'How can I effectively communicate my worries with in-laws?'

"I no longer have the energy to even cook in front of the hot burning stove," says an exhausted homemaker

Haya Malik

Hi Haya,

I'm a mother of three young kids residing in Karachi and the heatwave has really gotten to me. I'm a housewife, so I stay at home with a joint family and have multiple responsibilities in addition to taking care of my own children who are all aged under 8. My two daughters go to school and son is a toddler.

I've never had an issue with any of the responsibilities, but these days because of the extremely hot weather I'm unable to stand in the kitchen and cook. My sisters-in-law also manage the kitchen and we all work together, but with the extreme temperature, I don't feel like stepping inside it at all. I already get so exhausted with my children's responsibilities that I no longer have the energy to even cook in front of the hot burning stove.

I'm not the only one experiencing the scorching summer heat, but I can no longer bear it. I want to talk to my sisters-in-law about it but don't know how to approach the subject because they would feel I'm overreacting.

Please tell me how to make this conversation happen.

— An exhausted housewife 

How can I effectively communicate my worries with in-laws?

Dear exhausted housewife,

Great question! Living in a hot climate like Karachi's during a heatwave can be extremely taxing, especially when juggling the responsibilities of a homemaker and mother.

Communication is a skill that each one of us master to have healthy relationships in our lives, where we can show up for ourselves and others.

The fact that you say they would feel you are over reacting is an assumption — not a fact. You do not know how it would turn out because you haven’t experienced it yet.

Now, let’s get down to how we can break down this communication and help you approach this conversation with your sisters-in-law.

There are three components to effective communication:

  • Discussing the situation at hand.
  • How its impacting you and making you feel.
  • Expressing what you need and providing solutions. 

For example, a sample conversation could look like the following:

"Dear sister(s)-in-law, I wanted to speak to you about something important. The heat in Karachi has been really intense lately, especially in the kitchen. I really appreciate how we all work together to manage everything and support each other.

However, lately, I have been feeling extremely overwhelmed and been experiencing extreme exhaustion. The combination of the heat along with my responsibilities with the kids, I am finding it challenging to stand and cook in the heat, and I find myself having no energy to do it lately.

I was thinking if we could rotate our shifts to cooler parts of the day or, I prepare the things that do not require much exposure to the stove for some time. Your support would mean the world to me. Would that work with you? What do u think?"

If they say no, you ask for their input. For example, you can ask them: "Do you have an alternative solution for how we could make things easier for all of us?"

A couple of things to remember while practising effective communication.

Choosing the right time when they are not so busy or stressed themselves (this will enable them to be more receptive to your concerns), express empathy and gratitude, stick to I statements in sharing your experience on how you’re feeling, suggest solutions, show behavioural flexibility and be open to compromise to alternative ways. (All of which we did above).

By approaching the conversation with empathy, honesty, and a willingness to find practical solutions, you're more likely to receive understanding and support from your sisters-in-law.

Remember, seeking help and adjusting responsibilities during challenging times is a sign of strength and self-awareness, not a weakness.



How can I effectively communicate my worries with in-laws?

Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.

Send her your questions to [email protected]

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