Depending on what stage your relationship is in, there are plenty of reasons why deciding to move in with your partner's parents might make sense. However, living under the same roof with your partner and their family can get very complicated, very fast . That's why establishing effective communication with your partner if you live with their family is so important. According to Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert, laying the groundwork for healthy communication while living in any situation where privacy is limited should be a top priority.
"Couples need to tackle their living constrictions head-on with honest communication and ongoing negotiation," Winter tells Elite Daily. "Adult children will oftentimes quarrel and bicker with their parents, so your mate may be under the constant stress of having previously been an independent adult, who's now demoted to the 'child' position. This puts you in the middle of a crisis, either playing peacemaker or defender." For this type of living situation to run smoothly, keeping tensions to a minimum is key. "You both need to communicate any 'hot button' issues you may have with their parents," says Winter. "Knowing each other's triggers allows you to work as a team to devise a strategy to deflect and avoid a crisis." Here are some communication tips that can help you stay on track.
1. Decide What Topics You're Both Comfortable Talking About In Front Of Their Parents.
It's important to have a clear understanding of your SO's relationship with both of their parents. Once you're in the loop on the personal dynamics at play, it's time to figure out what you're both comfortable talking about while your partner's family is around. Just because you're living with your partner's parents doesn't necessarily mean that you're comfortable with them knowing everything about you or your relationship. "Some individuals are open with their parents, and others keep layers of privacy," explains Winter. "Have an in-depth discussion about what topics can be addressed in front of the parents and which should be addressed in private."
Setting clear boundaries around any sensitive information you or your partner want to keep between the two may help avoid unnecessary fights. "Sex, marriage, children, childhood trauma, mental illness, and past relationship issues are personal topics that need to be reviewed with your mate," says Winter. "How much do you care to share? What is your mate allowed to say or not say? Advance agreements make the uncomfortable, manageable."
2. Ensure Differing Political Or Cultural Beliefs Will Be Respected.
Respecting the political and cultural beliefs of the people you share a home with is also important, even if they contradict your own. This means there may be sensitive topics that should be avoided. "Your partner needs to clue you into their parents' attitudes and beliefs," recommends Winter. "You're not going to change each other's minds, so coexisting peacefully is the goal. Know what topics are off-limits, and keep to that rule."
3. Decide If You're Both Comfortable With Their Parents Offering Relationship Advice.
If you're close with your SO's family, hearing their perspective on relationship issues might be helpful. On the other hand, constantly hearing unsolicited opinions can easily become the most annoying thing ever. "Your partner's parents may want to give you advice as to how to best handle their son or daughter," warns Winter. "Is that OK? What does your partner think? Or, they may seek to reveal personal information about your mate's disposition or childhood issues. Would you politely listen, or say that you'd rather have this discussion when your mate is present? Figure this out in advance."
Although living with your SO's family might take some getting used to, as long as you and your partner can maintain an open line of communication and set healthy boundaries, keeping the peace is possible. Agreeing on any polarizing issues before problems arise is the safest way to ensure everyone involved is on the same page.
Susan Winter, relationship expert