HOW TO DEAL WITH IN-LAWS IN MARRIAGE
THE DIFFICULT SITUATION
“When we were going through a tough time, my husband told his parents about it. Then his father called me to give me advice about the situation. I wasn’t very happy about that!”—Andrew.
“My mother-in-law will frequently say, ‘I miss my boy so much!’ She talks about how close they were, which makes me feel guilty for marrying him and causing her all this heartache!”—Daniela.
The question is, Is it possible not to allow an in-law problem from becoming a marriage problem? How can couples deal with in-laws overstepping boundaries? Let’s find out.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Marriage creates a new family unit. It is said that a man who marries “will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife.” The same principle applies to a wife regarding her parents and husband. When she marries, the the two become “one flesh.” They are a new family unit. Your marriage comes before your parents.
- One fundamental basic duty of a marriage is to initiate not a ‘me-self attitude’ but having a sense of ‘we-ness’ between husband and wife. It is important to develop sense of unity or harmony with your spouse. What does that involve? Sincerely, it may involve some split away from your primary families.
- Some parents may find it difficult to adjust. One young wife states: “Before getting married, my husband would always put priority on his parents’ wishes. After we were married, his mother saw that someone else came first. That wasn’t easy for her to accept.”
Some newlyweds may find it difficult too. “Having in-laws is not like having friends you chose,” says Andrew, quoted earlier. “It’s as though someone said, ‘You have two new friends, whether you like it or not.’ Even if they drive you crazy, they’re family!”
THINGS YOU SHOULD DO
If you and your partner are always clashing or arguing over an in-law situation, be determined to solve the issues in a spirit mildness and cooperation. Be peaceable and seek peace and pursue it.
To help you do that, consider the following situation. Each is presented from the perspective of either the husband or the wife. However, the challenges really apply to either gender, and the practical points discussed below can help you resolve a number of in-law issues.
Your wife says she wishes you had a better relationship with her mother. But you find her mother difficult to deal with.
Make an effort to do this: Discuss the problem with your wife, and be willing to make adjustments and concessions. The issue is, not how you feel about your mother-in-law, but how you feel about your spouse—the person whom you have vowed to love.
Come away from the discussion with one or two specific ways that you could improve your relationship with her mother, and then follow through. As your wife notices your efforts, her respect for you will undoubtedly grow.
Your husband says that you are more interested in pleasing your parents than in pleasing him.
Make an effort to do this: Discuss the problem with your husband, and try to see it from his point of view. Of course, your husband should not feel threatened if you are simply giving due honor to your parents.
Still, you might need to reassure him—by your words and actions—that he comes before your parents in your life. If your husband has that confidence, he will be less likely to feel that he is competing with your parents for your attention.
Your wife goes to her parents for advice rather than to you.
Make an effort to do this: Talk with your wife, and reach an agreement on where the boundaries should be set. Strive to be reasonable. Is it always wrong to talk to a parent about a concern? When might it be appropriate? If you both agree on reasonable boundaries, this issue does not have to be a problem.
If both husband and wife look for the interest of each other, the wife respecting the husband and husband display love and understanding, they will be able to deal with the in-laws.
Remember, striving to have a good relationship with your in-laws is important. They are the ones who cared for and raised your spouse. It is true they are imperfect, however, you need to be thankful to them.
They are more experienced than us. You can also learn a lot from their experience. Work hard to focus on your in-laws’ positive qualities and imitate them.