I have had a lot of people ask me to write about this. This is quite a personal topic so I've hesitated for a while. Judgements on decisions like these are plentiful, but alas, here are my honest thoughts.
Again, DISCLAIMER: These are just my thoughts, my personal opinions and my personal decisions. Whatever has worked for me/works for me may not work for you. Every person is different. Every wife is different. All in-laws are different. What you make of the relationship differs from person to person as well.
With that said, I've been married for 2 and a half years - 3 years in September. I've lived with my in-laws since I've moved to Houston after marriage. Living with in laws for me means: we live under the same roof - have our own bedroom, guest room, living room, living space overall, but share a kitchen.
Let's get some questions I get all the time out of the way first.
Why did you choose to live with them?
The reason I chose to live with my in laws is quite frankly cause I was afraid of being lonely in Houston and to save money as a newlywed couple. I was moving from Chicago to Houston after marriage and knew no one. With my husband at work all day and prior to me starting work, I hated the idea of living alone in a new city where I knew no one.
Was the plan to live with them forever?
No, we knew we would eventually get our own place. There was never a set time or date, we would see how we liked living together, how it worked for all of us and decide when we felt the time was right.
Do you hang out with them all the time?
Here's my answer to this: If you can't stand the idea of someone asking you how your day is or how you're doing, you really shouldn't have a roommate, let alone live with in laws. Some people like their space totally and indefinitely which is absolutely fine, I just don't think it's fair to expect someone you live with to not exchange a few words or have a conversation with you everyday.
With that said, no, - we don't hang out 24/7. We essentially live our own separate lives, but also understand that we're one family unit in the house. For the most part, on weekdays we eat dinner together. My husband, father in-law and I go to work at different times in the morning so usually its just a good morning/have a good day. My mother in-law and I will occasionally go shopping together or watch a tv show or so together. I do push everyone to hang out together a couple times a month which will involve going out to dinner or the park to play with Zidaan.
How do you do it? What about privacy?
This is what most people wonder. Privacy holds a different meaning for everyone. As far as physical privacy, we're lucky we're all very respectful of each other's space that that normally isn't an issue. We live mostly upstairs where we have our own living space and my in-laws have their own downstairs. That's not to say that when any of us decides to have guests over, things don't get tricky. My in laws normally entertain downstairs and we'll entertain upstairs. If extended family is over for my in laws, my husband and I will normally go down and entertain as well. We have to be cautious of what times we're having people over/figure out schedules. Does this sometimes feel like a lack of privacy? Yes. We don't control who goes in and out of the house, but these are some of the things you have to accept as a part of the bargain when you're living with multiple people in the same household.
As far as "tips" go for living with in laws, I'm no "pro" at it. I don't think anyone is. We're all human and we have tendencies to get upset sometimes. Here are a few things I've learned over the years that have helped me keep a good relationship with both my husband and his parents:
Stay Out of Family Arguments.
Always know that your spouse is living with his or her original family. They have a deeper history and have had their own relationship prior to you. If your husband or wife starts arguing with the primary family, stay out of it. If they're talking about their extended family and making decisions, stay out of it. Let them ride it out together.
Pick Your Battles.
Besides staying out of arguments your spouse may have with his parents, you should avoid getting into arguments with your in-laws yourself. Sometimes, they will say or do things that will bother or annoy you. HINT: For everything they're doing to annoy you, you're probably doing something to annoy them as well. In my opinion, not everything is worth an argument. It's only consistent behavior you have to address.
Keep an open mind.
We're all used to living and only understanding the way we were brought up and for some reason, as humans, when we see something done in a different manner - we instantly find fault in it and/our assume our way is better. The key is realizing neither way is better. They're merely different ways of doing the same thing. This applies to household chores, way people converse, how your mother in-law is with her kids, the way the house is kept etc. The toughest part of living with any other person long term is adapting to these changes. Your in-laws also come from a different generation. It may also be their first time sharing their house with someone who isn't their own child. Be patient with them. Keep an open mind, always.
This is a given. Set boundaries from the very beginning. For instance, when Zidaan was born, the dynamic of our house changed. We all had to readjust and figure out the new norm. In the beginning, I didn't set boundaries. For example, after coming home from work, my father in law would often want time with Zidaan and as a working mom, of course I wanted my time with him as well. This caused friction for a few days until the issue was addressed. Was my FIL wrong in wanting Zidaan? No, it's just a grandpa wanting to spend time with his grandson. I mean who doesn't want to come cuddle a squishy newborn after work? Now he understands my point of view and respects it. This applies to everything regarding your child: make it clear that you're the parent and that they have to respect your choices, but also that they're the grandparents and you respect them.
Find common interests.
My father in law and I have similar personalities so getting along with him was effortless and easy. My mother in law on the other hand, is much more reserved. We both had to work on a relationship. Over the years, our love for Pakistani dramas and shopping has kept us close. Try to find something that you can do with them - just you and them. If time permits, that is. I've taken my MIL to get our nails done, painting classes, lunch, concerts etc. This keeps the relationship healthy when you're driving each other crazy.
Below I've added some pictures over the years with my in laws and our memories.
This isn't to say we're some cookie cutter perfect family. We have our fair share of disagreements. I've found it helpful to focus on the positives than dwell on the negatives. There are pros and cons to everything and no one person is perfect. To some, the pros outweigh the cons when living with other people and to some, the cons are far greater. I always say this: only you know what's right for you. Blogs like these are just someone else's take on their life and choices that you may or may not find helpful.
I'm thankful for the 2 years of wonderful memories I've had with my in-laws. Once we get our own place, I know we will definitely miss them.
Thank you so much for reading!!