Moving in with The In-Laws: The Do’s, The Don’ts & The Bits In Between
Weddings are a whole host of emotions for an Indian bride. There is so much happiness, joy and love, and yet bursts of sadness at the thought of leaving home to start a new chapter. For most of us, it is the first time we’ll be living with our husbands, and for some like me, the first time I moved away from home to live with my in-laws.
I’ve known my in-laws for over 10 years and that means that I’ve been in and out of their home, and this has allowed me to become more comfortable with my surroundings. I say it to my mum ALL the time, I’m not sure how the generation above us, ever moved into homes without knowing their husbands/in-laws, but I guess that’s just how it was back then.
I feel like I’ve always known this moment was coming for a lifetime, and to all my fellow bride-to-be’s, though it is emotional thinking about leaving home, (and an Indian tradition that I think is seriously outdated), you have to remember it is the start of a new chapter.
I grew up in a home with my parents, Bibi (grandmother), and older brother, so I’ve almost watched my mum be a ‘daughter-in-law’ in someone else’s eyes. To some degree, this has helped my expectation of what living in someone else’s home should be like, but to another degree, is has also taught me how difficult it is to be a newlywed in a brand new home.
I feel like as a daughter, I have to sacrifice my home, living in my comfort zone and (in some cases), my last name, just to marry the person I want to be with. I do feel like since marriage I have lost a part of my identity, but it is also the beginning of a version of myself that I have never known. My ability to adapt is generally really good, but I almost haven't had a minute to realise how different life is now.
Do I think marriage is different if you move into your ‘own’ home as a couple? Yes. This is such a controversial topic within the Asian community, but luckily the 21st century has already begun breaking down some of those taboos. I do think having space is such a luxury and it will allow you a different experience. Out of all the people I know who have gotten married in the past few years, I am one of two, who has moved in with their in-laws.
And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Moving in with your new family has so many pros. I have had 28 years with my parents and I now get to spend time with my new family, which is time that I will probably never get back again. I am getting to know how they work, their personalities and creating bonds which would possibly take slightly longer if we were in a different house. I also think that they are getting to know me, and for them it is equally a process too. Obviously, it has been difficult trying to prioritise my husband and get to know the entire family at the same time, but it is what it is. I do think it really helps that they have a daughter too, and I do think it is all about compromise and willingness to learn their way of life.
There are lots of other pros, such as it allowing extra time for saving, extra time for learning about religions, cooking, growing your independence or any other skills you may want to learn, but also it allows you time to adjust to your new environment, especially if you have moved away from your home town. I now really count my blessings that my parents are only 20 minutes away. I try and stay with them once every few weeks, because I think we all forget that it’s an adjustment for them too. I’ve really learnt to not underestimate the value of a quick cuppa with my mum.. Sometimes that is all you need.
I’ve been married just over 3 months and I wanted to share a few things I’ve learnt along the way, and you know me, I’m going to keep it raw and real. There are so many conversations that aren’t had within our community, and this is a safe space to have them.
Make sure you and your partner know the long term goal and expectation. There is nothing wrong with having a timeline and something to work towards. Fear of the unknown is something that triggers my anxiety, and knowing where you stand is always a positive. Always have a united front on absolutely everything, and make sure you’re on the same page before allowing opinions in. Your goals don’t have to align with cultural expectations. (Say it louder for the people at the back!!!) It’s okay to want to move out, not have kids, not stay in your home town, not change your name and want to travel the world. There is no right or wrong.
Discuss finances, financial expectations and legalities. These are the conversations you want to have before you move in. I am someone who absolutely hates talking about money, but I want this to always be an open conversation with my husband. We can only be a strong unit and ultimately, we are setting up our future together.
Understand the family dynamic. Find your space within the home, find your role and understand how things work. Everyone has personality traits that may not align with yours, but it’s about understanding how to keep the family peace, and knowing what you bring to the table. I spent the first couple of weeks just settling in and watching how the house ran, before putting in my two pence (my two pence being opinions and Zoflora lol). It’s okay to do things differently, and it’s okay to have your own little OCD’s, but be open minded. Marriage defined it literally ‘compromising and open mindedness.’ Oxford Dictionary, eat your heart out x
You’ll find that everyone (friends and family), has an opinion about everything in life, and you can sometimes feel more judged as a newlywed. Just remember that your happiness is a priority and you don’t exist to make everyone else happy. Pick your battles (with your husband or anyone in life!) and always remain respectful. How you react will always says more about you than other people.
Figure out what does and doesn’t make you comfortable. I found the silliest things made me feel at home. The luxury of having a dressing gown, (mainly so I don’t have to go downstairs with a bra on first thing in the morning- the struggles are very real lol). Other little things like doing the family laundry is absolutely fine by me, but I would always prefer to do my own. There’s just something about my MIL sorting through my Victoria Secrets that just doesn’t sit right with me. And on that note, ditch the Victoria Secrets before moving out :):):)
In all seriousness, make time for yourselves as a couple. I often feel bad that I want to go away every weekend or do something just the two of us, and that guilt is only a result of myself. Sometimes I forget we are newlyweds because it’s like I’ve become so used to having that family dynamic. But equally, we are never going to get this newlywed stage back and I want to become better at prioritising our time. It doesn’t mean I love family time any less and it is hard, but it is an absolute necessity, that you both prioritise one another.
People aren’t lying when they say that you don’t just marry your husband, but you marry the whole family. So make sure that when you are looking to settle down, you lay out the expectation and above all, protect your peace. The transition is one of life’s challenges, but if you’re with the right person, it will fall into place. I’m lucky that I have a set of in-laws that treat me like a daughter. Make sure your husband always has your back and understands what sacrifices you have made!! Take time for yourself, keep your independence, mentally and financially, and know that you will find your feet in time.
Above all, I hope your new married life is the start of your best chapter yet. I hope your new family take you in as one of their own and I hope your new parents treat you well. Remember, we are all learning along the way, but I know that some of the best times of our lives lay ahead. 🤍