There is a certain level of respect that society and tradition demands a wife place on her in-laws. This kind of respect is somewhat different from the kind we give our own mother, siblings or relatives.
It is different because tradition demands that we treat our in-laws with caution. We can’t be too familiar or too distant with them. We should always keep the doors of our homes open for them to come anytime they feel like visiting.
Once they are in our homes, we have to take care of them like we would our own relatives. Except, whereas we would tread carelessly and freely with our family, the same can’t be said of our in-laws. The in-laws ought to be treated with the utmost respect, honor, and love.
However, what happens when your in-laws abuse this privilege and maliciously take control of your home? They want to run your kitchen, what meals you cook and how you prepare them. Even when specific food has been served for your husband, they have no problem eating it.
They want to come in and go out of the house whatever hour of day or night they like. They demand that you raise your kids a certain way even though your ways are upright. They actively compete for the affection and attention of your husband. But is there a way you can take back control? Yes, there is! Here are a few easy steps to take towards getting that control back:
1. Talk to your husband
The hardest thing for any wife to do is to tell her husband that she is having problems with his side of the family in her home. You risk coming off as unkind, unwelcoming, selfish and not a great supporter of your husband and his family.
The first time something unruly happens, before confronting your in-laws, talk to your husband about it. It is tempting to lash back and confront them because we don’t want to come off as push-overs. However, when it first happens, it’s best to simply say, “let’s talk about this another time.” Walk away and discuss with your spouse. The both of you need to decide how to best solve the problem.
But what if your husband comes off as unsupportive? For some, it wouldn’t be surprising if their response was, “just let it be. She’s just a little girl. She’ll grow up eventually.” Or, “They’re just getting old.” Referring to his parents. “Sometimes they get like that. Just let them have their way every now and then.”
Unfortunately, the more you let them have their way, the more control they have over your home. Eventually, it starts feeling like you’re the dependant in their home. What do you do next?
2. Talk to your husband, again
No one wants to live with people that are constantly at war with each other. Especially when it is your house and people are not respecting that fact. It’s even tougher when your husband is not very supportive. He doesn’t want to take anyone’s side because he doesn’t want to upset anyone.
Unfortunately for him, if it’s clear that there’s a problem, the only side he needs to take is his wife’s. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is his mother or grandmother.
His fear of offending his relative is destroying your home and it is his duty to protect you. You are one. You’re his number one priority and anyone living in the house needs to recognize that fact.
If they love and respect him, they ought to treat you in the same manner. In case your husband has forgotten these facts, remind him. Do this in the most respectful manner possible. Do not come off as challenging or sarcastic. Be assertive, but not too aggressive.
3. Get help from others
This help can come from elderly people in the family or from your local church. It’s usually better if the family is informed before outsiders are engaged. Seek their advice first. Perhaps if someone they seemingly respect talks to them, they might change. If all fails, then follow the next step.
4. Assert your position in the house
If all forms of dialogue fail, it’s time to assert your position. Talk to your husband first and implore him for his support. Ask him to call for a meeting with everyone involved. Let him take the lead. If he comes off as being in the middle, then nothing will be resolved.
During this meeting, share your grievances and at the same time assert your position, reminding everyone that it is your home and you need things done in a certain way. They need to respect that.
Assert your boundaries and inform everyone not to cross them. Do not beg their obedience in any way. It will make them feel as if they have power over you. Simply inform them that’s how you want things done. It’s not a negotiation. If anyone has any suggestions or feelings about how you do things, they need to talk to you first before acting out.
5. Be realistic
Do not expect everything to be perfect after discussing things. Do what you can to avoid unnecessary confrontations. You want peace in your home. You can’t control what your in-laws say or do but you can control how you respond to it.
You can let a few things pass instead of pointing out every detail that displeases you. However, when it comes to values that govern your home and children, respectfully remind everyone that you and your husband have a set way in which you wish to run your home and raise your children. Anyone living with you ought to respect that.