There are quite a few reasons why you might end up living with your in-laws. Perhaps you and your partner are having financial difficulties and moving in with the in-laws makes financial sense; maybe someone is sick and requires special care; or it might just be part of your culture to live with extended family. Whatever the reason, the living situation can come with its own challenges. It's easy to get on each other's nerves when living in tight quarters and there may be adjustments to a new lack of privacy and independence.
However, there are heaps of benefits to living with your in-laws too. You can save money and help each other in a variety of ways. For instance, there are more people around to potentially pitch in around the house by cooking dinner or even picking up kids from school. Of course, along with helping out with chores and daily responsibilities, the greatest silver lining is the opportunity to get to know each other better and bond as a family.
No matter what your specific situation may be, adjusting to living with in-laws will be much more seamless if you put in the effort and prepare properly. Here are five ways to master the art of living with in-laws.
Before moving in together, talk to your spouse about what life is going to be like when you move in with the in-laws. Come up with some ground rules for everyone. For example, take turns taking out the garbage and making meals to avoid having one person feel like all the household responsibilities land on their shoulders. Another rule might be that you and your spouse must have at least one night a week to yourselves. The important thing is to create some guidelines that will help you get along and feel comfortable, regardless of who is living with you.
One thing married couples need, especially newlyweds, is privacy. It’s the only way to have intimacy, get to know each other better, and to build your own family. Although it may be more difficult to have privacy when living with the in-laws, there are things you can do. Even if you have a small home or apartment, you can designate certain areas that are either off-limits to you or to your in-laws, like the bedroom. All the better if you and your in-laws can have your own living spaces within the same complex or building. This way, you don’t have to be around each other 24/7 and you'll be able to maintain your independence while still relying on one another from time to time.
Stay Out of Family Arguments
Living with parents can bring up a lot of old memories and habits. Don't be surprised if your spouse is tempted to fall into patterns they followed as children as a result of spending so much time with the people who raised them. It would be understandable for them to feel trapped or even resentful about the situation; however, this could lead to arguments. If your spouse gets into a disagreement with their parent, you may want to stay out of it.
Try leaving the room if a conflict erupts and focus on breathing.
Let them ride it out together. Eventually, everyone will find their own rhythm and be able to live together harmoniously.
Pick Your Battles
Besides staying out of arguments your spouse might have with their immediate family, you may want to avoid getting into arguments with your in-laws yourself (which might be easier said than done). That's not to say, however, that you shouldn't speak up for yourself if you feel boundaries have been crossed. For instance, if your mother-in-law keeps walking into your bedroom unannounced, you have every right to ask her to knock first in the future. Or, if your brother-in-law makes a habit of eating breakfast in his underwear every morning, you should feel free to ask him to get dressed before coming to the kitchen table.
On the other hand, if someone makes one fleeting comment, you might consider letting it go rather than picking a fight. It’s consistent behavior and comments that you'll want to focus on addressing.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Living with the in-laws can bring on all sorts of stress and emotions for everyone. If the situation becomes overwhelming and there is constant conflict, you might consider seeing a family therapist or counselor. An objective party could be just the thing to help you work things out and make the living situation less stressful. There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. If the living situation is hurting your marriage, you might also think about seeing a marriage counselor or finding a way to live a more separate life from your in-laws. While your family may be a priority, your marriage and happiness should be too.