How to live around your in laws

Pre requisites:

  • Your in laws are not living in your country
  • You love and respect your in laws

1. Know them
Well if you have been married as long as I have, then you should know your in laws well by now. But fret not  -  to know more about them you can just take a 2 weeks break and live with them wherever they are. Get to know their eating habits, their daily lifestyle. Observe. If they are doing something you know that doesn't make sense -  shut the hell up. You are there to observe and learn. Not to comment on their lifestyle- thank you very much.

2. Be mentally prepared.
Ideally, not many parents would like to surprise their sons by flying over by themselves and knocking their kids door. I'm not sure how the westerners do it -  but Indians like us -  don't do surprises. We shock. Not surprise. So you know way in advance they are coming. Be prepared. If you are used to live along with just your family ( you , your hubby and kid/s), then be prepared to live with additional pax. 

3. Get their living space prepared.
This should be a no brainer. You have guests coming over. You will not be cleaning the extra room out of its extra boxes and cob webs there and then. Get it cleaned and cleared earlier. Ensure its neat and roomy. Ensure they can have all their personal stuffs put in one place. Give them empty boxes and trays to keep their stuffs and hangers for their clothes. That said, that means you should get their bathware prepared too. Their toilet and bath should have ample storage for them to keep their stuffs and soaps and all to be provided for.

4. Stock your pantry.
You have been over at theirs. So you know what they eat. Maybe you are not a fan of their food and you think you can cook better. Whatever it may be, stock up the food they would prefer to eat as well. No matter what, people like to eat what they are familiar with. This said, prepare a weekly menu. Add in familiar food for them. Ensure they like the food they eat.

5. Talk to listen
I know you think you are smart ( sometimes I do ), but they happen to be more smarter though not tech wise. If they are talking to you -  listen. My FIL -  loves to talk about his younger days. He loves to talk about his work, the people he met and all. I usually listen and ask more questions. This conversation happens when I m at the dining table, or when preparing food. If he wants to talk - I will listen. When you feel sleepy -  never ever reflect that. Thats pretty rude. Say something polite, drink coffee and wash your face with cold water and go back to listen. Again -  no one wants to hear your feedback

6. Be patient
You know you take effort to prepare some really new and good food. And at then end of the meal -  you get feedback and you are not happy with that. Maybe there isn't much salt. Maybe you should have added more lemon to that gravy or something. Don't take it personally. Trust me -  this will not stop at one mean or one dish. It will happen at every meal time. So buck up your cooking, or develop the deaf ear syndrome. 

7. Deaf Ear syndrome
I don't like feedback about what I cook. I am not a chef anyway -  hence I don't look forward to michelin stars..but I don't like feedback about what is missing and what should be added in my food. If it tastes good to me -  the style and recipe will remain. So I will listen to what they say and come up with the usual response appropriate for the conversation. And I will do the same thing again. I am just being consistent in my approach. This is me - saying - this is me. I am not changing. 

8. Be nice and dodge
My MIL has a habit of giving me lectures about religion and about our prophet. I have no issues about that and I am ok with that. But she does it everywhere. When I m working, reading, teaching my kid, cooking and watching tv (She's here lecturing as I type this).  Everywhere. Its her way of communicating with me. Her knowledge of religion along with her faith is super strong-  its amazing to see it really. But its a little bit irritating. I can't say stop. So I get busy. I will listen to about 2 minutes and then I apologize and tell her I have to go to toilet or so. End of lecture for the day. I know. I am evil.

9. Entertain
Bring them out. Show them around. I usually bring my inlaws for walks. This time, I brought them around to check out the new platform at the reservoir, the new park and then the swimming pool. My hubby is not at home the whole time, so I bring them out. And I enjoy bringing them out and about. Its so much better than staying in and watching useless serials.

10. Let it go
I will not say life will be easy. There will be a point you get irritated. That's where your hubby comes along. Never ever say anything stupid about his parents to him. That's a sure ticket to the next few days of silent nights. First have a chillax session with him. Meet him after work on his way back for an expensive latte at Starbucks or  teh tarik at the AYE Food court. Then begin talking about the day. You then tell him if you feel offended about something and tell him that you mean no harm, just you felt one kind or something about what his parents said.

I feel its better to confide to their son rather than to themselves. If your hubby is a smart alec like mine - chances are -  the irritating factors are turned into comedy sooner or later. If your hubby is not that smart  -  I am sorry no advise for that portion. Maybe you should avoid this discussion with your hubby and write it out somewhere.

Look -  they are elderly people and they deserve respect. Let them be happy and at peace when they are with you. I am pretty sure your intention in the world is not to get a badge of recognition from somewhere that you are a good daughter in law. I am not my in law's favorite nor their choice as well. I made mistakes when they first arrived and yet they have been very understanding to me. We are all going to be old one day so treat them with the same amount of respect you'd want to be treated when you get there. 

At the end of the day -  you should feel happy and satisfied that you did not offend them and that they look forward to come back again and again -  that says a lot about in laws satisfaction.

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