My in-laws have just left for the airport along with the husband’s aunt and uncle. Hugs were exchanged and reminders were made. A truckload of unsolicited yet welcome advice (and they were actually good to keep in mind) for a lasting marriage were given. There were a teeny bit of tears (though I won’t say who cried *wink,wink*) and “please come back soons”.
The past two weeks we had them over were fun (we got to show them around KL and Singapore) but very tiring nonetheless. So here I am, just a couple of hours after they left, sitting on our couch and munching on M&Ms. I refuse to move from this spot and I am just listening to the sound of my breathing. Everything is so quiet and now, I can relax. Wow. It feels totes foreign. Our home was filled with people for the past two weeks and now it’s back to normal.
Don’t get me wrong. I love having visitors and I love my in-laws. My husband’s family members have been nothing but nice to me. But you know how it is when you have visitors – it’s stressful. Even for my husband and they’re HIS actual parents and blood relatives. I guess it comes with the Filipino trait of being hospitable. We go out of our way to be very welcoming. Put it this way – you see those tourism slogans of other Asian countries who say that they’re also hospitable? Quadruple their hospitality and that’s the only time you’ll know that you’re getting treated the Filipino way. Have you ever heard of people letting visitors sleep in their bedroom while they camp out in the living room? No, Sorry. Alvin and I are not that hardcore. But a lot of Filipinos do that to make sure their guests are comfortable. And we don’t just do this for our families, we do it for friends and even acquaintances. So when we say we’re having guests over, I just know I’m gonna need at least a week to recuperate from all the traveling and tour guiding I’ve been doing.
While I’m lucky to have in-laws that are nice to me (my mother-in-law, a person I expected to make my life hell after seeing all those rom-coms is actually very motherly to me), I must admit that I was very anxious before their arrival and I’m sure most other married women there would agree. Whether your in-laws are loveable like mine or monsters from hell, it will always make you anxious to know that they’re coming. It’s like having VIPs as visitors.
I think my anxiety came from the urge to prove that I’m taking good care of their son and our home, despite us living alone abroad. They know I didn’t grow up like most Filipina women do. I grew up trained to be a career woman and not a homemaker. So I guess I wanted to put all their worries to rest and give the impression that “I got this.”
And I’m glad to say that I did it. Successfully, of course. I actually feel proud about this achievement and I’m pretty sure that Alvin’s parents left Malaysia loving me even more. I’m quite sure I left a good impression on his aunt and uncle too whom I met for the first time when they arrived here for their short vacation.
So here’s a random (and honest) list of just a couple of things I learned from this visit which I hope will help any anxious newlywed out there who’s having in-laws over for the first time:
1. Clean the house
A disorderly house means one thing to in-laws: You’re not taking care of your home well enough. If you have a day job, you might get away with the house not being close to perfect. Like having a scarf laid down on a console table or leaving the remote controls in the dining table. But make no mistake about it: The pressure is greater for the stay-at-home wife.