With marriage, every adult acquires a surprise package of set of relatives - their in-laws and along with, the new sets of rights and duties. A person who is just a son or a daughter suddenly becomes son-in-law, daughter-in-law etc. Similarly, parents who are just mother and father becomes a mom in law and father in law. This triangular relations of husband, wife and in-laws, if not handled intelligently and carefully can create a lot of confusion, mess resulting in frictions and fight, which may finally end up in a marital breakup.

What are the Challenges of Living with In-Laws?

  • Preconceived Notions: Unfortunately, each of our relationship is based on some preconceived, & often wrong, notions; experienced by someone else. And surprisingly they travel throughout the society, city, state, nation & the whole world. They create pressure on everyone, to be believed and often being weaker, we believe them blindly. The beautiful relationship of mother- in -law & daughter-in-law also falls into this category. These days children don’t want to live with their in-laws. They have presumed fears of interference, additional responsibilities, loss of privacy, loss of independence. Parents also create some preconceived wrong assumptions for their daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. Their behaviour is guided by the experience of others, movies they see, the stories they read in newspapers without thinking that there are equal chances that they may have a different experience.

 

  • Competition for the Same Man: According to psychologists, the tension between a wife and mother-in-law results when both start 'competing' subconsciously for the affection of the same man. This causes the most problems in marriages. The husband becomes a sandwich between both.

 

  • The house has its rules: Every house has its rules. In-laws have probably managed the household for over 25 years and are set in their ways. You will have to adjust with their stated and unstated rules willingly or unwillingly that may be stressful.

  • Privacy matters: The lack of privacy can be quite unnerving for the newlywed bride who is independent these days. That is not all, many Indian households don’t have enough space and walls are really thin. If women find themselves living with in-laws in a two-bedroom or a three-bedroom house it means all common living spaces are shared and this impacts your personal freedom and privacy.

  • Personal Freedom: Freedom to wear the dress of your choice, freedom to get up late in the mornings, freedom to skip breakfast and call in a favorite pizza, and the freedom to pile up the laundry suddenly vanish. You might as well be locked up in a high-security prison because remember that the house has its rules and you may have to necessarily fall in line.
     

  • Lifestyle Choices: Lifestyle choices can also become a casualty when you start living with overbearing in-laws. The non-vegetarian food you crave, the way you drink your coffee, the newspaper you read in the morning, or even the TV programs you would love to watch, and many other lifestyle choices and habits are now subject to ‘adjustment’ or outright censure.

 

  • Managing conversations: In any household, regular conversations between two people can easily spark unsolicited opinions or comments from the rest of the family members. In fact, innocent statements can be construed to be vicious and very soon women living with in-laws realize that every word they speak is subject to interpretation and comments.

 

  • Living with in-laws: with a child due to generation gap both have to face tough moments in raising the children and the right way to discipline a child.

 

  • Living with elderly in-laws: While caring for the elderly parents is considered to be a sacred duty in India, there is every chance that your life is hijacked by the chores you will have to do to care for your elderly in-laws at home. No time for yourself.
     

Tips to Manage the Relations with In-Laws
 

But, it is not all gloom and doom. With the right approach, planning and mindset, it is possible to carve out an amicable relationship. The difficulties in living with in-laws can be addressed using a combination of common sense, empathy and decisive actions. Here I am sharing a few ways to get this eternal relationship improved:
 

  • Change in Perception:  First and foremost thing is to realise that all are human beings before they are in-laws. Both parties should accept the difference in background, values, beliefs, education, age etc. Both should realise from the core of heart that after marriage there will be sharing of loyalties and love. So better welcome and accept the change. Realise the fact that all are undergoing the stress of change in roles so give time to know each other, understand each other’s preferences and adjust accordingly. Don’t behave with preconceived notions regarding mom-in-law and daughter-in-law. Keep in mind that both need love, affection and respect. Choose to love over false ego. So, don't be swayed by stereotypes. Make an effort to observe and understand your in-laws, then deal with the situation

  • Know your in-laws before marriage: Have first-hand inputs from your partner about the nature of new family members, dos and don’ts of new family beforehand so that you can prepare yourself mentally and adjust accordingly. Try to know more about your in-laws, their lifestyle, and what they consider to be acceptable behavior, their expectations etc.
     

  • Start with a Positive Mindset: Always assume your in-laws are there to support you and you are going to have a wonderful relationship. When you start with a positive frame of mind you will have a greater capacity to overlook shortcomings. Similarly, mom-in-law should be positive about her daughter-in-law. She should adopt a friendly, encouraging, generous, forgiving approach towards daughter-in-law. Make each other feel loved. Both women should appreciate each other. Forge a personal bond with your in-laws. If you have wonderful in-laws, give them a great big hug. Similarly, if the daughter-in-law is working then try to understand and appreciate the hard work she is doing and help her where you can.

 

  • Spending Time Together: If possible have the system of morning tea or breakfast or dinner together. Consciously and unconsciously it develops mental closeness and the sense of co-existence. Try to have get-together during festivals. Just wishing a good morning and good night, going shopping, watching a movie together can make a big difference. I believe it is necessary to perform these daily rituals to have a healthy atmosphere in the family. Elderly people don’t expect much from the young except respect, time & some tiny gestures of love.

 

  • Assignment of Duties: Analyses your role in the family. Divide the daily chores. The participation of every member is necessary for daily household activities.

 

  • Financial Responsibilities: Sit together and divide the financial responsibilities to avoid confusion.

 

  • Communicate: Make the system of sitting together, discuss and solve family problems. Both should have a common intention to have a happy peaceful life.

  • Complete Privacy: Complete privacy of space should be given to new couples. If possible, a separate setup should be given to them. Sincere efforts should be made to make the newly-wed happy.
     

  • Understand the Cruciality of this Relation: Never underestimates the value of this relationship. It is not a relationship of two-three years, so better make it healthy. Your love for your husband is enough to get your relationship improved. His parents are an important part of his life so better accept that.

  • Win-Win Situation: by staying together all financial, family responsibilities are shared. No expenses on caretaker, creche etc. If you trust your in-laws, you will find it incredibly useful to have them around when you have children to deal with. Your father-in-law could drop your children at school while your mother-in-law will be at home to take care of them after school. That’s not all, your children will have a first-hand education on culture and family values from the grandparents. The senior couple also enjoys the company of grandchildren and doesn’t feel lonely.

  • Stop Taking Third Person Advice: Try to solve all family issues on your own: There are but innumerate families, that are spoiled due to an outsider’s wrong advice, because it’s you, who knows how to handle your circumstances, not them. It’s your life, not theirs.

 

  • Don’t Impose Your Preferences: When you start living with your in-laws you will find that they have a routine and have set preferences for doing even simple things like washing dishes or laundry. Don’t impose your preferences on them or expect to change their routines.
     

  • Stay Out of your in-law’s Family Issues: In a joint family, it is easy to get sucked into arguments between your in-laws or between your husband and your in-laws. Taking sides will unnecessarily create an imbalance in your relationship with your husband and your in-laws.

 

  • Put Yourself in other’s Shoes. In relation to understanding each other one should put oneself in another’s place. It gives clarity and depth to relation.

 

  • Reasonable Expectations Keep your expectations of your in-laws reasonable. Always remember that they are not your parents and that they will behave differently. Similarly, in-laws should understand the different family background of daughter-in-law and should not expect her to become ‘Dream Bahu’

 

  • Husband’s Role In this triangular relationship husband plays the most important role. He is supposed to maintain the balance without being partial. A rule of thumb when dealing with in-laws: the husband should deal with his family, the wife with hers. This is so because families can easily forgive their own family members, not an 'outsider' So, instead of dealing with your spouse's family directly, talk it over with your husband and do your best to win his support and understanding

  • Forge a Strong Bond with your Husband:
    Sincerely focus on your relationship with your spouse and do whatever you can to strengthen your bond with him. Communication is the key. Also, try not to criticize your spouse's relationship with his parents, as it may only lead to bitterness.

     

There are many more ways to work on this tricky relationship but please don't make the assumption that the in-law relationship will necessarily be toxic. A good rapport with the in-laws is always a boon. It can be especially tough in the first year of marriage, but with a mix of tact, understanding, intelligence, forgiveness it is definitely possible to deal with them successfully.