Intergenerational living isn’t uncommon in this day and age. More couples are realizing the value of living with their in-laws. Couples who move in with their in-laws can save money, develop better interpersonal relationships with family members, and benefit from extra childcare always on hand. But while the benefits abound, the potential for negatives to creep in exists, starting with lack of privacy, space issues, and interference in parenting strategies.
Living with the in-laws is certainly not going to be a walk in the park, but with a bit of forethought and planning, you can make it a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Couples that want to know how to reap more benefits than drawbacks when living with the in-laws can benefit from getting a few tips and advice.
These are 16 tips and advice for living happily with the in-laws:
1. Draw up a list of ground rules before moving in with each other.
Ground rules are ever so important, not just with the in-laws but with anyone you plan to live with. Ground rules don’t have to be limiting or seem as if either party is controlling the other, but rather provide a basic guideline for living harmoniously together. For instance, the in-laws might request that you don’t have the TV in your bedroom loud after a certain time or that your friends don’t just arrive at the house unannounced but rather provide forewarning if they plan to visit.
2. Respect each other’s routines.
Everyone has a daily routine in place that shouldn’t necessarily have to change just because you are living together. If you usually go to the gym early in the morning before work and do your laundry when you get home, perhaps you could make an effort to leave the house quietly, and the in-laws could do their laundry in the morning to ensure that you aren’t waiting in-line for the washing machine at night.
3. Share household chores fairly.
Living with the in-laws can become tiresome if you handle all of the chores and vice versa. Before moving in, talk about drawing up a chores list so that the burden of keeping the home livable is shared. You could do the dishes a few nights a week or make sure that the general main living areas are cleaned on the weekends. This is particularly important if you have children as you will have to clean up after yourself and them.
4. Pay your way.
Many couples save a lot of money on certain expenses when living with their in-laws. These expenses typically include rental costs, groceries, utilities, internet access, and so on. Your in-laws should not suddenly find their expenses increasing because you have moved in. Make sure that you are paying your way when it comes to food, toiletries, and anything pertaining to your entertainment and children.
5. Agree to have a unified front with the kids/parenting.
It can become a point of contention if the in-laws interfere with your parenting strategies. Before moving in, make sure that the general rules that apply to your children are understood and that everyone is on board with your parenting style. If your in-laws strongly disagree with this, living together is probably not going to work.
6. Set boundaries.
Boundaries are essential in any living situation, and just because you are living with the in-laws, it doesn’t mean that these boundaries no longer exist. For instance, your in-laws should agree that your bedroom is your personal space and stay out of it. Also, you should always knock before entering a private area – and so on.
7. Be courteous and respectful.
Familiarity can sometimes cause manners to take a back seat when living with the in-laws. Keep in mind that they are still your in-laws and deserve both courteous and respectful behavior from you. Say please and thank you, don’t assume that you are entitled to anything, and always be open when problems arise.
8. Don’t change who you are – be you.
Sometimes living with the in-laws might seem like the opportunity to try to be the person you think they want you to be. This is a bad idea – it never works. When living with the in-laws, make sure that you stay true to yourself. In the end, trying to change your personality or make an impression that isn’t entirely you will only leave you feeling uncomfortable or frustrated.
9. Don’t take what they say to heart – let it slide.
When the in-laws say something that seems less than doting or kind, let it go…don’t harp on it or react. Understand that they probably don’t mean to upset you and that you might be a tad sensitive to what is said while living in an unfamiliar situation.
10. Don’t work too hard for approval.
If you find yourself working day in and day out to get the approval of your in-laws, you are officially wasting precious time. Throw yourself into forming real relationships where you don’t have to hide who you are and don’t have to beg for someone’s attention or approval. Your in-laws will appreciate getting to know the real you.
11. Create healthy space.
Just because you are living with your in-laws, it doesn’t mean that you need to live in each other’s pockets. Maintain a healthy social and active life. Go out for dinner with just your partner or family unit. Go on weekend adventures. Just make sure that you are providing your in-laws with enough time and space to enjoy their own homes and lives without being in their faces too much.
12. Don’t take advantage.
If you find yourself getting too comfortable, you might start to take advantage of the situation. For instance, you might expect your mother-in-law to babysit for you every Saturday night, when that’s not entirely fair. You might find yourself suddenly shirking on your chores or not paying your share of the grocery bill. Be vigilant and fair. While taking advantage might not immediately be noticed, it will be eventually.
13. Show appreciation.
When the in-laws do something nice for you, show your appreciation. You don’t have to buy lavish gifts, but try to reciprocate or give them a wholehearted smile and a “thank you”. Things that you should show appreciation for include cooking for you, taking your turn to do the dishes, picking the kids up from school, showing you kindness after a rough day.
14. Cook for the in-laws and make it a family affair.
Make an effort to cook for the family and eat together. When doing this, don’t only make meals that you like. Put in the effort to create dinner times that promote relationship building and bonding.
15. Spend time with the in-laws.
Living with the in-laws is not the same as actually spending quality time with them. Perhaps arrange a weekend barbecue or plan a picnic in the park where household chores and issues can be put aside, and you can spend some time enjoying each other’s company and having fun.
16. Take the time to understand and adjust to the generational gap.
When moving in with the in-laws, you will undoubtedly start noticing the generational gap. At first, it might not affect you much, but then you might start to get a little irritated. It could be that your mother-in-law peels all the vegetables because “that’s the way it’s always been done” or comments on your outfits because they aren’t conservative enough. Either way, spend some time trying to be understanding of the generational gap without imposing your way of life and knowledge of it on them.
All things considered
Whether for the short term or long term, living with the in-laws can be a pleasant affair if you take the right steps. By following the above tips, you could find yourself living quite harmoniously with them.
Of course, before taking the plunge, make sure that you consider all possible benefits and drawbacks – living with anyone isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Who knows…perhaps living with the in-laws will be the most positive thing you do yet!