Sunday August 24 2014

ASK UNCLE JOE: Must I visit her parents?

Why must l always tag along when she is visiting her parents? Fred A.

Dear Fred, you sound disgruntled about going with her always while visiting her parents. You seem to be facing challenges in visiting with her always.

Tagging along sounds like you are doing something you do not like. Is there anything that brings you pain or unhappiness at your in-law’s home? Could it be cultural differences that make you feel uncomfortable while at your in-law’s house with your wife or are there some reasons that may oblige you and your wife to visit your in-law’s home regularly which may make you uncomfortable?

It would be right for you to visit your wife’s parents together as the reverse is true. There may be once in a while some issue or something that may keep you from visiting with her but it should not be called ‘’tagging along’’ unless otherwise.

As a couple, doing things together bonds you even if you are not thrilled about the activities. Supportive spouses do things for each other not because they make you happy, but because you love each other and care for each other’s welfare.

Marriage involves negotiation and compromise. If visiting with your wife at her parents’ home will make your relationship better, why not. If you are uncomfortable and perhaps your wife may not be aware, then sit down and share with her your concerns. As a couple you can talk and find better ways of doing it with love, understanding and sensitivity.

I’m aware that there are quite a number of tribes where you do not freely mix with your in-laws as a man, which is a cultural issue, but there are also other tribes where you are considered as “a son” in that home. Therefore visiting them as many times as you can, does no harm unlike where the culture does not allow you to mix freely. However, the underlying issue here is respect for your in-laws whatever category, as they are very important people to both of you as parents.

When you marry you widen the circle of your relatives. Your wife’s parents and relatives become your relatives and your people become your wife’s relatives too. All these new changes come with a cost on both sides, and therefore your visiting them should not be considered as a bother.

Uncle Joe Musaalo is a counselling psychologist