7 ways to have good in-law relationships!
I think it’s a given that it is a great blessing if you enjoy a good relationship with your in-laws! It’s also a given that married couples WANT and often HOPE their relationships with in-laws will be healthy and beneficial.
If you’ve experienced or have friends who have experienced the tensions of rocky in-law relationships, then you really know how valuable it is to have healthy in-law relations!
Why are in-law relationships sometimes difficult?
I think in-law relationships are sometimes challenging because of all the implications that adding more people to a family brings. Parents are adjusting to new roles. Husbands and wives are certainly adjusting to their new roles.
You are now FAMILY with your in-laws but you didn’t grow up in this family. So that alone can easily lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings at times as you get to know each other.
Why should I make an effort to have good in-law relationships?
Your in-laws became a part of your family when you married their child. You will naturally be around them at different times.
If those times of being around your in-laws are enjoyable and smooth, my goodness, that is way easier than if things are tense when you are with in-laws!
Husbands and wives should definitely do all that they can personally do to build good relationships with their in-laws!
These 7 ways to good in-law relationships are sure to help!
1st way to have good in-law relationships: Don’t play the compare game!
No two families are alike, so husbands and wives were usually brought up in families who did many, many things DIFFERENTLY than each other.
My husband’s experiences growing up are vastly different than mine.
Think about it in your life. For instance, the way your family celebrated holidays and birthdays was surely different from your spouse’s family’s way of celebrating. The way your family handled discipline and conflict is surely different from your spouse’s family’s ways.
I could go on and on and on about the differences between your family and your spouse’s family, right?
Well guess what? Different is good! Different is fine! Different is EXPECTED.
What often happens here, is we get stuck comparing and comparing our spouse’s family to our own family of origin.
For example, a wife goes to her in-laws for Thanksgiving. And she just keeps making mental notes (and sometimes out-loud notes) of how her family would always do this instead, and her family would always have other foods to eat, and her family would all play games outside while her mother cooked the meal, and on and on.
And then when a husband goes to his in-laws for dinner, he can’t believe they all sit around and chat for what seems like forever and finally sit down to eat at 7:30 PM when his family always ate at 5:30 sharp every night.
You know what happens when we do this, don’t you? We get all bent out of shape and have a bad attitude around our in-laws.
Try this instead. Tell yourself- there is NO COMPARISON between my family and my spouse’s family. They are different and different isn’t bad!
Start to enjoy the differences and embrace them! If they eat later than you want, bring a snack and you can eat real quick. Whatever they do that’s different, just enjoy it!
When you go back home, you can choose to do things however you want!
When husbands and wives stop playing the “compare game”, they set the stage for great in-law relationships!
2nd way to have good in-law relationships: When in Rome, do as the Romans do!
This is just good advice for anytime you visit someone! But when it comes to in-laws, just honor how they do things. If they take their shoes off at the door, but you don’t do that at your house, go ahead and take them off when you visit your in-laws!
If everyone at your in-laws washes their own plates after a meal, you jump right in there and do the same. You get the picture. This is a simple way to honor your in-laws and it blesses the relationship with them!
3rd way to have good in-law relationships: Don’t hide in a corner- ENGAGE!
Hiding in a corner can typically happen when someone’s in-laws are somewhat loud and gregarious when together so the other spouse will often just sit back quietly.
Or if you have let yourself play the compare game we talked about and therefore have a bad attitude, you may be choosing not to engage because you have decided you just don’t like being around them.
Not a good plan to foster good in-law relationships! Even if the personality of your in-laws is maybe different or even if it feels a little challenging to engage in conversation, do try to engage with your in-laws.
A simple way to engage with your in-laws, is to ask good questions. Showing interest in someone rarely ever goes badly. It usually gets someone talking and connecting with you if you ask genuine questions.
- Ask them how their day or week has gone,
- ask more about their job,
- ask how your in-laws met,
- ask about life when your spouse was a child, and etc.
Choose to participate and engage with your in-laws and you will see how that fosters a GREAT in-law relationships!
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4th way to have good in-law relationships: Extend forgiveness if needed!
There could be times when your in-laws do or say something that hurts or upsets you. Is the right response to just shut down and close off? Definitely not!
The right response to your in-laws offending or hurting you is the same response that’s right if anyone hurts or offends you. Forgiveness. Forgive them knowing that usually they didn’t intend to hurt you at all.
Every relationship requires that we be willing to extend grace and forgiveness as needed. (Just like the many times we need that grace and forgiveness extended to us).
I also want to mention that there can be a time to forgive in-laws if you are hurt by how they treated your spouse in the past or present. Sometimes your spouse grew up in a difficult situation and therefore sometimes you have to make steps to forgive your in-laws for those difficult times too.
Either way- extending grace and forgiveness to your in-laws will certainly lead to good in-law relationships.
RELATED: HOW TO TRULY FORGIVE SOMEONE
5th way to have good in-law relationships: Think the absolute BEST of your in-laws!
Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Powerful stuff! That means if I walk around thinking my in-laws are so thoughtless or rude, guess what? Even when they are being kind, I will have spent so much time “nurturing” the idea that they are rude that I will actually only see rudeness from them.
This works in all areas. But for our topic- developing good in-law relationships- this is huge!
Choose to think the absolute BEST of your in-laws. If they seem to be meddling, know that it is from a sincere love that they have for their child and you.
Whatever your in-laws do or say that might be frustrating to you, choose to see where they might be coming from. And assume it’s from a very loving place. Because it most definitely usually is!
Thinking the absolute BEST of your in-laws will certainly lead to good in-law relationships!
6th way to have good in-law relationships: Keep them in the loop!
Keeping your in-laws in the loop is so important! You know, letting them know what’s going on with you as a couple. And if possible, include them in important events such as birthdays, accomplishments, and holidays.
When you have kids, definitely keep the in-laws up to date with pictures and happenings and invite them to be involved.
This will greatly honor them and absolutely foster a warm relationship with your in-laws!
7th way to have good in-law relationships: Pray for your in-laws daily!
Anyone that you pray for regularly will grow to be very dear to you. It’s so cool how that happens!
We should remember our in-laws in our times of prayer, and if possible, to pray for them together as a couple. Once you pray regularly for your in-laws, watch how your heart softens towards them.
And if your heart is softened towards your in-laws, you usually act that way towards them- kind and gracious.
Do pray for your in-laws daily and you will see that it helps you to have good in-law relationships!
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS ON BUILDING GOOD IN-LAW RELATIONSHIPS…
Fostering a good relationship with in-laws is actually simple and doable. It’s a great idea to take a minute and evaluate how you think you are doing with each of these 7 ways described here.
If you find that you could engage more when with your in-laws or if you see that you do compare them to your family of origin a lot, just make a change. And see how you truly can build great relationships with your in-laws!
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