Living with our in-laws can be a nightmare for most of us. But it doesn’t have to be. There are some ways that can help you make it work and find love and happiness…even with your in-laws.
It doesn’t need to be a nightmare.
In almost every old movie, when the couples are in love and committing to one another, there will appear a door, and the man carries the woman over the threshold. Whether that happens with a newly married couple moving into their first home, or whether it happens on a date when the guy carries the woman into the bedroom, it represents a new beginning and a change in the relationship.
Today, there is a new threshold where the woman is being carried over the boyfriend/husband’s parents’ threshold or her parents’ threshold. The bottom line is they aren’t moving into their own place and are stuck living with in-laws.
This goes on in many other countries. In fact, in Italy, men frequently live at home until they are 40. The mothers in Italy have a lot of power and control, and it is understood. In the US, it is not traditional. Young people want to leave home as soon as possible, but the economy is forcing many of those who left to return, and it is awkward when a grown son or daughter moves back in with mom and dad.
Many times, they don’t come home alone; they have a “friend” or spouse. Having teenagers living with parents is wild enough, but having grown children with their spouses, friends or children living with parents can be chaotic.
It’s not only chaotic for the in-laws, but it’s chaotic for the in-law child too. They didn’t grow up with the parents’ family. They didn’t see the type of parenting style used to raise their new husband or wife, nor do they understand expectations and family boundaries. These issues and many more can make the stay in the family home a stressful, tumultuous time.
As with all things, better planning, and communication about what is going to happen, the better. This is not a good surprise for anyone, so communication about feelings prior to moving in will make the threshold more welcoming. Along with marriage advice for couples moving in with the in-laws or back home, here are a few suggestions that will help.
1. Have a clear idea of how long you are going to live with them.
Knowing a time limit will help people choose their battles more wisely.
For example, if you cannot stand the way your dad or father-in-law spits tobacco while watching CNN, if you know you only have to tolerate it for six months, it may allow you to step back and find an option rather than saying, “Gross, can you stop that,” and storming off to your room or criticizing your partner.
2. Talk to your partner about boundaries.
All couples need privacy, and if you know that you will have a place in the home that is off-limits to everyone else, it can be a refuge when you need space.
3. Observe and help whenever you can.
When you live with someone else’s parents as a couple, you are usually trying to save money for a place of your own. Your way of giving back is to help.
Cooking meals, folding laundry, running errands, and numerous other tasks keep a family going and they are all time consuming for one person. The more hands, the better.
4. Remember that your in-laws were a couple long before you came into the picture.
They have an unspoken language you may not understand, but your partner will. As much as possible, stay out of family feuds and arguments unless they directly involve you.