Love it or hate it, it’s something that you may have to live with… eventually.
A huge part of being Asian is growing old with your parents. And that doesn’t just mean your parents. Once we get married, a lot of us Malaysians get the privilege of living with our in-laws.
Living with your extended family comes with some rather… mixed emotions. Some enjoy it, some dread it and some simply don’t really mind it. For newlyweds, there is always a debate of whether you should live by yourselves or the rest of your families.
Hopefully, with this article, you could weigh out the pros and cons of it. So let’s dissect that a little, shall we?
The Good Things
Living in harmony with your in-laws is 100% possible (or maybe 95%).
Contrary to the dramas you struggle through on TV3, there are actually a lot of in-laws that get along fairly well together. But let’s be realistic — like most families, there’s going to be some arguments and disagreements. However, most of it can be resolved in an understanding and very civil manner.
Before making your decision, here are some factors to take into account:
1. Having Good Communication
What a lot of families need in order to live in harmony is the use of good communication skills to express your thoughts. To be on the (relatively) same page with your in-laws, make sure you are clear with your requests and opinions while also respecting theirs.
For example, if you are uncomfortable with the way your in-laws express their views on the way you do housework or the way you raise your children, sit them down and have a talk. Explain your discomfort and make them understand that while you appreciate their feedback, sometimes it is best that you do things your own way.
2. You’ll Never Be Hungry
They say nothing’s better than using food as a bonding tool.
Another benefit of living with your in-laws is that you can always have company in the house. There’s always someone who’s willing to cook for you and your family. And someone who’s always willing to share and exchange recipes with. This is also a good way for you to strengthen your bond with your in-laws.
A little something to remember though is that this is a two way street. Just because your in-laws are home all the time or that they volunteer to do the cooking doesn’t mean that they owe you meals all the time. Help them out whenever you can, they’ll surely appreciate it.
3. Help With The Kids
If you have children and you’re living with your in-laws, it’s like having an in-house babysitter that could help you out whenever you’re in a tight spot. If you’re busy with work or need to rush out to run some errands, your in-laws could lend a helping hand to you while you run about your day.
And the nice thing is that your kids could get to know their grandparents well!
As stated before though, don’t take advantage of this. You also have to understand that they have their own hobbies and days to go about as well. Of course they’re willing to drop everything to take care of their grandchildren, but please make sure they’re 100% okay with it first before you leave your children at home with them.
The Not Really Bad, But Grinds Your Gears Thing
With the good, there also comes the bad — or more like “the annoying”, as some would put it. Although your in-laws might have good intentions, some of their actions or beliefs may be somewhat… outdated.
And it has to be said that there are some in-laws who are purposely difficult (not all, of course, but there are some) because they want to either “test” their children’s significant others or to simply cause a riot because they enjoy the drama.
Something a little like:
1. Unsolicited Advice
I think what’s bugging most newlyweds who live with their in-laws is unsolicited advice. A distant friend of mine lives with her in-laws and she says, “What’s most frustrating is when they nitpick at how I raise my children.”
And when told that she’d like to try out new parenting styles, they belittle her statements by saying “My son turned out fine, didn’t he? What’s the issue?”
The issue here is that you won’t let her parent her child. “They’re making it seem like I’m incompetent and “incapable” of disciplining my own kid”. Get with the times, it’s the 21st century. We use our words here.
Don’t let this discourage you from having a good relationship with your in-laws though. Remember: no two relationships are the same.
2. Cold Shoulders
Are we not all mature adults? Why can’t we all just get along? Some in-laws would prefer to keep mum or give you the cold shoulder when you’ve done something that upsets them. Instead of telling you what they’re mad about, they would prefer to avoid you altogether. This, ladies and gentlemen, is not how we solve our problems.
If you have issues that need to be resolved, a good start is to talk about them with the person you have an issue with. Point out why it makes you upset and talk about how you can help make it better. What you have to understand is that your in-laws may not make that first move.
So, you, as the bigger person, would have to initiate the conversation first. You don’t have anything to lose.
3. The “Monster”-In-Law
We’ve all seen that Jennifer Lopez film where she fought with her mother-in-law for the attention and affection of her husband, right? Well, unfortunately, that may very well happen in real life as well.
As a daughter-in-law, you just have to reassure your mother-in-law that you’re not a threat to her and no, your husband does not deserve better, because you’re the greatest good he’s ever going to get.
How you can approach this particular problem is to bond with your in-laws. Make them aware that you are not the enemy here. Talk to your in-laws, bake them cookies, make them feel comfortable around you. Slowly but surely, you’ll win them over… eventually.
Make Living With In-Laws Easier
Although it may be hard work, in the end you’re still family. All you need is some good communication skills, a firm set of boundaries and most importantly, be mindful of each other’s feelings.
Fitting in with in-laws isn’t a one-sided thing. It takes both of your efforts.
If you’re a newly married couple or thinking about getting married, your in-laws shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind, especially in this era (/j):