The In-Law Dilemma

Whether it be you living with your in-laws or your in-laws living with you, at any age, we all know that it can be a stressful and difficult situation, from parenting conflict to lack of privacy or boundaries. So how do we get through it and make the outcome positive rather than creating bad blood between each other? People tend to end up in this situation for a variety of reasons, most commonly, ill or elderly parents usually tends to be the case. For myself and my family, my mother in law recently passed away and my brother in law had no where else to go. Whatever the reason may be, know you are not alone and that you can do this without causing a lot of strain on your relationship as a family. Dynamics will change, so be sure before you decide to ask your in-laws or you decide to take in-laws in that you can commit to it so everyone is happy in the end.

The thing I cannot stress enough is communication! Communication is vital to keeping your sanity and helping your family in the best way possible to get towards your goal of having your own life back and making sure they are okay in the long run as well. If the stay is more than a month or so, check in with every one and talk about how you are feeling. Bring any issues that need resolved to the front and lay it out so that you can all find a solution. If you need help or don’t understand something, depending on which side you are on, ask questions and most importantly listen. You are going to disagree, fight, get on each other’s nerves, cry, feel like the whole world is against you, but that is a part of all this. It is perfectly okay to be upset and angry, as long as you express it in a healthy way. Successful relationships are always based on good communication.

The number two thing I can not stress enough is boundaries! If your in-law(s) is the one living with you under your roof, regardless if it is your parent or sibling, etc., they are under your roof which means following your rules. If someone was a guest in your home, would you let them do whatever they wanted? Eat all your food? Come and go as they please? Parent your child and undermine your authority? No. So what is the difference with family? They are still technically considered a guest in your home. Communicate your boundaries with each other such as needing privacy, having them help pay for food/bills/rent if they work, tell them they need to look for work if they don’t have a job or help out around the house, etc. Compromise some things to make it fair for everyone while still having authority over your home and life. Do not enable, sometimes tough love really is best. The more you push, the more they will want to make the effort to have their own lives without having to do what someone else says all the time.

Set a time limit. We all love our families and want to help in the best way we can. However this does not mean giving up your own life to help them out or struggle to get by because with them living with you everything costs more. It is not selfish. We have to think of ourselves, our children and our partners, and though your family may be important, your priority should be to yourself and your immediate family first. Communicate with your partner a reasonable amount of time to have your in-law(s) stay with you and set a date. This is very important because it gives you all a time frame to work with and work towards. It also helps you keep in mind that “hey, it’s only a little while, I can do this!”, it’s difficult but trust me, you can.

Keep you marriage/partnership alive and take time for yourself as well. Just because you have family living with you does not mean you have to let it be a strain on your relationship. Make time for each other, set aside a day to get out away from it all or ask your in-law(s) to let you have some alone time together. You might have to readjust the times when you are intimate with your spouse because of someone else’s schedule, but that doesn’t mean the spark has to leave your relationship. Not taking the time to work on your relationship together will leave you feeling lonely and resentful. So please, indulge. I’m sure if you are feeling stressed about it all, your partner is too.

Try to look at the positives of living with in-law(s) rather than always focusing on the negatives. This is something that helps me a lot, having an in-law living under my roof. I have someone to help with cleaning, childcare/babysitting and someone to talk to during the day while my husband is away at work. My husband and I can go out and run errands or do something for a short time by ourselves without dragging our son out all around town. It makes it a whole lot easier. Point is, there are a lot of positive things about having in-law(s) living with you even if the situation isn’t ideal. Take advantage of it while you can. Your child may even thank you as well for being able to spend time/ get to know his/her family.

If everyone is willing to work together, as a family should, things will be okay. Know you are not alone and that there are quite a lot of people going through similar situations, and that there is an end in sight where everyone can be happy with the results. You’ll be proud of yourself for sticking it out whether you are staying with your in-laws trying to get on your feet, or if you take your in-laws in and help them to the best of your ability.



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