ASK COLETTE: “The In-Laws Are Encroaching!”
Here, Boomer Intuitive Coach Colette Baron-Reid on in-law madness and setting healthy boundaries
My husband’s parents are a lot to handle. His mother is domineering, opinionated, plays the victim and has no filter. His father drinks way too much. I’m sure I’m not alone in my situation but, to make things worse, they lost all of their retirement money. Now it seems my husband expects (and I’m sure they do also) that we will open our home to them, permanently. I can’t imagine having them live with us. He thinks they should just take our extra bedroom upstairs, near ours. I suggested we create an in-law suite on our existing property, something they can live in and not share our common areas and kitchen with us. He doesn’t want to make that investment and just can’t see how badly this will all turn out. What can I do? How can I make all of us happy? – Keeping the In-Laws as Out-Laws
Dear Keeping the In-Laws as Out-Laws,
Ah, family, aren’t they just fabulous?! Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that not only is it next to impossible to make everyone happy but it’s also not your job! These aren’t your children – you don’t have a legal or moral responsibility to swoop in and save the day.
These are adults who are in a tough spot. I totally understand your desire to be kind but also authentic to yourself, your husband and your marriage – and all three come before any obligation you might think you have to his parents.
Your husband thinks it’s too expensive to build the in-law suite – I get it. But how much more expensive would your divorce be – both financial and emotional? That’s reality, honey. I’m not kidding around!
How about some boundaries to start? If the in-law suite will take some time and money, create a temporary plan – and I mean temporary – with a set deadline and set expectations on behavior and accommodations.
Talk to your husband about his vision of what your daily lives will be like with his parents underfoot. Think in very basic terms to start – how will you share meals, if at all? When will you be guaranteed alone time as husband and wife? What will the weekends look like? How will you express yourself when opinions are offered and not welcomed? How can you address boundaries when they’re crossed? Once you’ve worked through this with your husband and you can create a united front, only then can you present your expectations to your in-laws. And it has to be presented as “This is the way it’s gotta be, folks.” They may very well not want to agree to your terms, and that’s perfectly okay!
The last thing you need is to start every morning and every evening with in-law madness. Your sanity and your health is the most important thing here. And for them too, they are elderly and they too should not be placed in a tense and hostile environment. It’s not good for any of you.
In the meantime, get a reality check for all of you – get some estimates and ideas from contractors. See how much your in-laws can contribute to the project. Find out what your bank can do to help you spread it out over time. Look at it as a way to add value to your property and make sure it will accommodate a full-time renter if and when it is vacant. Think long term, not short term.
May you see through the eyes of blessings,
Intuition – insight – influence
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