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First time welcoming new members into our family

As first experiences go, becoming a mother-in-law and gaining a new daughter in the family – and of course, seeing the first of my children and my oldest son get married, is pretty epic. And this is my unique and new experience for March!

Adding a new experience to your month does not have to be something large, audacious or expensive. It could just be saying ‘yes’ to something you would not have considered doing before. What I’ve learnt from the three first-time experiences I have shared with you this year is that it always goes hand-in-hand with learning and something new to be grateful for.

Apart from having the best and most joyous time with family and friends at Ryan and Nix’s wedding at the beautiful Webersburg Wine Estate in the Cape, I feel incredibly blessed and privileged to see our family size increase with the very special and much-loved Nix. Still, becoming a mother-in-law for the first time can be daunting, and I’m sure Nix feels the same way about her becoming a wife and daughter-in-law. Getting married is a significant life-changing transition as you move into a new, unexplored and wonderful stage of life.

A few days before the wedding Nix and I chatted about our new future roles. We’ve all heard some horror mother-in-law stories – from criticism, stopping by unannounced to rearrange the furniture without being asked, and coercing the daughter-in-law to have children. Nix and I both felt that it would be helpful for us to set boundaries upfront so we don’t make assumptions about what we each value, trust and respect.

I realise that Nix and Ryan will live their new life together on their terms and in their own way – different from how we live our lives in our family. But I also know that we share common values which gives me a great sense of pride and joy.

Setting boundaries are not only important with in-laws; they are essential for creating trust and respect in any healthy relationship. And honouring the boundaries of others builds a strong connection where each one feels heard, seen and valued and where both your needs are met.

Boundary discussions are brave conversations to have. It’s talking about how you want to be treated and your expectations in the relationship. It also defines what’s acceptable and what is not. It’s brave because by setting boundaries, you value yourself, prioritise your needs and create space to thrive and grow. I love the fact that Nix and I understand each other’s boundaries. It makes me feel safe and secure knowing what she expects of me and what she values and appreciates. These discussions may seem hard at first, but it’s better than the resentment when boundaries are overstepped.

I found a helpful article on written by Jo Nash, who obtained her PhD in Psychotherapy Studies and lectured in mental health at the University of Sheffield. She masterfully explains what boundaries are and how to set healthy ones. I love this explanation of the different boundaries involved in relationships.

READ: How to Set Healthy Boundaries & Build Positive Relationships

Do you have relationships in your life that may need redefined boundaries? Relationships change and evolve, and it may require an adjustment of boundaries. Remember, having boundaries are not selfish or self-centred. It really helps those you love with clear guidelines of how to treat and love you in a way you appreciate.

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