The letter featured in this column in the edition of Irish Country Living dated 17 April 2021 – Should I move because of my in-laws? – generated a large response from readers. Here is some of the advice offered to the letter writer, Mammy in a Muddle.
All the best,
I would like to offer some advice to Mammy in a Muddle.
First of all, for anyone who is considering changing location to suit their spouse, be it to move closer to family or to avail of the “free site” on the farm etc. My advice is not to move just to please him/her. There must be something in it for you too. Otherwise, frustration, resentment and regret are likely, if not inevitable.
In-law proximity can be a can full of worms, as the values and attitudes between the families of the couple can be at such odds with each other, that a cultural and emotional shock can occur when in the company of the partner’s relations.
Consequently, while one can be very happy with one’s other half, it’s possible to find the contact and interaction with their family members overwhelming, unpleasant and, possibly, even destructive.
What’s important to realise, however, is that he is married to you. With your children, you are now his first family. As long as he keeps his priorities in order, you don’t actually have to have much to do with his relations. If you get along, that’s a bonus and even can be wonderful. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world.
You have made friends in this new life. That is great: “Friends are family we choose for ourselves.”
That’s a well-used saying, and popular for a reason. These friends are as good as close family living near you. Let their presence in your life outweigh the disappointment caused by your in-laws’ short-comings. Buddhist philosophy has an interesting point, namely that wanting causes suffering. So stop wanting in relation to your husband’s family; wanting their friendship, their warmth, a familial bond with them. When you stop wanting, you’ll stop suffering, and with this, the thoughts of moving will probably go too.
You have a lot to live for and be happy about in your life. As described in your letter: a loving husband, children, good friends and a liking for the area. All you need do is get the in-law issue monkey-off-your-back, focus on the very real positives that you know you have going for you and start again in this potentially lovely chapter of your life.
Best of luck,
Your response to the recent letter from a reader who was living near unpleasant in-laws resonated with me. I am in a very similar situation. I also married into a farming family that favoured the eldest son who inherited the farm, home house and all their money.
They also value land and money above true friendship, love and family, which are core values for me.
It took me years to become accustomed to this way of thinking in life. There were many times where I was shocked and hurt by their attitude and favouritism.
We are also outside their farming life bubble. Eventually I learned to live with their narrow minded mentality. Which, I feel is in part due to their lack of experience of life outside their small village – either in education or travel – both of which broaden the mind and impart perspective, which they definitely lack.
My advice is to forgive them and move on with your own life. If they show more interest in the older son and his children to whom they gave everything – their house and farm – then it is probably out of their guilt at this unfairness. Ultimately, it is their loss not to have the joy of time with their other son and his family.
Thanks very much,