I’m a 30-year-old newly-wedded woman and I don’t plan on having children for the next two or three years. But my in-laws are forcing me to “give them a grandchild” as soon as possible. I know for a fact that it will hamper my career. And I’m only finally getting somewhere. My husband understands that but he never talks to his parents. He hasn’t told them that he even wants to wait for at least a couple of years before having children. How do I communicate with my in-laws and ask my husband to do the same without offending or hurting anyone? Please help!—A stressed daughter-in-law
Kapil Sharma, counseling psychologist, Nepal Institute of Mental Health
First of all, I want you to know that it’s completely normal to stress out about family planning and your career at this stage of life. Whatever you feel is completely valid and there are ways you can work through these issues. Secondly, it’s a good thing that you and your husband are on the same page about family planning. The major problem here is communication and the other problem is that your husband is not vocal about these issues with his parents.
So, we can work on this with two methods. One, you can talk to your husband and ask him to talk to his parents. If he is unwilling to do so, ask him why. Maybe he is someone who is unable to say no, or is afraid he might hurt his parents’ feelings. Working on his issues and helping him communicate with his parents can be one way to solve this communication gap.
If that does not work, you can be the one to initiate the conversation with his parents. This might be a bit scary for you, but I advise you not to jump into conclusions and think you will offend them before talking to them. The only way you will know is if you have that conversation. So, you must get over your fears and talk to them. Communication is important.
If you feel awkward and uncomfortable, you can begin by saying you would like to tell them how you feel about starting a family. Get them to sit down and discuss this with you. Be calm and mindful while you have the conversation in order to avoid arguments. You can also share your future plans and what you would like to do in life while also acknowledging your in-laws’ concerns to avoid the conversation from getting heated. Doing this will also help you leave some room for further discussions, if you feel its needed in the future.
It’s also best if you keep your husband beside you while having this conversation so that he will be able to verify what you say. This lets the parents know that both of you feel the same way. Maybe he will share his concerns too. Sometimes people are not good at initiating conversations but might have something to say during one. Give your husband a chance to express himself too when you are sharing your thoughts with your in-laws.