From the moment we say, “I do,” we not only commit to our spouse, but we also become part of a new family. Along with the joys this brings, it can sometimes present challenges, particularly when it comes to forging a strong relationship with our in-laws. Here are four constructive strategies to help build stronger bonds with your spouse’s parents.
Cultivate Honor and Respect
The Biblical instruction to honor our parents is a timeless truth (Ex 20:12), and it extends to our in-laws as well. It’s not about securing a long life; it’s about embracing an attitude of respect and gratitude. This is especially impactful when faced with a lack of kindness from our in-laws. By choosing to respond with love, we align ourselves with God’s commandment. This unconditional honor doesn’t depend on their merit as parents, but it is anchored in our obedience to God. Cultivating such honor and respect is a sure way to develop a closer relationship with your in-laws.
Embrace Differences Gracefully
Every family has their “Dear Abby” who seems to have an opinion on everything. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to have differences. Try to pick your battles wisely and stand up for your family when needed, always backing up your spouse in front of the in-laws. Remember that once married, a man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife, creating a new family. Disagreements may arise, especially about how to discipline children. In such situations, a gracious response would be, “Thank you for sharing your perspective. Parenting is indeed a challenging task and your input is valuable,” rather than a curt dismissal. Agreeing to disagree amicably is an essential part of maintaining harmony.
Encourage Family Get-Togethers
Family reunions can be a wonderful opportunity to involve your in-laws. They are, after all, part of your family. These gatherings allow both sides of the family to meet, fostering friendships and deeper connections. The mutual respect often seen in such settings can encourage everyone to behave respectfully. By creating an environment that encourages bonding, we can promote unity between both sides of the family.
Make Them Feel Included
Feeling left out can sometimes lead to an in-law’s undue interference in the marriage. Simple acts of inclusion can go a long way in fostering warmth and closeness. It can be as simple as a quick phone call, an email, or an invitation to Sunday lunch. Technology has made staying connected easier than ever before, enabling us to share the joys and challenges of daily life with loved ones who live far away. Sharing photos, events, and milestones with your in-laws can make them feel part of your journey, bridging any perceived distance.
My own experience with my mother-in-law defies all the common stereotypes. Despite the age difference when my wife and I married, she has always blessed our family with her presence and never interfered with our parenting. I believe no man could ask for a better mother-in-law, and I feel privileged to call her mine. This bond we have nurtured shows that building a loving and harmonious relationship with in-laws is not only possible but also deeply rewarding.