This might just be every person's worst nightmare: You're getting down and dirty with your partner behind your closed bedroom door, or in their childhood room over a holiday break, when your mother-in-law and father-in-law burst in without knocking while you are in a compromising position.
Cue the everlasting embarrassment and the fear your in-laws will never look you in the eye again. What do you even do in this situation? Will this image be burned into their brains for eternity?
We know, it'sвЂ¦ not ideal. But, it does happen. When you're home for a holiday or vacation, the odds of getting caught in the act are pretty high. Parents aren't always great with, um, boundaries. Here is what to do when your in-laws catch you having sex with your partner.
Should you address it?
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D., licensed therapist and author says that ignoring what happened is not a good idea. If you're thinking, "F*%$!!!!," you are not alone on that one. Who wants to talk about the fact that their father in-law saw them in doggy style with his child?
It's easy to just pretend nothing happened and move on with this hanging between you. The problem is, this doesn't solve anything. Now, you don't have to bring it up first. It's perfectly OK to see if your partner's parent(s) want to talk about before you say anything. If they don't, it's best to pull one of them aside and have a quick chat. Even if they aren't into discussing it, getting out in the open will make moving on a lot easier.
Address the topic with humor. If you make it awkward, it will be awkward. "This is a situation where humor can be your best action plan!" Hanks says. "A witty comment like, 'well, this is awkward,' or 'here's proof that I really do love your kid - though you probably don't need this much proof!'" is the perfect way to ease into a conversation about what just happened. You want to keep things playful and funny. It's likely the parents will take the cues on how to act from you.
Set up some boundaries
Then, suggests Ginger Bercaw, Ph.D., sex expert and author, it's time to ask your in-laws how you can prevent this situation from ever happening again. As we said, parents aren't great with boundaries for the most part. It's unfortunately up to you to lay it out.
"What you're really talking about is setting some boundaries with your in-laws," says Bercaw. "Whether you are visiting their home( or they are in yours, having an explicit agreement about knocking on the door and waiting to be invited in - or investing in a lock for privacy - is very important."
Move the hell on
If you're panicking and have convinced yourself that you're legitimately going to have to get a divorce to avoid seeing these people ever again, calm yourself. This is not great. No one is denying that. But, there are so many other, bigger issues you're going to have to deal with down the line. This cannot be the thing that breaks you.
You're a human being. Human beings have sex. Don't be apologetic. You didn't do anything wrong. Be empathetic and kind. And then move the hell on.
While this conversation may seem even more uncomfortable than the time your mom made you take 30 thousand prom photos, strategically posed with your pimply high school girlfriend, "this need not leave a bad impression on your in-laws," says Bercaw. "Sexuality and enjoying sex is a healthy part of every marriage. Establishing boundaries with in-laws is something every couple needs to negotiate regarding a variety of topics, including privacy."
You were going to get here someday in all likeliness. No matter how many precautions you take, someone is going to walk in on you having sex at some point. Talk about it. Get it over with. Pop some champagne and have a drink. Move on with your life.
Gigi Engle is a sex educator and writer living in Chicago. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.