I am stuck on how to handle my in-laws living with us. Should I just deal with it since this life is temporary and we aren’t really fully supposed to have peace till the 12th imam comes? Or should I do something about it? I don’t want them to live with me. I’ve tried for the past ten years to be okay with it but I realize I cannot deal with it and I hate coming home when they are there. I am not comfortable in my own home. I am tired of dealing with them. My husband doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to. He comes from a cultural background where I should be okay with his parents living with us. Also our home most likely does not allow us to build a live in lot due to HOA (Homeowners Association). What should I do?
I hear you, living with anyone can be a challenge, especially your in-laws! This world is a test but that does not mean we shouldn’t try to seek peace, especially in our homes. It sounds like you have no choice but to live with your in-laws so here are our suggestions on how to make the most of it.
- Acceptance: First, because of cultural norms and the norm in your home/family, there’s not much space for you to protest. So we have to learn to accept the things we can’t change. By accepting you are taking the first step to peace
- Realistic Expectations: Reel in your expectations good and bad to make them realistic. Understand that you are dealing with different cultures, different generations, different lifestyles and different traumas. Your in-laws are coming from a different life than you so place appropriate expectations on them. Create space for communication so you can understand their expectations and also communicate your own.
Here it is also important to note, neither you nor them are perfect, you are allowed to make mistakes, have differences and be yourself. Don’t try to be the perfect daughter in law, release yourself from these expectations. Additionally, don’t expect those perfect standards on them either.
- Setting Boundaries: Living with people other than your immediate family can sometimes blur boundaries. It is important that you set your boundaries, you and your spouse can work together to set these boundaries especially if they are his parents. Your husband has to be the one to enforce these boundaries as well, being your ally in this situation.
- Seek Help: Your spouse knows both you and his parents the best. Seek his help in maintaining peace whether that be finding time to vent to him, seek his advice, getting space from everyone or asking him to be a buffer when you feel triggered. If needed, find other ways to vent or seek counseling to work through your high emotions towards your inlaws. By becoming regulated in your emotions, you can face any challenges that come your way.
Additionally use your in-laws to help you in your day to day, ask for help where you are not able to. After all it takes a village to raise a family, use them as part of your village!
- Pick your battles: Some things are not worth fighting or getting upset over. You will face a lot of challenges because no two people are alike. In the grand scheme of things see what is worth fighting for and what is worth letting go.
- Empathy: It is important that you are empathetic before judgmental, especially when it comes to your in-laws. When we are empathetic we can focus on creating a positive environment without letting the negativity affect us. All of us are misunderstood by someone or the other. We may have bad days, or be thinking of something in our heads, may be in a bad mood or triggered. It does not mean that we are bad people or that we aren’t kind, that we care etc. All humans are a spectrum of different moods, we want to give people the same treatment as we would want for ourselves. Therefore being empathetic instead of judgmental will help us practice doing this.
- Flexibility: Overall, we have to be flexible. Letting things go, allow space for communication, give excuses for negative behaviors and remember you can’t control anything except your own actions. Therefore, we will also be accountable to God for those same things, present your good akhlaq.
You are right in that this world is temporary and we have only been placed in this world to be tested. As Imam Ali says, Indeed Allah, the Exalted, has made this world for that which comes after it, and in it He tests its inhabitants so that He may know who from among them is best in conduct. We have not been created for this world and we have not been commanded to strive for it, rather we have only been placed in it in order to be tested and [so] that we may work in it for what is [to come] after it. (Ghurar Al-Hikam Hadith #3219)
Our goal here is to be the best we can be in all the different challenges and circumstances that come our way.