The stuff you find on the internet, boy. While I'm sure that it comes as no surprise to a lot of you, so this probably goes without saying, a lot of people are not exactly besties with their in-laws. In fact, a survey that was featured in Real Simple's article, "This Is How Often Parents-in-Law Should Visit, According to Married Couples" cited that (catch this) 47 percent of in-laws considered themselves to get along extremely well with their child's spouse while only 27 percent of couples agreed (see, there's already a breakdown in communication right there). What's even bigger than that is a whopping 70 percent of couples said that the in-law dynamic has played a major role when it comes to the stress and strain that they've experienced within their marriage (chile…CHILE).
Because this is something that I hear quite a bit whenever I'm listening to married folks share the points of frustration that they have with their own partner's family members and because I also know that the holiday season is typically the time when having up close and personal dealings with in-laws is almost unavoidable, I thought it might help to ask five husbands and five wives in my world (middle names only) to share with me some of the things about their in-laws that get under their skin, along with what their workaround is, so that their can truly be peace on earth and goodwill towards men — until the holidays are over.
Lenae. 36. Married 7 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: An Overbearing Mother-in-Law
"I know how cliché it sounds to have a controlling mother-in-law. Mine comes with a twist, though. We get along really well. Problem is, we're both big on special occasions and want things to go the way we envision them, and rarely do we have the same vision. Since Thanksgiving is a bigger deal to me and Christmas is a bigger deal to her, we try and get her to come for the first holiday."
"My husband spoke with her about four years ago about how she needs to act like a guest and not a host when she comes to visit, so I will discuss with her ahead of time about what she'd like to do and give her the floor on what we agree on. Whenever we're at her house for Christmas, she tries — emphasis on tries — to return the favor, so it generally works out for the good."
Milos. 40. Married 10 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Traditional In-Laws When I'm Non-Traditional
"If you're single and reading this, hear me when I say that it's the little things that can destroy a marriage. I love my wife, but I really did underestimate how much traditions matter to her until after we got married. While I couldn't care less about any holiday, she's like on crack about them. All of them. So are her parents. They want to watch the Macy's Day Parade. They want to string popcorn on the tree. They want to watch holiday films for hours on end. I used to get irritated about it being on-10 in my house. Now, I just accept that it's only once a year, so long as they don't try and force me to do things that I don't want to do in my own house…what's a couple of Hallmark movies and a big ass tree gonna hurt?"
Jasmine. 29. Married 3 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: "Disrespectful" Grandparent In-Laws
"When you're the grandchild, having grandparents who spoil you is cute. When you're the parent who has to deprogram the mess that your in-laws made after being with you for a week, it's pretty frustrating. Take gifts, for instance. My husband and I don't like our kids having a ton of stuff. Meanwhile, our parents couldn't care less. His mom is super dismissive in this way, so what I've learned to do is just graciously accept what she sends but not give my kids everything at once. Sometimes, they don't receive some of her presents until after Valentine's Day — and I'm totally fine with that."
Osborne. 25. Married 1 Year.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: In-Laws Who Refuse to Leave Their Home
"I'm so glad you're going with middle names because when I tell you that no one represents what it means to wear out your welcome like my mother-in-law does? F — k. Because my wife lived at home until we got married and her mother is newly retired, she tries to see us, damn, it feels like every other month — and not for a long weekend either. This will actually be our second holiday [season] as a married couple and what I've requested of my wife is to let her mother know, ahead of time, that she is welcome to come for Christmas and stay through New Year's Eve but New Year's is our time."
"According to her, her mom is fine with it. I've kind've learned that when you set the boundaries on the front end, you don't get blindsided as much on the back. And what if she dismisses my request? Well, we'll have to talk about visits being shorter, moving forward. My wife agrees with this strategy. As long as you and your spouse are on the same page, everyone else will just have to…adjust."
Mercedes. 42. Married 8 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Super Horny In-Laws
"Laugh if you want to, but that scene in Boomerang with the horny parents? I feel his pain. I should've known that when my mother-in-law got me a rainbow set of crotchless panties at my bridal shower that she was gonna be a problem but the only thing worse than you thinking that your parents can hear you having sex with your boo is you hearing your man's parents doing it. And no matter how many hints or sighs that I drop, they just think it's funny. It's not like two people who've been together for over 50 years still wanting each other is a bad thing, so my husband and I just invested in a firmer mattress and got them a 'Do Not Disturb' sign. Oh, and confined them to the guest bedroom only because I'll be damned if I walk into the bathroom…like I did a few years ago!"
Shino. 47. Married 12 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Nosy Mother-in-Law
"I don't know if there is a nosier woman than my mother-in-law. She feels totally justified too. I think a part of it is because she controlled so much of her children's lives, even well past college, so she thinks that I am just another relative to run. One year, I actually left my phone out and open in the kitchen before turning in. I changed my wife's name in my contacts and we had phone sex for like an hour. The next morning, my mother-in-law was in the kitchen, telling my wife that I was cheating on her. You should've seen her face when we told her that it was us! She still butts her head in more than I would like her too but that definitely reeled her in."
Imala. 24. Married 2 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Super Religious In-Laws
"Watch those Bible-thumping folks who think that they can pick and choose a Scripture to manipulate you. My in-laws are ministers and whenever I do something that they don't like, they come with that 'Honor your father and mother' stuff. Umm, I have parents. Anyway, what I've learned to do is remind them of the Scripture that talks about wearing out your welcome. It's Proverbs 25:17, if you're curious. I also talk to them about how the Bible also says that love is not rude [I Corinthians 13:5], so to try and be super preachy or to make people uncomfortable in their own home, that doesn't sound very 'Christ-like' to me. My father-in-law? I think he respects that I know how to apply the Word. My mother-in-law can't stand it, but she complies because the Bible also says to submit to your husband, and he agrees with the importance of choosing their battles when they are in our home. Checkmate."
Christian. 28. Married 4 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Passive Aggressive Father-in-Law
"I don't think my father-in-law has ever known how to be direct. Everything comes in the form of a hint. 'I mean if you're going to get a ham instead of a turkey when that isn't traditional, go right ahead.' I'm more aggressive in my communication — you know, straight to the point. I don't feed into the nonsense. I used to try and pull stuff outta him, but I've learned that only enables the same behavior. These days, if he doesn't come direct, I act like he didn't say anything at all. I don't know how it affects him, he's passive-aggressive, remember? It definitely takes my stress levels down, though."
Krista. 32. Married 5 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: In-Laws Who Wear Out Their Welcome
"I wish I could say something different, but my hubby's family is loud and combative — not either or…both. And they like to come to our house because it's out of town for them and a lot of them don't like to travel much. How I survive it is they get a firm in and out date, a lot like a hotel. During the time when they are with us, they get treated like royalty but that is only for three days firm. If they want to stay longer than that, we will pay for an Airbnb for two days and beyond that, it's totally on them. No one can act like a victim when the boundaries are stated upfront."
Elenio. 33. Married 3 Years.
In-Law Pet Peeve/Trigger: Turn-Up Father-in-Law
"My father-in-law is buck wild. I mean, BUCK WILD. You can't contain him, so why even try? The first and last night of his stay, he's usually with us. The rest of the time, he's in a hotel (he pays) and we cover the cost of a rental car. We also give him a list of things to do, clubs and bars included. The reason it's best is because we've got kids and he sometimes comes in drunk — a fun drunk but still drunk — or with company and we don't need all of that…traffic. You would think he would take it personally, but he actually loves the freedom to be able to spend time with us and hang out in another city on his own terms. The in-law thing is about meeting in the middle. Do that and you're all good.'"
For more love and relationships, features, dating tips and tricks, and marriage advice check out xoNecole's Sex & Love section here.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
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