This was for two reasons - her husband, Praveen, whom she met at Nilgiri Secondary in Mariannhill and began dating while at university, was the family’s only son and, second, he decided to convert from Hindusim to Christianity.
But, luckily for her, things turned out better than she expected as her mother-in-law, Saroj Govender, only wanted her son to be happy.
“A mother-in-law is always going to be a shock to the system because they love their sons tremendously and a new bride needs to be a shock absorber.
“I learned quickly from my own mom (Vigi) that only idiots fight their mothers-in-law. They are an extra pair of hands to help you with your kids, and the expert cook when you’re using Nando’s sauce to make a chicken curry. I did that as a new bride,” she laughed.
Govender realised very early on that her mother-in-law raised the man she loved, so she decided to honour her the best she could.
“When we got married in 2009, I took the reins and encouraged my husband to call his mom often. We visited as a couple but I also liked them spending time alone with one another.
“My husband has a strange thing - he loves his mother’s sympathy. He can leave our home with a cold and by the time he gets to his mom’s door, it’s hospital-admittable influenza.”
Govender said previously it irritated her, but nowadays she joined in on the sympathy train because she realised she was missing out on home-made rasam and marinsil.
The mother of three believed her mother-in-law had it rough in her time, so she promised herself not to repeat the cycle.
“I’ve also learned that you never try to compete with your mother-in-law. I only compete in things I have a shot at winning. So my kitchen is completely my mother-in-law’s when she visits. And she is one of those ladies who sets off the airport security with the number of uncooked Cornish hens, trotters and crab she brings up from Durban.
“Of course, we can get these items in Johannesburg but I don’t like taking power away from my mother-in-law.
“I’m a loud, noisy and opinionated daughter-in-law and yet she just goes with my nature. She gives solid advice and enjoys everything we do together or as a couple.”
For future brides, Govender said it was important to remember you were joining their tribe.
“Yes, you want to be super independent but if you take on their surname, you’re joining their tribe.
“I never think of my mother-in-law as an in-law. I think of her as my husband’s mom. That shift in labelling and thinking makes a huge difference.
“I also know how much I love spending time and sharing things with my own mom, so why would I withhold that from my husband?”
Govender said she was a believer in building a massive family tribe, not fighting it.