In-laws

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Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
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Scriptures
Hope
  • 1 Kings 5:4 (He has given rest on every side, neither adversary nor misfortune)
  • Philippians 4:6-8 (don’t be anxious, let your requests be made known, focus your mind on better things)
  • Isaiah 61:3 (to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning)
  • Proverbs 24:3 (by wisdom a house is built; by understanding it is established)
  • Luke 11:27‐28 (blessed are those who hear and keep God’s word)
  • Joshua 24:15 (as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord)
  • James 1:5 (if you lack wisdom, ask of God who gives generously)
Help
  • Genesis 2:18, 24-25 (not good to be alone; two become one)
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (love is patient, kind, does not envy... love bears, believes, hopes, and endures)
  • Matthew 19:5-6 (what God has joined together, let no one separate)
  • Exodus 20:12 (honor father and mother)
  • Galatians 1:10 (Am I seeking the approval of man or of God?)
  • Matthew 10:34‐37 (whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me)
  • Luke 8:19‐21 (My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it)
  • Luke 18:29 (there is no one who has left family for the Kingdom who will not receive more in this life and the age to come
  • 1 Timothy 5:8 (he who does not provide for his own household)
  • James 1:19‐20 (anger of man does not produce righteousness)
  • Romans 12:18 (so far as it depends on you, live at peace)
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Conversations
Starters
    • How is your family different from your spouse’s?
    • How often do you argue about your in‐laws? What are the main points of contention?
    • When you and your spouse attempt to resolve conflicts around your in‐laws, are you ever able to reach a point where you have a workable solution you can both live with?
    • How have you and your spouse handled expectations surrounding parents and holidays, visiting, grandchildren, etc.?
    • How have discussions with your parents gone with regard to their level of involvement in your marriage?
    • The Bible says a man will “leave father and mother” to join with his wife and become one. What are some of the practical ways you have left your father and mother?  What are some things you could do that would help to promote more oneness as a couple?
    • What are some ways each of your parents have given you the freedom to establish your own identity as a couple?  In what areas would you still like adjustments to be made?
    • How could you facilitate a loving, respectful conversation about this with your
      spouse?
Deeper Questions
    • What practical things are you doing to make your spouse your most important earthly relationship? What is your spouse doing to show that you are most important?
    • How have you seen your primary loyalty and dependency switch from your parents to each other?
    • What are some areas where you fear displeasing your parents?  How does your spouse fear displeasing his/her parents?
    • In what areas do you tend to be hypersensitive to what your in-laws do or say?
    • How do you and your spouse strive to show honor to both sets of parents (Exodus 20:12)?
    • How does your spouse feel you extend honor to his/her parents?  How would our spouse say that you dishonor his/her parents?
    • How do you and/or your spouse feel suffocated or controlled with the demands and expectations of your parents?
    • What do you and your spouse agree on when it comes to building a healthier relationship with your in-laws?  What are some of the ways that you differ on how to improve those relationships?
    • What do you think about the idea of getting a good book or workbook on marriage oneness and beginning to read that with your spouse? What other ways could help you protect your marriage from outside threats?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and who can help you do that?
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Resources
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • Visit Peacemaker Ministries to learn and apply the powerful conflict resolution principles God has given to us through Scripture.
Books
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Encouragement
Quotes
  • - Lou Priolo, Pleasing People, p. 45

    “An important part of leaving and cleaving has to do with abandoning parental beliefs, lifestyles, values, and traditions that are not clearly delineated in the Scriptures. Unless both husband and wife agree, such extra-Biblical standards should not be automatically carried over from one family to another.”

  • - Dr. Dan Allender, Intimate Allies, p. 218

    “The failure to shift loyalty from parents to spouse is a central issue in almost all marital conflict.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Starting Your Marriage Right, p. 16

    “Leaving your home does not mean you permanently withdraw and no longer have a good relationship with your parents. That’s isolating yourself from your parents, not leaving. The commandment in Exodus 20:12 to honor your parents means that when you leave them, you need to go with respect, love, admiration, and affirmation for their sacrifices and efforts in raising you. But you must make a break from them and sever your dependence on them. As time passes, you must be diligent to prevent any reestablishment of dependence at critical points in your marriage.”

  • - Ron and Jorie Kincaid, In‐Laws: Getting Along with Your Other Family, p. 15

    “Tension with in‐laws is not limited to the traditional husband and wife and two sets of parents. An increasing number of people today, due to divorces, remarriages, and blended families, find they have to relate to new sets of in‐laws and still struggle with former ones.”

  • - Ron and Jorie Kincaid, In‐Laws: Getting Along with Your Other Family, p. 29

    “If you’re struggling in your relationship with your in‐laws and would like to see things improve, Christ challenges you to make a new resolve to love them. They don’t have to do anything to deserve your change in behavior. Simply make a decision, out of obedience to Christ, to love them to the best of your ability. And when your love runs short, ask Christ to fill you with His love.”

  • - Ron and Jorie Kincaid, In‐Laws: Getting Along with Your Other Family, p. 33

    “If you embrace and love the in‐laws as your own family, we can almost guarantee that you will cultivate good relationships. When parents view marriage as the loss of a son or a daughter, it is a threatening experience. But if they view marriage as an opportunity to gain a son or daughter, to adopt a new person into their family, then it can be a plus. Do whatever you must to communicate to your in‐laws that in your mind they are family. Don’t treat them as outsiders, but treat them as your own kin.”

  • - Ron and Jorie Kincaid, In‐Laws: Getting Along w/ Your Other Family, p. 108

    “When communication with in‐laws is strained in any way, the person with the closer and more intimate tie needs to be the bridge‐builder and help improve communication between all parties. Observing this simple principle can significantly enhance communication between in‐laws.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 228

    “Removing yourself from the proximity of high‐control in‐laws doesn’t mean you don’t love or respect them. It does mean, however, that you are willing to carry out your stewardship before God and not allow their high control to infect your marriage.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 176

    “Being an in‐law, like parenting, is a sacred trust. It’s an opportunity to stand aside and let our children take over the reins of their lives. It’s a chance to move into a position of adviser, mentor, and sounding board. But it’s imperative that we don’t step over that line.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 216

    “People who play you like a pawn on a chessboard are really demonstrating a subtle form of rejection. By circumventing the consequences of their actions, you’re letting them reject you even more … When you’re being pushed around, you feel as angry about your inability (or unwillingness) to do anything about it as you do about the offense. Confrontation empowers you, simply because you’ve finally refused to continue being a victim. A high‐control spouse may continue the control, or an in‐law may continue trying to run your marriage, but now you will respond differently because you’ve stopped allowing others to control you without being held accountable.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, The New Building Your Mate’s Self‐Esteem, p. 29

    “Your husband or wife needs you to listen and care. But be careful not to become critical of his parents or peers for what they did or did not do. Blaming others does not relieve the problem; it can only increase it by adding the burden of a resentful spirit, which can enslave you and your mate.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 14

    “God never intended one person to control another. He didn’t wire us to respond well to it, either. In each of our hearts is an innate aversion to a person or persons from the outside compelling us to do things that primarily benefit them.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Starting Your Marriage Right, p. 18

    “I want to encourage you husbands to be ‘the man’ and protect your wife. Sometimes you may need to graciously but firmly step in and shield her from a manipulative parent, but I implore you to guard gently your wife’s heart and your marriage from a dad or mom whose intentions may be good but counterproductive.”

Next Steps
    • How difficult is it for you and your spouse to discuss in‐law relationships and how they might be affecting your marriage?  What could make those discussions easier?
    • When discussing in-laws, be respectful and yet speak the truth in love whenever necessary.
    • How can you continue to show honor and respect for the sacrifices and efforts your parents and in-laws put in to raising you and your spouse while at the same time “leaving and cleaving”?
    • Give some thought to the difference in “leaving” your parents and in-laws and
      “isolating” yourself from them.  What is one thing you can do today to build your relationship with them?
    • Discuss with your spouse some of the parental beliefs, lifestyles, values and traditions that your families follow that may not clearly be delineated in Scripture.  What are you clinging to that is traditional rather than Scriptural?  Discuss how you and your spouse can build your own traditions together.
    • How are you treating your in-laws like family? What are some ways you may be treating your in-laws as outsiders?
    • What is one thing you could do to improve communication with your in-laws?
    • Memorize Scriptures of hope and help pertinent to your situation right now.
    • How careful are you not to be critical of your spouse’s parents?  Think about times when you may have blamed them for something they did or did not do.  Ask yourself if you have a resentful spirit toward your in-laws.
    • Take the following online assessment to see if you might be experiencing an emotionally destructive relationship. Discuss the results with your spouse
      and/or a mentor.
    • The goal in marriage is not to be conflict-free but to handle conflict correctly when it occurs.
    • You are not alone;  in‐law conflict is common to many marriages.
    • Consider attending a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway to spend some time focusing on your marriage.
    • You cannot control your spouse or your in‐laws; and your spouse is not the enemy but an ally.
    • Avoiding conflict does not make lasting peace and could prolong the problem.
    • Seek to discover how your spouse responds to conflict differently than you do and look for common ground.
    • Understand that building good relationships with in‐laws can take a lifetime, so don’t get discouraged.