How to Better Live With Your In-Laws

Happy African Family“Meet the Parents” is a movie that looks at learning to accept and be accepted by future in-laws.  The movie is funny at times, awkward at times and down right painful at times.  Hopefully your experience with in-laws has been better.

When my wife and I announced to her parents we were getting married, (yeah, I know…we should have asked rather than announce) they were not overjoyed.  My wife was the last child to leave the nest, and the person taking her from the nest was a long haired musician who had only recently secured a stable job.  On top of that, this recently secured job was going to take their daughter six hundred miles from home.  Needless to say, there was some tension.

In hind sight, I don’t know what I was thinking when I got married.  I knew I would be getting in-laws, but I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  OK, I know that was naive but give me a break.  I was only 21 when I got married.  I’m older and wiser now, and I have the scars to prove it.)

In-laws play an inescapable part of marriage.  Someone once told me, “When a couple gets married and climbs into bed on their honeymoon night, there are actually six people in the bed…the husband, the wife, the husband’s parents, and the wife’s parents.  (Try getting that picture out of your head.)  And if one or both spouses have parents who are divorced, the bed gets even more crowded.  (Ok.  I’ll stop with that word picture now.)

Stop for a minute and answer these two questions:

  • What’s the best thing about my in-laws?
  • What’s the most difficult thing about my in-laws?

There will be both good things and difficult things about your in-laws, and you have to learn to embrace both.  Notice I said “learn.”  It doesn’t always come naturally, but you can learn how to better live with your in-laws.

In up-coming posts we’re going to look at how to better live with your in-laws.  I don’t have all the answers, but after 34 years I do have personal experience on what not to do.  And now that I’m a father-in-law myself, I have a much broader perspective on this in-law thing.  So tune into future post and well see if we can figure out how to better live with your in-laws.

Join the conversation. What has been the most difficult thing about relating to your in-laws and what have you found to be helpful.  (Remember…be kind.)

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

6 thoughts on “How to Better Live With Your In-Laws”

  1. Funny timing since my in-laws just bought our house and are moving here from Chicago! The difficult thing about mine are that they have an intellectual notion of Christ but are lost and due to family heritage…they’re very secular and coarse. God has really bestowed grace on me because despite all the lifestyle differences, once thing is common among us – we both love each other because we have a common love…their son. Now that’s easy for me to say now since they technically haven’t moved in yet. We’ll see in a few months when they’re just a few minutes away, so I’m looking forward to your next installment!

    • Yeah, having your in-laws closer (geographically) can sometimes change the game a little, but the principles we’ll talk about are still pertinent. Thanks for reading.

  2. I am looking forward to this, as I live with my mother-in-law. She is a great help with my boys, but the adults need some help.

  3. Twenty years into marriage I have finally learned a few lessons about inlaws myself.
    Having lost FIL (who was my hubby’s best friend) five years ago I have just inherited a new neighbor- my MIL. She has become one of my lifetime nearest and dearest friends.
    In accepting her and ALLOWING HER TO KNOW ME I have gained a mom, a friend, a neighbor and a mentor to my own two daughters. Putting away the fears, suppositions, preconceived notions, and stereotypes has helped me see her for who she is…. A lovely woman, with flaws, who raised one of the finest men I have ever known. Her two daughters are also precious gifts to me and friends I’d have never found without the “help” of in-law-ness.
    Generations living together is a gift; now mostly lost to our mobile and fast paced lives. It’s a learning curve- but one worth riding. Like any lessons- these have taken time and trial and an open mind to learn. All of our lives are richer for them!

    • You reminder to put away fears, suppositions, preconceived notions, and stereotypes is spot on. It’s both refreshing and encouraging to hear. If we could see them as no different than us…with their own quirks, fears, preconceived ideas, etc…then we would not take things so personal. Also, remembering that one day we will be the in-law will help us be more flexible and forgiving with our in-laws. Thanks for sharing a perspective that helps keep our thinking in check.


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