In my previous post on living with my mother-in-law, several of the comments indicate the sentiment that they wish they did not have to live with their in-laws. They want to get out of that situation, but have no choice.
Not many of us, if any, marry our spouses wanting to invite the in-laws to live with us. When we got married, we may have had an idea that “someday” when the parents get old, there is a possibility that we would have to take care of them, but we were naïve, and had no idea what that would be like. But now here we are…
Having my MIL living with us is definitely not my ideal family life. I had imagined a cozy little cottage with a vegetable garden, my husband and I and our perfect children picking flowers while walking our dog…chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
Is life ever exactly what we want it to be??
How do we deal with other curve balls of life? We handle it, we make the best of it, we adjust to it, and we grow from it. We don’t like it, but we accept it. For some reason when it comes to in-laws, we have the idea that we are entitled to have our way rather than helping family. I know it’s disrupting, I know it seems like forever, and there is no glory in it. The only thing is, it’s the human thing to do.
I am not saying that you should not try to change things up if possible. You should definitely do everything that you can to have boundaries, cooperation, and full support from your spouse. Enlist other family members to help, etc.
But after all that’s said and done, the change ultimately comes from you.
I look at it this way: if I was my MIL, would I want to be in this situation where I have to live with my daughter-in-law? My answer would be no, and I am sure my MIL’s answer would be the same. I’m sure she wishes her husband was still alive. I’m sure this is not where she thought she would end up. I’m sure she would rather retire in Hawaii or traveling the world on a cruise. Instead she has to live with me. Whoopee.
I’m not the only one suffering here. Life has thrown her a few curve balls too. I need to have some compassion. At least I still have options. I picked up more hobbies to distract myself. I go out more rather than hanging around the house. And sometimes I just stay in my room and read. Yes, I have to make adjustments, and yes, I wish I didn’t have to. But I do know that I’m doing the right thing to have my MIL living with us. And when you live in obedience to God, He will not forget you. The kindness you are showing will not be wasted.
As with every negative situation, you have to think of the positives to get you through. Attitude is everything.
The important thing here is not to keep bucking against it. As my pastor used to say, lean into the pain. Accept it for what it is and you will be a better person for it.
Now let me talk about a few survival skills:
1. Don’t expect too much of yourself. I don’t try to be my MIL’s best friend. I don’t think I can be, nor want to be. I keep a bit of distance so that I can be polite to her as I would a friend. I think that if we get too comfortable, it would be a case of familiarity breeds contempt. This is just my personality, but some of you may be able to have a close relationship with your MIL, and I applaud you.
2. Don’t punish your husband for what his mother does, unless you want a divorce. It’s not fair to him or to you. He is on your side, so don’t make him the enemy.
3. Don’t let things fester. If your MIL does something that bothers you and you know it is within her control to stop it, you need to ask her to. For example, giving advice on child raising is a big one. I don’t like anyone giving me unsolicited advice, my MIL or anyone else. If you think she is overstepping her bounds, tell her that you are the mother and will make the decisions concerning your kids. She’s already had her chance raising her kids, now it’s your turn to have the fun.
4. Do take advantage of whatever your MIL likes to do and let her do it. My MIL likes to cook, so I let her do it. Sure, I like to cook too, but rather than jockeying for position, I can use my time to experiment the fun stuff, like french desserts With my MIL at home with my kids, I take advantage of it and go out more with my husband. Win-win all around.
That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll add more later, after I have a chance to practice them!