By saying “I do,” we publicly declare our devotion to the one we’ve chosen to spend the rest of our lives with. However, that person does have a family of origin, and one of the challenges of married life is figuring out how to respect both sets of parents. When two people from very different upbringings and environments join together in marriage, they become one and form a new kind of family.“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)
In-laws and extended families could be a potential source of tension in a married couple’s life. We are often advised to respect these ties while still working together in marriage to create the kind of family God intended.
Sometimes, when you get married, you have to marry into each other’s families. Therefore, you should make an effort to at least create a pleasant relationship with your in-laws in addition to getting adjusted to your new spouse. But what if you and your in-laws are not getting along?
Don’t throw in the towel just yet; in this article, we’ll discuss some of the major problems married couples have with their in-laws and how to handle them in a godly, healthy, and productive way. We hope it will be able to help you work through these family conflicts and move on.
My in-laws are much too nosy.
Are your in-laws directing your marital affairs instead of you and your partner? Do they constantly lecture you on what you should and should not do? Where you should and should not live? And how you should nurture your children? This seems like the classic case of a ‘nosy’ in-law. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on how to deal with these situations, that’s one thing. But if he/she does what they say and gets upset if you don’t, you need to find a method to handle this situation soon to prevent more pressure in your marriage and relationship.
Before trying to find a solution to the family power struggle, it’s important to pinpoint its origins. Is your in-law’s actions a consequence of his/her fear of losing influence over his/her adult son’s life now that he is married? What makes your partner believe he can’t go up against his parent? Is it a pattern of conduct that he has trouble changing? Once you’ve determined what’s prompting your partner’s behavior, you can have an open conversation with him/her about it and help him/her see that you should be taking the reins of the marriage together. Put up a united front with your partner and quit asking for permission before doing anything to prove that you and your spouse are united in your marriage.
My spouse is still being treated like a child by his mother
Some parents will always think of their adult children as “babies,” regardless of how old they become. Even though it’s sweet that his parents still do things like prepare him his favorite meal when you’re together or insist on going camping or fishing with him every holiday, it would get old if they were always worrying about and coddling him. For example, if your in-laws are making a big deal over his cold, implying that they took better care of him than you are, bringing meals over to your house without asking, or showing a lack of trust in him when it comes to major life choices, you may want to consider talking to them.
Don’t freak out; parents will love their kids however they see fit, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody or threaten the stability of the family unit. If those kind gestures are starting to annoy you, though, it’s time to set boundaries. No matter how harsh it seems, they need to know where the line is drawn. Tell them politely that you and your spouse are trying to figure out marriage without their help so that you may grow up and become a mature, self-reliant couple.
My spouse has a very strong emotional and financial bond with his family.
If your in-laws are constantly bugging him for help with trivial concerns, following you about on your honeymoon, or making comments like “He doesn’t love his parents anymore since he got married,” you could have an in-law problem. In this scenario, they are the ones acting like children. If you spend any amount of time with them, they become too possessive, desperate, and attached to their child, to the point that they try to steal your attention away from you.
They are his parents; treat them with the utmost care and affection. If they are afraid of being left alone or lonely at home, you should tell them repeatedly that you will always be there for them. Don’t disregard them or treat them badly because of it. You may consider including them in your holiday and birthday festivities. Doing so ensured that they would have not just a loving daughter-in-law but also a son.
They are always trying to make my spouse and I fight with each other.
Your marriage will suffer greatly if you have a toxic in-law who actively works to put you and your partner against one another. We hope none of you are harmed, but we feel obligated to warn you that there are in-laws out there who, for reasons, we can only guess, intentionally plan and maneuver their way into their children’s marriage. Some parents may put unfair pressure on their children by making them choose between themselves and their spouse. There are some who are so self-centered to the extent of publicly criticizing their child’s marriage.
As a word of advice to couples going through this, try not to take the bait. We trust that you and your spouse know each other well enough to avoid these common domestic problems. Recognize the trend, trust God through prayers, and don’t jump to conclusions. As an example, if your mother-in-law is trying to annoy you by praising your husband’s ex-lover, you should brush it off and go on. Carefully choose your battles, but do inform your spouse about his parents’ behavior. Since he may not always want to hear about how bad his parents are from you, it’s important to have a solid support system with your spouse. You may also unload your feelings on your pastor, a therapist, or a godly support group. Put forth the effort to resolve this problem so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on your marriage and your connection with one another.
The bottom line is that you should try and accept your in-laws for who they are and work with them as best you can, just as you should accept your spouse for all of his/her good and bad points. What matters most is that you tried to fix things, find solutions, repair the relationship prayerfully, and better yourself. Assume the worst has already happened and prepare to go on.
Prayers for your spouse
- Lord, it is my prayer to have the grace to love my spouse and my in-laws the way they are, with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I know that on my own, I can’t love them the way you do. Help me Lord in Jesus’ name!
- My sinful nature longs to be harsh, unforgiving, haughty, righteous, and impatient; please help me overcome these tendencies by filling me with the power of your Holy Spirit so that I may reject them. Please teach me to pause before speaking, so that my words are based on love rather than criticism in Jesus’ name!
- When I feel like I have a right to be cruel, please remind me that I am accountable to you first and foremost and that I am held to a higher standard in Jesus’ name!
- Please, Lord, give my spouse the grace to lead a virtuous life, always remembering how much you love. I want my behavior toward them to reflect the love you have for them, so please help me. Repeat to me again and again that we are both precious in God’s sight in Jesus’ name!
- Father, please readjust our methods of interaction. Get rid of the anxiety, anger, and self-centeredness that dominate most of our interactions. Substitute a holy connection, affection, safety, and comprehension for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
We hope you have learned a few things from this piece, please feel free to drop one or two comments in the comment section. Thanks.