Married to the In-Laws?
There are horror stories and movies made about dealing with in-laws (Jane Fonda anyone?). I mention all the time how things are not going to be easy when two imperfect people try to live their forever together. More often than not, you are sharing MORE than just THEIR forever. You’re sharing the entire extended family’s forever!!!
It’s the same concept when talking about the in-laws. These are people who are completely different individuals than you, doing things in sometimes completely different ways. And if there’s more than one child that marries, well, you have a whole new type of personality layered in from their spouses.
So how do you deal with these people?!?
He was theirs first.
1 – First, realize that you have the son that was theirs first for many years. The Bible says a man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife. This can be really exciting for the man but can also be really depressing for the parents. Realizing that they had nine months of excitement expecting a child and watched him grow into a man always helps me put it into perspective when dealing with in-laws (maybe because I’m in the middle of doing the same myself – watching my children grow as I pour into them and invest time and TONS of emotion into them. Working my butt off and praying praying PRAYING that they will be decent adults one day. Then, one day, I’ll lose them to a spouse. But, I digress).
Ask Yourself This
2 – Ask yourself – Would you want your son to marry a woman just like you? Would you want yourself as a daughter-in-law? Emmerson Eggerichs poses this question in his popular study Love & Respect. That can be a hard pill to swallow and a hard question to answer honestly but again, it puts things in perspective. It forces us to evaluate how we deal with our in-laws as if we were in their shoes.
Maybe that stings a bit. Take some time to really, reeeeally think about it. Do you need to ask for forgiveness? I’ve been there when I was a very young wife and let me tell you it is NOT easy BUT it is what God calls us to do and He uses it, even if to work in only your own heart and not your mother or father-in-laws’. At the same time, God could use it to completely restore and remold the relationship with your in-laws. You never know but you do know you can trust God in your obedience to Him. More on that in Devotions to my Maker. 😉
Communicate Respectfully & Honestly
3 – Communicate respectfully and honestly – there’s a way to do both. The key word here is respectfully. You can be honest but this does NOT mean you speak disrespectfully with a hateful attitude. Remember, a fool is quick to anger but a wise man holds his tongue. Give your heart to God and learn to tame that tongue and you’ll go far in life! 😉 On the flip side, you don’t hole up forever to avoid conflict or silence hate because it will bottle up then explode. You’ve got to communicate. Just remember to be respectful. How do we do that? See #3B 😉
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29
3B – Here’s a black and white one. Follow the rule your mama taught you – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!!! Sometimes, there will be altercations. Remember that this is really just an inevitable occasional event because – you know – imperfect people doing life together. Like Stephen R. Covey says in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, seek first to understand what they’re saying. You’re not listening to create a response. Listen to be able to regurgitate what they said in your own words so that they know and you know that you understand what they’re trying to tell you. Then you can mentally form a response and try to explain your point of view to where they understand you.
Listen to your Mr.
4 – Listen to your husband vent. Sometimes your husband will get upset with his family, just as you do with yours. Be there for him in love, listening patiently and supporting him. Don’t use it as an open invitation to start griping about them too. That will simply trigger an instinctive reaction of defense from him as he feels the need to protect his family from “outsiders” as a man (I know you’re not an outsider but you know what I mean). Be on his team as a part of his family. Agree with him but don’t bring up other grievances that you’re struggling with. There’s a time and a place for that but when he’s venting is not it.
Indeed, getting used to sharing your man with his original family is not an easy thing to do. He’s going to have some of those same annoying tendencies just like his parents. Likewise, you have annoying tendencies from your parents. Remember, imperfect, different people living life together! In the grand scheme of things, we’re here to love our neighbor as ourselves and give glory to God in the way we treat others. This includes dealing with the in-laws. 😉
Also, it’s important to recognize that they won’t be around forever. It may sound cliche, but you really do regret some things when they’re gone.
Strength & love friends!
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