I have experienced this three different times now (the third is still happening), and I have to say, each time, it has improved. Partly because of my attitude, and party because of the attitudes of the parties involved.


The first time was probably the worst of the three. It happened early in my marriage, and without my consent. I'm still fuzzy on the details, or when my wife knew about it, but basically, my sister-in-law showed up out of the blue and came to live with us.

My sister-in-law is a great person. Very helpful, very caring. But she just showed up one day (as far as I'm concerned) and may or may not have given my wife a heads up some hours ahead of her arrival that she was on her way.

Well, being only a couple years into our marriage, still living in a one bedroom apartment, and having no say as to whether or not she could come was hard on me. As far as I know, she just decided she wanted to leave home knowing that her sister would take her in. If there were other circumstances revolving around this, I am not aware of it.

I think the main thing that got to me over time was, we couldn't do anything without considering what she would want to do first. We couldn't go somewhere to have a good time, my wife didn't want to ask her to babysit (thought it did happen a few times), and it just felt like a big imposition. Unfortunately for me, I came out of it looking like the bad guy because I wasn't able to go with the flow.

She ended up moving with us when we rented a three bedroom home. At least that moved her off the couch, and everyone got their own bed. She did get a job as a live in maid a few years later and never moved back in.


For about a sixteen month stretch, I went to school away from home while my wife stayed and worked. For the first term, she was there alone and I worried about her. She finally confessed a few days ago that it was hard on her (before that, she wouldn't admit it). My oldest son was away at school, and was also married by then, but both wanted to come back to Oregon (her parents and brother live here, too).

I asked them to stay with my wife until I was finished and they were happy to do so. He would take some online courses to keep his schooling going and find work.

Well, it worked out okay with me because I was gone, but I felt the tension and sometimes got an earful when I came home in between terms and on longer weekends. Mostly, it had to do with what wasn't happening at home. My son got a job, leaving my daughter-in-law at home with time to do chores and things, but outside of her room and the bathroom they shared, she wouldn't do anything else.

She didn't want to cook, she didn't want to do anything helpful. Eventually, she got a job, too, which meant she wasn't around during the day, mostly, anyway. My son wasn't much help in that regard, either, and didn't want to talk to her about it. So, while it gave me some peace of mind while I was away, it was a cause of stress for my wife as much as it was a comfort.


My older son and wife moved back out the year after I was finished and returned to continue his own schooling. Several months later, the youngest son, who was also married and was just becoming a father for the first time, was graduating and didn't have anywhere else to go. They considered living with her parents, but they live farther away and the logistics just didn't pan out.

So, he asked if they could come live with us. In their minds, it would only be a year. In August, the year came and went. In the meantime, he has been working at a job where he can put his college education to use, and my daughter-in-law has been staying at home with their soon to be 17-month-old daughter and taking online classes off and on.

Well, things have been better in my mind this time around. This daughter-in-law is willing to do a lot more, in part, perhaps, because it is her daughter who inevitably is cluttering up the house with toys and what not, if not plain making a mess (he is still a baby, after all). She has also taken on most of the cooking duties, too. I don't know if she enjoys doing it, but she does it, and for that I am grateful.

I'm not sure how long they're going to be here with us (they're talking about being out sometime next year), but I'm good with it for now. Having the first grandchild with us has been a blessing and a mitigating factor for me. It's a bonus that helps to smooth over a lot of little things. That doesn't mean there hasn't been some challenges. The sister-in-law does have a flare up temper and an independent streak, even when it's counterproductive, but even so, we're managing.

I'm not sure if my wife always agrees with that. Being the grandma and the mother-in-law can be a tricky proposition at this stage.


it's always best to have your own home, and to keep your family separate as much as possible. However, life happens. Hopefully, it will take place later on in the marriage or companionship when the couple is more united and able to make decisions as a duo, rather than trying to include the feelings and desires of the extended family in every choice that is made.

If so, things will go a little bit smoother. Setting up expectations from the beginning is also a good idea, so that all parties are on the same page. In fact, that should be done prior to them actually staying, as part of the terms of them being there.

And when they are able to get back on their feet and move out, they should. Unless everyone is comfortable with everyone living there, because it's helpful and because it's supportive, that may be the reason to continue.

Multi-generational households used to be pretty common (in some places, they still are). It's not a bad thing for them to happen, either, especially with the way things are economically in many cases. However, everyone needs their own space, too, and the ability to make decisions for themselves and their own immediate family. That can be a lot to navigate and consider.