My husband and his family’s outdated philosophies are suffocating

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I married into a family that runs its own business out in the boonies and I am living with my father-in-law. Living here is so suffocating.

The life of a homemaker tends to be seen as an easy one, but that isn’t the case. I prepare three meals at specific times every day 365 days a year, without a break. If I find myself needing to leave the house, I prepare meals for my family in advance. I cook like my father-in-law is about to come in and tell me to hurry.

My husband has two older sisters who live nearby, and their families visit us on various occasions like New Year’s Day. They stay overnight partying down, while we cater to their every need, including footing the bill for the festivities. There are even times when his sisters leave their children with us for five days a week, without any consideration for our schedule.

My husband treats all of this as though it were normal. Anytime my father-in-law goes shopping, my husband says: “Your daughter-in-law lives here. Don’t do something so beneath you.”

It’s emotionally taxing.

—S, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. S:

When marrying into a self-employed family in a rural area, all of the housework and childcare is traditionally forced onto the wife. She’s sometimes even forced to take care of her husband’s siblings. Therefore, young women who grow up in such areas, but don’t want a marriage like this, move to a big city. As a result, the low marriage rate is causing a population decline in rural areas.

Whether knowingly or not, you’ve found yourself in such a marriage and even live with your father-in-law. These days, however, it’s not uncommon for men to consider moving out of their parents’ home after marriage as a way of appealing to prospective marriage partners.

That being said, I’m sure there’s some sort of merit to your marriage. Is it that you love your husband because he is such a wonderful person? Or is it because you don’t have to work outside of the home? Or is it that your husband’s family is so rich that you don’t have to worry about your future?

Whatever the case may be, you must clarify just how being in such a marriage benefits you. If you think the benefits outweigh the cost, maybe it would be best to try to endure it. A marriage that suits all of your wants and needs does not exist.

If you think there are more disadvantages, however, ask your husband to improve and suggest you both move out of his father’s home, while preparing yourself for the possibility of losing all of the benefits you’ve enjoyed up until now.

Your family business will be fine even if you move away from your father-in-law. You can even find a job of your own. I hope you’re able to change their old-fashioned mindsets.

—Masahiro Yamada, university professor