Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dealing with the In-laws


Love. That disgustingly gooey feeling of being so caught up in someone (or something) that the world pales to an insignificant blob. 
Yes, we pretty much all want that and then after love, so the rhyme goes, then comes marriage. This is a HUGE event in any one's life as it is the starting point of a new venture, a new journey which you will no longer be one but two. Ah, what a magical time. And after all the presents have been counted, the last of the bubbly drunk, your dress has come back from the dry cleaners and you’ve finally seen all the wedding pics, you sit with the inexplicable feeling of “hang on, aren’t I missing something?” Because unbeknown to you before the wedding, you failed to realize that marriage is much more than just two people coming together, oh no, it’s about whole families getting a severe mash-up of epic proportions and here’s some lessons that I have had to learn:

You've got to get the balance right. I come from a very spiritual Christian background. My dad became a vicar/father/priest about 7 years ago but before that we’ve always been a very ‘raise your hands and sing’ kind of family. Whilst Mr H has got a background in the Protestant church (his two grandmothers used to take him), his family are pretty much religion virgins. The issue with this? Well, so far nothing overtly terrible. No one stops anyone from going to church etc, but language uses are different, alcohol consumption is different (non-existent for my mum) and the general outlook on life is different. The trick is to never try and push them to all be the same. Someone who enjoys beer and rock music is not going to appreciate listening to a symphonic orchestra in the park with tea. Likewise, someone who likes playing board games, is not going to appreciate going to watch a rugby match. 

You’ve got to learn to share your time. I like hanging out with my parents, we have the same likes and dislikes but I can’t make Mr H see only them and not his family. It’s not fair and vice versa. 

Families come with all sorts of baggage, some of which you may not be used to. Back in England, I only had my mum’s family to see and (until fairly recently) they were alll in their 1st marriages. Mr H comes from a very ‘diverse’ family setting so meeting and remembering all the half-brothers, step-sisters, seeing how everyone is connected and who dislikes whom, was very tricky. It does mean that there are a great amount of personalities to bounce off of and you just have to embrace all the nuances. 

Everyone is different, don’t try and force your upbringing onto any one. Do not, I’ve done this before because I’m a twat, assume your upbringing was superior.

Have inside jokes. They are your family now and you’re going to be ‘stuck’ with them for, let’s pray, an awfully long time. Understand what they like, what amuses them and go with that. You don’t have to like listening to Afrikaans music and doing that weird Afrikaans dance across the floor but at least find one song that you can handle and make it your dance. I quite enjoy that Kurt Darren one about ships....captains...something like that?

Don’t ever bitch about your partner in front of his family. It gets ugly really quickly. The amount of fights Mr H and I have had in front of his brothers is pretty much a running joke but it doesn’t instill a sense of hope about marriage or relationships. Keep your dirty laundry to yourself, preferably try and keep all laundry to yourself, you never know who might try and wear your bras!

Don’t let them make you feel inferior and don’t let your family do the same to your partner. Marriage is special. It’s got to be protected. Your husband comes first....until the kids arrive.We don’t have children yet and won’t have for awhile but already I’m dreading the ‘hints and tips’ I’m going to be getting from people who mean well but who don’t understand that I have much younger siblings, I’ve done dirty nappies, vomit on the shoulder and unfortunately, piss in my eye (yeah, don’t even ask). I want to do children with Mr H. Us. You’ve gotta to do that journey together, with some help from your mothers, but it’s a case of learning and discovering what parenting skills work best for you.


  1. KAPTEIN!!! Coming from an Afrikaans background - weddings/parties/braais etc I've come to know all the local "hits" :) hahaha.