My holiday to Seattle was satisfying at so many levels. I met some amazingly intellectual people and enjoyed some wise conversations.
I also met one of my virtual friends and my sister’s good friend named Sumaira. We had a lovely lunch at Home Grown cafe and then we sat in the sun at a beautiful park in the center of Redmond. We chatted about a number of subjects including joint families. I think she shared some really wise advice on how to handle joint families and I wanted to share her advice with you today.
She is a lovely lifestyle photographer who lives in the Seattle area. She tries to find beauty in everyday life. What I liked about her is that she has a positive energy around her.
Sumaira has been married for ten years now.
She, her husband and their lovely two boys live alone but her parents in law visit them for months. She was kind enough to share some tips with me which would help me and a lot of you out there.
How to cope with in-laws living in your house
Living with in-laws has been a bone of contention in most couples. On principle, joint families don’t work. It is always best to live in separate houses.
But in our culture, it is considered normal for families to live under one roof for a really long time. That’s what makes it so hard. It’s not even about bad intentions. Even good people can’t live under one roof without having fights. I thought we really need tips to make lives easier. So I’m going to share her tips below:
- Every case is different so just sharing some general guidelines. May or may not apply to you.
- These tips are especially for those women who live independently with their husbands and their mother-in-law comes to stay with them for a long time
- The case where you live in a joint family is different as it’s not your house. If you’re interested in that case, let me know.
Be who you are
The first visit is important so right from the start don’t set the standards too high. Just do what you normally do. No need to go out of the way or do things which you wouldn’t be able to follow through later. Set the right expectation from the very start.
Keep your usual routine
Don’t change it for them or anyone else. Do what you usually do during your days. Keep your usual routine and let them adapt to yours.
Be vocal. Talk about your commitments
Keep repeating out loud all the work you have to do. Keep saying that you have to go here, do this or meet that person. So your in-laws know that you are busy in your life. Also, if they know about your commitments in advance, your plans will remain uninterrupted.
Let it go
This is probably the hardest part. There are many things that your mom-in-law says and many of them hurt you if you take them to heart. Ask yourself whether or not they’re reasonable/unreasonable demands from you. If yes, make the changes, if not, just don’t bother about them. Don’t let her words hurt or bother you.
Most MILs keep repeating:
“Hamare haan tu esa hota hai. Hum tu ye karte hain wo karte hain”.
We tend to take such words personally and get offended because we larki walas are no inferior! But no need to get affected by the pressure or let it hurt you. If what she’s saying doesn’t make any sense to you, just hear it from one ear and let it go from the other.
Do what you think is right. When they pass comments on how things are happening in your house. It’s okay to keep doing things how they’re being done in your house.
Keep a distance
- No need to get too friendly.
- Make sure you get some me-time.
- Too much chumminess can cause friction.
- The best way is to go to your room and spend some time alone.
Be in charge of your own house especially the kitchen
Manage meals etc yourself. Give your in-laws a tour of the kitchen in the start so let them make their own tea etc. You can continue cooking for the house when they’re over. In case your MIL WANTS to make anything, she can do so but the control should be in your hands.
Keep a good mahol
In a joint family, you have little control over the overall aura/environment of the home. But in your own house, you create it. You are in charge of your home’s environment (mahol). It is best not to stay bitter or let anything affect you so you can keep a happy and lively mahol of the house.
Keep your husband in confidence if there’s a quarrel with mom-in-law
No need to complain to husband about every nitty-gritty detail that happens in between you and your mom-inlaw. However, if a quarrel is big, it is better to let husband know what happened between you and her. This is not to get his sympathy or vent out. But to keep him in the picture so he knows your side.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sumaira for this wonderful advice. It really is important to discuss such issues as they affect us so much.
I fully agree with all the points shared by Sumaira. However, I would like to add one point:
Don’t seem ignorant. Know or learn the basics
No one is an expert at everything. As compared to your MILs vast experience in life, obviously you aren’t that qualified. However, that does not mean you should be thought of as a dumbo or act like one!
I think a girl should never prove to her husband or in-laws that she’s incapable. That’ll only give them a chance to rule. Keep the control with you by being responsible, aware and proactive.
If you don’t know something, google it and learn.
Don’t say you don’t know!
A good example is if someone asks you to cook something or if you have to. No need to ask them how to cook or how to handle housework. If you don’t know, get a recipe from google or your family but don’t show your incompetence to your in-laws. Stay in control.
Talk to me
I hope this article helped you in some way.
Please let me know your thoughts.
- Do you live in a joint family?
- How do you handle issues with your in-laws?