3 Strategies To Help Set Boundaries with Indian Parents & In-Laws
by Harleen Virk | 10/4/19
Married life is full of adjustments, one of the biggest ones being how to get used to your in-laws. Desi parents don’t usually follow the expected “once you’re married we’re not as involved” approach that many Western and modern couples hope for, because that would just be too easy, wouldn’t it? So what does this mean for you and your partner who yearn for and expect more independence once you’re married and as time goes on? You’ll have to get a little more creative with your tactics. Here are 3 strategies to help you navigate married life with your in-laws and parents.
Compromise Because It’s Not That Serious To You
Scenario: So let’s just say that you’re not very religious like your in-laws (or even practice the same religion), but you’re not totally opposed to it at the same time. Your marriage comes and goes and your ultra-religious in-laws are pushing for religious ceremonies or traditions that center around you and your spouse (i.e., revolving around new jobs, new home, a move, first baby, etc.). You’re annoyed at the pressure coming from your in-laws to participate in a ceremony that you don’t believe in. How can you handle this?
Strategy: If you’re not super bothered by religion, a compromise might work best here. If you don’t want to, don’t give in to every religious request from your in-laws. But ask yourself this question – is this an area of your life you can compromise on once in awhile? If the answer is yes, then just go for it.
You Catch More Bees with Honey
Scenario: You and your spouse just moved into your new place. Your mother-in-law calls and expects you to host a big gathering of your in-laws and their extended family to show off the house. But you and your spouse just aren’t the type and really aren’t feelin’ it.
Strategy: Before you elevate your blood pressure unnecessarily, this is a great time to implement handy parent-related boundaries you and your spouse have hopefully established with each other – with a little dash of honey. Let your mother-in-law know that her insight is cherished and you will think about it. Perhaps you will both host a gathering at some point or maybe not at all. The key here is to let them know that the decision will fall on you in spite of cultural pressures. In other words, be a skillful surgeon in how you phrase your response and take the disease out without killing the patient.
Just Not For You? Say No
Scenario: So you and your partner have made plans to turn every Christmas holiday into a couples vacay. Here comes the pressure from your in-laws to “do the right thing”and go to the annual family get together instead.
Strategy: Its okay to just not get with the program every once in awhile, especially when you’re 80/20 in most areas of life. Make the decision to just not budge in places you just don’t want to budge in. If you have a circumstance that falls into this category, don’t give in– people have a way of coming around in the long run and it’s better to eventually get forgiveness versus permission. Even if this means going strongly against the cultural grain, trust your instincts here and just say no.
Between delicate compromises, sweet talk, and a firm boundary you can navigate the parental pressure – pick your method. Talk to your spouse and plan because no strategy will work until you’re both on the same page; and with Desi parents and in-laws actions speak louder than words.
Have a topic you want us to explore? Drop me a line at [email protected]
Learning and Development Manager, Durhamite, YouTube nerd, dress whisperer, and Zumba queen.