Dear CeeCee,

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My in-laws want to move in with us. I am not at all comfortable with the idea and have already told my husband about it. My in-laws and I have a strained relationship. How should I deal with this situation?

Dear friend,

I feel your pain deeply. 

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Sharing your personal space with your spouse can already prove difficult (which is why there is so much discomfort in the early days of marriage) and now in-laws are coming into the mix? Especially in-laws that don’t like you?

If a Nigerian daughter-in-law does not want to stay with her in-laws, they assume she has ulterior motives, and they label the son as a weakling who is “swayed” by his crafty wife. Almost no one appears to doubt that there is more to the story than meets the eye. 

It can suffocate if they constantly interject themselves into your marital life; never giving you and your husband an “us” moment. It’s more painful if your husband backs them up.

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However, I’d like you to consider the following questions: How is your connection with your husband? Is he sufficiently appreciative and respectful of you? Are you actually content with your marriage to him? Assuming that’s the case, is your aversion to your in-laws moving a genuine issue, or simply resentment that it’s his parents and not yours? 

Assuming you’re telling the truth, you’ve said that your relationship with your in-laws is strained. Is it strained at all? Could it be because of a communication breakdown? Is it because of anything said or done in the heat of the moment, when everyone’s emotions were running high and no one had time to think? Did they overstep their boundaries at some point in time? Or is it because you had unsaid expectations which they did not meet, and you felt slighted?

It could also be because of the generational divide. They just don’t share your viewpoint. Or maybe they believe in regressive, antiquated traditions ‌you don’t want to be associated with. If that’s the case, you should be concerned only if they force you to do something you’re not comfortable with. They can invoke Sango all they want, and rain down fire and brimstone, but if it doesn’t touch you, it’s none of your business.

Because elderly people’s thinking processes can become stuck and require a push, the in-between pushes may appear irritable. If that’s the case, just shrug and move on. Even your parents can do the same thing; they just have a different way of expressing it.

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It’s normal for married men to put on a show in front of their parents and families that they’re not under their new wife’s thumb, and they often alienate their wives by refusing to stand up to them. I’m not condoning this behaviour; it’s at most immature; I’m simply expressing that it happens all the time. If that’s the case, have an honest conversation with him about how you feel. As much as he loves his family, you’re his wife, and he loves you dearly. He wouldn’t be happy to know that his actions are causing you deep emotional pain. 

With everything we’ve considered, can you actually let go of the past and start afresh from your end? (Whether or not they will is irrelevant; you have no influence over it.) In such situations, you must decide how much of their behaviour is “minor inconveniences,” and how much is “true concessions.” 

If you think you can handle slight inconveniences, ‌accept them. If you believe that this will have a significant impact on you, have a serious discussion with your husband and make appropriate decisions.

You also must be certain that your prejudices and biases aren’t interfering with your judgment. I keep reiterating this because we ‌must guarantee that we are being as objective as possible before making a statement about a subjective and extremely sensitive matter.

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Your husband, as well as you, have every right to look after his parents. If you have a negative view, make sure it is sincere and objective rather than biased.

Living with your in-laws might be the best or worst thing that can happen to you. However, the outcome is in the hands of the individuals involved. 

Such introspection may provide results you don’t want to hear. It’s up to you whether you listen to it and act on it, or if you choose to ignore it and live in denial.

With love,

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CeeCee💌

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