Here are 4 easy and some, not so easy ways to draw closer to your in-laws.
Honor Your Parents
The Bible says we are to honor our parents so that we might live long on the earth (Ex 20:12). We aren’t supposed to honor our parents just so we’ll have a long life. That’s not the point to this command. We must honor our parents, which is who are in-laws are, and that means even when they don’t deserve to be honored, we do it anyway. It’s not a choice. It’s a command. We’re simply to honor them, and your spouse’s parents are now your parents, by law, so if you want to draw closer to them, honor them by showing them respect, admiration for how they’ve raised your spouse, and treating them as you would (or at least should) treat your own parents. What is really powerful is when your in-laws treat you rather harshly (or worse!), you respond with love and kindness. The command to honor our parents isn’t conditioned on how good they were as parents, but upon the commandment of God. I think it will draw you closer when you don’t respond in kind to the way you’re treated.
Agree to Disagree
You might have a mother or father-in-law who is the family’s “Dear Abby.” They might have advice for everything and anything, and if you do something one way, they’ll often voice their disproval and say, “You’re doing it wrong…do it this way.” That’s a battle that can’t be won, so as they say, pick your battles, and pick them carefully. It may come to a point where you will have to stand up for your family over what your in-laws want. It’s best to support whatever decision your spouse makes in front of the in-laws. When it comes to your in-laws (or your own parents) making decisions for you, your spouse, and your children, that’s where you have to draw the line. When a man leaves his father and mother, he leaves them to create a new family, and cleaves to his wife. He leaves and cleaves. If there’s ever any disagreement over how to discipline a child, all you should say is, “Thanks for sharing that. I know discipline’s always a difficult thing for parents to do, but it’s very important,” rather than, “That’s not the way we do it here!” Try to agree on disagreeing, but not disagreeable. Its possible.
When was the last time you were at a family reunion? It wasn’t that long ago for me, and it was fun. The next time you have a family reunion, ask your in-laws to come. Make them feel part of the family, because they are. Let them meet the “other half” of the family, because in reality, these two families have now blended together into one in the new families children. Husband and wife are now sharing some of the same DNA from both sides of the family, so why not let both sides get to know one another. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results. From my experience, many members from “the other side” of the family create friendships that last outside of the family reunions. When families get together, they can sometimes blend together, because there’s positive peer pressure on everyone to behave respectfully (hopefully). Either way, what a great way to get both sides of the family to meet, and hopefully, draw closer to you and your spouse.
The reason some in-laws might seem to interfering in the marriage is because they are feeling shut out. Sometimes they’d just love to hear your voice on the phone or the voice of one of their grandchildren. Maybe you could send them a quick email that’ll make their day, or invite them over for Sunday lunch after church. Of course, this isn’t possible in many cases, but then there’s Skype, Facebook, smart phones and a host of other ways to have eye-to-eye contact with your in-laws. Living across the country is no problem anymore with all the technology we have. Today, we’re an instant chat away from anyone on the planet. Why not post a recent image of you and/or the children on your in-laws Facebook page? There are hosts of ways you can connect with in-laws, and distance is no longer a barrier. In ways the gospel is now spread around the world, you can share your family’s experiences with in-laws, even half way across the world. If nothing else, snail mail, email, Instagram, or whatever you most frequently use. Just to have the in-laws feel they’re sharing in some of the family’s experiences makes them feel included, and that’s vitally important if you want to have a closer relationship with your in-laws.
My father-in-law was a bit older than normal when my wife and I got married, but my mother-in-law, who was younger, is living to this day, and this godly woman shatters every myth about mother-in-law’s you’ve ever heard, because has never interfered with our family once, and never interfered with the way we raised (past tense) our children. She has done nothing but bless our family from the day we got married. The old jokes about mother-in-law’s is wrong…this woman has proved them wrong. No man could ask for a better mother-in-law, and I don’t’ think any man has ever gotten one as good as my own mother-in-law. No son-in-law could have wished for more. In fact, no man could probably find more!
May God richly bless you
Pastor Jack Wellman
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