Considering Boundaries with the In-laws While Cultivating a Healthy Relationship

The relationship with your in-laws can be a source of great joy, but sometimes it creates an overwhelming burden on your marriage. What should be love, support and great shared experiences together, can sometimes push the boundaries of smothering or indifference. No doubt the challenges involved in this relationship are unique, but prioritizing your spouse’s parents is crucial for maintaining harmony, and making sure you are not the source of division.

Consider these strategies for cultivating the relationship with your In-laws while also ensuring the importance of love, respect, and security in your marriage relationship.

1. Open conversation is paramount. 

Communication is a skill that needs to be developed. It is necessary in marriage, and in all the relationships that flow out from it. The worst thing you can do is go distant and silent. Expressing your preferences, hopes, and desires regarding the relationship goes a long way towards making your interactions meaningful.

2. Let agape love drive the boundaries you establish.

You may need to clearly outline the boundaries you are establishing while at the same time reassuring your love and appreciation for your in-laws.  

3. Agree to disagree.

Scripture never instructs to change anyone. You can disagree with someone while still showing respect. Ephesians 6 reminds us that parents are to be honored.  The principle of “leave and cleave” does not negate the honor due to the parents of your spouse.

4. Husband and wife must be unified.

Solomon writes, “Two are better than one…” Being unified establishes your commitment to the priorities you communicate, and avoids misunderstandings.  

5. Seek an objective voice.

While your commitment to one another is unwavering, the conflict may be more than you are able to resolve on your own. Seek out an objective person willing to help bring resolution to the disagreements.

6. Be approachable.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger”  Responding in a spirit led way can be challenging.  Resist the temptation to let your emotions get the best of you.  Our facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can communicate distance or a commitment to unity in the relationship.  Choose unity!

Pursuing a relationship with in-laws can be an incredible blessing! It will strengthen the bond in your family, and provide the support we all need in familial relationships. The boundaries you establish will be a continuous learning process for everyone involved. Guided by the Holy Spirit your family will be known by its love for one another.  John 13:35

Check out our podcast on this topic here.

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