Moving away from the family after marriage was a given for the girl in older times, but with the high turnover in the corporate world even the boys hardly ever live in the same town as their family. After marriage it is more of a partnership between the two spouses rather than adjusting to a new family environment. Living in a nuclear family has become the norm rather than the exception. Yet at some time or the other the marriage may face some strain when an in-law takes up residence in their home.
It could be a parent shifting in for a while because of ill health or a younger sibling who needs to finish off a semester of college. No matter what their actual physical requirements, their mere presence in the home can cause a major series of adjustments in the marriage, your relationship with your spouse and the way the home runs. Often times the outside presence will bring the partners closer, but more often they will find that their relationship is severely tested.
Set Clear Boundaries
There is an equation which has developed between you and your spouse in the confines of your home and marriage. This equation can become unbalanced when a third party, even if it is a loved relative, enters the dynamics. Ubiquitous in-laws can make it difficult for the nuclear family to have any privacy. Specially if the children love spending time with the “visiting” in-laws. The obvious plus point here is that the children get extra time with loving relatives, while the idea may not thrill you when the visit is a rather long one.
There can be some awkward moments when you are forced to hang out with your in-laws every day and even on the weekends. People will be in and out of what rooms you consider your private sanctuary. The very idea of spending private time with the spouse can seem like a joke. There is no denying the fact that someone is going to get on someone’s nerves. This is where it helps to have clear boundaries in the home as well as the relationships.
Keep Lines of Communication Open Always
Mutual respect and plenty of actual physical space are the keys to ensuring that living with resident in-laws does not turn into a nightmare. Logistically speaking, everyone needs their own room in the home. The bedrooms are best for this purpose and these are to be treated as restricted areas for others. There is to be no barging in to this room. This is your fortress, so to speak. Besides being in each other’s space, it is a good idea to share chores as well.
It’s no fun doing chores for just the family, and when there are added guests the chores also become more tedious. This is where the sharing or dividing of chores will help ease everyone out. If the in-laws volunteer for the chores so much the better, but if they don’t, feel free to ask them to help out in small ways around the home that will make your life easier. Remember to be respectful and realize that when you are exhausted from the day’s running around may not be the best time to approach this. Speak clearly about what you need and be willing to see their point of view as well.
Romantic Getaways Should Occasionally Be Planned
Having loving grandparents around may mean extra help with the cooking, the dishes and the laundry, along with having built in baby sitters. Or you could feel that you have lost all control over your kitchen, your home and even your parenting skills are being questioned regularly. The trick to getting it right is to communicate and get the balance that will help you keep your equilibrium at the end of the day. If everyone does their bit, no one gets overloaded with responsibilities.
One sure fire way to make sure that you and your partner stay connected is to plan romantic getaways with each other. This could be a weekly movie and dinner date or even something more complex like spending the weekend away together. The idea is to make sure that the marriage stays strong despite the intrusion of the in-laws into the family home. Plus it gives you the time to reconnect at an intimate level without the ever present fear of someone walking in on you.
Maintain Your Dignity and Allow Others to Maintain Theirs
Living in someone else’ home be it for however temporary a measure can be difficult on both parties. Financial reasons, health reasons or even just logistically shifting into a new home could be possible reasons why you need to share space with the in-laws. Generally speaking if there is enough space in the home for everyone to disappear into their corners when they feel the need, there is likely to be less conflict all around.
However, much as it pains to admit to yourself, not everyone is a lovable and adjusting person in the family. There will be some amount of strife and conflict. It is best to ensure that you maintain your dignity by communicating how you feel in such situations. Also allow them the privilege of explaining their side of things. Never let it turn into a slanging match. Remember, tough times seldom last, but tough people do. Stay strong and stay dignified.
Feature Writer : Cashmere Lashkari