Have you ever been listening to someone talk about something and thought to yourself, “Come on! Just get to the point! What’s the bottom line?!” Well, for the last 3 posts we’ve been talking about how to better live with your in-laws and now it’s time to get to the point. What’s the bottom line on how to better live with your in-laws? Believe it or not, it really all boils down to one principle, one practice, and one parting thought.
The principle: Marriage will change your loyalty and allegiance to parents, but it does not change your responsibility to honor them.
When two people get married, their primary loyalty and allegiance shift from their parents to each other. But that doesn’t mean you’re free to stop honoring them. The confusion comes when we assume that to honor parents we must do what they want us to do. When we were children, part of honoring our parents was to obey them. But when we get married (or become self-sustaining adults) this changes.
As a married adult, to honor parents means to show respect and kindness, both in words and in actions. It means to appreciate them for who they are and to show gratitude for what they’ve sacrificed and been through. We are to listen to them, consider their counsel, and show appreciation for their input…even if we decide to do something different than they suggest.
Remember, despite who and how they are, there will always be one good thing about them. You would not have your spouse if it wasn’t for them. (OK, that might not always seem like a good thing, but you know what I mean.)
The practice: Treat your in-laws as you will want to be treated when you become the in-law.
It’s the Golden Rule. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you…” (Matt. 7:12 NLT) Right now, it may feel like they’re being nosey, critical or controlling, but I guarantee that when you’re the in-law you will just see it as trying to be helpful. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they’re just trying to be helpful and let that guide your attitude and actions toward them.
One of these days, someone is going to come along and marry that son or daughter that you’ve poured all your hopes, efforts, energies, and money into. And it won’t be that easy for you to just stop trying to protect and guide them. How will you want your son-in-law or daughter-in-law to treat you when you’re just trying to help?
The parting thought: When it comes to your in-laws, remember…it’s not all about you.
It’s easy to become selfish and territorial when it comes to in-laws. It’s easy to see what they do or don’t do only through the lens of how it effects you. But just like marriage is not all about you, neither is relating to your in-laws. Just like your spouse is there to round out your character and help you grow, so are your in-laws. So be humble and grow in the experience.
May your experience with your in-laws become more of an “us with them” experience and less of an “us against them” experience.