For one whole month now, Peter, Chimi and I have been living with my in-laws. We’re not unusual; in 2019 many young couples are moving in with their parents for a wide range of reasons. However, just because it’s common doesn’t always mean it’s easy! Like any shared living experience, there are upsides and downsides to living with your in-laws. For me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. While this post honestly reflects the good and the bad, I will be forever grateful for a comfortable (free!) place to live while we wait for our shipping container.
Let’s just get these out of the way first! Below are, in my experience, the cons of living with your in-laws. Many of these items are more “annoyances” than “problems”, but they definitely build up! In an effort to reduce the chances of me sounding like a big ol’ complainer, I’ve also included solutions, alternatives and work-arounds for the issues!
While we basically have the entire upper floor to ourselves, there is only one shower in Peter’s childhood home. With four adults and one dog (who has recently discovered rolling in the mud), this shower to user ratio often leads to scheduling conflicts. While occasionally inconvenient, this issue is generally solved by communicating our schedules and plans ahead of time. Additionally, to be considerate and avoid cluttering your in-laws’ shower, I would recommend channeling your dorm days and getting a shower caddy to carry the necessities to and fro.
Helping or Hurting?
Transitioning to living with anyone can mean disrupting their routines, but I feel like I am constantly getting in the way of how Maria and Elmar do things! To work around this, ask how you can be helpful and do things like load the dishwasher (even if your father-in-law will rearrange it once you’re done).
A big challenge is not having any couple time. This has been especially hard for us, because we’ve had so much to do on the house and Peter was working in the evenings. Even if it’s difficult, the best piece of advice I can give you for any season of your relationship is to communicate about your needs. Talk, and make time for just the two of you. Set up a standing date night, just be sure to communicate those plans to your in-laws, too!
All About ME
Another hurdle for me is that I need alone time to recharge. Always feeling the need to be “on” in common spaces, guests dropping in unexpectedly and just general the general guilt of feeling like I’m not learning German fast enough really wears me down. My solution is to try to build in as much me-time as possible. I go upstairs and read, write and listen to podcasts while I fold laundry alone. Oh! I also use this time to do my Hausaufgaben, because my German isn’t going to learn itself!
Cooking up Trouble
Finally, cooking in Maria’s kitchen feels, well, foreign to me. I think that it is probably normal to feel a little uncomfortable making yourself at home in anyone else’s kitchen, but the added complications of German appliances and not wanting to overrun their small fridge isn’t helping. To combat relying on my MIL all of our food, Peter and I prepare a few simple meals a week and try to incorporate dining out into our date nights. I’m also using this challenge as an opportunity to bond with Maria. Tomorrow, she’ll teach me how to use her magic cooking machine.
And now on to the good stuff! Here are the pros of life with my in-laws.
Part of the Fam
After living away from family for so long, I forgot how it feels to be around for the day to day things. It’s so nice to celebrate the little things that probably wouldn’t have been enough reason to get a flight from Milwaukee. Additionally, I’m thankful that we can be here to help out my in-laws while they deal with some pressing health issues.
Sprich Bitte Deutsch
Living with three German speaking people is definitely good for my language skills! I have plenty of opportunities to practice my German. While Google Translate is still my go-to, every day I see improvement in my ability to communicate with my in-laws.
One of the biggest benefits of living with in-laws sighted is childcare. Peter and I don’t have kids yet, but we certainly appreciate the help looking after our dog! We don’t have to worry about Chimi getting in to something he shouldn’t while we work on the house AND we could potentially take guilt free trips. Luckily, it seems like this is a pro for both sides- it’s the perfect way for Maria to have a dog without making a huge commitment.
Can We Borrow…?
I don’t want this to sound like an exaggeration, but we actually could not pull off our renovation without the endless support of my in-laws. From lending us specialty tools to giving advice on how to tackle a tricky technique, we fully depend on Maria and Elmar.
$$$ (Or I Guess €€€)
Did you guys know that moving across the world and starting work on a fixer upper isn’t cheap? Staying with Peter’s parents has definitely helped ease our financial burden.
Kuchen und Schnitzel und Soße, Oh My!
Maria’s cooking is no joke, y’all! At least once a day, my mother-in-law prepares a HUGE, delicious (and seasonal!) meal and we wake up to a breakfast smorgasbord daily. Suffice it to say I need to find a gym, ASAP.
They’re Just So Nice
To wrap this list up, I think it’s worth mentioning that I do just like spending time with my in-laws. While some situations can be difficult to navigate, Maria and Elmar are two of the most generous, kind people on the planet. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get to know them better.
So That’s the Honest Truth
Living with my in-laws has been… relatively great? If you’re considering moving in with your in-laws, remember to manage your expectations and communicate with everyone involved. It’s probably not for everyone, but I am so thankful we had this option. When we finally move next door, I’m looking forward to continuing to enjoy many of the benefits on this list… just with a little more personal space.
Have you lived with your in-laws? Are you currently living with them? Tell me a little more about your experience!