+EXCUSE

‘d be able to


Isn't there anything else I can/could DO...?

I'm sure that's excellent advice, only + EXCUSE (tentative)


that's not really possible. (direct)

I’m afraid, that’s out of the question. (direct: strong)

11. Here four people are presented, each of whom has written about a personal problem. Please, write each a letter of advice:


1. A twenty-year-old girl who has married a man of thirty. He works too hard and comes home very tired and bad-tempered.

2. A twenty-five-year-old girl, a university graduate. She has met a man who is impatient to marry her, but she wants to finish a year's post-graduate study first.

3. A thirty-five-year-old man Whose wife is a business-woman with a very successful career. She frequently comes home from work very late because she has meetings.

4. A woman of sixty who is a divorcee herself, comes to know that her son-in-law has committed adultery. Her daughter is still unaware of it.


12. Pair work. Below are situations for dialogues where one of the parti­cipants is facing some problem in his/her family. The other partner should give him/her some advice. Act out the dialogues using appropriate cliches of giving advice:


1. The wife complains that the husband doesn't pay enough attention to the children.

2. The husband thinks the seventeen-year-old daughter is too young to go out on dates. The wife disagrees.

3. The wife has a full-time job and is angry because the hus­band does not help around the house.

4. The husband complains about his wife's mother interfer­ing in.


13. Group work. Split into two groups of four to six students:


1. One of the groups has to prepare the role of the inter­viewers and write down questions each interviewer could ask the members of the "ideal family". The other group represents an "ideal family"; they should allocate the different roles with­in the group and talk about the personalities, ways of behav­iour and ideas of the people in their family and give advice to other families.

2. The "ideal family" is interviewed by a different interviewer in turn in front of the class. At the beginning each member of the family introduces either himself or another family member.

3. Since a lot of the students' values and ideals regarding families will have become obvious, they should discuss them afterwards.


14. Role play the following scene with other members of your group. Each person plays a different role in the family. Make a decision as a family group:


A mother has just enrolled into evening language classes. She has a lot of studying to do and cannot do all the housework any more. Her husband and two teenage children want her to be happy, but they are not used to helping with the housework much. However, they do not like TV dinners and dirty clothes. What can they do?


15. Group discussion. "What are the changes in family life?"


Sociologists say that the relationship between men and women is changing rapidly nowadays. Dating customs are changing. More women are working. Family life is changing. Men are helping more in the home. At the same time, the divorce rate is rising. More and more single parents are raising children nowadays. Discuss the following: What changes are taking place in family life? What are your predictions for the future? What changes in behaviour will become acceptable the future? Will more women work? Will divorce become more common? Will the size of the average family change? What things won't change?


16. Here are some English proverbs dealing with marriage and family life. Illustrate them with a short story:


Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Every family has a skeleton in the cupboard.

Men make houses, women make homes.

It's a sad house where the hen crows louder than the cock.


17. Do library research and prepare an essay on one of the following topics:


1. Major problems young couples face.

2. The impact of social changes in modem society on family life.

3. Women's movements in the USA.



Unit One



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