Refusing To Live With My Parents-In-Law
“Open your eyes big big when looking for a husband and don’t stay with your in-laws,” my mum would say when she gives me relationship advice. “If you do, you’ll regret!”
Nodding, I’d agree with her but brush her off. I didn’t see anything wrong with living with my husband’s parents. It’d save us some money and they’d get to spend more time with their grandchildren.
But now, at the age where all my friends are tying the knot, I started to give more thought to co-habitation with my future in-laws and realised I’d rather not live with them after marriage.
Not being at ease in my own home
Even though my partner’s mother encourages me to speak my mind and sometimes makes inappropriate racist jokes, I don’t want to unintentionally offend her.
So whenever I’m at my boyfriend’s place, I’m on my best behaviour.
If I move in with them, I feel I’d still have to behave like ‘a proper, young lady’. While niceties help maintain a pleasant relationship, the last thing I need after a long day of work is to put on another ‘performance’.
At the same time, I don’t want my future in-laws to feel they have to go out of their way to make me feel welcome in their home.
My boyfriend’s mum specially buys me dinner from Maki-san and refuses to let me wash the dishes. His dad makes sure to wear a shirt at home even though the Singaporean heat is unbearable.
I can see how our behaviours are restricted and I’d not impose on their current lifestyle.
Maintaining peace at home
But if we do choose to cohabitate, it’s not only important to be comfortable with each other’s presence but to learn to live with each other’s habits. If a compromise isn’t reached, it’d be difficult to get along.
Like in many Asian households, my boyfriend’s father thinks any contact with female underwear will be bad luck for a man’s career. So he forbids female underwear in the washing machine due to his superstitious beliefs.
However, I’ve always washed my underwear along with the rest of my clothes. So when I stay over, I’d have to put my underwear in a bag and bring it home for washing.
Having to ferry around dirty panties is troublesome and it’d also mean I’d have no clean underwear at his place.
Though going through the extra, unnecessary steps to get clean clothes is a trivial matter, it hints at our living habits being incompatible.
In the long run, this can cause unhappiness and built up resentment between both parties because we’d both feel we’re ‘in the right’. Also, it’d put my husband in a spot when a fight inevitably erupts.
Fighting to be the ‘most important woman’ in his life
“If both your mum and I are drowning in the sea, who would you save?” While he’d jokingly pick me, I doubt the choice would be so easy if his mum and I really got into a squabble.
Sometimes, mothers experience anxiety when their son gets married. To make sure they’re still the ‘most important woman’ in his life, they may try to ‘manage’ their son’s relationship.
This can cause the home situation to get out of hand and birth a ‘monster’ mother-in-law.
I doubt this would happen to me as I get along fabulously with my boyfriend’s mum. But I’m still afraid she’ll take a cue from the K-dramas she frequently watches and morph into a ‘monster-in-law’.
Living apart would minimise this source of conflict and with less potential disagreements, it’d mean I’d be less likely to quarrel with my future mother-in-law.
I’d also not want to put my husband in a tough spot. Even though he’s my husband, he’ll always be a son first. I respect his relationship with his mother and will never want to make him choose.
Worrying if my in-laws can hear us having sex
While most differences can be ironed out through a calm, rational discussion, some topics are harder to broach.
Once, my boyfriend and I were watching Game Of Thrones at what we thought was a reasonable volume. A few minutes later, his brother asked us to quieten down.
When he left, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Shit, so your brother can definitely hear us having sex.”
With his eyes glued to the screen, he nonchalantly replied, “Yah, the walls are damn thin, if my mum’s sitting outside watching TV she probably can hear us also.”
While it’s great they respect our privacy and adopt a ‘if I can’t see what you’re doing it’s not happening’ kind of approach, it must still be uncomfortable for them to hear us getting it on.
Living With In-Laws
I’m thankful my boyfriend’s parents have been good to me and are honest, straightforward folks. I’m also appreciative of how they aren’t the passive-aggressive sort.
However, I’d personally like to have my own place when I get married as I value my privacy and independence.
But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to keep my in-laws close. Instead of living with them, I’ll probably buy the unit one block away. After all, we’re still family and family should remain together.
Cover image: source