In-Laws Problems and Marriage

Well, this is a common approach for dealing with problems with in-laws!

However, it’s not one I advise.

Here are some better approaches:

The Exercise:

Set Some Goals:

You need to be intentional about your relationship with your family.

Describe the kind of relationship you want with your extended family.

Looking at Differences

  • Extended families bring together diverse people with differing expectations for family.
  • Discuss your families’ differences in terms of: generational gaps, geographical factors (city vs. rural), financial levels, and spiritual / religious viewpoints
  • As you think about the above, what is the difference between acceptance and agreement?
  • How will you work to bridge generation & value gaps?
  • What does it mean to you to love someone unconditionally?
  • Who do you clash with most in your extended family? Why? What are the strong points of the person you clash with?
  • Try re-framing negative qualities: meddlesome becomes concerned, and bossy becomes shows leadership

When There’s Tension

  • Talk about how you will keep lines of communication open even when relationships are strained.
  • What is your plan for remaining calm if an antagonistic family member tries to draw you into an argument?
  • How will you respond when you are given unsolicited advice?
  • How will you deal with contentious subjects?
  • You know what your complaints are toward your future in-laws. Now consider the major complaints that your in-laws have toward their children-in-law, and how you can respond to them in a positive way: Some examples: they view you as indifferent, distant, thoughtless, inconsiderate, or too busy to be interested in their parent’s lives

Keeping Things Positive

  • What can you do to promote harmony when the family is together?
  • What fun things can you do with your extended family that will help strengthen relationships?

Boundaries

  • How will you know when extended family issues are affecting your marriage and what will you do about it?
  • What are the boundaries for your immediate family and how will you communicate those to your extended family?
  • When you have to be direct & forceful with extended family: Who should do it? When should it be done? How should it be said?

Resources:

 

Toxic In-Laws: Loving Strategies for Protecting Your Marriage

 

Marriage And In-Laws: A Biblical Approach To How We Relate To Our In-Laws

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7 comments to In-Laws Problems and Marriage

  • Connie Noward and Barry Thiessen

    Barry’s family live in NV and we do not get to see them very often. We talk on the phone and facebook each other. It is easy to get along with your in-laws when they are at a long distance. I have tremendous respect for Barry’s parents and I have always been taught to respect your in laws just as you would your own parents. I have never had any quarrel with my extended family.
    In my (Barry) experience, I have learned that when having issues with your significant other, it is best to leave others out of it. Respect thier feelings and under no circumstances bring dishonor to yourself and to your extended family by being disrespectful.

  • Taryn & Andy

    Family will be an interesting area for us as a couple. My parents live in England and Taryn’s parents live in the United States. Some reasons this may cause difficulties in our marriage? Perhaps, holidays:When will we go to which families holiday celebration? Family expectiations, Communication,and Different cultural values all may arise.We have been very open about our immediate and extended family. It’s been important for us to discuss family member personality, expectations,values/beliefs, possible conflict, roles and events that could occur in the future with our new in-laws.Hopefully with the proper preperation and in sight, we can prepare and apease our two differnt families while at the same time not losing sight of the most important relationship, ours.
    Some of our goals in working with the in-laws will be to set boundaries as needed, openly discuss, plan in advance (holidays, visits, grandchildren), communication & understanding. A little positive advice and guidance will always be accepted as well!

  • Ashley Harris and Michael Frisbie

    This was good to discuss. I feel really strongly about setting boundaries and being in agreement about inlaws because my parents had huge problems in this area and I do not want to experience the same problems. In law issues were one of the big reasons my parents marriage didn’t work and so we really wanted to talk about this. Neither one of our families is the easiest to get along with at times although we love them very dearly it helped us to just make sure we are in agreement about in laws and what we expect of each other in regards to these relationships.

  • D & S

    Good discussion with this lesson. It is a very good idea to discuss these topics. Our upbringing and situations are very similar. Our parents are alot alike. We anticipate no problems with in-laws, but our adult children are a different story!

  • Alan and Alyse

    This was perfect for us. Even he gets very frustrated with his mom at times, just because they do things differently and he still feels like he’s being treated like a child at 30 years old. Sometimes I have had to play devil’s advocate, but explained that both sides should be represented. He actually responded pretty well to that.

  • Kara and David

    This was a good exercise because your family is the next closest thing to your spouse. These pieces have to coexist or else it will certainly cause problems with a marriage. We discussed how much time we would spend with each family, holiday schedules, and other topics. Our families do not live extremely close to each other so we have been used to splitting time and holidays. It did help to discuss things about our families to make sure we had the same expectations and understanding.

  • Bethany and Jesse

    This was a good discussion to go through for us. Jesse’s dad and I didn’t get along for the longest time and have recently started to get along better. It’s a very important conversation for us because we are both very family oriented and always want our parents and siblings close in our lives.

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