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When a couple decides to move in together, it can be quite an exciting time for them. Some couples decide to wait until they are married to start living together whereas others decide to cohabitate first and then get married later or not at all. Being in their own home provides the couple with privacy and more time to spend together. There are instances when a couple wants to live together but for different reasons, they might be unable to do so. An option could be to live with one of the couple’s family.

If you find yourself living with your in-laws with whom you might not get along with, this can be quite a stressful experience. The following are a few tips which can help you manage the situation better.

  • Creating boundaries – This is crucial both for you and for your in-laws. Everyone is used to doing things their own way and you might need to make some adaptations to how you usually get things done around the house or the lifestyle that you live. Have a discussion around how the housework will be divided so that your mother-in-law will not feel a burden by you all living with her. She might want to do everything herself because she prefers it that way. In that case, every now and then you can still offer if she would like help with anything. Open discussions can help you avoid disagreements.
  • Help with the children – If you have children, you will want to have a discussion around disciplinary actions and other ways of raising the children. Grandparents might have the tendency to spoil their grandchildren and if this is done often, you can become upset about it. Have a discussion about how much you would like your mother-in-law to be involved in the children’s upbringing, what is acceptable for you and what isn’t. If there are disagreements, try to approach the matter in a calming manner and discuss how to go forward.
  • Team up – If you are living with his mother, it may be easier if some tough topics are brought up by your partner rather than yourself. She might be more resistant if such topics are brought up by her daughter-in-law than her son. Show a united front and first discuss issues you may be having in private rather than in front of her.
  • Develop a positive relationship – If you do not get along that well with your mother-in-law remember that you still need to live together, at least for the time being. Rather than using your energy to ‘fight’ each other, try and find common interests that you share and spend time together so that she feels included. If this seems like an impossible feat, choose which battles to fight as otherwise you are simply going to be mentally exhausted each time you are at home.
  • Show gratitude – No matter what your differences are, your mother-in-law is providing a roof over your heads. Try and show your appreciation towards this fact and focus on the benefits of you all living together. For example, by living with her, you might be able to save up to buy your own place or rent.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.