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Living with extended families.

Vanhelsing

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Chatting with an English expat friend in Indonesia some time ago he was explaining to me the occasional bouts of frustration he experiences having the mother and father in-laws and wife's brother living with him in his home, as well as the many other family members that stay for a few days periodically. Fortunately he has quite a large house which allows him to live between two rooms on the second level, maintaining some distance between him and life's little dramas that frequent down stairs. But often he can't avoid the inconveniences of living with the extended family.

Often the brother-in-law will borrow his scooter and not return it when he says he will, fuel tank always empty. The father-in-law drinks too much making a racket and asks him regularly for money. There's the many other relatives that are often in the house dropping around to say hi and staying for days which causes his food bill to be much more than it should be. And of course the other requests from family for a new fridge, loans or whatever is needed by them all.

He's a generous guy, got plenty of money and takes it all on mostly without much complaint, but I feel for him somewhat as I'd personally find it difficult to attend to everyone, no doubt lacking a little decorum in the process.

It caused me wonder if perhaps any members here on Expat Indo live with extended families and how they might negotiate what may be delicate living situations.
 
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Ruserious

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Wow that's a slippery slope that just gets worse and worse. Best to kick them out and draw the lines now or it will never be fixed and in my opinon for anyone else reading this that they should resist it at the start before it gets to that position. Only limited relatives staying, one or two at a time and fixed durations. Clear rules.

I also have a friend that is limited to only part of their house and the rest has been overtaken by his wifes relatives. Imagine not being comfortable in your own home. Horrible situation.
 

Vanhelsing

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Some years ago when I was engaged to an Indonesian woman we would make regular trips to her area of origin in Negara on the north west coast of Bali. I liked the area and we discussed perhaps buying a small place there. I asked the fiance if her family would visit often to wit she replied "They will be there all the time." I said I might find that difficult with her reply being "Too bad. No choice." Suffice to say...
 

waarmstrong

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An expat contemplating marriage to an Indonesian would have to thoroughly obtuse, or monumentally self-centered and insensitive (or both) not to understand and appreciate that, culturally, family is the absolute center of the social fabric of Indonesian society. Cutting an Indonesian spouse off from family has the great potential to make for an unhappy marriage. Van's friend seems to understand the nature of things.
 

Ruserious

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An expat contemplating marriage to an Indonesian would have to thoroughly obtuse, or monumentally self-centered and insensitive
That seems a very one sided answer and doesn't take into account the expats feelings at all. Out of all my expats friends and colleagues happily married in Indonesia only one has the whole family living with him. Besides that issue he is happily married but at the same time he is very much a prisoner in his own home.

To say that there is no choice is just wrong. We are not talking about cutting it even restricting access to family but to imply that you have to house the whole lot of them and act like a walking ATM....sorry that is just wrong and expectations should be made clear up front. Again it needs to be stated clearly up front as it's a slippery slope.
 

El_Goretto

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It's possible to have a fulfilling (extended) family life in Indonesia without having to cater to a bunch of leeches who use "family" and "tradition" as an excuse for taking advantage of the "rich" bule.

That said, no matter what, there are always a few bad apples in all families to spoil the fun.

As for me, I have no major complaints with my in-laws and things seem to be working smoothly when compared to the horror stories heard elsewhere.
 

lifelongexpat

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My wife is pretty good in this respect. She's insists that we never go beyond living in a 2 bedroom apartment and keeping the second bedroom as a study/storage room to act as a deterrent against her relatives using us as a free hotel in Jakarta.

As for leeching relatives, I've seen many an expat lose their shirt (and more) at the hands of such people. So I ended up becoming rather firm upfront in terms of expectations.
 

scouser59

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We live on another island to my wife's folks ,and it all works well , again I was quite clear at the start about boundary's .
This country is like others iv lived in particularly Africa , you gotta keep some distance to live in peace .
 

Bad_azz

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Hubby's family often visit our house- none of them live with us, they all live in cramped conditions - 11 of them in a 2 br tiny house.
I keep dogs ;)
The kids love it though & often drop in & sleep over in the holidays & play with the dogs & chickens. I don't mind as long as it is not every day- & I have made that quite clear to the family- probably because I am the next oldest to MIL & the age deference thing here, they listen & respect my wishes.
Re the asking for money- do we count my lil old MIL asking for 50rb for a bus trip ticket?
In such instances hubby gives her 50,rb I give him a slap for being stingy with his mother & give her a substantial amount more, so that she can buy a nice lunch & do a bit of shopping- she has reared 6 kids & cared for a sick husband (now deceased) and reared 5 grandkids whilst the parents worked... in my book she deserves all the day trips she wants to go off on with her friends, she earnt them. I have offered for her to come live with us- but she is nervous of the dogs. The dogs are my "kids" they are staying & the family know that.

As for the rest of the siblings asking for money- we have an "employment scheme" haha, if they want money from us, they come here & work for it.
Simple as that- in my mind, it gives them self respect because they are earning cash & not living on hand outs= they win, I am getting work done around the house (& done well at that!) by trusted reliable people = I win.
We have recently been doing some building work & the kids love it & have been here almost every day of the holidays mucking in too- volunteering obviously I do not ask them to come & work- ages range from 7 to 17 & the hardest worker is the 10 yr old.
Re the kids- if they are mixing up cement or carrying buckets of sand around or generally helping out they too get some cash or "payment" (snacks & books ). if they come here & just sit on the sofa watching telly or playing games they get nothing more than lunch.
All in all it works out well. Especially re the kids as it teaches them a nice lil work ethic & protects us in future years against scrounging family members.
I have to point out I would be just the same with my own brothers kids in the UK.

I also am curious; those who are a bit disgruntled by their Indonesian side of the family- what would you expect your spouse to do for your own parents & siblings if the boot was on the other foot?
 

Bad_azz

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Re the always borrowing the "motor" if it is an inconvenience & if you are sufficiently well off- buy a scrappy old runabout scooter for the family to use & maintain- be clear about that in advance- state that they are responsible for servicing & putting in the fuel & that you will just pay the tax each year. That it is for the use of anyone in the family and that they sort out either a rota, or the politics amongst themselves- I find that on the whole if I give clear parameters around such stuff, IN ADVANCE, it is less messy.
 
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Balifrog

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An expat contemplating marriage to an Indonesian would have to thoroughly obtuse, or monumentally self-centered and insensitive (or both) not to understand and appreciate that, culturally, family is the absolute center of the social fabric of Indonesian society. Cutting an Indonesian spouse off from family has the great potential to make for an unhappy marriage. Van's friend seems to understand the nature of things.
Sorry this is BS, that deluded guys use as excuse for not been man enough to wear the trousers in the home.
Heard the same thing all over Asia... Same in Africa.
All this stuff is a NONO for me, strongly made clear from day 1. Same as any loan, business venture, borrow this or that...
And it was same with my ex in Thailand.

If the girl / women (potential wife) doesn't agree she can move on.
Simple and easy.
 

Bad_azz

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Sorry this is BS, that deluded guys use as excuse for not be*ing (ftfy) man enough to wear the trousers in the home.
Heard the same thing all over Asia... Same in Africa.
All this stuff is a NONO for me, strongly made clear from day 1. Same as any loan, business venture, borrow this or that...
And it was same with my ex in Thailand.

If the girl / women (potential wife) doesn't agree she can move on.
Simple and easy.
My, my aren't you the progressive type.
Still dwell in a cave do you? Drag the wife around by her hair do you? Still carry a club?
 

waarmstrong

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An expat contemplating marriage to an Indonesian would have to thoroughly obtuse, or monumentally self-centered and insensitive (or both) not to understand and appreciate that, culturally, family is the absolute center of the social fabric of Indonesian society....
Sorry this is BS, that deluded guys use as excuse for not been man enough to wear the trousers in the home.
Heard the same thing all over Asia... Same in Africa.
All this stuff is a NONO for me, strongly made clear from day 1. Same as any loan, business venture, borrow this or that...
And it was same with my ex in Thailand.

If the girl / women (potential wife) doesn't agree she can move on.
Simple and easy.
Thanks for confirming my view.
 

Nimbus

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I have tons of relatives, and thankfully most of them know their boundaries.

When I was a kid, it was common to stay a week or two during the holidays with one of my uncles or aunts. It was seen as completely normal. However, this was a once or twice a year occasion, and I know that my parents send them money to cover my food, snacks, and other incidentals.

Today people still drop by and stay for a couple of days at a time, but nobody comes close to wearing out his welcome.

I think the issue is feeling helpless in your own house. Don't. You are still the owner, and you have (at least) 50% share of the decisions. While we Indonesians respect our guests, we also know that the host deserves equal (if not greater) respect.

My mother in law is welcome in my house for as long as she likes. I respect her and will defer to her expertise on relevant matters, but at the end of the day it's still my house and my rules. If there is something that bothers me, it is going to be communicated and discussed, politely. I won't just sit on the issue and let my resentment grow, that's not healthy.
 

waarmstrong

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Well said. Life is a balancing act that most people do respectfully with grace, courtesy, and common sense assertiveness when required.
 

Balifrog

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My, my aren't you the progressive type.
Still dwell in a cave do you? Drag the wife around by her hair do you? Still carry a club?
Sorry,
But I dont think that is the subject.

Happy New Year.
 

Ruserious

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Well said. Life is a balancing act that most people do respectfully with grace, courtesy, and common sense assertiveness when required.
That seems completely opposite to your earlier post which read as like it or lump it.
 

R Cameron

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That seems completely opposite to your earlier post which read as like it or lump it.
His first post had several "disagree" first, so it seems others read it that way as well, but I didn't. He said "understand and appreciate" which I do think it crucially important, but he didn't say the way forward is just to submit entirely to the Indonesian culture and family pressures.
 

waarmstrong

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That seems completely opposite to your earlier post which read as like it or lump it.
I think you are reading your own biases into my earlier comment, which said understanding and accommodating the culture one marries into makes for a successful marriage. I did not say or mean to imply that understanding the culture of your spouse means accepting arrogant, entitled behavior, from which ever side of the union it emanates.
 

Ruserious

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I think you are reading your own biases into my earlier comment,
I think it was the bit when you said that Vans friend understands the nature of things. To me that suggested that this was a normal and acceptable situation, which it definitely does not seem to be to me. To me it reads as if he is being very much taking advantage off by his wife's family and no amount of cultural understanding would make that acceptable to me. If you did not mean it that way then ok.
 

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