I recently married and we’ve decided to buy a new home and relocate. However, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law have asked if they can move into our new house with us for at least four months. I don’t want to hurt my husband’s feelings by saying no, and I don’t want to upset his family, but I’m really worried about this.
Moving home is hardly ever straightforward – even when the process does run smoothly, there’s always some stress or concern along the way. Relocating your life and leaving the ‘familiar’ is never an easy thing to do.
But in your case, it could be more difficult, as you’re also having to face sharing your new home with people who are (despite their family connection to you) effectively strangers. As a newly married couple, your first few months of matrimony are a precious time; you’re exploring what it means to be married and enjoying spending your time together. So, there are obvious issues to opening your new home to your mother and sister-in-law, not least the feelings of worry that you’re currently feeling even before the move has taken place.
If there’s one thing we all fear, it’s the unknown; and as you have no ‘point of reference’ with your husband’s family, your mind is probably running wild with all the negative possibilities. Will your home be less comfortable? Will your mother-in-law interfere? Will your new marital relationship be adversely affected? It’s these possibilities, these fictional scenarios within your imagination, that are at the root of your developing anxiety. Our brain has a tendency when we’re worried, to fixate on negative thoughts and negative concepts. We all too often assume the worst, without considering the realistic implications of the changes we’re facing. It’s essentially being afraid of the dark – your mind is creating ‘worst case scenarios’, feeding your fears about the future, despite their irrational nature. It’s not the dark we’re scared of, but what could be lurking behind it – and it’s the same with social situations. What could happen, or how your new house guests could impact your life, is, no doubt, far more intimidating than any issues the move might actually raise.
From the start, it’s important that you are open and honest with your husband about your concerns – mention any particular issues that you think could arise and talk, as a couple, about ways to avoid and solve these before they even start. You might find he has the same reservations about the move as you do, and you can work things out together. Honesty is always an important ‘first step’ towards confronting your fears irrespective of the issue at hand.
Then, why not attempt to meet with his mother and sister. This is a great way to build your confidence prior to the move, and before you spend time with them on a regular basis. Perhaps plan an activity that you can do together, invite them for a family meal, so you can begin to build a relationship-dynamic that works in your new living situation. Remember, this is only a temporary situation, and if handled positively you will strengthen both your bond with your new family. It’s appreciated when partners make a genuine effort to accept and get along with their new extended family. And the best way to do this is to be as accommodating, positive and welcoming as you can possibly be.
Russell Hemmings is a life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting. Contact Russell on 055 286 7275 or russellhemmings.co.uk