By Nomali Cele
Tomorrow the long weekend begins. We have given you advice and ideas for most eventualities this weekend, whether you’re spending with just your kids and are confronted with the stress of taking them out or whether you’re spending the weekend doing more than one thing and are struggling with the idea of balancing it. Now we turn our attention on those of you who will be spending the weekend with your in-laws.
In-laws can be a wonderful addition to your life. If you are lucky, you will find that not only the man or woman you marry loves you. You will find that in marrying your significant other or committing to a long-term relationship with them, you gain a new family. People who love you as much as they love your partner and support you in all you do.
But that’s not everyone’s experience.
Even when it’s not the warmest of relationships, with your in-laws only showing you respect as the person their son or daughter loves and has chosen to share their life with, they are still your family. You will become their point of call in times of need and times of celebration because you love their child. So it doesn’t matter if your relationship with your in-laws is easy or strained, you are family. The only disadvantage is that you haven’t known them as long as you have known the family you were born into.
Here are the five ways you will survive this (and many more) holidays with in-laws
- Come with an open heart
It can be difficult to be in a setting where you are used to things being done a certain way and having none of your expectations met. Be open and willing to integrate into this new family unit. Forget how your mum or dad does things when you go home for family holidays. Embrace this new way of doing things. It will help you better understand your partner.
“Be kind, don’t take offence in little things, understand that they will be different and be approachable,” advises Precious Mkhondo, a Kaya listener, on Facebook.
- Be ready to impress
When your union is still new you have to prove yourself to your new family. They may accept the relationship but it doesn’t mean they are now as committed to you as a person as much as your partner is. They may like you as a person but it might take a bit of time for the family to fully feel like your family, to feel like home.
So butter up all the key people. Let Uncle Jabu have that extra tot if he wants it, play with the little nieces and nephews, take selfies with the younger cousins or let them use your phone as a data hotspot for a little bit. Be agreeable. But most of all, pull out your best tricks for your partner’s parents. Tricks that will show your best qualities: are you reliable? Are you kind to their child? Does your extended family have a great steam bread recipe, share it? Show it all off.
“Get yourself a good cooking book and make a meal to impress and the finest whisky for babalas” advises Lindokuhle Mlangeni, a Kaya listener, on Facebook.
- Don’t be judgmental
This is now your family. As you want them to accept you for the person you are and respect your relationship, show them the same courtesy. It’s fine to not understand some ways in which a family lives but don’t let that overtake how you view the individual people. You wouldn’t want your partner judging your family they were the ones visiting your family, would you?
Give your in-laws that benefit of humanity: they are people. They are likely not perfect but they are the reason you have the person you love. Your partner is the person they are because (for better or worse) they grew up in this family.
- Be ready to do a bit of heavy lifting
For women, it’s an inevitable situation when visiting in-laws that they will expect free labour from you. Suddenly room dividers will need to be moved because you are visiting. Blankets will need washing in preparation for the winter and, especially in rural areas, there will be daily labour that ensures survival, such as fetching water and wood. Men could also be roped into manual labour while visiting their partners’ families.
Grit your teeth and be helpful. Hopefully your significant other will have a hot bath and massage ready for you at the end of each day.
“I had to cook for about 100 people who all came to welcome me. All I can say is…wear comfortable shoes and don’t wear makeup. I looked like a cartoon character after my makeup and mascara was melting down on my face,” shares Khosi Masondo, a Kaya listener, on Facebook.
- Engage your partner
This last step is for the partner whose family is being visited. Be supportive, kind and encouraging to your significant other as they navigate spending holidays with your family. Give them inside info – how else will they know that Uncle Jabu likes that third tot of the hot stuff? You are a team and it’s essential to remind your husband, wife or partner that you are on their side during this stressful time.
Where possible, mediate with your family on behalf of your significant other. You know your family better than your partner ever will, it will be easier for you to rein them back in. Ask yourself how you want your husband, wife or partner to behave when your visit their family.
The point of visiting family for holidays is to have a relaxing time surrounded by loved ones and reconnect. So while you are gritting your teeth and biting your tongue, be sure to try and have fun and get to know your new family better.
Visit our Facebook page for more advice and hilarious stories of visiting in-laws for the first time.