Love is a wonderful experience, and when it’s foreign, it is even more exotic. When you meet the love of your life and you finally move abroad to settle down, you feel like you almost have it all – but the million dollar question is, do you get along with your parents-in-law? Parents-in-law are an active component in your relationship and it is therefore important to get along with them. My personal experience with in-laws has not always been effortless, but some of the most important lessons I learned helped me accommodate both my foreign needs, and their foreign requirements.
Parents-in-law believe they know it all, and they most likely do (from their perspective). My experience with the older generations in general is that they want the best for you, but often your life as a foreigner is so different from their lives, that the best for you will most likely be out of their world so to speak. Hell, sometimes it’s difficult enough to figure out what is best for you, so how would they know, right? Well, it’s important to remember that sometimes you have to be on top of the situation and get to know your in-laws a bit better. It was important for me to find out what values my in-laws were brought up with and try to adapt accordingly. For instance, if you wonder why your mother-in-law nags you about your outgoing behavior and frequent travel plans the answer will probably be that she always lived close to her family, and never lived abroad. She might not understand your dromomaniac behavior, so you are better off talking about Christmas plans with the family, or explaining politely that this is who you are and it has nothing to do with meeting new hot Latino guys, or moving again and leaving her son behind.
Learning to speak their language is important as well because your in-laws will appreciate your effort and you will also have a better understanding of their worries and perspectives. I have always been lucky because my in-laws spoke English quite well but this is not always the case. Plenty of my friends faced in-laws who did not even speak a word of a common language so it was miscommunication nightmare. As you are the young one, you might as well start learning to speak Greek, Swedish, Italian, or whatever the target language is because language competence reduces uncertainty, the stress level, and most importantly miscommunications with your in-laws. For instance, it’s nice to know that your mother-in-law is asking you to prepare the chicken (kylling), and not the kitten (killing), or in worst case calling you names, and using the crude term for women (kælling); all terms in Danish that sound alike to a foreigner.
I also found out that it’s important to have one foot firm in your cultural world, because there are enough external forces of integration already. Parents-in-law can be quite rough and emotional, therefore it is your duty to stand as a firm believer on this alien ground and fight for your rights. Being honest is very important and sometimes even more important than adapting or pleasing too much. It might take some time, but if you stick around, your in-laws will slowly understand that you do love their son and you want the best for the entire family.
The most important lessons are to adapt wisely, integrate appropriately, and always be true to yourself because that is the only way you will have a successful relationship with your in-laws, and most importantly the love of your life.
Bio: Xenia has a professional experience in the fashion industry and an interest in modern lifestyle and travel. Xenia has a background in Communication and Public Administration and she currently blogs about fashion and lifestyle at the Irish Passion For Fashion blog.