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Moving in with your in-laws is never anyone’s first choice. But sometimes it’s necessary for all kinds of reasons, whether financial, practical, or circumstantial.
Staying with your in-laws for a few days or weeks is one thing and can involve stresses of its own. But actually living with them for an extended period of time, whether it’s a fixed period or indefinite, is quite another.
No matter how good your relationship with them is, living with your in-laws can be tricky.
Maybe you’ve had your own place with your partner before, or maybe your partner was living with their parents and it made sense for you to move in too.
Either way, you’re looking for ways to make things more manageable.
There’s no one-size-fits-all advice. Your situation is unique and it’s important to remember that.
The challenges you face when living with your in-laws might be totally different to the challenges other couples face.
It’ll all depend on the relationship you have with your in-laws and the relationship your partner has with them.
A lot will also depend on the size of their house. Whether you’re on top of each other or have space to spread out. Whether you all share a bathroom or have separate ones.
And, of course, a lot will depend on your daily routines. Whether they work or are retired, and whether you or your partner work from home. How much time you’re actually spending in the same space, and how independent you can be from each other.
But whatever your situation, these tips should be able to help you out.
We’ll look at how you can ease the strains on your relationship, how you can carve out some privacy and alone time, and how you can feel at home, not just like a temporary guest.
1. Be yourself.
First things first, there’s no point trying to put on a front or pretend you’re something you’re not. You won’t be able to keep up the act for long, as it’d be exhausting.
Be polite and considerate, sure, but don’t feel like you have to have a personality transplant for your in-laws to like you.
Make sure you’re being true to yourself from day one so you don’t have to stand on ceremony.
2. Have an honest, upfront conversation.
Rather than just hoping that you’ll all slot into living together naturally and it’ll all figure itself out, it’s a good idea to sit down right at the beginning and talk about how it’s all going to work on a practical level.
Let them know that you really appreciate what they’re doing for you and want to have a chat to make the situation as smooth as possible for everyone and prevent any misunderstandings.
It’s a good idea to let your partner do a lot of the talking when you sit down for this discussion, but you will probably have to contribute.
After all, your partner automatically knows what living with their parents is going to be like and what’s going to be expected of them. They might assume it’ll be obvious to you too.
But it is important to discuss all the details so everyone is clear on the arrangements.
Are you paying rent? Or will you contribute in another way? Bills? Food shopping? Cooking?
What time can you start making noise in the morning, and when do you need to wind things down in the evening? Does anyone need the bathroom at a specific time? Or any other space in the house?
Is anywhere off-limits? How will cleaning work?
Clearing these things up from the get-go will help to avoid some of the inevitable pain points that come from all living under the same roof.
3. Pull your weight – and try to make sure your partner pulls theirs.
Once you’ve made these agreements, make sure you stick to them. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you actually do it.
And try to encourage your partner to do their bit too. They might be tempted to slip back into teenage mode and let their parents pick up after them and run their life for them, so do what you can to prevent that.
Or at least remind them that when the two of you are living on your own, they won’t have anyone to do their chores for them anymore.
4. Pick your battles.
There are always going to be things that get on your nerves when you’re living with your in-laws, but you’re going to have to decide what’s worth making a fuss about and what’s not.
Often, you’ll just have to take a deep breath and let whatever it is go for the sake of a quiet life.
Only bring things up when you’re really concerned about them or think they’re making the living situation unsustainable.
5. Stay out of family arguments.
If your partner argues with his parents or there’s any other kind of family argument, try to remain neutral rather than taking sides or expressing your opinion about the situation.
The last thing you want is to be accused of trying to come between them, and there are decades of family politics involved that you’ll probably struggle to understand.
6. Show willing.
Be helpful and willing to go out of your way now and again to do them a favor, as it’ll win you a lot of points.
Cook a special dinner or buy them a treat you know they love. Help them out with a project or something they’re excited about. Go the extra mile whenever you can.
These sorts of things can grease the wheels of a relationship and help it run more smoothly.
7. Spend quality time together.
Don’t just exist in the same space as your in-laws. Living together can mean that you see each other a lot but you hardly ever actually talk or laugh together.
Make sure you organize some quality time with them now and again so you can enjoy each other’s company and bond properly.
A nice dinner or a special day out should do the trick.
8. Share your traditions and learn about theirs.
Ask about their family traditions and get excited about taking part. Whether that’s how they celebrate birthdays or special holidays like Christmas, or whatever they mark in their culture. Get stuck into the festivities with gusto.
And share your family traditions with them too. If you’re from different cultural backgrounds, share your traditional food and celebrations with them and let them get to know you better.
9. Make sure you have quality time with your partner.
Even more important than quality time with the in-laws is, of course, quality time with your partner.
It can be hard to spend quality time together when you haven’t got your own place. So make sure you either regularly have time for just the two of you when you’re at home or get out and about as a couple.
Make a special effort for dates and show your partner how important keeping the spark in your relationship alight is to you.
10. Get out and about with your friends.
And make sure you don’t neglect your own friends and family either. Get out with friends or family regularly.
That will help take the pressure off at home and give you an outlet if there’s anything that’s bothering you. A bit of breathing space can go a long way in making a challenging home life more bearable.
11. Keep them informed.
Your in-laws shouldn’t expect you to inform them of your every move or to be home by a certain time. You’re an adult and they shouldn’t be trying to control you.
But you do need to be respectful. If you want to invite someone over, ask if that’s okay. If you need the kitchen or living room for something in particular, give them advanced warning.
If you normally eat together in the evenings and you know you’re not going to be home, or if you can’t make it to the shops when you said you would, be polite and let them know as soon as you can.
12. Don’t involve them in relationship drama.
All couples bicker and have their issues, but it’s important you don’t air those issues in front of your in-laws. Keep them to yourselves.
Try not to snipe at each other in front of them. If your partner says something that annoys you, take a deep breath, smile, and talk about it later when you’re alone with them.
Definitely don’t complain about your partner to their parents or try to get them on your side. Accept that whatever they say, your partner is their son or daughter and they’re never going to be on your side.
13. Be honest with your partner.
It’s so important to communicate with your partner about how you’re feeling because chances are they won’t figure it out of their own accord.
They’ll find it far easier to slot into life with their parents than you will and may well struggle to see things from your point of view.
So, let them know that your experience is a different one from theirs.
That you love their parents and you love them, and you really want to make this work, but you’re going to need their support in this situation.
Is living with your in-laws causing major relationship difficulties? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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