It’s Friday and that means my friend Shawn Snyder, from The Odd Couple Blog, and I are teaming up on our weekly marriage blog. Shawn will share her thoughts (in green) on the topic through the eyes of a woman/wife, and I’ll share mine (in blue) through the eyes of a man/husband. This week’s topic is Dealing With Your In-Laws. Enjoy!
How does the relationship with your in-laws affect the relationship with your spouse? Could rocky in-law relationships cause rocky relations at home? How great would it be if the relationship with your in-laws was a great one? It is possible, and it is not much different than what it takes to make a healthy marriage.
Our first post in this marriage series showed you some ways to make a healthy marriage. If you have that down then you should be able to do the same with your in-laws. We mentioned respect, trust, honor, communication, and boundaries as ways to make a healthy marriage. Here is how they apply to your in-law relationship.
When you show respect to someone, they typically show respect right back. If the relationship with your in-laws is based on respect, then you can grow and develop the other areas. Respect in the way you speak to each other, and respect in the way things are done in your respective houses. Although your household may function differently than your parents-in-law, and vice versa, that should be respected and not condemned because it is different, including how you relate to your children.
This actually begins with your marriage relationship. As a husband, if my father-in-law trusts that I will love my wife/his daughter and treat her as well or better than he has, then a great standard and foundation is set. If he knows there is nobody outside of him that will respect, love, and treat her as well, then other challenges may not be as much of a concern.
The bible teaches us to “honor your father and your mother.” When you get married your parents-in-law are you father and mother as well. When you treat them with high regard, with the respect mentioned above, you strengthened your foundation. That means if you don’t always see eye to eye, you have something that keeps you from doing serious damage to the relationship.
Respect, trust, and honor can be shown and reinforced by your communication. Regular conversation with your in-laws is just as important as regular communication with your own parents. If you have the previous points down, then your relationship can handle the tough conversations when, not if, needed. When one or more of them (respect, trust, honor) have been breached then those intimate and/or tough conversations may never happen, or could get ugly.
This is a setting of expectations. If your spouse has been at their parents house every year for every holiday, they may always expect it. When you communicate with respect and honor, and trust has been established then you can set the expectations so frustration doesn’t set in. The expectations may be that you will be there every other holiday, or that you alternate years. Whatever it is, the expectations and boundaries need to be communicated. This will also increase the respect level.
Great in-law relations make your marriage even better!
Having a great relationship with your in-laws is one of the greatest blessings to your marriage. If your in-law relationship isn’t where you want it, then begin to practice the points mentioned above, mixed with some prayer. If you have a great in-law relationship keep working on it to make it even better. Great in-law relationships are possible for all marriages and we should all strive for it.
Question: What is the best time you have had with your in-laws? Please share in the comment section below.
We all have parents and most of us as we grow older have a protective feel for them. If someone is unkind or disrespectful towards them then we tend to get defensive and want to rush to their aid. Now, think of your spouse and their parent’s do you give the same kind of kindness and respect to them that you give and want others to give to your parents?
You might be saying, but wait you don’t understand. They have treated me badly in the past or they don’t like me. Unfortunately, that happens. But, lets take a look at the relationships, you love your spouse don’t you? They have to have qualities that drew you to them. How did they become the person they are? Their parents had a lot to do with it. They loved their child and taught them how to be a good person and instilled those qualities that you love into them. Somebody who did that for the person I love, they deserve my respect in the least and my love at the most. And because I love my spouse and want to show that to him I am willing to realize how important his parents are to him and to act kind towards them.
If you don’t have a good relationship with your in-laws right now then I challenge you to change your habits towards them. Be thoughtful and kind with them. Treat them as you would like others to treat your parents. Remember, they raised the most important person in the world to you. They have to be good people!
If you have in-laws that don’t respect your marriage I am not asking you to expose yourself nor your relationship to criticism or abuse. But if you take the first steps in ending the bickering I think you would find people who would be open to having a relationship with you. I know as a parent with two married children my biggest concern in their marriages is that their spouses treat my kids well. If my kids are happy in their marriage then I am happy to open up my heart and our family to their spouse.
Oh my, have I just become the in-law?
Share your relationship with your in-laws in the comment section below.