When I first got married, the first question I was asked was: “How are you finding living with your in-laws?” and I kind of felt like it overshadowed the fact that I was still a new bride.
However, looking back, the question is extremely important, since you will need to learn to get a grip of things – before they get a grip over you… forever! If you do not set clear boundaries within a set time limit, you will lose all control – over yourself and your house.
I’ve been married for a while now and I have some sort of bitter-sweet relationship with my in-laws. Therefore, here I’d like to share my honest opinion and things that I have learnt after living with the in-laws for a few years now. I hope this helps one of you ladies – after all, we are all in this together!
Before we jump in, you must understand how big of a change marriage is on its own – let alone living with the in-laws. You have to be willing to compromise as well as hold on to who you are – it’s about the balance.
When jumping into marriage and living with your husband’s parents, you suddenly have to learn about every person in the house and their habits. Maybe your father-in-law crunches his cereal too loudly and maybe your mother-in-law doesn’t let you have any say in anything that has got to do with your husband. You will have to find a way to resolve these issues before you are met with any ultimatums.
Stop being ‘perfect’
One of the biggest mistakes made by new brides is being too perfect to impress the in-laws.
Understand this: perfection is a myth and you won’t last long. No, you do not have to wake up at 5 a.m. to make fresh naan. No, you do not have to iron your husband’s underwear. No, you do not have to take on all the roles in the home. So long as there are other people living with you, and they are able, responsibility should be shared.
Be yourself or else you will be mentally and physically drained. This way, you won’t be giving your in-laws an altered version of yourself – don’t create expectations that you can’t maintain as the initial praise will quickly turn into resentment.
Set boundaries – respectfully
When living in the same household as the in-laws, boundaries are important. If you do not set boundaries from day one, you will be giving them unlimited access to yourself, and before you know it, you’ve already lost who you are in the first month of marriage.
Boundaries will help you keep a healthy distance with those around you. Without them, you will have ruined your peace and not gain respect from your in-laws as there is a difference between pleasing people and making choices of your own.
Assertiveness is key
Assertiveness is one of the most important things to keep in mind when living with in-laws. Being assertive implies that you have confidence, know your value and who you are.
Do not mistake assertiveness for bypassing everyone else. ‘Assertiveness’, in layman’s terms, means that you have your own belief system and values.
Remember, you cannot live your whole life being silent and timid. On the other hand, be mindful that you keep an open mind; after all, they are your husband’s parents and they may know a thing or two about some things.
Don’t start fights
Picking fights is the last habit you want to be associated with. It is an irritating trait in anyone and definitely won’t gain you any brownie points.
Being the bigger person and talking things through, rather than fighting it out, is important. Look for the positives and others will probably do the same for you.
Always try to remain calm in a heated situation and hear everyone out. Tantrums may have worked with your own parents but with your in-laws, tact is the name of the game.
Don’t hold grudges
I don’t know about you, but holding grudges puts extra physical weight on my shoulders – I can actually feel the weight of the grudges on me. Learning to let go is a quality that will definitely help with your peace of mind.
This does not make you weak by any means. Instead, it shows your strength as an individual.
Have you tried all of the above and more? Are your in-laws still causing you stress?
Living with in-laws is not easy, but you are not the first or the last to do it. If you have tried everything and more and you still find that your mother in-law is belittling you and your father in-law complains that the rotis aren’t round enough, then consider if living separately could be an option.
This isn’t a decision that should be made lightly – especially if living with in-laws is important in your culture.
Communicate with your husband. Explain the pressure you are under and how you feel you are not heard, respected or feel like this is even your home.
Remember, communication is key. Maybe even speak with your in-laws directly. Express your concerns.
If all else fails, I’m sure you can find a house on Zoopla!
What’s the best way in your opinion to get on with in-laws? Let us know!
A mother of five amazing children and my proudest achievement. I live in London and love being part of a big extended family. My parents and siblings all live near to me and we are a very close family. Birthdays and celebrations are always fun but very hectic with so many of us mashallah. My family and my Deen are the centre of my life.