Sometimes moving in with your in-laws is the only option you and your spouse have at the moment. Perhaps you and your spouse are in financial trouble, and your mother-in-law has offered to help. On the other hand, perhaps your elderly mother-in-law requires more help and supervision, so living with you is the best option for her well-being. Regardless of the reasons, living with a mother-in-law can be difficult. Learn to live with her in relative harmony by creating boundaries, developing a good relationship with her, and protecting your marriage.
Part 1 of 3: Developing Boundaries
Step 1. Talk about how the household chores will be divided
When there are several generations of adults living in a home, it can be common for them to fight over things like cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Perhaps you and your spouse have always done things in a certain way, and now you find that you have to give in to your mother-in-law's methods. To avoid this headache, discuss the details of the house at an early stage.
- How you choose to deal with things will largely depend on your personal preferences and those of your mother-in-law. If you're only going to live this way for a while, you may have no problem letting go of the reins and taking a break from some of the household chores. On the other hand, if you are moving in with her temporarily, you may not mind making some changes, such as dinner time, to accommodate her frequent schedule.
- However, if this move is permanent, the three of you will have to determine who will take care of specific tasks from now on. For example, you and your spouse might prefer to cook most meals, but ask your mother-in-law to help with the laundry and cleaning the house (if she is physically fit to do so).
Step 2. Explain your disciplinary methods to your children
As with housework, you will also need to point out how the discipline will be applied in your different home environment. There will be some disagreement among all adults about what is right or wrong for children, but discussing discipline beforehand can help everyone do the same and set clear limits.
- You and your spouse should sit down with your mother-in-law and explain how discipline is applied in your home. It includes everything that is relevant, such as serious offenses, common punishments and the peculiarities of each of the children.
- Then you may have to explain what is expected of her. You may want to leave the discipline only for your spouse and yourself. In this context, your mother-in-law might just let one of you know if the children are misbehaving and let you take care of the problem. Just make sure everyone understands their role.
- Also, encourage her to respectfully support your spouse's disciplinary decisions and yours, or at least not to question or criticize them in front of your children. You could say, "I know you may not agree with all of our decisions, but it would be great if you show your support in front of the children."
Step 3. Learn to choose your battles
Sometimes giving in a little on one aspect can be enough to make everyone satisfied. Don't be too strict about the little things that don't matter much to you. This way, you can maintain your stance on the important things without looking inflexible.
For example, if there is a task that is important to your mother-in-law and that she wants to do (such as washing clothes in a certain way), do not fight with her about it if the change will not affect your home environment much and it does not seem like something to you. very important
Step 4. Decide if your home needs modifications
If your elderly mother-in-law is moving into your home, you may need to make some logistical changes to ensure her comfort. Many families often create a home for their in-laws in which they provide the essential areas of a house and allow them a little privacy. Depending on the health of your mother-in-law, you may also need to modify the bathrooms and other rooms to promote accessibility in case of disabilities.
Talk to your spouse and your mother-in-law's medical team to determine what changes need to be made in your home before she arrives. For example, if you have a multi-story home, it may be best to install your mother-in-law in a bedroom on the first floor so she doesn't have to climb the stairs as much. You may also need to install an outdoor ramp to facilitate entry if you use a wheelchair
Part 2 of 3: Protect Your Marriage
Step 1. Turn the situation into a team effort
Communication between you and your spouse should be the top priority during and after the transition to living with your mother-in-law. You both have to agree and your spouse has to be willing to keep all boundaries with his mother. If she doesn't support your guidelines, you could constantly fight with your mother-in-law over this issue or another. Additionally, you could also constantly fight with your spouse.
Presenting yourself as a united team is very important. First of all, if your spouse doesn't fully cooperate, your mother-in-law might not respect your decision and try to fight it. If you find that both of you are firm around your rules, this will minimize the chances of this happening
Step 2. Communicate any problems to your spouse first
Working together also means that you should bring up any issues with her before you bring them up with her mom. Doing so will give you a chance to vent your frustrations in a safe space. Then both of you can come up with an action plan as a couple.
- Your spouse may want to address all the issues with their mom alone or in your presence. Respect what you decide. Don't say anything if your mother-in-law says or does something that challenges your limits. You could say something you regret later. Mindless talking out of anger can quickly create a division between you and your spouse, as you have been disrespecting their mom.
- You could say, “Honey, your mom criticized my upbringing in front of the kids today. This made me feel like we are not united as a team. Could you discuss this point with her when you have the opportunity? "
Step 3. Make the most of your time together
If your mother-in-law lives in your home, this can eliminate the intimacy that existed between you and your spouse. The time they could have spent watching television together after putting the children to sleep or after a long day at work could be interrupted by your presence. It is vital that both of you value and protect your time alone, which will strengthen your bond despite changes in your home.
- Talk to your mother-in-law and explain your needs to her. You could ask her to babysit so you and your spouse can go on a date. On the other hand, you could simply point out that you and your spouse enjoy lunch together on Fridays, and that you would appreciate it keeping things that way.
- Balance your demands by doing lots of things as a family, and also encourage your spouse to spend time with their mother.
- This could be one way of approaching the subject: “Mrs. April, we usually have dinner as a couple on Fridays. We would like to maintain this custom. However, we would like to go out for lunch together on Sundays as a family, and we would love for you to come with us. "
Step 4. Don't sacrifice your needs
Take constant care of yourself, whether it's a weekly manicure or pedicure, a morning run or workout, or a delicious cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Three generations of family members is a lot to take care of. Perhaps now you have to take care of your children, your spouse and your mother-in-law. Make sure you also have time to take care of yourself.
Part 3 of 3: Developing a relationship with your mother-in-law
Step 1. Share a hobby
Developing a positive relationship with your mother-in-law is important to the well-being of everyone in the house. In addition, maintaining a respectful and friendly character with her is a good example for your children. One way to improve the bond between you is to participate in one of her hobbies or invite her to participate in yours.
Step 2. Ask for his opinion from time to time
Even if you find that your mother-in-law is very difficult to deal with, she will still be the mother of your spouse and therefore deserves your consideration and respect. Instead of not considering her in important decisions, consult with her. This will make you feel like a valued member of the family. Likewise, asking for their opinion could also make them see you in a more favorable light.
- Keep in mind that asking for their opinion does not always mean that you will follow their advice. Grandparents really want to be of help. Therefore, even if you choose another option, you will still have asked for his opinion on the matter and you will have listened to it.
- Here's one way to ask for his opinion: “We were thinking of visiting Cole in college soon. We would like to go all together as a surprise. Do you think it would be better to go the first weekend of the month or the last? "
Step 3. Include her in family activities
Multigenerational families are becoming more and more common today. Even if you are not very happy with having to live with your mother-in-law, help make her feel like part of the family. This means that just sharing meals or having casual conversations is not enough. Include her on different outings to make her feel like a true part of the family.
They may have a strained relationship, but it's still part of the family. Plus, your kids probably love spending time with her. Invite her to a special dinner to celebrate the boys' good grades. Ask him if he wants to go with you on summer vacation this year. These small acts of kindness could go a long way in improving your relationship
Step 4. Give it a role, if you like
For older parents, the last thing you want is to make them feel worthless or like a burden. If your mother-in-law has moved in with you, you may wish you had a way to contribute to the house. Based on her abilities, offer her a certain level of autonomy within the house so she doesn't feel like a burden.
- For example, if your spouse's mother can take care of the children safely and effectively, it might be considered an offense for you to hire a babysitter. If he can still drive, you could assign him the task of picking up the kids after school.
- Ask him something like “Ma'am, could you help us with the children or with the house in some way? If you would like to help, we would appreciate it. "