Skip to main content
Farmhouse and property from a distance

In-Law Issues

Farmhouse and property from a distance

I am very blessed to have some amazing in-laws. How thankful I am to them for raising my husband to know and love God and for the solid upbringing they gave him. How thankful I am for how much they love Greg, me, and our children. Sadly, I didn’t always treat them with the respect I should have. ๐Ÿ™ I had a lot of repenting to do to them and to other extended family members when God opened my eyes to all my sin 6 years ago.

How can you have a healthy relationship with your in-laws? Here are some general ideas to avoid and some to prayerfully consider. Other wives and husbands who have been on this journey for awhile and have some godly wisdom to share, you are welcome to share, as well.

Some Ways to Ruin Your Relationship with Your In-Laws (and Your Marriage):

  • gossip about your husband’s parents and siblings
  • resent them and hold grudges and bitterness against them
  • treat them with disrespect
  • be prideful and assume that you are always right
  • take it upon yourself to try to make them change to be the people you want them to be
  • be argumentative and contentious with everyone in your husband’s family
  • roll your eyes and sigh a lot
  • look down on them
  • always assume the worst about them
  • refuse them access to your children (without a seriously valid reason)
  • try to control them and their relationship with your husband
  • compare them to your parents in a negative way
  • focus on their faults
  • rehearse anything they have said that hurts your feelings over and over and over hundreds of times per day for weeks, months, or years
  • criticize them often to your husband
  • freak out whenever your husband talks to his family
  • demand that your husband choose between you and his family
  • monitor every word your husband says to them
  • demand that your husband not spend time with his family
  • resent your husband for any time he does spend with them and tell him that he obviously doesn’t love you if he wants to spend any time with them

Some Ways to Bless Your Husband and Your In-Laws:

  • sincerely speak highly of them to others
  • don’t share about the negative stuff (unless you are only speaking with a godly wife mentor, a therapist/counselor, or seeking appropriate help for severe issues)
  • be quick to give mercy, grace, and forgiveness
  • seek to trust them whenever possible
  • be filled with God’s Spirit yourself and allow His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control to flow through you
  • accept that they are different from your family, and that doesn’t automatically mean the way they do things is “wrong”
  • praise and encourage them when you see things you appreciate
  • be thankful for anything they do for you
  • focus on their strengths
  • pray for them
  • seek to bless them no matter how they act or respond
  • support your husband’s relationship with his family (if there is an extremely enmeshed, codependent, toxic relationship, you can support your husband’s desire to have a healthy relationship with them and his desire to love them)
  • support the way your husband wants to handle issues with his family whenever possible (unless he is asking you to clearly sin or condone sin or there would be significant and legitimate danger in supporting his decision)
  • step back and allow your husband to do more of the communicating if this seems to work better
  • thank your husband for being such a loving son/brother
  • rest in the fact that you are in a covenant relationship with your husband in the eyes of God
  • don’t criticize your husband’s family to him
  • treat your husband with respect in front of his family and treat his family with respect at all times

** If there are truly awful things going on – drug/alcohol abuse, uncontrolled mental health issues, actual abuse, criminal activity – please seek appropriate help. There are times it may be necessary to seek godly, wise, biblical counsel. There are times it may be necessary to call the police, or to seek medical help. Hopefully, you and your husband can discuss and agree upon the best approach if there are severe problems in a relationship.

RELATED:

Unlearning the Ungodly Example of a Controlling, Disrespectful Mother

A Husband and Wife Handle a Controlling Mother As a Team

Why Won’t He Protect Me from His Family?

Bitterness of Soul – I Want to Be His FIRST Priority

Respecting Your Husband around Extended Family

Forgiveness

Finding God’s Victory overย Bitterness

A Fellow Wife Focuses on Overcoming Bitterness

 

56 thoughts on “In-Law Issues

  1. i definitely will be posting this up in my bathroom. my mother-in-law now lives in our home. God is giving me the perfect opportunity for growth and i keep fighting with myself and satan. she has done a lot of things over the years that i have disagreed with and she has said a lot of negative things about me. i know that God wants me to obey and forgive, have humility, not judge and show mercy. my carnal side of me keeps saying that she does not deserve for me to be nice to her, but i know what i need to do. i just finished Joyce Meyers book on Do yourself a favor, Forgive. i’m at a pivotal point. tonight my sister-in-law is coming to visit my mother-in-law and i will be fixing dinner and my husband will be playing games with them. i have decided that i am going to be nice whether i feel like it or not. haha…i keep wanting to tell my mother-in-law things of the past and things she has said about me or done. i need to just leave it all behind. it’s challenging, but i so much want to obey God and honor him and not care about whether she deserves it or not. and i know that i may have to continue to forgive on a regular basis. i need to just choose to do the right thing and depend on the Lord. He will take care of the rest.
    thank you, April! you are great spiritual friend!

    1. Monica,
      I love your heart’s desire to obey and please Christ and not to allow any root of bitterness to stay in your heart. ๐Ÿ™‚ that is so beautiful!

      Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 4:4-8,12-13, James 1 and 2, and 1 Peter would be great passages to study, in my view, during this time. I pray you can get the time you need with God. This is even more critical if there is a tension in the home. Praying for God to draw your MIL to Himself, for her to find His amazing peace and joy, and for God to use you to minister to her (and your husband) in a powerful, Spirit-filled way.

    2. Monica,

      You are most welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I pray that you might just be able to seek to bless her. She is hurting. She will be accountable to God for her sins. I pray she has found Christ already. He can renew her heart, mind, and spirit and give her abundant spiritual life. Maybe she will find it at your house?

      1. hopefully she can…thank you. she is a royal mess. it’s a long story. she used to be quite egotistical and now is having severe mental problems and dependent on us. it is quite humbling for her. she has unbelief in God now. she definitely is not a coachable person though and i have to leave her up to God and my husband, especially since i am working solely on trying to obey God in my treatment of her and showing her kindness.

        1. Monica, this is so lovely to read, really christlike and i know it may be difficult at times but you are doing it for God and your husband, im sure she will notice your kindness and care and hopefully will appreciate it and she may end up having a close relationship with you, all the best and may God bless you as you go along xxx

    1. Monica,

      Are you talking about the other posts listed at the bottom of this one? Once you are on my site in this post, you can click on each one and it will take you to that post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. No, on the email notice, it listed Tags: can’t get along with in-laws, controlling mother, controlling mother-in-law, hate my in-laws, hate my mother-in-law, how to get along with in-law, etc.

  3. Bitterness and forgiveness is the one thing that I have an issue with. I recognize it. And with HIS strength, one day I will overcome it. My background with my in laws is not good. I have 30 years of baggage with them! He was our pastor. And used the church and God in the wrong manner- it was to get what he wanted to gain. And this issue hasnt set well with MANY family members. I could go on and on. But there is so much hurt and pain when I think of my in- laws. Well, even my own parents. Ultimately, my husband had to choose me or his family.

    He chose me.

    One day, I will let go of all this. I know I NEED to. But the pain is so raw.

    Wonderful post!
    April Jo

      1. Hi victoriantomboy,
        I have fallen out with my own mother and brother and SIL, its been well over 2 years since we had contact.
        I struggle with the resentment and bitterness a bit too because of the way they have treated me, but i do forgive them, its just difficult when you do it from afar and noone apologises! I too know that i need to let go of it all, but its still a bit raw for me too! Hugs to you, sounds like its been very difficult xxx

        1. JuR,
          Praying for you to find the power in God to have His victory over resentment and bitterness. I know how hard it is to let go of these things, but I also praise God that He can give us victory so that we can live in His light and freedom. Much love to you!

        2. Yes! That’s the hard part. No apologies. They still think they are right in everything they do or have done and they use the Bible to back them up. Twisting the word of God to their liking. That’s what makes it hard to forgive. When you know what they are doing also grieves God. He didn’t create His word to be manipulated in that way. And its not that I think they owe me an apology, even tho that would be nice, but just simply seeing them “not repentant.” ( To God ) Its caused a lot of heartache. Even the church we attended under my FIL, it has closed its doors and he wonders why nobody backed him up! Cant understand why people left. Yeah, its hard to let go. I KNOW I need to. Its just so hurtful.

          1. Victoriantomboy,

            Ultimately, they will answer to God. I pray that they are in right relationship to Him. The consequences if they don’t truly know Him are so horrific that I can’t even bear to think about it. There are severe warnings to false prophets and false teachers in the New Testament.

            Obviously, I don’t know the situation. But how I pray that God might work in their hearts if they are not His and how I pray that if they are twisting God’s Word that God might show them their error that they may have time to repent.

            For a spiritual leader/teacher to twist God’s Word would be incredibly hurtful. I am sure that if that is the case, God’s heart is deeply grieved. I pray that you might be able to leave vengeance to God and that you might be able to pray that God’s Spirit draws them to Himself and brings conviction and true repentance if they have sinned against Him for His glory. I pray for healing for all involved and that you might be able to experience all of the grace and forgiveness Christ has extended to you, and from that abundant supply of grace, extend forgiveness to them, as well. That does not mean you must trust them until they repent and show fruit consistent with repentance. But God can empower you to forgive so that you do not become contaminated by more sin.

            Much love!

          2. Thank you April. Thats why I am so glad I found this blog. Its so empowering! You can tell this is a subject that is close to our hearts and still hurts many. Thank you for the verses. God indeed knows my situation. And to sit down and tell somebody, even in therapy, I wouldn’t even be able to scratch the surface. But this is an area many of us need healing. So again, thank you for the verses and kind words.

          3. Victoriantomboy,
            This is a very sensitive, painful, raw area for many, many people. Tension and conflict with in-laws are, unfortunately, extremely common. And they can destroy a marriage as well as rip families apart. I know that this little post is only a tiny little start to address some of the difficult issues many families are experiencing. I know that our great God is able to heal those who are deeply wounded by conflicts with their in-laws and I am praying for each one who is experiencing great pain in this area to trust God to heal their hearts and to allow Him to examine and work in those areas of people’s lives where they have many scars. I pray for His wisdom for you and for each one here who is grieving and hurting.

            Much love to you!

          4. Victoriantomboy,
            I pray that this might be the beginning of a new chapter of healing for you and for many other hurting wives. ๐Ÿ™‚ May God receive all the glory!

      2. Victoriantomboy,

        A lot of families do not acknowledge the marriage covenant and that children who are grown and married are to leave parents and cleave to the new spouse. Breaks my heart that families would put a son in that position. But I am glad your husband has been faithful to you. What blessings the whole family has missed in choosing this kind of division. Praying for God to intervene and to bring healing and reconciliation!

    1. Victoriantomboy,

      Sometimes, there is no option but to choose between a spouse and parents. That is very sad! But, when there are sinners involved, especially unrepentant sinners, sometimes there is no choice. Matthew 18:15-17.

      Praying for you to find healing and the power of God to overcome the bitterness and to forgive. I held on to bitterness and unforgiveness for over a decade and a half in my own life. Such poison!!!!!! I realized finally that I had to choose – Jesus, or my bitterness. I could not have both.

      I hope you might search “forgiveness” and “bitterness” on my home page. Perhaps those posts might be a blessing and be healing to you.

  4. it’s really damaging and leaves a hole in everyone’s life when family relationships are scarred…i pray for healing for both of you…we definitely have experienced it for many years in our family. God has a better plan for all of us though.

  5. I really appreciate this post. I can relate to this issue a lot and would love to read more about how to deal with a MIL who has difficulties with boundaries…She is not mean or rude necessarily, but clingy and can be (maybe unintentionally) manipulative. My husband and I are the type of people who would welcome anyone (especially family members!) into our home openly, however, because she tends to presume upon this and expect us to allow her to come whenever she wants and stay in our home, we are much more reluctant and may even come off “mean.” While my husband is willing to stand up to her, I have a hard time because I feel like he is not as direct or tough as I feel like he should be. It has been hard for us in our marriage ๐Ÿ™

  6. Some Ways to Ruin Your Relationship with Your In-Laws (and Your Marriage):
    Accuse your husband of loving them (especially his Mother) more than you.

    He is left with two bad options.
    1. Continue to honor his mother & father by visiting periodically and showing them love, with his wife’s resentment and insecurity as a ‘rider.’
    2. Or, cut off his parents to demonstrate how much he loves his spouse, meanwhile dishonoring and hurting his parents.

    1. Anonyman,

      Yes, this puts a husband in a really tough, and unenviable, situation. Yes, the marriage is a covenant. And yes, he is to be one with his wife. But, he also wants to love and honor his parents and to be able to have a healthy relationship with them, as well. I pray that God might empower us to be able to have healthy marriages and healthy relationships with parents/in-laws.

      The enemy wants us to be full of bitterness, resentment, rage, malice, and unforgiveness. But these things are so very toxic. We cannot control others, but we can choose to obey God for ourselves to love God wholeheartedly and to love others with God’s love and to repent of any sin in our own lives.

      Praying for healing for difficult situations!

  7. April,

    Thank you for this post! This is such an important message, wish I had the list before 5 years of marriage maybe i would have made less mistakes….

    It’s gets really hard specially when you have in laws who are separated and each are fighting their battles and each is disoriented from the other.

    For the past five years of marriage I’ve always compared my husbands actions towards my in laws and towards me. He treats them with lots of love and grace especially because hes seen them going through tough situations. And I could not take it. I used to always compare his love for his parents and me and felt bitter. Always told him that his priority was his parents and never me and would quote the bible sometimes (Very funny how like Satan we try to quote the wrong verses at an inappropriate situation). In many instances he has always sided his parents making me more and more angry. But I feel now, that’s the only option he had.

    I made a lot of mistakes in the last five years but I’ve learnt through my mistakes some of the things you’ve mentioned especially to leave it to God to change their hearts and to pray for them sincerely rather than talk about them.

    The hurts and wounds of broken relationship with my in laws is still raw and painful, sometimes the bitterness caused by their actions and words don’t go away.

    Please pray that I may forgive myself and them, and the bitterness would go away and I will have humility to respect them even if they choose to hurt me. I don’t know if we will ever reconcile, though from my side I’ve asked forgiveness

    Lots of Love
    Vinodhini

    1. Vinodhini,

      I know things have been a big mess in your family. ๐Ÿ™ How I pray God might work in each person’s heart and draw each one to Himself and that there might be healing and reconciliation with God and then with each other. Praying for you to have the power of God to forgive that you might be able to experience all of the abundant spiritual life Christ has provided for you without getting entangled.

      Sending you a huge hug!

  8. And when your in laws are destructive, manipulative, insecure and have damaged their own children so badly that they moved 5600 miles away from them and both have had to have counselling to be able to deal with the damage? When you can see how damaging they are to you, your spouse, and also your children, and you’ve spent so long trying to please them and get along and be the perfect daughter in law that you end up broken and in therapy yourself? When you have to weigh “they are my husbands patents and my children’s grandparents” with “my father in law damages every relationship he has, and behaves like a child” (he has a diagnosis of NPD, and it’s not just me being a bitter DIL, his whole family are either alienated or have strained relationships) and they question your faith, criticise your beliefs and church and try to convert you to theirs? (They are SDA we aren’t) how do you deal? Surely there comes a time when you have to stop placating, pandering, and being broken down and protect yourself and your children?

    1. motherofmadcatsandbabies,

      There are times when a relationship is so toxic, that there is a need for a separation. That is what Matthew 18:15-17 is about – if someone won’t repent, this is the prescription for believers to follow about how to handle these kinds of situations.

      God also gives us His wisdom in dealing with “enemies” in Romans 12. Surely, those words and commands apply to us in relationship to our in-laws, as well. God can give us His Spirit, His power, His holiness, and His wisdom so that we might walk in obedience to Him and seek to love with His love and bless with His blessing – praying for Him to deliver those who are hateful from the power of sin into His kingdom of righteousness. Christ is the deepest and greatest need of every person. I pray for salvation/sanctification for your in laws and am so sorry to hear about how difficult things have been. For very severe situations, y’all may need wise, godly counsel. I’m glad you are seeking help for a very toxic situation.

      For those who live in Christ, we never have need to be broken down, to pander, or to placate. We are not “people pleasers.” We seek to please Christ alone. We can love and honor others by God’s definition. We are empowered by God’s Spirit to act from a position of great strength in Christ. We don’t have to succumb to being manipulated by guilt or to try to be “perfect” in a person’s eyes. I hope that makes sense.

      How is your walk with Christ going, my precious sister?
      How does your husband believe y’all need to handle the situation?

      When we are in Him, we are able to be filled to overflowing with His peace, love, joy… and all the fruit of His Spirit as well as His I Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love for all people. We are able to love even those who mistreat us, not in a sick, defeated way, but in His beautiful way. Thankfully, in Christ, we don’t have to be held hostage to anyone else spiritually or emotionally. He can give us wisdom about how to handle specific situations. We don’t have to be overcome by toxic bitterness or hatred! God gives us a way out of that poison as we seek to forgive- according to Jesus’ commands in Matthew 6. That doesn’t mean we must trust people, and it doesn’t mean we must fellowship with them if they are unrepentant. We may have to wait for them to repent of sin against us before we can be in close fellowship again. But thankfully, we can walk in total spiritual and emotional health when we are in Christ regardless of what others may be doing. Our wellbeing is not dependent on others, but on Jesus. Praying for healing for you all! Praying that your family might receive the biblical counsel and guidance needed. I do understand that sometimes separation is the only option, at least until God brings healing. I pray for healing for everyone involved and for God’s greatest glory in your family.

      Much love to you!

  9. Marriage, in-laws, and close family relationships have the most potential for creating bitterness, resentment, and hatred many times. Thankfully, God gives us the tools to overcome these things in our lives in all of our relationships so that we don’t have to be poisoned by them.

    LIVING BY THE SPIRIT, NOT BY THE FLESH

    13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: โ€œLove your neighbor as yourself.โ€[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

    16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5

    GOD’S LOVE IS NOT ABOUT PEOPLE PLEASING, IT IS ABOUT GOD PLEASING

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. I Corinthians 13

    36 โ€œTeacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?โ€

    37 Jesus replied: โ€œโ€˜Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.โ€™[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: โ€˜Love your neighbor as yourself.โ€™ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.โ€ Matthew 22

    WE CANNOT HATE OTHERS AND LOVE GOD

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

    God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4

    HOW TO TREAT OUR ENEMIES

    9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lordโ€™s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

    17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for Godโ€™s wrath, for it is written: โ€œIt is mine to avenge; I will repay,โ€[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

    โ€œIf your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.โ€
    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12

    FORGIVENESS IS A COMMAND, NOT AN OPTION

    14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6

    For more on these topics, please search my home page for “bitterness,” “people pleasing,” “guilt,” “boundaries and control,” or “forgiveness.”

  10. If there are truly severe issues with in-laws, or any relationship – active drug/alcohol abuse, true abusive behavior, criminal activity, uncontrolled mental health issues, severe sin issues – please seek appropriate help. There are times when it is necessary to seek godly, wise, biblical counsel. There are times when medical help or police assistance is necessary.

  11. Great post. Any further insight as to how to deal with divorced in-laws and all the issues that come with that? My husband’s parents divorced when he was 7, and the reason was an affair. His mom actually married the man she had the affair with after divorcing his dad. Then, she moved out of state with her second husband and left my husband with his biological dad, and didn’t have much to do with him after that. My husband refuses to visit her or initiate contact but will talk to her if she calls and if she wants to visit allows them to come. When they do come it’s so horrible, tense, usually devolves into arguments and her accusing my husband of being a horrible son, not treating her the way she deserves, etc. I try very hard to keep my mouth shut and let him handle it. I guess that’s the best way to deal with it? I’ve tried asking my husband what he wants me to do, but when she’s not here he doesn’t want to talk about her or even think about her, so I have never gotten a clear answer from him about how he wants me to behave toward them.

  12. I could definitely use some advice in this area. My dad and my husband have had a strained relationship for a few years now. My dad means well, I think, but comes across as very judgmental and disrespectful to my husband. My husband stopped attending church a few years ago, so my dad gets on his case for that. He has also accused my husband of not loving his family and of being unfaithful to me (both of which are untrue). After an absolutely horrible Christmas with my parents where my dad and husband got into huge arguments, my husband has asked me to stop talking with my parents until they apologize. (My parents want an apology from my husband too. Wrong was done by both men). QUESTION: is this a sinful thing for him to ask me to do, or do I follow my husband in this? I know I’m supposed to honor my parents, but how does this fit in with respecting my husband? Should I ask my husband if I can still write a letter to my mom once in a while, or would that be disrespectful? I’m so torn right now and don’t know what to do.

    1. Joy,

      Yuck. ๐Ÿ™

      How is your walk with Christ going?

      What about your husband’s walk with Christ?

      It is not ok for your dad to be so disrespectful to your husband. I don’t know any man who would sign up for more of that kind of treatment.

      What is your dad’s relationship with Christ?

      There are times when shunning may be necessary. Matthew 18:15-17 describes that. I think it would be great if all of you could go talk with the pastor there if your husband and dad both respect him. It is ok to ask if you can write to your mom. Such a mess. ๐Ÿ™

      Do your parents know that your husband doesn’t want you to talk with them until your dad apologizes?

      Does your husband believe he has anything to apologize for? Is he willing to humbly apologize for his part?

      If you must choose, you must side with your husband. You have a covenant with him, not with your parents. It would be best if you didn’t have to choose and could honor both your husband and your father. But please stand with your husband if you are forced to choose sides.

      Sending you a huge hug, my precious sister!

  13. I am a believer, and God has been teaching me so much and changing me over the past few months. I used to be very disrespectful and controlling towards my husband ๐Ÿ™ I realized that I haven’t been trusting God’s sovereignty and I made my husband an idol. I used to be very legalistic and thought had to follow all these Christian “churchy” rules to keep God happy with me. I spend time with God daily and am involved in my church.
    My husband is a believer, and I’ve seen genuine fruit in his life. The church where we used to attend (that my parents attend) is very legalistic. After my husband got a job that kept him from regularly attending, some people said judgmental things to him about that and he felt like he was on the “outside”. He was turned off to attending church and hasn’t gone in 2 years. I don’t know if he prays or reads his Bible.
    My dad is a believer and up until recently was a deacon in that church. I love my dad, but it’s true that he is quite legalistic. He’s said on more than one occasion that “those who attend all the services are the committed Christians” and he thought less of those who didn’t go Sunday night or Wednesday.
    We now live 7 hrs away from my parents. Each time they’ve visited (2x a year) my dad has said something negative to my husband about his spiritual walk. My husband feels like my dad has never liked him. I think my dad is actually trying to help my husband and he wants him to go to church again, but my dad goes about it in an offensive way. I also feel like my dad is still treating me like a daughter who lives in his house, like he has control over me b/c my husband doesn’t meet his standards. He tells me things he thinks about my husband and plants seeds of distrust ( like telling me my husband is hiding things from me, will divorce me, and is cheating on me).
    He thinks that b/c my husband isn’t close to God, that he is doing all these awful things :(.
    Yes, my parents know that my husband doesn’t want me to talk to them. We wouldn’t be able to go to a pastor since we’re 7 hrs away. I don’t know that my husband would agree to this anyway.
    My husband doesn’t believe that he needs to apologize since my dad started it and has been acting this way for quite some time now. ( although he did yell and curse at my dad, and i think he needs to apologize for that).
    It just is so hard. We have a 4 yr old son and a 6 mo old daughter, and I wish my mom could see them ๐Ÿ™ BUT, not at the expense of my marriage.

    1. Joy,

      Oh how heartbreaking! You know what? Legalistic churches can be extremely destructive to our faith in God and our walk with Him. Kind of like being around the Pharisees all the time. ๐Ÿ™

      I’m really sad about how people treated your husband when he got a job where he had to work on Sundays sometimes. I am so very, very sorry for the pain he has experienced from those who are supposed to know and love Christ.

      It is really not your dad’s place, in my view, to criticize your husband, particularly to you. Believers are to honor the marriage covenants of others and to build them up, not tear them down or encourage disrespect, and distrust. It is not criticism that will draw your husband back to Christ, if he is wandering away, it is the love of Christ in others and being treated with honor, kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, patience, etc… that will draw him back.

      I would have to say something to my dad if he were treating my husband so disrespectfully. I would have to say something like, “Please do not ever speak to my husband or about my husband in such a disrespectful way again. You don’t have to agree with his choices, but please honor our marriage covenant and treat us both and our marriage with respect. I have a covenant with him now, Dad. I don’t have a covenant with you. My primary allegiance must be to my husband. That is God’s design.”

      Of course, at this point, you may not be able to say anything. But you can be praying about what God might want you to say when you have a chance.

      I wonder if you can share with your husband how you totally agree that your dad was out of line and should never be disrespectful of him and how you totally understand why he doesn’t want to speak to them and you are willing to honor that. How you wish that there could be some kind of reconciliation, and that it would mean a lot to you if your husband might be willing to apologize for the cursing. And that you really wish you could at least write to your mom. This would probably be something you would discuss only once and then trust God to work in your husband’s heart and your father’s heart. If you have already talked with him about this, then it may be something that you will want to pray about much more than talk about.

      Praying for wisdom for all of you and for healing and for God’s Spirit to move to bring about reconciliation first for everyone involved with Himself and then for the relationships in the family.

      Does your husband feel supported and respected by you, do you think?

      Much love and a BIG HUG!

  14. YIKES! Currently, I am guilty of 17 out of 20 ways that I ruin my relationship with my in-laws. This has all occurred within the last three years when I had my son and daughter. My mother in law just criticizes my parenting skills either in front of me or she will go into the other room and talk about me with her daughters. She is very controlling and manipulative. My husband just brushes it off and thinks that I’m making a big deal out of nothing. It’s just really hard for me to think positively about her. I just try to fake a smile when she comes over and put on act like nothing is wrong.

    1. Brooke,

      That is really hard! MIL/DIL relationships can be some of the most difficult, in my view.

      Please search my home page for:

      – controlling mother
      – why won’t my husband protect me from his family?
      – unhealthy vs. healthy relationships
      – bitterness
      – forgiveness

      And please search my Youtube channel, April Cassidy, for “dealing with controlling people,” and “why women become controlling.”

      Also, Leslie Vernick’s site, http://www.leslievernick.com, has a ton of posts about dealing with toxic people that may be a blessing.

      God can empower you to live in victory over bitterness and to respond in godly ways even if your MIL is trapped in this sinful snare of the enemy. She needs God and His healing, just like we all do. If she knew how to love in a godly way and not be controlling, she wouldn’t be this way.

      Much love to you!

  15. i am seeking peace with my in-laws as well. they are not necessarily bad people, but i disagree with them on some very fundamental issues & those issues have eaten away at me over the years to the point that i have done many things on the “don’t list”. i genuinely want to change my behavior toward them as it is taking a huge toll on my marriage. googling solutions to the in-law issue is originally what led me to your blog in the first place. there is very good information here.

    they idolize their only child (my husband) & even enable his selfish behavior that, at times, has been punishable by law. he just never got caught.

    some of the biggest issues with my in-laws involve our children, tho, & i’m not sure how to be respectful while disagreeing with them on things like buying my 12 & 9 year old children lottery tickets to scratch off (fine, i guess), but then giving them the winnings. the family i was raised in does not believe in gambling. adults gambling has never bothered me – they are adults, after all. but i strongly disagree with the message that allowing them to actually profit from it sends to my children about gambling at such a young age.

    at this point, it has gone on for years & i haven’t said anything. i didn’t know how to bring it up since it has always been fine in their family & i cannot just assume that we should raise our children in the way that i was raised. now its been too long. i know better than to criticize them to my husband or to them so i’m not sure what to do. i will continue to pray, but i am getting quite a bit of anxiety about their upcoming visit, knowing that it will be a huge test of my devotion to this process.

    i have had a discussion with my children about what gambling really is & that the money is not really free as they see it. i thought that the way to handle it might be to take the money they give the children & have the kids pick out something nice for them to present at their next visit. i knew this would appeal to their giving nature as most times we try to just give them things anytime other than Christmas or birthdays, they reply with “o no. you keep that.” to be honest, it kinda stings me because i love to give as well & enjoy spending time thinking of & finding the perfect gifts for others & i feel rejected when they say that. anyway, my thought was that, eventually, after receiving several gifts that they could not give back (ie. personalized gifts) from their lottery winnings, they may stop bringing the lottery tickets. after reading your blog, i wonder if i am being manipulative by trying to solve the problem without confrontation, by doing something they may not like in the hopes that they will stop doing what i don’t like.

    BUT i’m not sure how else i should handle this one. most things they do that grate on me are things that i feel confident that i can let go of thru prayer & by being respectful now that my eyes have been opened. the pressure for me is on because my husband has told me that the thing that will hurt our marriage is the way i treat his parents. i know that i have to change my behavior ASAP to save my marriage & i pray about the bitterness & resentment that i feel towards them, that i have to yield to them when i was always taught that you cleave to your spouse over your parents once you get married. i am guilty of running to my parents with marital problems myself, tho, in the past & have completely stopped that in the commitment to honor God & this process. he does not run to them with marital problems, but he does not tell them when something they do upsets me. i have diagnosed anxiety disorders that are severe at times, that they refuse to acknowledge (a common thing with folks of that generation). i have tried discussing my disorder with them but they do not seem receptive at all, much less willing to google it and/or apply any info that i have given them to their visits with us – they don’t seem to care that they do things that cause me to panic inside to the point that i feel as if my brain will break.

    i digress. my question is really about the lottery ticket thing. any advice on this would be appreciated. not sure what the bible says exactly on gambling or how to handle something that i feel this strongly about but have let go for years. do i just grin & bear it? should i wait until i have a significant history of respect to bring it up with my husband??

    i pray & wait for an answer from God, but any biblical passages that you could pass on or advice would be most appreciated.

  16. Hello April & All ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am learning wife and along with my bible this blog used to be my go-to for mannnnnyyyy issues I was struggling with in my marriage. I started reading peaceful wife blog a few months into our marriage and 3.5 years later, I can not believe how much has changed ๐Ÿ˜Š For the better๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ Thank you JESUS!!!
    Me and my husband still struggle a bit but even I am completely surprised for being such a young couple how we have such a great marriage but it’s alllllllll bc of God and his grace and mercy!! And we both see and realize that.
    3.5 years later- something has come up that is not sitting well with me. We moved out of state and his parents sort of followed (it’s a state they’ve always wanted to live in and his mom has a job she can move wherever)

    But when they followed they had the job part down. But not the home part. Why spend money on rent when there’s a free extra bedroom with us? (I’m sure is how they are thinking)

    Quick back story.. I LOVE my in laws to death!!! They love me!! They have been good to me!! They are a little different.. and some of the things they say/some of the ways they raised my husband, I completely disagree with. Nevertheless those days are over and he’s an adult and he has a great relationship with them, as do I.
    However when they asked to live with us, my husband didn’t really talk with me about it he just kind of assumed it would be ok with me, also it was only supposed to be a certain amount of time and nOw it is going to be wayyy over that.

    I am starting to feel stressed and upset bc they are only thinking of themselves, not us. Not my family who is supposed to visit in a few weeks and needs a place to stay. Not our marriage of a young couple who needs to be alone or is thinking of starting a family. I need my home . I need my space.

    I don’t want to talk to my husband about how I am feeling… bc when I brought it up before they were here we got into a big fight. I could tell it was bc it was about his parents and he was defensive of that. So now to me it is not worth it to argue with my husband over my worries/anxieties.
    I prayed and prayed so hard that they would not come live with us UNLESS it was Gods will (I’m sorry if that’s wrong just being honest)

    And now they are here so I want to accept it and just try to do all things without complaining but I’m not gonna lie it’s realllly hard. And like I said I can’t talk to my husband about it so I just don’t know what would be the best option here. Telling my in laws how I really feel is not an option. They have helped us out financially so much in the past and I feel like we owe them. They would also get hurt feelings and it would ruin our relationship so I just don’t know what the Christian thing to do is. And I try to pray about it but my feelings keep getting in the way and having me I think pray the wrong prayers.. my motives aren’t bad, I don’t think.. they are just for my marriage, my sanity, my friendships and my own family…

    ๐Ÿ™„ This is so hard

    1. Learning Wife,

      I’m so excited about all that God has done in the past 3.5 years in your life and marriage! WOOHOO! That is awesome!

      So, would you say that your husband knows about most of your concerns?

      Is he familiar with the conflict kinds of issues that are common when a married couple lives with his/her parents? The tension that this can easily bring?

      Do you have much time/space to yourself?

      How is your time with Christ going?

      What do you believe God is prompting you to do now? Are you hearing His voice clearly?

      How long have they been here? And it is indefinite now?

      Are you dealing with bitterness and resentment? If so, what are you doing with those things?

      Much love to you!

      April

  17. Hi April!!โ˜บ๏ธโ˜บ๏ธ

    I believe my husband knows how I feel…
    I do not believe he knows the dangers of this as I do. It’s so hard bc his mother says things like “God is the one who brought us here, this is Gods will” she has posted on FB saying “wow what Joel olsteen said has just confirmed we are right where God wants us”
    It’s just like at our expense? I feel they are only thinking of themselves.

    I have no idea what God is prompting me to do next. I do feel bitterness and resentment and right now I am just bottling it up. They have been here for a week and that is all it was supposed to be at first. Then it was 2 weeks now it is 3 months. I feel I/we have NO privacy. It’s a small house and 1 bathroom.
    I tried to bring it up to my husband yesterday and it didn’t go good so I really do not want to fight about this… I don’t want to take any steps back in our marriage and I certainly DO NOT want to ruin my relationship with my in laws ๐Ÿ˜”
    I just do not see this going good at all. To be honest they are already driving me insane. I feel like I can’t take it.
    They are offering to pay us money but then say they don’t have enough to move out..
    His dad makes us dinner every night and they also buy us things and say things like “it must be so wonderful to have a home cooked meal” and like I’m just thinking I would give this up in a heart beat to be alone with my husband right now. ๐Ÿ™„

    I feel like they think they are doing us such a big favor and I feel my husband is only looking at it as a way to save some money and that’s not important time at all.

    His mom also said something weird to me today like “I hope you guys don’t feel like you need to have a baby, you have lots of time for that don’t do that right now ” and it’s actually something we’ve really been wanting lately but I feel like it would throw a curve ball into her plans so it’s not what she wants.

    I fear they will stay for a long time and already have said things like we live so well together we should just get a house and split it. I’m like oh no….. I just do not know what to do.

    I’m worried my bad thoughts are going to manifest into actions soon but at the same time I believe my feelings are so justified so idk what to do ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”

    1. Learning Wife,

      Oh man! I can feel the smothering from here! Three months. Wow. That is a long time.

      There seem to be some very unhealthy boundaries here. ๐Ÿ™

      When you tried to talk with your husband about this, what did you say and what did he say? Have you shared that you love your in-laws but this is too much closeness and you want to be able to have things be back to just the two of you living together? What does he say?

      What have you expressed about your feelings?

      You HAVE to have time to yourself. Is there somewhere where you can get alone and away? Even in the car? Or a walk? Or something?

      Praying for God’s wisdom and provision and for God to help your husband see that this is probably not a viable long-term solution that is healthy for your marriage.

      1. April,

        I so appreciate your prayers! I have been trying to wake up about an hour earlier before anyone else in the house wakes up to have my alone time. Even then around that time is when my mother in law comes home from working the night shift so it can be cut short depending on the day. I can most certainly take a walk!
        Apparently to my husband the only feelings I’ve expressed are negative and he keeps saying I am being negative about the situation. I am tryung to understand that he has a more logical mindset and is thinking about the money we will save while they are here. While I am thinking on the emotional side. He knows I love them very much but I just don’t see either of us saying anything to them about leaving. I feel really the only option I have is to pray and ask God to provide a way for them to leave.
        I think some things are starting to bother my husband (even though it takes much more for him to get annoyed) so maybe he will get to the point where he just can’t handle it anymore.

        I think my main problem at this point is the fact that my in laws are causing this. That they are too wrapped up in what’s best for them that they can’t see anyone else around them. Makes me feel they don’t care about me or think of us sometimes.. and I can feel resentment and bitterness boiling up inside me. Since I wrote you the first time I have prayed and felt more peace than before so I know I need to constantly fill my mind with eternal thoughts. And I try to remember hospitality is godly and that I should do all things without complaining but sometimes I get confused on what is helping and being godly and what is wrong and intrusive.

        1. Learning Wife,

          Can you ask for some things in a positive way?

          – the ability to cook for your husband yourself and to have a certain number of evenings alone?
          – more space and alone time for yourself (do you work or are you home full time?)
          – more date nights out with your husband with all the money you are saving?

          If you feel free to ask for these things, ask for them respectfully and in a positive way without complaining about his parents. He already seems to be very aware of your negative feelings. Now, he may need some time to realize he feels the same way. If you continue giving negative input, he may go into “defending my parents mode” and not even realize he is feeling smothered and frustrated with them, too.

          If you pray and believe you can ask for things, you might try like this:

          “I’d love for us to have a bit more time alone together. Maybe a date night out once or twice a week or a date night in alone? What do you think? I would really love to just have a chance to enjoy you and relax together.”

          For time for yourself, you may be able to find a place outside, or a quiet spot at a bookstore or even in an empty Sunday School room at your church, possibly? You may have to get creative. Let’s pray for God to provide for this need so you can have some of the alone time you need with Him.

          “I’d really like to have the kitchen on Tuesday nights so I can have a chance to cook for you, Honey. I love to get the chance to feel like I can bless you in that way.”

          And you will need a lot of time to process any resentment and bitterness, to lay it before God, to release it, and to ask Him to empower you to approach the situation with His Spirit and His wisdom, love, truth, and power.

          Much love to you!

          1. Yes! Thank you so much April! This is so helpful. I have been working on these things and will continue to do soโค๏ธ God Bless you

  18. Forgot to mention- my time with Christ has been good but I never really have a moment to myself, a quiet time or space anymore either and that’s heartbreaking.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

%d bloggers like this: