I’ve been now living with my Chinese in-laws for a year and reading Jocelyn’s recent blog post inspired me to write more what it is like to live with your Chinese husband’s parents. Jocelyn writes that she is happy in staying in the family house and the village that surrounds it, but honestly speaking I wouldn’t be able to do that my self.
Of course there are many good reasons for all to live together. You don’t have to pay rent for example that can be very expensive especially if you live in the center of a big city like Guangzhou. Moving to the city would make my husband’s daily commute much much shorter, but it would also mean paying even 3000RMB per month for rent.
It is also a luxury to have my mother-in-law to cook for us day in day out. She makes simple Cantonese dishes which I mostly like and not having to cook also means you don’t have to do grocery shopping either. As I don’t know how to cook Chinese food, I help out with washing the dishes.
Living together with Alan’s parents gives us a sense of safety as we don’t have to worry about not having enough food to live and eat. But on the other hand it makes us feel too safe and living with parents can make you fall back into being a kid again.
So what are the reasons that we are now renovating the old family house for us and wanting a place for just us two?
First of all we want to be grownups and take care of our selves in a way we think is good for us. Having Alan’s mother to peek into our room everyday looking for shirts and socks to wash isn’t good for us, because we should be the ones taking care of that. We should be aware of the costs for eating out versus cooking yourself. Having parents in the same house makes us too carefree and doesn’t allow us to be independent.
Secondly me and my husband disagree with his parents in many cases. For example the parents think that eating out and going to movies is too expensive, but me and Alan need these date nights to keep our selves happy. Because we live far away from the city center, we also often see our friends in one of the restaurants around Guangzhou.
Thirdly we want a place where our words is the final word. Of course living in the old family house means that the parents live just a few steps away and own the house, but we can still decorate and furnish it the way we like. We can stay up late watching a movie and sleep in on weekends without having the parents blame us on having unhealthy living habits.
As an introvert Finn I also need that mental space for my self to be truly happy. I don’t think it’s very realistic to think I would change into someone who would love to have company all the time, especially company who tells you how to live your life.
Living with the in-laws have been extremely valuable time for me. I have got to known them so much better, including my husband, that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I’m very grateful of all their help and support as well.
But this Spring it’s time for us to start our independent life. It will be very exciting and new for all of us, but me and Alan believe it’s the right decision to make.