Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to deal with inlaws

No one really tells you what to expect in a marriage, but one thing you know the minute you say "i do" is that it’s no longer just the two of you, but the whole clan and that’s just the way it is. If you plan to go the long haul (who doesn’t), you might care to take a moment to figure how you relate with the ‘big clan! Now this article is not just for the daughter in law, it is for the tete, who makes muroora feel like she owes you something, and for you vamwene who think they are always right.

Firstly, lets go biblical...Notice the first thing God declared after He created Eve and brought her to Adam and she became his wife. God said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). So, from the very beginning, God saw the importance of giving this direction to couples. It is the “leave and join” principle. The word ‘leave’ entails letting go, part or detaching.  On the other hand the word join entails sticking things together or bringing together so as to form one unit. God is giving you a direct command to cut the cord with your parents and to be glued together as one with your spouse, thus creating a new family structure independent of all others. 

Now, before venturing into the nuts and bolts, we need to realize that as part of our tradition and cultural make-up, there is a general expectation to take care of our parents, at least for most of us in the current generation (there are of course those few who are fortunate enough to have had parents who are well up and do not need to be helped much, in a material way!) Now, weather your other half was working and taking care of his parents before you met or not, the fact is, his parents already would have had expectations from their child and most of the times in a way that may not have taken into account your coming into their son’s life! Also, your in-laws might even miss the fact that you are the best thing that has happened to their child, but we have to accept that no matter how nice or good you are, not everyone will like you. You also have to understand that your in-laws probably grew up in a different system and might not understand and appreciate what the modern world comes with. They will never understand that half of your cellphone has male numbers or will they understand internet, let alone facebook. so it is up to you to know what to do at the right time and place.

There can be no divided loyalties. When you married your spouse, you promised to put your husband or wife as the first and primary person in your life, and that’s where your loyalty rightly belongs. If your wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it’s the husband who needs to step in and work on fixing it. The same applies if a husband has a problem with his in-laws, his wife must speak up on behalf of her husband.

Your parents and in-laws only know what you tell them. Set boundaries so you and your spouse know what specific information will or will not be shared with your family. If you go to your parents or family members every time you’re angry, frustrated, or having problems in your marriage, they hear that but they don’t hear when you’ve resolved the issues. If you’re having a problem in your marriage, you need to resolve it in the marriage, privately.  

Never attempt to force your spouse to choose between his or her parents and your marriage. Understand that the other woman in every man’s life is his mother, so it will never work. 
Pick your battles. Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree in some situations, politely telling them that you appreciate their suggestions, but you and your spouse make the final decisions. Be considerate, controlling your emotions and temper as much as possible, being careful to think before you speak those venomous words swirling through your mind at the time.

Treat with TLC. There is nothing that beats a nice gesture from someone you least expect it from. Remember your in-laws on their birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s and father’s day, and any other special time that comes around. It does not have to be by way of a present all the time: Even that timely phone call or text message is enough to satisfy the “it’s the thought that counts” saying. 

Finally, always try and look at things from another angle before you react.  James 1:19  "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry". 

Till next time,

Ms B

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