Honoring Your In-Laws- Marriage, Unwrapped

Young couple  in bed, toned black and white effect, vignette.

I thought Andrea did an amazing job with her guest post last week about her relationship with her in-laws. It seems as though, more often than not, most women that I talk to really struggle with their in-laws. And let’s be frank. It usually is a difficult mother-in-law relationship. Collectively readers across the country are groaning as you think about your own in-law relationship.

Now if you are blessed with an awesome relationship with your mother-in-law, you are truly truly blessed. I hope you know that and don’t take that for granted. If you do take it for granted you needed to stop right now and go call that dear woman and tell her how wonderful it is to have her in your life. Seriously, go do it. We’ll wait.

For the rest of you, may I share a very personal journey that God has been taking me on the past year? Well I am going to share and you can decide whether your heart needs to hear the same things he has been telling me.

I married an only child. The only boy of a mom who raised him by herself. His dad was very involved, but they divorced when he was very young and so for nearly all of his life at home, he was the man of the house. Until this sassy, cute young thing (i.e.. me) came and swept him off his feet. Hmmm……do you see the problem.

Now to be fair, my husband’s family has lovingly brought me into their fold with open arms. They have always been kind and accepting of me. And they have frequently expressed how happy they are that I married their son. This is so wonderful because I unfortunately know women whose husband’s families have made it clear they are not thrilled with their son’s selection in wives.

That all being said though,the in-law relationship can be hard. They are hard because they just aren’t your family. They do things differently. The communicate differently. And they just don’t do things the way you do things. Your husband doesn’t either, but you have figured out ways to work with that because you stood up and said, “for better for worse” and so you have learned to “tolerate” those things.

I think when you stand up and take your vows there should be a part where the families stand up and agree to take each other for better or worse as well. Because although when you get married you are definitely starting a new, completely separate family of your own, you are also taking on each other’s families……for better or worse.

And I have learned is that one of the best ways I can love and respect my husband is to love and respect his family. You know the things that drive you bonkers about your own family that you complain about to your spouse? Have you ever noticed how defensive and angry you get when he complains about the same thing? Nobody likes to hear their family disparaged. Even if your family is full of a bunch of nut jobs. (not our family mom- we are all perfect….ahem)

So this past year I have been trying to do a better job at loving my in-laws. Reaching out more, communicating better, offering far more grace and over looking misunderstandings. Trying to realize that things done differently aren’t personal affronts but simply things done differently. And most importantly not sticking my poor hubby in the middle of every misunderstanding that occurs.

And miracle of miracles, a little more effort on my part is changing relationships for the better. You know those ways Jesus tells us to act really do work. It is a shame it takes me so long to figure that out sometime. And if you, like Andrea, have a more difficult, even toxic set of in-laws, I think we can still honor our husbands and our God by doing less complaining and more Christ-like loving. Whew, it’s a tough one, but I honestly believe one that God will radically change our hearts through if we simply let him.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here.


  1. I am one of the blessed ones. My inlaws are wonderful and if there is any awkwardness there, I am unaware of it. It probably helps that my husband is the fourth child. They were probably just ready to be done and get him out of the house, whoever might take him. HA! No, seriously, they are wonderful. But I do think you make a good point. Getting along with inlaws, like anyone else, sometimes must be a conscious decision. And it is worth it to make that decision, b/c nothing is worse than strained family relations.
    Musings of a Housewife recently posted…Conservation Celebration at Elmwood Park ZooMy Profile

  2. My mother-in-law died almost 10 years ago, just a couple years after we were married. But that wasn’t the end of in-law problems. My father-in-law and brother-in-law are just about as different from my family and me as anyone could be, and it’s been a struggle to co-exist, much less get along and (gasp!) love them. I wouldn’t say that we’re all lovey-dovey these days, but I have worked hard to accept them as they are instead of expecting them to be completely different people. (Of course, as my father-in-law was annoying me to high heaven on Saturday, I might not have been so accepting. But I’m trying!)
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…Don’t Make Me Come Up There! review &amp giveawayMy Profile

  3. I think a lot of people (my mother included) are of the feeling that, “I didn’t marry his family, I married HIM.” And, well, that’s not exactly true. For better or worse, you are in fact stuck with each other. I struggle in my relationship w/ my MIL because she’s mentally ill, but she truly does mean well. Even when we don’t get along or we frustrate each other, we are still bonded in family love. (And no one ever said that you have to LIKE everyone in your family all the time.)
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  4. Thanks for this post. i thought andrea did am amazing job, too. thanks for sharing her with us. the dynamics of my in-law relationship is tricky….just like andrea’s. i agree with everything you said and you are such a blessing to me! I’ve learned so much about our marriage and our relationship with my in-laws and how it effects our marriage since we went through counseling. it’s amazing how God is working in our marriage now that we know how to handle things in a healthy way. love ya girl! xoxo, cat
    Cat Moore recently posted…Getting SettledMy Profile

  5. “… one of the best ways I can love and respect my husband is to love and respect his family.”

    I love this line! I also agree with you about the families standing up during the vows. It’s so true! This isn’t just about marrying one person — we’re really marrying the family because that family is part of the person we chose.

    Good post. Thanks.
    Tanya Dennis recently posted…For the Love of a Good BookMy Profile

  6. I must have been the gravest on disappointments for my in-laws….I do think there could have been a little bit worse…but not much. So much so they were absent from the wedding. Our relationship has improved leaps and bounds. The greatest thing that healed our relationship was children. Our kids (and how much they loved them) gave me so many reasons to love my in-laws. From there it’s been so easy to find ways to be kind to them. So thankful for those snotty little buggers- I’m talking about the kids, not the parents.

  7. When my mom remarried, my stepfather’s family really didn’t like her (or her four kids). Every family function we went to, it was clearly that they didn’t care for us. Which, as a kid, is really tough to sort through.

    Once I got married, I realized just how crazy hard the in-law relationship can be. And that it just gets crazier once you have your own children. Over the past couple of years, my husband and I have really strived to work on our families. I think the biggest thing we have done to help us is to be a united front “against” them. His mom (and frankly my mom too) really try to drive wedges in and give “helpful advice” that is way not helpful. So when I know hubby’s got my back and I have his, it makes a world of difference.
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  8. This is so hard, Jill. I never realized (and hey–all you unmarried girls need to remember!) that you really are marrying into a FAMILY! And it’s hard when they are different from you and you don’t necessarily “get” the differences.

    And the thing is–you can’t change them. You just can’t. All you can do is what you said–be the mature one, be the servant and be the one to put them first. But it’s hard. SO HARD.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t do it well.

    Thanks for the amazing post & series!
    oh amanda recently posted…Going to a New ChurchMy Profile

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