As you tie the knot with your spouse, you will realize that you immediately are married into their family as well. Family relationships will play an integral role in your marriage. That is why it’s best that you know how to deal and build good relations with your in-laws and avoid becoming an ”outlaw”.
- Make an effort to get to know your in-laws.
You were raised very differently from your spouse. Do not assume that your spouses’ family will have the same values, same culture and same habits as you do. This can be a start of a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding. It is best to get to know them better. Be eager to learn about their family history and heritage: Where did they grow up? How did the parents meet? What are their careers, their achievements, their dreams? Get to know their pet peeves and what makes them feel disrespected and unloved. When we get to know more of them, we can understand them better.
- Let your spouse walk you through their side of the family.
If you are not sure how to relate with your new in-laws, let your spouse lead you. Don’t get so uptight and stressed to get their approval. Instead, let your spouse teach you how to respond to their parents. You can always ask your spouse to brief you regarding a certain occasion and situation. You can always ask your spouse after for a “debriefing” by knowing what went right, what can improve and what should stop. Remember, you and your spouse are on the same team. Should you feel you have concerns about your spouse’s family, let your spouse know and let your better half deal with it with his/her family. Your spouse will know better what to say and how to say it without offending his/her family.
- Agree to set boundaries for your marriage.
In-laws, in their wanting to keep family time together, often forget that their child is already married. It is best that early on or before you get married, discuss your family values and culture and make your own family rules which will include your extended family. We know of couples fighting over which side of the family they get to spend holidays. There can also be tension about helping out family members and how to raise your kids. Make sure that you always have open communication with your spouse so you can decide what are the important non-negotiables and what is something you two can agree to give in every once in a while. Make sure to also implement and stick to what was agreed. This way you keep your marriage safe and healthy.
- Learn to take everything with a grain of salt.
Sometimes, your in-laws can hit a sensitive nerve in your system. There will be moments where you will feel offended and hurt by their actions or statements. But even when they say something that may not sit well with you, always remember they are just stating their opinion. You can listen but you don’t have to react with anger and disappointment. Many marriages are hurting because they feel that their in-laws have made them feel unappreciated, misunderstood, unloved and judged. Always remember that you can still decide what’s best for your family. Never burn bridges with your in-laws. Consider them part of a wonderful treasure of extra hands and feet when you need them. If we have good relationships with them they can definitely help you keep your family together.
- Be courteous and kind.
If there is really a way to live harmoniously with your in-laws it is to always good to be polite and kind. You may not like everything about your in-laws but you can honor them by your response. We can always choose to say positive things and bless them with our works of service for them.
We understand that there are extreme cases wherein some in-laws are just difficult to deal with and they can make your life miserable. I have learned this bible verses that has helped me:
“Depart from evil, and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalm 34:14
“So then we pursue the things which make for peace the building up of one another.” – Romans 14:19
The issue may be your in-laws’ controlling or judgmental ways. This means instead of fighting fire with fire, find ways to always do good and find a middle ground for peace not only for yourself but for them as well. Keep seeking peace and when you find it, pursue it. How do I find that peace?
- It means learning how to hold your tongue even if you are tempted to react to their statements. If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it.
- It means distancing yourself by not pressing on each other’s personal space. If you’re living with your in-laws, aim to live on your own for harmony sake. No two kings or two queens can run a palace.
- It means being flexible. Try to accommodate as much as you can their request as long as it does not violate any of your family rules and principles.
- It means being understanding. Be as patient as possible with your in –laws, everyone is a work in progress including yourself.
Peace is a product of acts of kindness, love, joy and a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we can get everyone to be at peace with one another, we can find a strong marriage.
Read more of John and Monique Ong’s Before I Do articles at weddingsatwork.com/category/waw-before-i-do/.
- About John & Monique Ong:
John is a pastor at Revelation City Church, Scuba Diving instructor and owns Imagine Nation photo + Video. He is a graduate of business management at DLSU and took up Masteral in Marketing in the same school and is currently in the Pastoral counseling course at Asian Theological Seminary. Monique is a creative wife / help mate to John, a wedding hosts and heads Post Ad ventures (an Events Management company), a youth pastor in Revelation and writes in their blog called “an ounce of faith”. She took Tourism in UP Diliman.