What often gets portrayed is that in-laws are always toxic. You look at how they’re portrayed on T.V. and it’s usually negative. We’re going to talk about this today—why is our relationship with our in-laws tricky?
In-laws, no matter how crazy they may be, are part of our tribe and we need to allow them to part of it. The trick is how we do that. We tend to have a ‘western’ perspective of wanting to be so independent that we put a wall up toward our in-laws. But are we also called to invite them in?
What’s your relationship like with your in-laws?
Afton: I tend to look for the topics that are going to be safe and stick to those. We’re not going to get into anything all that deep because it leads to a bad situation.
CJ: My relationship with my in-laws is great, they’re wonderful people. My personality always struggles to get involved with new people. One thing that has helped me is Teri sharing more and more about her family and how she grew up.
So what do we do with all these different situations? Is there an overarching truth we can all apply?
Speak the truth in love
Ted: When I think about my interactions with my in-laws in the beginning, I acted somewhat like a child. We kept them at arm’s length with our boundaries. So for us it’s trying to balance truth and love. Are we treating our in-laws with radical love?
What does this look like on a practical level?
- We don’t need to blame our spouse for their parents’ behavior.
- Give your spouses’ family grace. For most of us (outside extreme situations) they’re not optional in our lives.
- As much as possible, form your own relationship with your in-laws.
- Allow them, in healthy ways, to be part of your life.
- Lean in to their wisdom.
- Keep our expectations of our in-laws reasonable. For some people, that means keeping low expectations of them!
- As much as possible, take the high ground with them and be full of grace.
- Give the most generous explanation for their behavior.
- Is there something you can do to bring out the best of them – ask them to participate in something, ask for wisdom. Keep fishing in that pond and see what brings out the best.
- How do you make a memory today? Look for ways to make good family memories together that everyone can be part of.
One Simple Thing
Do one loving thing for your in-law(s). Plan a meal, ask them to help you with a project, ask their opinion on something or send them a note.
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