3 Tips to Not Make In-Laws, Outlaws

3 Tips to Not Make In-Laws, Outlaws

Marriage brings about many changes and challenges. One such challenge is building a loving and cooperative relationship with your in-laws.  Here are three tips to keep the peace and steer clear of relationship pitfalls with In-Laws.

Establish clear boundaries right away.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 (NIV).

Your home is intended to be one of the pleasant places to establish and develop a family.  The home is the space that should feel pleasant, safe, and beautiful.  When couples marry, they must determine what their pleasant place looks and feels like. Although healthy relationships with family can be the most challenging to establish and form, healthy boundaries must be established to prevent any disruption to this sanctuary.   Couples should discuss boundaries for in-laws before marriage and then communicate these boundaries with the in-laws to minimize conflict.  Consider this scripture, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24-25 (NIV).  As a married couple you and your spouse will establish values and traditions for your growing family apart from those of your parents and family including childrearing practices.  Your in-laws may not agree but you must both present a united front to your families.

Build a Healthy Relationship with Your In-Laws

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:2-3

This scripture extends to your in-laws as well. Treat in-laws like you would any other member of your family as they are your family.  Love your in-laws and tell them you do. Build a healthy relationship with your in-laws but do not expect to be close right away. Give your relationship the time it needs to grow. Discover ways to connect through shared hobbies or interests as it demonstrates that you are making an effort to know and understand them.  Listen to their stories even if you have heard them several times.  They can provide a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about life in general or about your partner, which may help you learn more about them. Also, it might make them feel good be listened to as well.   

Keep quarrels to yourself

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”  II Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV)

Do not complain about your spouse to your parents or in-laws.  Hearing complaints will likely cause them to become defensive. In-laws will always take the side of their child, sibling, or family member. Discussing problems or issues in the marriage may make the situation worse.  Work out your issues privately with your spouse. Do not attempt to get your spouse’s family involved or make them choose sides. 

In a Conflict Between Your Spouse and Your Family, Support Your Spouse.

Your loyalty is to your spouse. It is your duty to support your husband or wife and manage your family in a way that consistently conveys this fact. Again, you must both present a united front to your families, making it clear from the beginning that your spouse comes first. Marital problems typically occur quickly in couples where an allegiance has not been established. A failure to support your partner may lead to bitter disputes and one partner feeling isolated.  You and your spouse must agree on how to handle issues as in-laws are an inherent part of your life. A mutual understanding will help nurture healthy relationships with your in-laws.   

Be as patient with in-laws as they learn to let go. Don’t complain to others or speak unfavorably of your in-laws. Do not compare your in-laws to your parents or family. Be willing to compromise. Your family may have different values that you feel need defending when you’re with your in-laws but do not take the bait!   Offense is one of the most common causes of relationship pitfalls with in-laws. Let go of the need to prove anything. Again, give your relationship with your in-laws time to grow.  

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