Monday, April 5, 2010

In-Law Survival Manual

My dear friends!

Following an Easter long weekend spent visiting my father in law, I am working on an In-Law Survival Manual which Im sure will someday be a best-seller. If you are married and you love your spouse, at some point you will have to spend time with your in-laws. It's kind of obligatory...

My dear Dad was right when he said to me,
"When you marry a person, you are marrying their whole family."

Decide in advance how many survivals will be required per year. Advise your dear spouse of the number of days you are prepared to spend with in laws. If he/she wants more time, tell him/her to go without you.

IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, DO NOT STAY AT IN-LAWS HOUSE. Book a motel. Bring a tent. Anything other than handing your entire daily routine over to them.

If you have no other option than to stay with the in-laws, prepare as follows.
Imagine that you are going to be imprisoned for several days. You will not have any choice in what to wear, eat, or drink. You will face lengthy periods of frustration and boredom. For safety reasons, you must reduce your conversation to a minimum. Staying at the in-laws may not be much different to this, except that if you get lucky, there may be internet and you may have a cell phone that works, so you can phone a friend to commiserate. Your best option is to ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

Put on your good manners and keep them on. Your in-laws will be observing you and their yardstick for you will be different to the yardstick they use for their own child. If your spouse picks up a lamb chop and gnaws it at the table, that is NOT a cue for you to do the same. Make your bed every day and on no account use any swear words. No matter what happens, keep it down to a mild "Gosh!"

Reduce your topics of conversation. EXCLUDE anything to do with: race, politics, history, religion, immigration, piercings, tattoos, nudity, sex, and certain people we dont talk about any more (yes, every family has at least one). Any remaining topics are fine. Health is a quite good topic, especially if they are a hypochondriac and they enjoy fussing about their ailments. On no account talk about your own health; nobody wants to hear about that.

Bring gadgets. For some reason, people are not offended by small, noiseless gadgets such as the Nintendo DS and the cell phone (when used for text messages). Gadgets are a great way to avoid social contact while actually doing your duty and being THERE.

BE SUBSERVIENT. Offer to do household chores such as washing the dishes, sweeping, walking dogs, folding napkins etc. If they stubbornly refuse to let you do any chores, that means they do not feel comfortable with you doing chores in their house. Just leave it. But offer frequently, so they do not decide you are lazy.

Whatever you do, try to TRAVEL IN SEPARATE CARS. As for rule #2, the very last thing you should do is hand over the control of your mobility to them.

If there is no other option other than to all travel in the same car, that is very unfortunate. Try to influence the decision on who will do the driving. If you let your in-law drive, you relinquish control over when, where, how long for, etc. On the other hand, if you drive, you may have to tolerate a back-seat driver from Hell. Both are bad; decide which will be worse in your case.

Show gratitude. Keep cheerful no matter what. Take photos with your in-laws. (You will be going home soon. Repeat that to yourself over and over). Ensure you delete any incriminating text messages or emails that you wrote to your friends while surviving the visit. After you return home, send a Thank You card to your in-laws. Include copies of photos of you and them having a good time together. It will mean a lot to them.

Im back from Easter the father in laws place and I SURVIVED...Yay!


  1. Your father in law and mine would get along famously, but my FIL, Mr. Larger Than Life, is the biggest pain in the ass in the world. He's also the world's original and biggest bigot.

    Next holiday is Father's Day.
    1. He is not my father.
    2. See number one.
    3. I'm making reservations. For one.

  2. People like that are so hard to be around...Glass is always empty - forget the half part even. No FIL or MIL for me...but I do know the type and avoid them like the plague. To me life is about the beauty, laughter, love, peace and kindness I'm surrounded by! Peace and love to you Michaela - you need it after that weekend!

  3. My in laws are both gone now, but they were actually pretty great...
    However I did use some of the guidelines you suggested so that is probably why we got along ;)

  4. this is such an awesome post, and sadly, so true. i could write the proverbial book too, and make a freakin fortune. i was given in-laws from hell..unfortunately we are visiting one of them in june, and hubby doesn't want us to rent a car. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. which means i'll be at her (sil's) controlling mercy.

  5. Just visiting from Rudee's blog. Your post made me laugh. I don't have any real horror stories though, I adored my MIL who died last year and my own mother lived with us for four years before she died. My husband misses her as much as I do. The only relatives I have a problem with are in Greece and I generally just sit around with my Ipod and knitting and stay out of the way...ciao

  6. Hi Michelle,
    Kris here from Hawaiianmusings. I got to come to Sydney last year (on Good Friday!) on my way to New Zealand. I took a cruise from Auckland back to Hawaii, it was great. I made some friends that live there in Sydney. I spent about 10 hours there in Sydney on my way to Auckland, hopped the train down to Circular Quay and got some pictures of the Harbour Bridge & the Opera House from MacQuaries Chair. Are you on facebook? If so... you can search for me. my email addy is kjfrozen AT Look forward to reading your blog! - Kris

  7. I love the part about "treat it as a jail sentence." That's perfect! Or even, "think of it as torture and your job is to not betray your country."

    My advice to people is to marry an orphan. That's what I'm doing on the next round.

    PS I have another blog that is (I hope) in-law safe, although I still hope they don't find it because they can find offense in anything: