Yaaseen Basit argues that in the intricate tapestry of family dynamics, the relationship between spouses and their in-laws can play a pivotal role. While many families embrace and support one another, some may harbour misgivings and toxicity that can adversely affect one’s mental health. In this article, he explores the often challenging terrain of dealing with the many members of a joint family household and provides invaluable tips on how to maintain your mental health in such circumstances.
As it often happens, people who come together to live under one roof do not share similar practises, have the same lifestyles, food choices, personal habits, likes and dislikes. Often, this translates into conflict when decisions are to be made jointly or when one ends up overstepping into others’ personal spaces and decisions. Here are some causes for conflict and ways to solve them.
The Struggles of Living in a Joint Family SetupMarrying the love of your life is a beautiful journey, but it can become a difficult path when you find yourself dealing with in-laws who are given to creating conflict or situations where there are misgivings and miscommunications. Toxicity can manifest in various ways, including manipulation, criticism, overbearing behaviour, and unsolicited advice. The toll it takes on your mental health can be substantial, affecting your self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being.
The Silent Struggle:
A silent struggle often unfolds behind the closed doors of seemingly happy homes. Victims of domestic violence caused by their husbands endure a living nightmare. Emotional manipulation, gaslighting, physical aggression, and isolation are just a few of the tactics employed by abusive husbands to assert control over their partners. Victims find themselves ensnared in a web of fear, shame, and a belief that they are at fault, often leading to silence and a reluctance to seek help.
Dealing with Conflict:
To address unpleasant situations effectively, it’s crucial to understand that it can come from multiple sources. Sometimes, your partner may not stand up to their family or may inadvertently contribute to the negativity. It’s essential to approach this as a team, emphasizing open communication, empathy, and mutual support.
Tips to Handle Negativity:
Open and Honest Communication: Begin by having a candid conversation with your spouse about the situation. Share your feelings, concerns, and the impact the toxicity makes on your mental health. Encourage your partner to do the same. A united front can help you tackle the issue together.
Practice Patience: When faced with negativity, strive to exercise patience and forbearance. Remember that patience is a virtue and can help diffuse tense situations.
Maintain Respect: Always maintain respect and dignity in your interactions, even when faced with negativity.
Open and Respectful Communication: Share your concerns and feelings with your spouse and in-laws in a calm and non-confrontational manner. Listen attentively to their perspective as well.
Avoid Escalation: Refrain from responding to negativity with negativity. Instead, try to de-escalate the situation by responding calmly and with kindness.
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries within the family and communicate them assertively but respectfully. Everyone should know what behaviour is unacceptable and what is appreciable. Consistency is key to ensuring these boundaries are respected.
Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist for emotional support. Discussing your feelings with someone you trust can be therapeutic and provide valuable insights and perspective.
Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to protect your mental health. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and a sense of fulfilment. Regular exercise, meditation, and hobbies can greatly relieve stress.
Counselling or Therapy: Consider couples therapy or individual counselling to help navigate the challenges of a complicated family dynamic. A trained therapist can provide guidance and tools to improve communication and cope with the situation.
Educate Yourself: Understand that toxic behaviour often stems from deep-seated issues within the psyche. Empathy and knowledge can help you approach the situation with a more compassionate perspective.
Stay Calm and Collected: When confronted with negativity, remain composed and avoid reacting impulsively. Responding calmly can disarm toxic individuals and prevent escalation.
Build a Supportive Network: Cultivate relationships with individuals who uplift and encourage you. Surrounding yourself with positivity outside of your family circle can provide a welcome respite.
Consult Elders: If necessary, seek the guidance of respected elders or religious leaders within the community. They may be able to provide counsel and mediation in resolving conflicts.
Focus on Self-Improvement: Use difficult situations as an opportunity to improve yourself spiritually and emotionally. Seek forgiveness for your shortcomings.
Maintain Family Ties: Even in challenging situations, strive to maintain a connection with your husband and in-laws. Do not sever family bonds unless necessary.
Charity: Engage in acts of charity and kindness, both within and outside of your family. Acts of generosity can soften hearts and improve relationships. This can be a shared activity as well.
Consistency: Consistency in your behaviour and attitude is important. Show love, respect, and patience consistently, even in the face of negativity.
Maintaining your mental health in a complicated domestic situation can be a challenging journey, but it is not impossible. Remember, you have the power to set boundaries, seek support, and prioritize your well-being. By working together with your spouse, you can face these challenges head-on and emerge from the storm with a stronger, healthier relationship and an improved sense of self-worth. In the end, your mental health deserves care and protection, and you have the strength to navigate the path to a happier, more harmonious family life.
A disclaimer is that while these tips can help you navigate challenging family relationships, it’s also important to seek professional advice or counselling if the situation becomes unmanageable or harmful to your well-being