Building Christian Family In Law Relationships When You Just Aren’t On The Same Page // Episode 105

Loving your in-laws when you disagree

What are we talking about today?

Relationships with the in-laws can be tricky. There is often a lot of baggage and emotion in these parts of the Christian family experience, and it can be really difficult to navigate these relationships well!

Whether you love your in-laws or tolerate them, you have certainly had moments when you disagreed with them. When you just weren’t quite on the same page. And this often doesn’t just stay in that in-law relationship, but goes on to create tension in your marriage.

Today, we’re looking at some practical tips for handling these in-law dynamics in a biblical way that also strengthens your marriage and improves family life.

Let’s dive in.

Listen to Episode 105:

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More resources for you!

If today’s topic is meaningful to you, these resources will give some additional support:

Loving your in-laws when you just aren’t on the same page (during the holidays, or any other time of the year!)

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Today's Episode Highlights

It is a great blessing to have a positive relationship with your in-laws.

I wish this weren’t the case. If only it was normal, standard, and expected to enjoy these relationships! But the horror stories of mother-in-law dynamics and crazy uncles and everything else alerts us that these relationships are not always easy. 

But they ARE always a part of our Christian family life. 

When you married your husband, you married his family. And even when that relationship is strong and positive, there will be moments when you disagree with each other. 

So when you find yourself on a different page from your in-laws (whether it feels like all the time or just every once in awhile), try to remember these helpful strategies.

Strategies for difficult in-law dynamics

First of all, keep the first things first: GOD is first. Treat your in-laws like He wants you to! And He is very clear in his Word that we are to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, patient people… with everyone. Including your in-laws. 

As a close second, let me remind you to stay united with your HUSBAND before worrying about your in-laws. He is your family. He is the one with whom you are “one flesh” and to whom you have a higher responsibility.

What does this mean?

  • Get on the same page. Talk it through and make sure you and he come to a solution or decision together, regardless of in-laws or other people’s perspectives. If communication is a struggle, try the 40 Day Devotional on Communication in Marriage.
  • Let him take the primary lead in addressing issues with his parents. They are his parents!
  • Avoid bad mouthing his parents in front of him (or, similarly, in front of their grandchildren… your kids!). Even if he is venting about them, it will not help things for you to also vent about them.

An additional strategy is to make sure that you are separating  between genuine concerns (such as unethical or inappropriate behavior) and different preferences (such as parenting styles). Don’t treat these like they are the same thing!

  • Try to find common ground with your in-laws especially when you disagree
  • Focus your conversation on different topics. It may be particularly helpful to focus on topics that you know they enjoy, to reduce awkwardness and distance.

Make sure also that you are showing biblical respect for your in-laws, even when it doesn’t feel like a particularly close or meaningful relationship. Why? Because they are your elders, they are your husband’s parents, and hopefully they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

In large part, this means practicing the skill of holding your tongue.

  • Memorize Scriptures that help you hold your tongue – Colossians 3, James 1, and Ephesians 4:29 have helpful verses on this. And the 40 Day Devotional on Anger and Emotional Control may also help.
  • Practice in advance! You know the hot button topics or situations. Plan ahead of time for how you will handle it and what you can say to reduce conflict.
  • This might sound like: “That is an interesting idea, I’ll talk with (fill in husband’s name here) about it later.” Or maybe something like “We’ve already decided on (insert your decision here).”

Finally, make sure that you establish clear boundaries (with your husband!) and then stick to them. Often, it’s the “stick to them” part that is the hardest!

  • Plan for important events and situations that are particularly important to you and/or your in-laws. How does your family handle Christmas gifts, activities, etc? What about vacations? Discipline?
  • Be prepared for how you and your husband can support one another to stand firm on your decisions, even if your in-laws are not being supportive.
  • And don’t forget: be careful that you never use your children as a bargaining chip! Their grandchildren should never be put in this position.

Want more encouragement on this topic?

Check out these other episodes for more biblical encouragement and practical tips on this topic:

  • Episode 71 // Want great relationships? These are the 3 keys to healthy communication in every interaction.

  • Episode 103 // Fighting fair, finding forgiveness, and handling conflict in your Christian marriage.

And don’t forget to grab a resource or two that will help you LOVE Christian family life!

Friday Faith Follow-up

Family life can be rough when we have tension with our in-laws. But what if those difficult in-laws are your own parents? How can you best navigate those muddy waters and maintain a great relationship with ALL of your people? 

Let’s consider together, friend, in this short follow-up episode. Dive right in.

Hey, before you go!

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Hugs & blessings to you, my friend! I’ll talk to you soon.

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