Reflection of 2 years of living with the in-laws, Mike’s parents
written by Jenny Hoffman
A few years ago life was changing for my husband and me in many ways; Mike finally found a job as an attorney after two years of searching. Life was looking up.
We were living with my sister and were so ready to finally have a place of our own – so apartment hunting we went. To our dismay we could not find anything that we could afford that was safe. Unfortunately, Mike’s new job did not pay well and we were in debt, so after looking at many places that scared the living daylights out of me, Mike and I decided to have a chat with his parents to see if there was anyway we could move in with them.
We had previously lived with his parents for a year when we were first married. We knew what we were getting into and thought of this as a way to save money toward buying their house when they retired in a few years.
His parents were great and welcomed us with open arms, so 2 years ago, in April, we moved into their basement. I cried, not sure if I wanted to do this again but was not sure what else to do. I also was not sure how I would survive this. Me, all my things, my pets, and Mike – and Mike’s things moved into the basement.
Living with your in-laws can be extremely tough. You can’t escape on holidays when you live in the basement. You learn more about the family than you may ever want to know…for instance, what your mother in-law wears to bed at night, or someone watching you when you don’t want to be watched, like the day you decide you want M&Ms and popcorn for breakfast.
Yet, it is also one of the greatest things I ever did for myself and my relationship with the in-laws. I got to know the real them as they did with me. There is almost always someone to hug you when you need it the most, you can borrow a cup of sugar when you need it, and most of all there is always someone there making sure you are okay.
The last two years have been tough for my family. My mom went through treatment for cancer, my dad had heart surgery, we were in the process of adopting a baby when the mom changed her mind, and Mike lost his job in December of this past year. Without the in-laws I’m not sure how I would of gotten through all of this. I needed to have someone there for me when I was too hurt and exhausted to say I needed help.
My only advice if you choose to live with your the in-laws is set rules. For example, I do laundry on Mondays, I shower at night, and I will never go to their bedroom without yelling up the stairs as I go up there. These are the things that help keep your sanity. You know when you can do things and you don’t see what you don’t want to see. It takes time and patience to live with the in-laws, it can be extremely frustrating at times, but living with anyone can be. Please, I know I’m not perfect.
My only regret of living with my in-laws comes from Mike’s siblings. That is where the trouble lies…family members that do not live there currently – but have grown up where you are now living.
One of Mike’s siblings loved that I lived there. I could help with the lawn and snow shoveling so she did not have to worry about her parents. She knew that her parents were okay; someone was there to make sure they were taken care of. The other two were an entirely different story. They found it pathetic that I lived there, did not respect that it was my home, and felt they had rights to all that was in the house - including our things. They did not understand why we would be upset if they came over unannounced late at night when the in-laws were out of town. They grew up there and in their minds they believed that they had the right to be over whenever they wanted to be.
Mike and I moved into our new home last week, and I am thrilled to be in my new home. And I am thrilled that Mike found a great new job.
I love the freedom my family has but I miss my in-laws. I am currently not speaking to the two siblings; they hurt me beyond belief a week before our big move. I know time will heal the wounds, but most of all I am hurt that they can’t understand how the Hoffman house was a home to me and will always hold a piece of my heart. No, I did not grow up there, but I did live there and I did call it my home.
The in-laws have always been there for me and as life continues to change for us, I am so grateful that I have them in our lives. I am grateful I have lived with them. I understand Mike so much better because of this; he is a product of his upbringing and I know now what that really means. Family is one of the greatest things in this world, and when you show love and respect almost anything is truly possible, even living with your in-laws