Are you having trouble dealing with your in-laws? Are you frustrated that your husband seems to like them more than you? I want to help. I have been married for nearly 17 years, I have lived with my in-laws on two occasions, and very near them for several years. I know what it is like to be a young wife who live with or near her mother-in-law.
First, I want to say that I have great in-laws! My mother-in-law is a wonderful person and I enjoy spending time with her. I always have. But I did not always enjoy living with them. (my father-in-law passed away during the second year of our marriage.)
Two separate times, we lived in the same house as my husband’s parents. I was 20 and 21 when we lived with them. I was learning to be a wife and mother, and I was very young and inexperienced! I thought I knew ‘way more than I actually did, and to make it worse, I was very loud and opinionated. (sigh)
Anyway, my in-laws were very kind to me, because they were filled with Jesus. But still, I was very sensitive about my mothering, and I’m sorry to say that I did not always take advice well, and I didn’t pull my weight around the house. We lived in their house a couple months at a time.
Later, we built a small, 4-room house on my mother-in-law’s property. Our houses were only 100 yards apart – if that. By now, I had 2 kids and was expecting a third. It was a recipe for disaster, relationally, but with Jesus in our midst we managed to live there 1.5 years and never have a fight or a real problem.
Here are my tips to have a healthy, vibrant relationship with your in-laws:
Remember that they are your husband’s family.
I don’t care how mean, manipulative, or nosy they are; they are the people who raised your husband. They are his parents and siblings – treat them with respect. Maybe even your husband doesn’t like them. Still, treat them with respect. They deserve respect for their position, if not for their character. We are only given ONE family. One true, blood-relation family. Don’t toss them aside or strain those family bonds just because you are ticked off. Work on relationships.
As a newcomer to the family, it is easy to feel like you have to carve out a spot for yourself. When your in-laws do things differently than you or your family did them, it’s easy to want to set them straight. You need to lay aside your family traditions when you are around your in-laws. “We never allowed football during Thanksgiving lunch!!“
Sorry hun. That is your family tradition, not a moral issue. If your new family (and your husband) watches football during Thanksgiving lunch, then you must watch it too – happily, I might add! Try to learn the way they do things, and the stories behind them. Integrate. Figure out how this family works, and celebrate them! Remember; the Golden Rule still applies – treat them the way you want him to treat your family!
Your mother-in-law will see you differently than your mom does. If she has advice for you – take it! I have learned so much from my mother-in-law. She is a wise lady and –once I got over myself — I realized she had a lot of wisdom for me – because she knew my husband well!
Keep that in mind. Your mother-in-law loves your husband and knows him well. If you have a question about him, she is a better person to go to than your mom. In fact, I personally think that God gave us mother-in-laws to teach us how to be a good wife. After all, they have been married to this specific strain of men much longer than us! 😀
I know not all in-laws are as wise as mine, not as kind and gracious. But I believe most of them are well-intentioned, and a little humility on your part will do wonders to diffuse tension, and create peace. Maybe yours doesn’t always give you good advice. You can still listen respectfully, and thank her for the advice, even if you decide not to follow it.
Love them well.
Maybe they do intrude on your business – love them anyway. Maybe they are nosy and bossy- love them anyway. Jesus never said to love your friends; He knew we’d have no problem with that. He told us to love our enemies. I think our ‘enemies’ are anyone we don’t get along with. If you find impossible in your own self to love them, then get on your knees and pray. Ask God to forgive you for being unloving, and to fill you with His love. If you are serious and genuine – He will!
You can’t say a quick prayer, get up and say: “See? I knew it wouldn’t work!” Pray daily. Pray with intention. Pray humbly… what if YOU are actually part of the problem?
Maybe you are the problem.
Hear me out. Can you say that you have never started a fight? Have you ever gotten ticked off at your in-laws, and then told your husband the whole sorry tale of woe? Did you make yourself sound pretty good, but them sound terrible? Because you knew you could influence the way he sees the situation? Ok, who is being manipulative now, hmm? I know there are truly difficult people out there, but I also know there are a lot of whiny, complaining, selfish young wives, too. I am going to call it like I see it: you need to stop stirring the pot!
“So far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
That is a clear command in Scripture, and I want to obey it. Sometimes you do all you can, and they still hate you. But especially in family situations; try really hard to keep peace!
If the in-laws are truly difficult, here is what I want you to do:
Stop talking bad about them to other people, including your husband.
Try to find something you DO like about them, and tell your husband, or better yet – tell your in-laws!
Examine your own life, see if you have been a bit of a jerk.
Pray for yourself first, and then for them.
Pray for wisdom for your man, as he has to deal with his wife AND his family. 😉
I am a huge advocate for restoring and repairing family relationships as much as possible. For one thing, God commands it. For another, we have lost so many family members, that I can’t take them for granted anymore. You never know how long they will be here. What if your mother-in-law died tomorrow? How would you feel?
That happened to me, you know. Not my mother-in-law, but my father-in-law. One day I received a phone call that he’d had a heart attack, and I had to tell my husband that his dad was gone. Let me tell you, I was glad that we had a good relationship! I have no regrets, and I can’t wait to meet him again in the presence of Jesus.
Today’s Challenge: Thank your mother-in-law for raising a good son. Text, call, in person or a real thank you card!
Leave a comment and tell me: What is your biggest struggle with your in-laws?
Read the rest of the series HERE.