A tale of one relationship and some habitual in-laws

I’d like to believe that I’m the world’s greatest in-law. I mind my own business, I don’t make unnecessary phone calls, I literally stay away until I’m actually invited (lest my visits seem more of a burden than a joy), and basically just try to be as invisible as possible.
Rachel Garuka
Rachel Garuka

I’d like to believe that I’m the world’s greatest in-law. I mind my own business, I don’t make unnecessary phone calls, I literally stay away until I’m actually invited (lest my visits seem more of a burden than a joy), and basically just try to be as invisible as possible.

However, some people are not like me – at all! Once a member of their family gets married or starts seeing someone, they literally take over. They put enough time and energy to see the relationship move the way they want it to, giving the other half of the relationship the potential to be locked away in a mental institution!

When you are in a long-term committed relationship, it is inevitable that you and your partner interact with each other’s families. Now if for some reason, luck should abandon you and you score yourself a momma’s boy, you are in trouble.

I don’t think there is anything that can match this kind of tension. It tends to create problems that bubble just beneath the surface, exploding when other situations in your relationship are edgy. The easiest way to avoid in-law feuds is to establish friendly but strict boundaries.

But for these boundaries to work, you and your man both have to enforce them. If it is only one sided, I suggest you grab the suitcase you moved in with and politely get out of his life. Trust me, it’s for the best. The paramount choice is a man capable of making his own decisions, not a puppet! But if you are comfortable with your puppet, please, pay me no mind!

Add to this mess fundamental personality conflicts and you have yourself a really big problem. For example, your mother in-law (God bless her) just can’t seem to give you space.  The fact that she raised her kids solo is inspiring but you really wish she could let you handle your own relationship.

Has it gotten to that point where she shows up unannounced with a brand of laundry detergent you should use? Or, does she insist on changing household products, recommending expensive and unnecessary alternatives to your utter shock?  Worse even, she has no plans to chip in on these ‘essentials’ but will comfortably keep her wallet out of the equation, waiting for you to do the ‘necessary’!

If you treat her with respect and admiration when on neutral territory, you can emphasize control over your own domain and ignore her suggestions. If she is not the type to oppose, then conveniently head out to the store the second she arrives to avoid any conversation that is going to make you uncomfortable!  I would go with being open and laying some rules on the table, but that’s just me, handle it your way!

If he whines about your cooking claiming it is nothing like his mother’s, think back to prior conversations you had with him. This is the perfect time to bring up everything he has ever said he didn’t like about his family. You are his partner –not his mother – so her 5 star chef skills simply are irrelevant to you and he needs to be reminded of this in as direct a way as possible.

Then there are kids - I watched a movie once where a mother- in- law literally grabbed her daughter and son-in-law, threw them in a room, sat outside and demanded that they got to it!

Children will always be an issue, but if their expectations involve adhering to specific cultural norms you do not quite agree with, confront, examine and make sure everyone understands you – especially your man. Do not challenge your in-laws on this most sensitive subject, but do not surrender your privacy either. It is all you have.

 

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