Tag Archives: in-laws

Pre-marriage therapy

Love is in the air, folks.

I had the chance to meet up with a long-time friend on a quick trip to Colorado. She was sharing the family joy about her niece’s upcoming wedding and all the fun, special, and multigenerational planning that was going into this event.

This morning I was talking with another friend who passed along the cheerful news of mutual friend’s engagement. We chatted about how great it was this mutual friend is really marrying the man of her dreams.

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Last night I was cleaning off the DVR and perusing the April/May 2013 issue of Brides magazine (Yes, I subscribe. Judge me!) when I came across episode 9 of Shahs of Sunset. Yes, I know I’m on the late show with this episode – but hey, I know I’m not the only one who gets behind on DVR recordings.

Other than the chaos, yelling, knife wielding, and overspending of the Shah’s cast –this episode caused me to pause and make a connection with the therapy session between MJ and her mother.

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The therapist offered both women clipboards with the prompts:

  • For my mother I want…
  • For my daughter want…

Each woman was allowed a few minutes to write some things down and then they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. The therapist does a great job, in my opinion, of helping both women understand how they are clinging to the past. They both need to update their relationship, learn who each other is right now, and recommit to having a loving and understanding relationship.

This seems like a simple activity, but if each person is open and honest, the impact can be very powerful.

An exercise like this would be a powerful opener for a bride or groom-to-be to have with their future in-laws and I’m thinking about adding it to my multigenerational boot camp series.

I would change the prompts up a bit:

  • For my son/daughter’s healthy marriage I want:
  • To support my son-in-law/daughter-in-law I will:
  • For a thriving relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I want:
  • For an authentic relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I will:

After a rich and deep discussion, it would be great if a visualization board contract could be created. Our society is big on words and how things can or should look – but I think creating a visualization board contract would create more room and space for the *in-laws to be thoughtful and mindful about the relationship they are entering into and how they will stay focused on what they’ve all committed to do.

The visualization board contract can capture feelings, ideas, thoughts, emotions, and moods that each in-law wants to tap into as they enter into this multigenerational relationship (aka – marriage). The board can leave room for the in-laws to continue to learn more about each other and the various ways they want to explore this. Assumptions can potentially fall away. The board can also highlight necessary boundaries they will also support this in-law relationship.

As you entered into your marriage/relationship, what steps did you take to build an authentic relationship with your in-laws?

When you became a mother-in-law/father-in-law, what proactive measures did you take to support your son/daughter’s marriage (or partnership)?

 

*in-law relationships with siblings could also be included

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Jerry Jones – collaborative father-in-law?

Oh, I love a great in-law dynamics chuckle!

Two friends sent texts to me asking if I had watched the Dallas Cowboys football game.

Uhm, no. I believe I was up to my eyeballs in:

  • reading Busy Busy Town,
  • serving as the master quizzer with French flashcards (Lord! Why didn’t she take Spanish – a language I actually know!),
  • attempting to brush tiny teeth – even when the tiny mouth will not open wide enough for me to get way back there,
  • and following the Twitter feed about the DNC.

No, no football.

So…to get me in the funny know about Jerry Jones and his son-in-law cleaning his glasses, my friend sent this video clip.

Hilarious!

Nothing like a great multigenerational/in-laws chuckle on pre-Friday!

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Everybody Loves Raymond…especially when it's NOT my reality

by Kanesha

Summer vacation is going great!

We’re sightseeing, eating too much, spending time together, and watching silly TV.

Last night when the kids were snoozing, hubby and I were snuggling and watching a super old syndicated episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. It definitely made the oldie but goodie list.

This episode was the one where the five adults are playing “Scruples” and Marie, in her overbearing and “who me?” manner asks if Ray would TAKE HER IN when she’s elderly. The squeamish, passive aggressive, and “five-year-old” Ray says YES.

Of course Debra is horrified and immediately follows Ray into the kitchen to ask him what his problem is.

“Shouldn’t this be a decision that should be discussed?… Marie might be taking you seriously.”

Click —> full episode synopsis

Hubby and I immediately looked at each other and laughed so hard our stomach muscles ached.  Yes – it seemed innocent.  Yes – it was just a game.  BUT – Debra was right – Marie was serious when asking Ray. (And let me point out  how manipulative Marie was being in making up the question in the first place. Boo, Marie, boo!!)

Debra from a separate episode:

When I got married, I didn’t just get a husband; I got a whole freak show that set up their tent right across the street! And that would be fine–if they stayed there! But every day–every day–they dump a truckload of their insane family dreck into my lap!

Hubby:

When we originally discussed my mom moving into our house, Kanesha was pregnant and we were looking at childcare.  We don’t remember who first mentioned the option nor if we were serious when it was first discussed.

Kanesha:

I totally remember who suggested it. You’re mother! She said something like, “Well, maybe I should sell my house and move in to help you all with the baby since I didn’t know I could still get grandchildren.” We didn’t know how serious this was at first…

While I watched Debra imagine her future with Marie living with her (and not just across the street from her), I felt myself saying:

1.  How dare he make this decision without consulting you! I would shake him!

2.  Debra, does Ray even realize the dynamic of your relationship with Marie? Is is really a blind fool? (I’ve watched the show enough; YES he is!)

3.  This development (the “invitation” to Marie) calls for drastic measures. Debra, you may have to go on whoopie strike or find a referral for a good divorce attorney.

3.  Put your foot down and tell Ray that all of you need to go to family counseling before you will even CONSIDER this multigenerational set-up.

4.  Start drinking heavily, but no driving.

5.  Continue the whoopie strike!

Had my mother-in-law been like Marie, conniving, controlling, and overbearing, there is absolutely no way I would have considered having her live with us. Before our multigenerational household was realized, my relationship with my mother-in-law was already one of friendship, camaraderie, discovery and proper boundaries. She is NO Marie!

Here are some quick and dirty tips, from me, if you are considering setting up a multigenerational household:

1.  Don’t consider multigenerational living if you recoil in horror just thinking about it. It’s not for everyone.

2.  Be honest throughout all discussions about living with parents/in-laws (or other family members). You’re not going to become a saint for saying YES, when you really want to say NO!

3.  If you have a hard time being honest and articulating your ideas during verbal discussions, write your thoughts down and create talking points. This is not the time to be a martyr.

4.  Seek out a mediator (e.g. counselor, life coach, clergy member, psychologist, etc.) to talk things through as a group. This may make any challenging discussions safer.

5. If finances are the catalyst for you considering multigenerational living, be sure to look at all possible solutions so that you are not being backed into any corners.

Multigenerational living is pretty comical and there are lots of stories that could be scripted for a sitcom.  Do you have any stories that you can share with us that are worth of a sitcom?

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A glimpse into Crystal’s multigenerational household

I recently caught up with Crystal and had the chance to chat with her about multigenerational living. We gabbed for about 90 minutes, laughed a lot, gasped at some family dynamics, and bonded over the intricate details, and commonalities, of our living situations.

Crystal’s “new”clear family stats:

  • Birthplace:  China
  • 44 years old
  • Married 14 years
  • Husband: 47 years old
  • 2 daughters
  • Mother-in-law: 73 years old
  • Father-in-law:  74 years old
  • Husband’s parents have lived with them for 6-to-7 years (on and off)
  • In-laws married for 49 years

Kanesha:

Why don’t you start by telling me how or why you decided to try multigenerational living? I mean for us, it was about work/life balance and needing childcare for a new baby. There are a few other factors, but this discussion is about you.

Crystal:

We’ve always had lots of visitors in our house who stay for long or short-term visits. My in-laws called my husband one day and said they wanted to move in with us and my husband said yes.

K:

Before or after he discussed that with you?

C:

Before and let me tell you, I was not happy. I wanted to be consulted about this new living arrangement and of course I would have agreed, but I did not like my husband making the final decision without talking to me first.

K:

And then what?

C:

My in-laws moved to this country, four months later, and moved in with us. We stayed in our same house because we already had a second master suite.

K:

How did your husband and you decide on the financial structure? For us, my husband and I talked about it and came up with a plan. Then he discussed it with his mother before she moved in with us.

C:

My husband pretty much negotiated everything and I went along it.

K:

Was that OK?

C:

It works.

K:

OK. So what is the financial structure?

C:

We [my husband and I] pay for all housing costs, food, utilities, and we give my in-laws a stipend.

K:

Yes, that’s pretty much how we do it too. What about gas costs and car stuff?

C:

My in-laws don’t drive.

K:

Hmm. I know your family purchased a new house recently. Were considerations made for your in-laws?

C:

Yes, of course. We bought the house with them in mind. We have more space now and fewer stairs so that shouldn’t be a problem for my in-laws as they age. We also wanted to get a puppy, which is a funny story. My mother-in-law is not too fond of dogs because of something that happened when she was young. But my daughters wanted a dog, so we got one, a golden doodle. My in-laws have to care for the puppy while my husband and I are working, and our daughters are at school. Now my in-laws are head over heels in love with the dog, and my mother-in-law spoils the dog tremendously. She thinks the dog is super smart and bilingual.

K:

That’s sweet. Why has it been meaningful for all of you to share a home?

C:

I think the living arrangement is very good for my in-laws because they were both orphaned, so living together now helps to rebuild the family. It’s nice to have good meals and help with childcare, even though my daughters are school-aged. My husband is more peaceful with my in-laws living with us. His mother babies and pampers him and I don’t have to do it.

K:

Really? Are there any disadvantages to this living arrangement?

C:

Privacy – that is a major disadvantage. I cannot yell at my husband when I want to and his father will yell at me sometimes if I do something he [father-in-law] doesn’t like.

K:

Are you serious? I don’t think I would like that.

C:

I don’t. That is a definite downside to this. My father-in-law does not yell at my daughters, or the dog. If anyone plans to consider multigenerational living, they have to be mentally prepared for the expected and unexpected changes. I think everyone in the family should go the extra mile to be inclusive when possible.

K:

I agree with your inclusivity comment. Anything exciting coming up for your full nest?

C:

Yes! We are going to the Bahamas in November.

K:

All of you?

C:

Yes!

K:

I can’t wait to hear how that adventure unfolds.

Listen to a snippet of Kanesha’s conversation with Crystal.

Chat with Crystal.wav

I recently caught up with Crystal and had the chance to chat with her about multigenerational living. We gabbed for about 90 minutes, laughed a lot, gasped at some family dynamics, and bonded over the intricate details, can commonalities, of our living situations.

Crystal’s “new”clear family stats:

Birthplace:  China

44 years old

Married 14 years

Husband: 47 years old

2 daughters

Mother-in-law: 73 years old

Father-in-law:  74 years old

Husband’s parents have lived with them for 6-to-7 years (on and off)

In-laws married for 49 years

Kanesha:

Why don’t you start by telling me how or why you decided to try multigenerational living? I mean for us, it was about work/life balance and needed childcare for a new baby. There are a few other factors, but his discussion is about you.

Crystal:

We’ve always had lots of visitors in our house who stay for long or short-term visits. My in-laws called my husband one day and said they wanted to move in with us and my husband said yes.

K:

Before or after he discussed that with you?

C:

Before and let me tell you, I was not happy. I wanted to be consulted about this new living arrangement and of course I would have agreed, but I did not like my husband making the final decision without talking to me first.

K:

And then what?

C:

My in-laws moved to this country, four months later, and moved in with us. We stayed in our same house because we already had a second master suite.

K:

How did your husband and you decide on the financial structure? For us, my husband and I talked about it and came up with a plan. Then he discussed it with his mother before she moved in with us.

C:

My husband pretty much negotiated everything and I went along it.

K:

Was that OK?

C:

It works.

K:

OK. So what is the financial structure?

C:

We [my husband and I] pay for all housing costs, food, utilities, and we give my in-laws a stipend.

K:

Yes, that’s pretty much how we do it too. What about gas costs and car stuff?

C:

My in-laws don’t drive.

K:

Hmm. I know your family purchased a new house recently. Were considerations made for your in-laws?

C:

Yes, of course. We bought the house with them in mind. We have more space now and fewer stairs so that shouldn’t be a problem for my in-laws as they age. We also wanted to get a puppy, which is a funny story. My mother-in-law is not too fond of dogs because of something that happened when she was young. But my daughters wanted a dog, so we got one, a golden doodle. My in-laws have to care for the puppy while my husband and I are working, and our daughters are at school. Now my in-laws are head over heels in love with the dog, and my mother-in-law spoils the dog tremendously. She thinks the dog is super smart and bilingual.

K:

That’s sweet. Why has it been meaningful for all of you to share a home?

C:

I think the living arrangement is very good for my in-laws because they were both orphaned, so living together now helps to rebuild the family. It’s nice to have good meals and help with childcare, even though my daughters are school-aged. My husband is more peaceful with my in-laws living with us. His mother babies and pampers him and I don’t have to do it.

K:

Really? Are there any disadvantages to this living arrangement?

C:

Privacy – that is a major disadvantage. I cannot yell at my husband when I want to and his father will yell at me sometimes if I do something he [father-in-law] doesn’t like.

K:

Are you serious? I don’t think I would like that.

C:

I don’t. That is a definite downside to this. My father-in-law does not yell at my daughters, or the dog. If anyone plans to consider multigenerational living, they have to be mentally prepared for the expected and unexpected changes. I think everyone in the family should go the extra mile to be inclusive when possible.

K:

I agree with your inclusivity comment. Anything exciting coming up for your full nest?

C:

Yes! We are going to the Bahamas in November.

K:

All of you?

C:

Yes!

K:

I can’t wait to hear how that adventure unfolds.

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