Monday, August 08, 2005

Home Away From Home

Almost every married couple has stayed, temporarily with a set of parents, for various reasons. Whether it be waiting inbetween moves, economics, or care of the elderly, here are some ways, from my own experiences, to make it pleasant and less of an inconvenience on all sides.

On the part of the new bride, it can be pretty depressing not having your own place, with your own things about you. That being said, I'll move on to something more positive. The in-laws or parents may look at your visit as an intrusion into their privacy, and a strain on their resources. They probably do not have the energy they used to have, and this might make them uneasy and critical. It isn't easy to accommodate someone else in your home for an extended time.

In view of that fact, I found the best way to get along is to be of some use, if you can. I was good at reaching up to cabinets and places that my M.I.L. could not get to. She looked forward to my coming, because she knew I would wash and wax her old floor, and clean her cupboards that she never got around to cleaning. I got the idea when I was staying with her, that I wanted her to give a good report about me, and be able to tell her friends that she really missed my help and my companionship, so I set about to making her life at home easier, while I was there. I could hang out her wash, wash dishes, clean windows, and do a lot of things that would spare her time later on.

She loved for me to sew for her, and always proudly wore my hand-made dresses. I found that the more positive things I did for her, the more cheerful and optimistic she became. My main objective was to make sure that her life was made better by my having been there. I'm not saying it was all pleasant. Sometimes an irritation would snap be back into realizing what my mission, while there, really was.

My own son-in-law lived with us for a period of time, also, and although I missed my leisurely ways, and found it very taxing, and crowded, I noticed that his attitude was to bless our family by his presence. While he lived with us, he installed a new faucet that had a long neck so that we could get larger things into the sink. He built shelves above the windows in nearly every room. He bought us an air conditioner and installed it. He made us a skylight in the kitchen, and added a room on to the house almost completely by himself. Now, everywhere I look, I see evidence of his visit, in the repairs and additions that surround me. Even though they have their own place to live, they visit often. He has a policy of honoring us, by "paying" for their visit. He recently bought us a canopy swing, so that we could enjoy the view outside in the summer. He also does things like replace an old hose, patch a ceiling,or buy some groceries. I've seen a lot of sacrifice on their part, but they also have been blessed in many ways, in return.

To make a situation like this work, it would be nice if the husband and wife had their own room, and if this were not cluttered. Keep your posessions out of the way and keep the room very clean. You'll reap less criticism if you'll make your presence pleasant, and keep your things out of the way.

If you are at home with the M.I.L. , a project, such as scrapbooking, is a good idea to keep your mind off the inconvenience of things. Your M.I.L. might also enjoy looking over the pages you've done each day, and it will become something that will keep her from becoming too negative. The colors and the themes of scrapbooking these days, are a real boost to the mood.

In the meantime, the husband should make it a priority to get you into your own dwelling as quickly as possible. It isn't good to impose upon older people. I used to think I would want my children to live in the same house with me, but, I found that they make more noise, and stay up later than I do. I would love to have them live next door, but not in the house all the time. I think they should have their own bathroom, bedroom and kitchen, just so they can be as casual as they like, without being self-conscious.

The main point is to be careful about the memories you create. When you leave, will there be bitter feelings? The best thing is to try to make life better for her while you are there. Do good, and worry about the consequences of it later. Don't say "Well, I used to wash her dishes, but she never thanked me." That doesn't matter. It is what YOU do that counts, and what will give you the clearest conscience.

The name of the painting is "A New Place" by Susan Rios, and can be purchased online.

You can comment on this by writing me at

1 comment:

Jo-Anne O. said...

Thank you so much for this article. I am currently in this situation. Husband, baby girl and I are staying with my parents for almost a year as our home is being built. There are wonderful perks to living with the parents but there is also friction when you put two strong minded women under one roof. This truly is an excercise in meekness and patience on my part. If you have any more advice on this matter I would gladly accept it!

Much love and prayers,
Jo-Anne O.


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