Heartland Boy and Heartland Girl purchased their HDB BTO (‘Housing Development Board Build to Order’) unit in early 2015 and have to wait till 2019 before their love nest is ready. In the interim, they made a collective decision for Heartland Boy to move into Heartland Girl’s family home after marriage. Financially, this was a prudent choice since living with the in-laws would save money. However, this was still a difficult decision to make as moving in with the in-laws can be a tricky issue if it is not managed well. While some people make this transition seem like a non-event, it is also not uncommon to see problems and even fall-outs between the in-laws and the new-found family member. Therefore, eleven months into this transition, Heartland Boy feels confident to share his personal experience so that anyone moving in with the in-laws does not end up in an unbearable living situation crying out for help.
1. Do A Few Trial Runs
Practice makes perfect. Before moving in officially, it is good to do a few trial runs by staying over at your in-laws. This is akin to doing an internship before permanently joining the company. Staying over occasionally gives you a good grasp of the routine of the household – who wakes up at what time and how long each family member spends in the toilet etc. These may seem like minor nuances but often, these are the little idiosyncrasies that can potentially boil over. Doing this early eliminates plenty of problems that could arise down the road. More importantly, this ensures that you agree to the arrangement with your eyes wide open. In comparison to Heartland Boy’s household, everything in Heartland Girl’s household is done at decibels several notches lower. For instance, Heartland Boy was told by Heartland Girl that the hair dryer is off-limits early in the morning, so he has to rely on vigorously drying his hair with the towel!
2. Ask How You Can Contribute
In case you are perceived by the household as a free-loader or are trapped by your own inner conscience, do ask how you can contribute to the household. It is especially important to do this before moving in officially as this allows all parties to work within clearly defined parameters. Financially, you may offer to pay for some utility bills or the weekly groceries. Other non-financial aspects could be helping out with the household chores. For Heartland Boy, he empties the dustbin and clears all the leftover cups left overnight in Heartland Girl’s room. Occasionally when he is in the mood, he also prepares meals during the weekends for the entire household.
An extra tip here is to always volunteer your help or services, especially since you have vested interest to establish a good first impression with the in-laws.
3. Change Up The Furniture
For practical reasons, the room that you are going to inhabit now may not be originally designed to accommodate two people. Therefore, you may have to incur some costs to ensure that you and your spouse have sufficient breathing space in your own room. Again, redesigning the room is a preview to the REAL thing when the couple has to design and renovate their actual house subsequently. So, why not practice on a smaller scale first? The Heartland Couple replaced her single-sized bed with a queen-sized bed purchased from their joint account. In addition, more wardrobes were added to accommodate Heartland Boy’s clothes. This gave Heartland Boy a little sense of ownership and belonging in the new household as well.
4. Go Easy On Your OCD
Back in your own household, you probably have your own preferences on how certain things should be done. You may like to brush your teeth only after finishing your breakfast (not revealing who), or you can only sleep with the lights on. Don’t be a victim of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). In all honesty, there is no right or wrong here, rather, it is a case of give and take. When planted in a new territory, it is important to be flexible and recognise that you may have to give up some of your previous habits. Remember that habits are formed over a prolonged period of time, so the spouse can be the middleman between all parties to help manage expectations.
For instance, Heartland Boy grew up in a household where the garbage is not separated. He finds it extremely troublesome to wash all glass and plastic containers before packing them nicely into separate disposable bags. (note: this thinking has not wavered even after several months) However, he understands that he is in Rome and so he dutifully does as the Romans do. This practice annoys him but it doesn’t kill him, and in the grand scheme of things, this is probably a small sacrifice.
Moving In With The In-Laws
So these are Heartland Boy’s four tips for moving in with your in-laws after marriage. It is true that there are trade-offs to be made such as loss of privacy. Ultimately, the decision to live with the in-laws after marriage to save money overrides these little problems. Remember that this is still a work-in-process for the Heartland Couple and they are pretty much still feeling their way around. Should there be any new-found insights, they are more than happy to pen an addendum.
This article was first written for Houzz.