Living with the in-laws

Irksome in-laws

My mother always said, ‘May you marry someone whose family is all dead.’ Years later, I’m starting to understand her point.

Relationships with in-laws can be complicated. They can also be plain weird when they poke their noses where they don’t belong.

I met my husband while he was working away from his hometown so I didn’t meet his family for a number of years. As we lived in the city, there weren’t many occasions where I had to interact with his family. We married, had kids, and moved closer to his family eventually. I still didn’t see much of my in-laws. Once we had a larger place, I started to extend invitations to my in-laws to come and stay with us. I was idealistic and thought that whatever my mom used to warn me against was surely old wives tales.

In-law dynamics

It turns out that a few hours spent in each other’s company was more than enough. The dynamics of dealing with in-laws was something I never thought about and after their first visit to our home, I was already wishing that my husband was an orphan, or, if I was being generous, an only child.

My husband comes from a ginormous family of 10. My family is quiet.

My in-laws do not have an off button and do not understand privacy. I counted myself lucky that they lived away from us…

The odd thing is, it wasn’t much of what they did that drove me mad. What irked me so much was their misplaced helpfulness.

For example, I cook a wide variety of food. When my in-laws visit, all they would eat would be beans and githeri. My two sisters-in-law were visiting over Christmas and they told me that the spices in our food would surely lead their brother to be impotent. What?! We never talk about their brother (my husband) in any capacity. They were so straight-faced and there I was, blushing from the cuticles on my toes all the way to my kinky roots.

Sisterly sex advice?

On a different visit, I got a bags full of sesame seeds and groundnuts. I was never a fan of either so the bags sat in the pantry for months. When I got a call a few months after receiving their presents, they asked how their brother was doing. He was fine, thriving and certainly not impotent. They asked when we were going to have a second child. There’s really no witty comeback for these kinds of questions. What do you say anyway? We’re working on it! Soon! I’ll you know when it happens! I’m pretty sure I mumbled something that did not satisfy them. And I guess that’s why they sent a second bag of the same things a few days later.

In all honesty, what do you with 2kgs of sesame seeds and groundnuts? When I called to begrudgingly thank them, they were crystal clear what they were meant for. I guess they truly did believe that my cooking was the reason for the lack of child number two. In my sister-in-law’s own words: ‘The groundnuts and sesame are meant to counteract spice kabisa – you give it to my brother so that it can increase his sexual appetite.’ The woman is 20 years my senior and ridiculously unabashed about talking about her brother’s sexual prowess or my lack of fertility.

I can’t recall what I did with my stash of sesame and groundnuts. I know we did not eat them. We have three children now and I’m sure my in-laws are patting their backs for their ingenious ideas for helping us beget more offsprings. 

Have you ever received misplaced advice from your in-laws? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook. You can find us at Love Matters Kenya and Naija.

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Recent Comments (14)

  1. ITS been a problem since am
    ITS been a problem since am still new bt fo da short tym i have stayed with ma husband,i learnt many thgs most especially with da da brothers who insult me alot with abusive words dat i felt lyk giving up simply bse ,ma husband sometyz helps me with house chores,it hurts them sayin *am nt a true african woman*,,,,,
    am da only child in ma family bt ma husband z frm a family of 18children bt he understands me alot
    Da only thg he told me z its him who loves me nt his family members therefore i shldnt mind abt their words,they will talk and get tired xo i jst ignore them

    1. Thanks for sharing that with
      Thanks for sharing that with us Sheryl. In-laws can sometimes overstep their bounds but its always important to keep focus with why you are there.

  2. Have been going through the
    Have been going through the same whenever my sister in laws visit they misuse my clothes shoes just because its their bro who buys them not me they are so manner less they act as if they own everything in my house there was a time my neighbours confused one of them with a co-wife just because of how she acted. I remember in July last year a month after i had delivered to my second son their I became so sick with all the vomiting and stuff their 1st born sister(my husband is the only son) called telling him to take me dor a pregnancy test..!!!!! And that if I wasn’t already pregnant he should drag me to family planning..
    We have been married for almost 2yrs and have never been to their place and with all the shit i get from them, am so afraid to visit them my mum in law came to see me when i was sick n she is an amazing person but tbe the sisters, hell no! They always talk using their tribal language in my presence because am from a dft tribe they bad mouth me all they want because they know i don’t adastad anything they say… Always saying from my tribe cnt be married in their am so fed up cnt leave my house coz of them please help

    1. Hi Purie sorry that you going
      Hi Purie sorry that you going through that. Its sometimes very tough dealing with the in-laws. You need to be focused with your marriage and not too much with them. When you feel something is really bothering you, you should talk to your husband about it to find a way forward. It often difficult to keep in- laws away but we can develop ways of dealing with them for example putting away your good stuff when they are visiting to keep them away from it could be one of the things you could try to do. Why is it that you can’t leave your house? Is it from fear they will take over? But a basic understanding with your husband about the situation could go along way to making your relationship with your in laws more bearable.

  3. My in laws are the worst in
    My in laws are the worst in the whole world

    1. Sorry to hear that Baib. How
      Sorry to hear that Baib. How do you deal with that? Share with us.

  4. I ment I can’t leave my
    I ment I can’t leave my husband because of them though he also thinks I hate his sisters and says I should bear with them because they are not there to stay at one time he told me to my face that they are in their brother’s house not mine to him am the bad guy because I can’t understand ‘the children’ who happens to be the sisters yet they are older than me….

    1. HI Purie, you just need to
      HI Purie, you just need to choose your battles with your in laws. some times is just best to let some thins go and avoid fights and conflicts. You need to focus more on your marriage and not them.

  5. My inlaws are just people
    My inlaws are just people unbearable ,they want to control everything such that anytime we have a difference they fume like its them in this marriage.
    They are just too boring and iritaring .

    1. Sorry Quinter for that. In
      Sorry Quinter for that. In laws can be quit a hand full. Hopefully you and your partner can find a way to work through that.

  6. Ave bin in ma inlaws place
    Ave bin in ma inlaws place for 4mnths nw…..they r neva around….my son n i r alweiz left behind ….we dnt knw enione around hia or even a place we can go….weneva i tell ma husband abt hw im bored here he gets angry ….pliz help

    1. Hi Arena, being bored can
      Hi Arena, being bored can happen anywhere. You need to find activities that you can indulge in together with your son . Getting to know people is about being social and that’s how you make friends.

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