The idea of having your mother-in-law move in with you can seem like a recipe for disaster. Whether she requires additional care due to health reasons or doesn't have a place to live, this might be a necessary reality for your family. It is important to have open and honest discussions and set clear boundaries to avoid conflict in your home. Living in harmony with your mother-in-law will require patience, respect and good communication.
Sit down with your partner and have a serious conversation. Discuss important issues that will come up if your mother-in-law moves in, such as who will take responsibility for her care, the financial strain it can put on your family and possible problems that can come up. "It can become such a big issue that the marriage is compromised forever. No couple should head into this situation without both parties agreeing it makes sense and they are on board,” says Leslie Sokol, a licensed psychotherapist, in the article "Should You Let Your Mother-in-Law Move In?" on More.com. Make a decision that you both agree on and commit to support each other no matter what happens.
Decide whether you will allow for this to be a temporary or permanent arrangement. If she is just staying while she finds a place of her own, ask for a specific time frame of how long she will be staying. Make it clear that after a certain amount of time, she will have to move out. If this is a more permanent arrangement, ask your mother-in-law to have an alternate plan in case things don't work out in your home.
Establish some clear ground rules to make this situation easier for everyone. Make sure that your children understand that even if their grandmother is living in the home, you are still the authority and they have to follow your rules. Enlist your mother-in-law to help keep discipline in the home. Plan to hold a monthly family meeting where everyone can discuss boundaries, chores and family rules. Allow your mother-in-law to cooperate in household chores or responsibilities so that she can feel included in the family.
Focus on the positive side of having your mother-in-law in your home. Think about all the money you are saving on child care or how much your children enjoy spending time with their grandmother. Zoning in on the benefits will help you overlook the challenges. Be willing to overlook minor annoyances that you can live with. Whining and complaining will not change anything. Stay pleasant and respectful in all your interactions with your mother-in-law.
Lauri Revilla has been writing articles on mental health, wellness, relationships and lifestyle for more than six years. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, from Mexico in 2006. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University.
Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images