More specifically, how to be the in-laws…from the guy’s side. (IT’S A LONG ONE. GET COFFEE NOW).
Ours has been mostly a female family. 75% of us are women with one brother in the mix, and nobody’s wedding has pulled anyone into our parents’ house….till now. You hear so much from friends, acquaintances, even random stories of people you don’t even know, where the new girl in the house, (or the new girl in the family, if the couple are living separately), gets to be the one to do the major adjustment. In my idealistic bubble where I want to imagine that it should be equal adjustment for both the genders, it feels uncomfortable to register that that isn’t always true. But the reality is that most girls do have to work towards fitting in (on which I have a ton of opinions but that’s for another day).
So with the brother getting married, I decided I’d imagine all kinds of scenarios based on experience/conversations with friends or strangers/general observation and develop a set of instructions that I can remember and personally take care of with respect to his wife (because so much of the misunderstandings can sometimes even be rooted in actions committed as a force of habit). And of course, I wrote these down because I wanted new in-laws from-the-guy’s-side to have a run-through too, kind of like a borderline public service announcement.
In no way do I feel it applies to every situation or that no one does it and here I am with the revolution AYYYAAHHHHHH, but just something that’s good-to-remember, good-to-execute and good-to-take-in-the-right-spirit. (I have a strange sense of feeling that I might get some kind of hate for this post, but this cookie that I’m having is so freaking good, I’m finding it every hard to care at this point). Let’s go?
1. Give space. It’s always best to live in separate houses because that’s truly what breeds the best relationships, between the couple and the girl & in-laws (a decision religiously preferred as well). But that may not be possible for everyone so if you’re living together, give space.
3. Don’t tell her how to do stuff in her space. Let her do things the way she wants to. If she leaves her shoes all over the place or does lab experiments under her bed, that shouldn’t give you a fever. If you feel her room’s messy, clean your own room because that’s as far as your territory goes (probably stop the lab experiments…).
5. Don’t imagine her personality to be exactly what it is during the first couple of months. Everyone is on their best behavior initially. She’ll hang out with you more, be nicer than she would be to anyone else, but that’s not her actual personality….just like it’s not yours. Real life comes into action after a few weeks and everyone gets busy with their lives. Don’t expect her or the couple to be your best buddies all the time or to be smiling and cooperating 24/7.
7. If she doesn’t know how to cook (and I can’t even believe I’m typing this), don’t expect her to learn. If food was getting cooked at your house before the wedding, then it can continue to be done the same way. You should definitely split chores between everyone but then dish them out to your brother/son as well (if he wasn’t already doing them before).
8. If she’s trying something new, don’t stand over her shoulder and watch. Make her feel like you’re not there so she can feel free to make mistakes. A bad purchase for the home, a food recipe that she got messed up, anything else that she could do freely at her own place. Let both of them breathe and feel like they can do their own disasters without any silent judgment.
9. If she’s working, don’t comment on her staying late at work. If she’s staying at home, don’t comment on her staying up all night/sleeping in late. If she’s not the one responsible for administering life saving drugs to anyone in your family, let her plan her own schedule.
10. If she’s a working girl, she should have the exact amount of house chores assigned to her after work, as your son/brother. If your son’s relaxing on the couch after work, so should she. There’s nothing wrong with making chai for your daughter/sister-in-law everyday if you’re a stay-at-home person. If the entire household has jobs or has stay-at-home moms with kids to manage, everyone should split responsibilities. No girl should come home from work or after a full day of managing her kids and make rotis if the husband or other family members are not helping out…equally.
11. If everyone’s living in the same house, and the couple’s heading out for, let’s say, weekend plans, don’t ask every single time where they’re going and when they’ll be back. Tell them to have a good time and then just stop right there.
14. Compliment her. Even if her taste in style or food or home decor is not what you like. Compliment her.
15. Tell your brother to compliment her. Guys are slow, they need instructions.
16. If you’re living in the same house, give respect to that person when making plans. If you share certain areas like a guest room or living area, check before having anyone over so you know if someone is visiting from their end and you don’t crash their party.
17. If you’re living in the same house, don’t just walk into their space, especially if they’re not around, just because it used to be your place at one time. If you wouldn’t like someone going through your room/stuff when you’re not around, don’t do the same yourself, no matter how comfortable it feels.
18. If you’re the sister and not living in the same house, but visiting your parents house for example, mention before coming, if a space is shared like a living room/kitchen and you’ve made plans to majorly occupy that.
19. If you’re not living in the same house and visiting the couple in another city or country, don’t crash their house without asking. In fact, ask both of them, particularly if the girl is not working. Because she’ll be the one entertaining you in all probability and you need to ask her permission to come to her house. My husband always says his mother taught him that the couple’s house is primarily the girl’s house after getting married. I love that he knows this and always repeats it.
20. And if you’re doing point #9 above, help out with the chores, especially if there’s no house help. Your vacation should not become a buttsore for the couple.
27. Be happy for your sibling/son. If there’s a person who makes him happy, that needs to be IT for you. Everyone deserves a loving relationship and if your family member has managed to find that, be happy for them.