Skip to main content
ngwtng7jxdw-annie-spratt

Being a Peaceful In-Law

In-law relationships are some of the most notoriously difficult relationships – but we can have healthy relationships with our in-laws and we can have healthy relationships with our own parents, siblings, and adult children “as far as it depends on” us (Rom. 12:18). We don’t have to engage in toxic relationship dynamics and dysfunction. We are no longer slaves to sin and we are now daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords! We can choose to treat our extended family members with respect and honor. When Christ is in us, His character shines through rather than our old sinful nature. He can give us victory to act in ways that please Him in all of our relationships!

Note – if you have very severe issues in your relationships (major uncontrolled mental illness, abuse, violence, threats of violence, drug/alcohol abuse, etc…) and you or someone else is not safe – please reach out for appropriate help from your church, a godly counselor, the police, a doctor, etc… whomever may be appropriate for the situation. And also, always compare anything I say (or any person says) to scripture and seek to obey God. His approval is all that ultimately matters. (If you don’t have a relationship with Christ as your Savior and LORD, please check out this post.)

Some Helpful Principles to Keep in Mind with Extended Family Relationships:

  • It is not my job to “fix” other people.
  • God knows best – I do not. I need to be sure Jesus is squarely on the throne of my life, not self or anyone or anything else.
  • God is sovereign over people and circumstances, I am not. And God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, gives people free will. His sovereignty and their free will work together in ways I can’t begin to fathom. I can trust Him – even when I can’t trust other people.
  • I can’t change other people. I can’t open their eyes to spiritual things. I can’t even change myself or open my own eyes apart from the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.
  • I want to honor other people’s marriage covenants and not try to get them to put me or my opinions/advice above their marriage.
  • I need to be sure I don’t expect others to put me/my approval above Jesus in their hearts.
  • I need to make sure I don’t put others or their approval above Christ in my heart.
  • I can honor Christ on my end and make sure I allow Him to continually purify and refine my motives, thoughts, words, and actions.
  • I can be sure I am taking my thoughts captive for Christ. I can’t afford to  hold onto any sinful thoughts.
  • I need to abide and rest in Christ so that I am overflowing with His power and love in all of my relationships and circumstances.
  • God measures my love for Him by how I treat other people. (Matt. 25:40) Difficult relationships are often spiritual tests. Satan wants to use these things to destroy me and my witness for Christ. God wants to use these tests to prune and purify me.
  • I am responsible to God for how I treat others and how I think. Other people will be responsible to God for how they treat other people and how they think.
  • I can learn to respect and love others in godly, healthy ways as I allow God to regenerate and transform my heart and mind (Rom. 12:1-2).
  • Healthy boundaries and biblical thinking are critical for me to have healthy relationships with others as far as it depends on me.
  • It is not any person’s place to override another person’s free will.
  • Some relationships are not going to be healthy even if I am doing everything right. Other people may choose not to love me and not to like me. Or they may not even know how to love in a healthy way. That is going to  have to be something I can accept if I have done what God desires me to do. I can’t make other people like me or want to be with me.
  • Some relationships are so toxic and others may continue in unrepentant sin so long that my husband and I may have to prayerfully decide that we can’t fellowship with those family members until they are willing to change and rebuild trust. (Matt. 18:15-17)
  • God wants to use me to shine for Christ even in difficult situations.
  • God can and will use difficult relationships to refine me and to help me grow in spiritual maturity if I am open to Him and teachable.
  • God may use my witness for Christ to draw my family members to Himself as I allow Him to love them through me.
  • If godly love is not my motive, whatever I am doing will not count for Christ in eternity. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
  • I have a covenant with my husband, not with my parents or in-laws. Marriage is to be the priority relationship in God’s design. (Gen. 2:24)
  • I am responsible to God for myself spiritually and emotionally, others are responsible for themselves spiritually and emotionally.
  • I can influence people but I can’t control them.
  • I want to live in total submission to Christ as Lord in all of my relationships so that I am seeking God’s will far above my own will.
  • I want to guard my own motives from sin and get rid of any bitterness, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, control, fear, selfishness, people pleasing, and any other toxic thought patterns.
  • I can seek to better understand those who think differently from me. It is much easier to avoid unnecessary conflict if I can understand their perspectives.
  • I can seek to be flexible (unless someone is asking me to participate in or condone sin) and ready to extend much grace, compassion, understanding, and mercy.
  • God promises to use everything in my life – good and bad – to accomplish His good purposes in my life and His glory if I belong to Jesus. (Rom. 8:28-29)
  • I can rest in God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love no matter what circumstances I may be facing.
  • I can take problems and other people to God in prayer and invite His Spirit to accomplish His purposes in their lives in ways I can’t even begin to imagine.
  • There are times I may need to confront sin in others – but, I need to be sure my heart is right first. And, if it is my husband’s family, I may want to allow him to handle the confrontation if possible – as God prompts us both.

A lot of the principles we learn as we seek to become godly wives carry over into other relationships, as well – like respect…

Ways I Can Respect Extended Family Members – I can choose to:

  • Speak in a respectful, pleasant tone of voice.
  • Honor any requests they make of me – i.e.: not to bring up an embarrassing story from the past that they don’t want me to share with others.
  • Have friendly facial expressions and to smile genuinely to bless others because of the joy I  have in Christ.
  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
  • Accept people as they are and seek to see them as God sees them, loving them with His love.
  • Respect other people because they are created in God’s image and God loves them (that doesn’t mean I have to respect sin, of course).
  • Enjoy them and be warm and welcoming.
  • Give space to those who need more space out of respect rather than resentment.
  • Seek to understand the needs of different people with different personalities and temperments.
  • Lay down most of my expectations. (other than for things like safety, for example)
  • Accept that different people have different backgrounds, personalities, filters, and perspectives so we will not think the same way or all agree on everything. That is okay!
  • Approach others with humility rather than looking down on anyone.
  • Allow people to make their own choices without me interfering. (There may be exceptions in the case of someone truly abusing another person or doing something illegal where I may have a legal/ethical/spiritual responsibility to step in.)
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice.
  • Avoid having a critical or judgmental spirit.
  • Immediately confess any bitterness or resentment in my heart to God and refuse to give in to Satan’s temptation to get me to give him a foothold in my life.
  • Allow God’s Spirit to speak life through me rather than allowing my sinful nature/the enemy to use my thoughts, words, and actions to destroy and speak death to my family members.
  • Listen when others are talking without interrupting.
  • Treat others like they are important and precious.
  • See other people with God’s eyes and love them with His heart.
  • Repay evil with good. (Rom. 12:17-21)
  • Not allow anyone to steal the joy, peace, and power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has given to me.
  • Respond gently and with self-control. (Prov. 15:1, Gal. 5:22-23)
  • Extend patience, kindness, and blessing to others – not so they will approve of me or like me, but so that God is pleased with me and just to bless them.
  • Allow others to talk about the things that are important to them rather than me dominating the conversation. Although, there is balance here – I can also feel free to bring up topics at times, as well, unless God shows me I need to remain silent at a specific time.
  • Seek to be a godly influence and to use my position and relationship to pour the love, healing, and truth of Christ into my extended family members’ lives as God prompts me to by His Spirit humbly, gently, and respectfully.
  • Take up my cross, dying to my sinful nature, seeking only to honor Jesus. Some of the little issues are just not that important – where we eat, how we handle a gift exchange at Christmas, etc…
  • Be open to God’s suggestions for me about how to show His love to the particular people in my family.
  • “Win them without words” if they don’t want to hear me talk about Jesus.
  • Respect people’s decisions and choices and honor them. (If they don’t want to talk with me about God or don’t want to see me, I can choose to respect that without bitterness.)
  • Love with a 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 kind of love not with conditional, worldly love that has strings attached.
  • Speak in positive ways about my family members to them and to others.
  • Avoid gossiping (to family members and about family members), quarreling, divisiveness, and strife.
  • Be a godly example by my attitude, words, non-verbal body language, and actions.
  • Seek to promote God’s Spirit of love, peace, and unity.

RESOURCES:

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced – about God, ourselves, others, and relationships

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

25 Ways I Can Respect Myself – or “think rightly” about myself

Handling a Controlling Mother as a Team

My Disrespect and Controlling Behavior Don’t Just Hurt My Husband

Respecting Your Husband around Extended Family

What Causes a Woman to Become Controlling? – April’s video

Being Controlling VS. Being Helpful to Your Guy – April’s video, a lot of this applies to our other relationships, as well, not just to our men.

Bitterness Is Poison! – April’s video

12 Ways to Repel a Guy – April’s video, these things will repel other people in our lives, too

Some Conflict is Unavoidable

“I Must Avoid Conflict at All Costs! That’s the Godly Thing to Do”

How Can I Tell If God Is Working in My Life or If I Am Trying to Do Things in My Own Power

For those with very toxic relationships, you may need more specialized help. www.leslievernick.com may be helpful. Please weigh anything any human author says against Scripture and seek to honor Christ and God’s Word above all.

 

47 thoughts on “Being a Peaceful In-Law

  1. Very timely message. What if you feel that your in laws are contributing to divisiveness in your own family? I struggled with that, this week and am feeling I did not handle it the best way.

    1. teeBee,

      In-laws can certainly contribute to divisiveness. You can’t really control what they do – but you can control how you respond. Have you prayed about it? Talked with your husband about it? What do you believe God is prompting you to do that will honor Him?

      We can hash through some ideas here if you would like.

      Much love!

      1. I don’t know if my reply went through so I’m retyping. Sorry if there’s a duplicate!

        I’ve spoken to my husband about it but he doesn’t see. He just thinks they want him to ‘be happy’. And that’s what they think too.

        I then tried to meet with my in laws to shed light on the fact that, my husband is unhappy from many things, not just the marriage. That he is going through a crisis. Not only did they not understand this idea, they totally rejected it. The meeting went very badly and I believe it further caused distance between my husband and me because he has totally withdrawn from me….again.

        I wasn’t trying to control anything, but they completely misunderstood me. It was like I was speaking a different language – confusion as in Babel.

        I believe God is telling me to stop taking action – to pray and leave it up to Him. That every time I take a step to try to change the outcome, it backfires….that if this marriage is to be saved, He will do it of His own ways, and he doesn’t need my help.

        1. TeeBee,

          If he doesn’t see it – and he is not on board with you having a big meeting to “explain things” to his parents – it is probably best to leave things alone. Unless they are majorly sinning against you.

          Sometimes two different families can have such different perspectives that it is very much like speaking another language to try to explain your perspective to them. If they can’t hear or see and your husband can’t see – that may be a time to wait on God and pray and not try to force things.

          I think what you hear God saying to you is probably His voice and His wisdom for you – even though it is very hard to sit around and wait and not intervene for some of us (like me). Sometimes the more we try to make people understand, the more damage we cause. I know I have been there and done that myself.

          It is possible that your husband would rather you not discuss his unhappiness with anyone else, not even with his parents. That may feel like a betrayal to him. Have you apologized yet? If not – we can talk about things first, if you would like. Or you can check out, “Apologizing Stories.” Most of all, keep waiting on God and listening to Him. Only he can open people’s eyes and change hearts. There may be some subjects that you truly can’t talk about with them because it will only cause deeper wounds. Praying for God’s wisdom for you and HIs healing for your marriage and family.

          1. Yes, I have apologised to him. I apologised if I made him feel disrespected and I explained that I had good intentions but it didn’t work that way.

            I am the same way, that it’s hard for me to ‘wait and not intervene’. God help me trust Him totally and completely.

            Thank you for your prayers and your wonderful ministry.

          2. TeeBee,

            Praying for you to wait patiently. This part is hard – but sometimes it is in the waiting that I know I learn the most. I am in the trenches of waiting on God to intervene right now in a very difficult situation in my life. My prayer is that I will receive all that God has for me in this time and that I will respond in the power of His Spirit rather than my flesh – even though it is tempting to respond in the flesh. I know nothing good will come of that!

            Much love!

  2. My MIL is unable to comprehend that an academic degree does not make people superior to others who work in manual jobs. She crossed the line again when she, not for the first time, verbally abused my mother who has worked as a gardener all her life. I told my MIL that she has to make a choice, keep her mouth shut and treat others with a modicum of respect or get out of our house. My Father was furious and demanded my Husband say something when she chose the first option and increased the abuse. He refused. My Husband let his mother spew hate on the woman who gave birth to me and my Brother, who raised us and loves us. He lost a lot of respect this day.

    1. Aredhel Ruhrtochter,

      Yikes! Well, that did not go well at all. 🙁 I am so very sorry to hear that your MIL was so hateful to your mom. That breaks my heart! All people have equal worth in God’s sight. It is so sad to me to think that someone would disrespect someone else just because of the lack of a college degree.

      Praying for God’s healing and wisdom for your family and for you and your husband. I am sure Satan would love to divide and destroy all of these relationships. I pray God will direct your steps even in the midst of this emotionally toxic extended family situation so that you and your husband can work together in a united way that brings honor to Christ.

      Much love to you!

      1. christmas will be done at my family of origins house. I will not have my children around a person that is as hateful as my MIL. MIL is welcome to join if she apologizes to my mother and behaves like an adult. My Husband will have to be way more supportive of me if he does not want me to be there less and less. I am done with giving to never receive.

  3. This Thanksgiving we faced a giant challenge and I am so proud of my mother n laws behavior she really demonstrated Christ’s love to my sister in law during a horrific situation.

    1. Heather,

      WOOHOO! A story about a mother-in-law setting a godly example! That is refreshing. 🙂 thank you for sharing and I pray for God’s healing for the family. Satan would love to divide families and promote bitterness and strife. I pray God will open our eyes to his tactics so that we will refuse to fall for his traps and that we will listen to God’s voice and respond in the power of His Spirit to bring Life and healing.

  4. This is a fantastic post April. Something I struggled with for most of my married life. Healthy boundaries were non existent in my own family (on my mothers side particularly) we are so intertwined with each other i never learned proper boundaries. My mother and her family are very controlling and manipulative, and even in marriage I was always expected to put them first, my parents and then anyone else in my family (my mothers side especially), then my husband and well his family could get the “leftovers”
    If there were any. It was very clear that my husbands family were not considered as important. I grew up with my mother and her family being like this and it continued into marriage. When our son was born it got a lot worse. My husband was expected to take the backburner in their eyes their role as grandparents was far more important in their eyes than his role as father. It was very hurtful I can see that now, how I let it go on and on and I would just ignore my husband’s frustrations as clearly he didn’t know how it was supposed to be. Growing up so controlled, I had no idea it wasn’t supposed to be like this myself, and couldn’t see how disrespected my husband was for so many years. I never stood up to them at all and it frustrated my husband beyond measure that I never put him first. When the Lord showed me my sin and opened my eyes, I read with clear eyes Eph 5:31 and Gen 2:24 and for the first time I understood. The Lord forgave me but It was very hard for me to forgive myself for all those years of disrespect (15+) in this area. The Lord showed me I had to deal with it and I have since apologized to my husband and we have talked about it and I can understand his side now where for many years I always put them before him and it caused such a big wall to form between us and a lot of pain. Not even just that but the disrespect to HIS family treating them unequally, the Lord showed me how unfair this had been and what it had caused. Unfortunately 3 of our 4 parents are now passed and I only wish I could have done things differently it sure could have changed the dynamic between all of us. But now the Lord is helping me learn how to have boundaries with other people in our extended families, and what healthy relationships look like, and it is amazing how learning to respect my husband and treating his family fairly has done in our relationship. I am filled with gratitude for the Lord for Him changing my heart and for tearing down that wall between us. My pride built it very high for a long long time but God has proven to me He can do miracles when our eyes are fixed on Him and not ourselves. Thanks for this post April I pray it will lead others to see and be able to deal with boundary issues so that God is put first. When we don’t put Gods way first (like I did for so long) the pain it can cause In a marriage can do a lot of destruction. I only wish I saw it back in our early days it always was one of the biggest problems in our marriage.

    1. TrulyBlessed,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. What an important thing to learn! I wonder if you might consider allowing me to share this as a post? I am sure so many other women were in similar situations and just didn’t realize how toxic the control was or how to get to a healthy place with in-laws and parents and how to put the marriage covenant first.

      You are such a blessing to me, my sister!

      1. Thank you April you are always a blessing to me as well! Of course you may use anything I have shared in a future post if you feel it can bless someone else!

  5. I have had so many problems with family over the years. family are annoying to say the least, but one thing I realised just recent is the reason they are annoying is they are a constant in a persons life, you get married, they are there, you have a family they are there, you move they are there you start a new job again they are there. when we are at school or in the workforce and you dont like someone what do you do? you dont talk to them anymore or move schools if there is a bully or change jobs etc. you find ways. family just keep being there and you have a long history and list of annoying habits they have. friends you can change in the sense of if you have different views you find friends with more in common with or if they dont like you they stop asking you to places.

    all the changes in life family is still there with there attitudes and expectations they put on you. and they don’t seem to change either, you do but they don’t.

    the beauty in life is you can move far away ( but watch the sleep overs ) from them and fill your life with people that do care and let voicemail get the phone call and deal with family latter. the reality is some people dont want to change no matter what you try and say they still do the wrong thing and drive people nuts in the process and wonder why you dont answer the phone anymore and have no time for them. and some parents still treat there adult children like they are still 5 years old and think they have no brain to think for themselves.

    my respect for family isnt much anymore, i just cant be bothered with the direspect. it has gotten to the point i dread seeing them and when i do i come away totally drained from the process. i think some parents dont want to let go and cause so much upset with the adult child that families get torn apart from meddling inlaws. and this happens with christian families too!

    then you have the whole problem when your husband or wife or whatever has been hurt by your parent and try and explain and say it coming from you and not the spouse as you have to be a team. or you see a problem and the spouse doesn’t.
    I simply gotten to the point that i respect my friends more than family, my family is my church. extended family are not really part of my life as i dont see them every week or even twice a week like i do with people at church.
    our families have caused so much hurt, so much hurt that seeing them has become a bore and cant wait to leave.it creates irratation, and bitterness ( my husband is very hurt with family more than me i think)

    we have tried many things but just get trodded on, so we made the choice to wipe the dust off our feet and give them less of us. it saddens me it has gotten to this but there is nothing else we can do. we moved away because we felt smothered we dont answer the phone and make them wait because they have no sense of boundaries and think its acceptable to turn up without telling us they coming. we are in contact with them still but wonder sometimes why. we moved this year as we wanted a change as we didnt like the way life was going and was sick of many things family included. we wanted a better life a less stressful life. i had in some cases done the wrong thing by my husband over the years and he knows that. but he has too and we are working on being a a team. family i think has to be dealt with as a team, each person talks to there own family about problems. but if you want change you have to back it up. no point saying one thing and doing the other, something we can all be guilty off when family is concerned.
    I think our motives play a part too if you not in it and you do nice to look good God is like ‘tut tut that wasnt nice i see your heart there and it wasnt a nice thing’. even to the outsider it looks good but you know you only doing it to make yourself look good or get back at someone or make them feel guilty. something i am sad to say i have been guilty of. I have since said to myself and husband i will not be doing things with people if my heart is not in it i have to learn to say no and check my motives. am i doing this to better my self image? am i doing this to make others feel guilty as i play the martyr? am i doing this when i know i have too much on my plate anyway? will it matter if i let one person down but not let God down? What does God think about this? we need to give with a cheerful heart and not fake smiles. we can say things in a nice way. God’s approval matters not peoples.

    i think sometimes you have to love family at arms length any closer and it causes friction and hurt.
    one thing that God told me last night as I was reading my bible was this
    luke 6.28
    bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
    we just have to pray for them, but that is hard when you have a long list of hurt. its not something i have really done unless they sick to be totally honest. but its something i need to do and i dont mean to pray for God to convict event though its tempting it would be wrong. we have to give others as well as our selfs grace at times we are all sinners. But I do think with family it is wise to check everything with the husband any plans and how long to stay etc. I also think it is wise with family to make them wait for answers so you can pray and discuss with your husband. these are things i have made a effort to do over the last few years. anything to do with family i ask my husband but to him also i said i do think we should also have a rule that if one spouse doesn’t want to see inlaws we should hold off on contact until the person is up to it especially when hurt is involved as it could cause further hurt if not checked first hand and just breed more resentment. our situation is complicated in the sense that we are introverts and my husband gets easily tired and i let him decide on what we do as he works fulltime and doesnt always have the energy for things. we both have to have down time something family doesnt seem to get sometimes. But way i see it is that we need to focus of what God wants of us and sometimes we have to pull away from family so we can do God’s work. Something that has been on my heart for many years and if wants wants to send us we need to be willing to forsake all others in the sense that we cant let extended family get in the way of God’s calling on our lives. they will either accept it or reject and we just need to keep focusing and running the race with confidence in what God has for our lives.

    April this was a great post it was something I ready needed, thank you for your faithfulness.

    1. Bec D,
      It is very sad, but there are situations sometimes that are so toxic that people refuse to repent and change after loving confrontation, and so there are times when the only sane step is to limit or completely avoid contact. That is not ideal, but sometimes it is necessary.

      If you are interested, I have some posts that may be a blessing. You are welcome to search my home page for:

      – bitterness
      – control
      – fear
      – healthy vs unhealthy relationships

      Also, if you are interested in a general spiritual check up, I’d be glad to work through that with you, as well. I want to see you as healed up and full of Christ as possible – so that the enemy has no foothold in your life at all, and you can pray in great power and faith even for your family in this difficult situation.

      Much love!

      1. Thanks April, will have a look at the posts you mention. Will read them the next few days. With Christmas coming up I need to focus on what matters.
        In regards to a general spiritual check up that would be a great idea. I too want to be more of Christ and less of me. Always need to make sure what God wants me to do and my motives are right.
        Praying for you and your family… you been a blessing to my life.

        1. bec D.,

          Thank you for the prayers for my family. 🙂

          Okay, let’s get started. Take your time and dig deeply as you answer these questions, my precious sister:

          1. How do you believe you can be right with God?

          2. What do you pray for in your walk with Christ and what do you most desire in your relationship with Him?

          3. How much time are you spending with God regularly and are you reading the Bible and praying about anything God wants to change in your life? Do you spend time praising and thanking God?

          4. What are your greatest fears?

          5. What things do you believe you need to be happy/content in life?

          6. What do you do with any bitterness you feel toward your family?

          7. Is there anything you believe you might be holding back from God?

          8. Are you seeking to completely surrender everything in your life to His Lordship? Has there been a time when you decided to do that?

          Much love! 🙂

          1. Thank you for the questions. I have been reading your blog posts on bitterness. And it has made me think about a lot of things. And I do feel anxiety and tension about seeing them and I feel like I want to avoid the person and they do annoy me. Would that be a sign of bitterness? I feel very confused about the relationships that we have with extended family. for the most part we do avoid family as we feel we are not heard in how we feel about things. We feel betrayed by Family in the things they have done over the years. It has been very hard not to think about it. We had a very hard year last year and we just wanted to be left alone for christmas. But we did christmas and we came away feeling worse than ever. This year we dont want to spend christmas with them even more strongly than before. I guess the thing is that we feel that they don’t want things to go a certain way. When we have positive things in our life happening not long after we tell them things fall apart. And I am talking about big things that go wrong. My husband starts a new job tells a certain extended family member and then job falls through. This has happened many times over 15 years of marriage. It’s like they are very negative. It makes things very difficult to talk about with them. I feel hurt and flat and feel like I don’t care anymore about them. I don’t like feeling that way but I don’t know what else to do. I feel like I have forgiven them. I even had prayer with our new Church home this year and I really felt that I’ll let go and have forgiven. It has helped me greatly. We moved in January this year to make a fresh start as life has thrown us a lot of things that hurt us deeply. We wanted to heal and move on from the life we had in that place. But Family are still a big problem in our lives. We feel like the Cursed things for us. Our life fell apart the last few years we lost a home job and Friends. Even a Church turned on us. I keep praying for healing for both of us. I seriously don’t know what to do with family anymore. I see them or speak to them and I feel worse than before there’s so much pain and hurt they have caused. To the point I don’t feel I can trust them anymore. I don’t feel angry at them sometimes it’s more disappointment than anything. Sometimes it is anger because you feelthat they’re getting away with it. But I know God is with me and he is helping me and healing me and strengthening me through this difficult time. Please pray for me and my family. I will continue to read your posts that you have suggested. I will answer the questions your asked also. But I just wanted to reply so you know I have been working on it. I have been praying for your grandmother and your family through this difficult time I pray for peace for all your family.

          2. Bec D,

            Forgiveness and trust are two different things. You can forgive people in God’s power – but trust must be rebuilt. You can forgive someone and still have healthy boundaries if they are continuing to be toxic and unrepentant about their sin. Does that amen sense?

            It is not wrong to not spend Christmas with them if you and your husband feel that you should not or cannot. There are times when people continue to hurt you and won’t or can’t stop, that separation is necessary. I have a post on confronting our husbands about their sin, but the principles are the same with other people who sin against us.

            I vote first to work on your own walk with Christ and your marriage and to honor what your husband feels will be best as the two of you pray and discuss what to do. There are times when not going actually leads to eventual healing for the whole family. Praying for God’s wisdom for you both and His healing for you, your husband, and your family.

            Thank you for praying for my grandmother and our family. 🙂

            Much love!

  6. hey april,

    this message is very timely for me as you know from our last conversation my in laws are living with me. I almost had a break down the other day from feeling so much stress from it and had to get away and be alone and let God renew my spirit. It was a great thing and its crazy how circumstances can be the same, but an outlook and heart check can change so much. That situation is getting better for me although i do fear sometimes they will never leave.. it is a very real fear for me and i am working on praying about it.
    However I just found out this morning my husband made a huge money decision without me and i was pretty upset this morning. Like very upset. And still am. I would like to tell you what I want to do. I am at my wits end with my husbands money habits.
    I want to get a different bank account and give him some money every month towards bills and use the rest of only the money I make how I see fit. I make less than him yet I bet I could save more in 6 months than he could, if we even keep our house by then bc he will probably not be able to pay the bills without my help.
    I am not wanting to do this to be selfish but he needs to step up. We can not have a future and a family with him being so selfish with our finances.
    Mind you, I do not have a vehicle, we share one and he has told me for 3 years he will buy me a car and yet has had no joke 10 different toys in the past 3 years. I feel I need to do something drastic to prove to him this is wrong…

    He got better for a long time with this stuff and then all the sudden his parents move in and he goes back to his old ways. I’m starting to wonder if this is how he deals with stress.either way it is wrong

    1. Learning Wife,

      I’m so sorry things are so very hard right now. But I am really glad you took time to get alone with God. That is so key!

      Do you believe this is what God desires you to do, my dear sister? Do you know why he made that kind of decision without talking with you? Have y’all discussed it?

      Praying for God’s wisdom for you and for God to use this time for His greatest glory in your life and marriage.

      Much love!

      1. I can’t say right now if God does desire me to do this or not… but I don’t feel super against it. I am just at a loss for what to do. our whole marriage he has had 10 vehicles and i have had 0. I drive his old truck at the moment when he’s not using it and when he is i take my in laws car to work and he decided to buy himself something else without telling me. We tried to discuss it last night and it didnt go well.. He said he didnt feel it would be fair for him to have to sell his old motorcycle and use the money for me when he could just use that money for a new one. wow.. when he said that i pretty much lost it. Is it fair that my husband has had everything hes wanted our whole maririage and ive never even had a car? He couldnt Even us $100 of that money he got from selling his motorcycle to buy me a new bicycle. I love riding my bike and recently it was stolen and I have cried about it and he knows how sad I was someone stole my bike. Yet He used all his money and more for a new motorcycle for him when he had one already. wow i just cant believe it. I asked him if he could stand before God and if God asked him if he provided fully for his wife over himself and that he was the best husband and provider he could be what would you say and he said yes! That is when i said ok then, this conversation is over… At that point I knew it was a heart issue and only God can change him. The only bad part is I have prayed and given this to God for years and nothing ever changes. it gets worse. I am getting to the point where i feel I cant do it anymore. His mom told me that his real dad (not his step dad who lives with us) was the same way. he always had his nice things and new cars and she never had one. Well now i have a full time job making basically what my husband makes and i am highly considering just seperating and taking care of myself

        1. Wow, that’s a tough one for sure! I think I would have a difficult time as well if I contributed as much income to the family as he does yet never get to have a vehicle if that is what I really wanted. I’m just curious Have you discussed and has he shared why he doesn’t want to make getting you a vehicle a priority? You mentioned he said that he felt he is providing for you is it possible there are other things/extras that you are getting that could you maybe cut down on that would allow you to get the vehicle in your current budget? Do you think maybe if there was he would be willing to talk about and consider taking on a second vehicle if there were other area that you were willing to cut? Just a thought intended only to help of course I have no idea your situation! I think if it were me I would want to understand where he is coming from in not getting you the needed vehicle and also I think I would want to tell him how important it is to me to be able to see some of the benefit of any extra income we had for something that I consider to be badly needed when I am contributing significantly to the finances. That is just me I feel strongly if I have to work like he does I expect to benefit as well.

          I know not too long ago I would have just made the decision to go and do what I wanted and that was it. However I try now to ask God for His guidance on how to go about it. I am trying to make the conscious decision to give my husband the authority no matter what as it is part of Gods design as long as he isn’t sinning against me or the children in a way that would be unsafe that would be a different story. It’s very hard to have self control and stop insisting for my way but God has given me a lot of strength in this area and it is getting better.

          I think it would be important to share with your husband what your thoughts are on what you would like to do with your income before just jumping in and doing it, as I know that my husband would feel very disrespected if I did that and it would not go very well.

          Just my thoughts I am not intending to tell you what to do or how, just some suggestions if you think they might help to consider! Praying you will continue to seek God for His guidance and to have the self control to hold steady until you know you have clear direction from Him. With love, TrulyBlessed

          1. Truly blessed,

            thank you SO much for your response! I suppose I haven’t really tried to understand what his thinking is on it because I just see what he actually does and then get hurt and upset. So I am not sure the thinking behind it. All I know is his actions. To me the thinking is simple. He wants what he wants. he took $8000 and bought a truck a year ago.Even though I did not agree I let him do what he wanted. At the time i wasn’t working and he was working very hard so I always told him “you deserve it” to everything he did and got. Then from there he traded that truck over 9 times and now is with a motorcycle worth 1200. its very irresponsible. its been a very long road and many arguments everytime he wants to sell and trade, and we dont have good credit because he has put all the bills in my name and then doesnt pay on time and then my credit goes down so we are not even able to finance a vehicle.
            I just feel done with the irresponsible financial decisions and the selfishness and for him to not even admit it.
            This morning I talked to his mom who is living with us and she was like you are right! & he should not be doing that all this then later she responded..
            After speaking with (my husband) i can see this is an attack on your marriage. Dont give up, he loves you very much, tread lightly. God put this union together..

            and while all of that is true How can I get to the point where I accept blatant selfishness and irresponsibility with joy? I can not, I have to draw the line and I have to let him know I can not keep living like this…

          2. Learning Wife,

            My greatest prayer is that you will seek God fervently and seek to do what He prompts you to do – that you would respond in the power of His Spirit and wisdom not in the power of the flesh. Sometimes what seems like the best way to take at first in our minds isn’t always what God desires us to do. I don’t know your husband, his mental/emotional/spiritual status. I don’t know his motives and I don’t know your motives. But God does. He can bring things to light and He can give you the wisdom you need and the provision you need for each step of the way. I pray God will use this trial to increase your faith and draw you closer to Himself and that He will use it to help you learn to trust and listen to His voice alone and to discern the enemy’s voice, that you might be willing to do whatever it is He asks you to do for His glory.

            Much love to you!

          3. Learning Wife,

            I am concerned with the things I’m reading here. I think your hurt is real and valid. I don’t know every specific of the situation, obviously. One key thing that worries me is that he uses your name to put all the bills in and then doesn’t pay. Have you ever looked into Leslie Vernick’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage? She also has a website.

            I would caution you against making quick decisions in your hurt and (what sounds like) righteous anger, also. Step back, take this to the Lord and ask Him to reveal truth to you. Be willing to hear anything that you need to change, but also be willing to hear the truth about your marriage. What I appreciate about Leslie Vernick is she really advises that we need work on CORE strength (check out her website and materials regarding this) so that we know we are hearing from God before we start laying boundaries.

            I’m so sorry you are going through this and I can hear the hurt in your “voice”. I pray God comforts you and speaks to you through this time. You are greatly loved and valued by Him.

        2. Learning wife, I can see how much you are hurting by his actions and how you feel invalued by his decisions it would be a struggle for me to take it lightly too for sure. I believe it was a blessing though for your mother in law to give you the advice she did. I believe that was God’s work. She obviously knows what you are going through so you can be assured she understands, but perhaps it was the message you need right now to tread lightly and just keep trusting. She is right God has put your marriage together that must be honoured as hard as it is not to charge ahead of Him we have all been there and we all have paid a price in one way or another. I charged ahead with my own financial decisions although we always shared an account, but in spending largely. My husband felt very disrespected and it contributed to the Near breakdown of our marriage. Now you could say that is what your husband is doing, but you are obligated by Gods design not to undermine your husband authority. I do believe this is an attack on your marriage and pray you will hold fast to your faith and ask God how to approach communicating with your husband on this in His way using His words, that will respect your husband and not be self seeking or self justifying.

          I totally agree with you the decisions your husband is making seem very irresponsible and disrespectful to you, but charging ahead to separate yourself from him financially and possibly in marriage seems very disrespectful and dishonouring to God. Which is the greater sin in the eyes of God? One thing the Lord showed me to help me understand and keep myself in check is to think of it this way, I hope it won’t seem too overbearing but it has helped me immensely in releasing my resentment and letting go of my discontentment and brings me back to the Lord. When I feel wronged by my husband, I must not harbour resentment towards him, but instead bring my hurt to the Lord lay it at His feet and forgive my husband. His sins are no greater than my own, just different. This is the only way I have been able to find joy in the middle of some of the trials we have faced. But God does not fail and when He reminds me to think of a situation in this way He is always faithful to bring me peace and joy!

          Praying for you my sister, that God will guide you as you decide how to move forward in your struggles!

          1. Dear Learning Wife,

            I am sorry for what you are going through. 🙁 I of course don’t know what God desires you to do, but I would like to add another perspective, which may or may not be helpful to you.

            While I agree that honoring and respecting our husbands is important, I do not believe that it is always the right decision for a wife to choose for her husband to have 100% control over the finances. (This is of course something that a wife has to pray about and hash out with God; I am not advocating that a woman’s “default” should be not giving her husband financial control.)

            In Luke 8:3, we read about Joanna, who was married to Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household. Luke tells us that Joanna traveled with Jesus and used her own funds to support Him. Luke doesn’t tell us anything else about Joanna, but we can assume a few other things. First, her husband was probably rich, because managing Herod’s household was a really high-ranking position. Second, her husband probably didn’t know that their money was going to Jesus – because he probably would have been furious if he had known (because he was working for Herod). Third, it may not even have been money that she had earned that was going to Jesus – because at this time, women often were housewives and did not earn money otherwise. In this case, she most likely was taking the money her husband had earned without permission! Even if this was cash she had earned on her own, it was highly likely that she didn’t have her husband’s permission to give it to Jesus, and that her husband would not have approved of it.

            I say this as a Biblical example of why I do not always think that a wife should support her husband having 100% financial control of the finances. I do not claim to know where the “dividing line” should be between a wife giving her husband 100% financial control and a wife stepping in to take control of some finances. I’m just saying that I think that such a dividing line exists…. somewhere. And I believe God will guide you to which side of that “line” you should be on if you desire His guidance. <3

            Also (and please forgive me if I am reading this incorrectly) it sounds to me that maybe you are phrasing things to him as to what you would like him to do, and not as what you would like to do? Your husband may be fine with you doing something, even if he at this point does not want to do something himself. The following may be more helpful (said of course in a pleasant and respectful tone):

            "Would it be okay with you if I use $100 of my salary this month to buy myself a new bicycle?"

            "I am thinking of putting half (or whatever percentage) of my paycheck each month in a savings account for our future… what do you think?"

            Or if your immediate family / extended family exchanges gifts for Christmas, you could ask them if they are willing to combine their gifts to buy you a bicycle as a joint gift.

            Of course, if your husband may not be okay with the above ideas in which case you will have to decide how to respond in that case.

            One last thought – it is bad for a woman to be controlling, but it is also bad for a woman to be an enabler. I do not know whether making a separate account for yourself counts as controlling; and I also do not know whether continuing in this pattern counts as enabling. I would consider both as options. I pray that God will guide your in your decision-making and that He will help you see which choices honor Him.

            With love,
            Flower

          2. Flower,

            I do agree that sometimes wives need to have their own money – in cases where a husband is bi-polar or has a mental disorder, perhaps, where his spending is out of control, or if he is not in his right mind, or perhaps at times if a husband is extremely irresponsible. However, to me, it would generally be ideal for couples to have joint accounts when possible. There is no biblical mandate on that, so I think we have freedom to seek to do what we believe is most pleasing to God. I do think we need to watch our motives when we want separate accounts and to be sure we are following God’s prompting.

            I think it is probably dangerous for us to make a lot of assumptions about Joanna and her relationship with her husband. I don’t want to assume that her husband didn’t approve of her using her funds to help support Jesus because we truly do not know that. So I don’t want to use assumptions to base our model of what a godly wife should be like. I think we need to be really cautious with adding things to scripture that are simply not there.

            But I greatly appreciate your love for Christ and you reaching out in love to Learning Wife.

            Praying for wisdom for you, Learning Wife! 🙂

          3. Hi April,

            Yes, I do agree that it is generally ideal for couples to have joint accounts.

            On a side note, I am wondering – are the accounts that Learning Wife has with her husband joint accounts? She has said things like, “he has told me he will buy me a car” and “he couldn’t even use that money to buy me a new bicycle.” I am wondering if she is putting the emphasis on him buying things a) to show that he is the one handling the finances or b) to show that these accounts are in her husband’s name only and she does not have access to them. I do not know which it is, but it may give us a deeper perspective into her situation.

            I also agree with you that we should not view as fact the possibility that Joanna’s husband was against her spending because we do not know for sure. I was trying to present it as a possibility, but you are right that one should not use a possibility as “the” justification for something.

            Much love!
            Flower

        3. Learning Wife,

          I guess I am reading the comments backwards -probably should have gone the opposite direction. But still – my prayer is that you will really get some serious alone time with God and pray. Maybe even fast. Seek His wisdom. This situation doesn’t seem right, I agree. And you will greatly need God’s wisdom about how best to approach it. He is a believer in Christ? Any mental health issues that you are aware of?

          So you have your in-laws living with you indefinitely and you feel that your husband has been really irresponsible and selfish with money a lot – not providing for you, but only for himself – is what I am hearing.

          I would encourage you to be willing to pray things like this:

          1. Lord, I really want to leave and just take care of myself financially. But more than my will, I want Your will. Help me to see my motives and Your wisdom.

          2. What is there that You desire me to learn in this trial? I yield to Your Lordship.

          3. How do You desire to be glorified in this situation?

          4. When I think about leaving, help me see my hidden motives that I have not been able to see. Help me purify my motives and make sure I am hearing Your voice clearly.

          5. Is there spiritual warfare going on and am I armored up each day and praying, using the spiritual weapons You have given me?

          6. How can I be the godly woman and wife You desire me to be in this particular situation so that I am walking in obedience to You no matter what my husband does?

          7. Is there anything I am holding back from You?

          8. What am I doing with any resentment or bitterness? Is it possibly clouding my vision?

          9. Am I willing to do whatever You call me to do whatever it may be?

          10. How do You desire me to use my influence authority for good and blessing in my husband’s life?

          Much love and the biggest hug to you!

  7. What a timely post. My husband and I have had a major problem with how to handle his mom’s toxicity. She has insulted, accused, and even tried to involve us in illegal things. Thank God, He helped us see through that and now we are praying for her and not responding to her insulting and guilt-ridden texts. Our hearts wanted to share the holidays with her, but she is not safe. We juggle with wanting to help her and not wanting to be hurt by her. This post has given us so many things to ponder and apply from now on. Can’t thank you enough. To God be the glory.

    1. Heidi S.,

      So thankful that you have both seen that what she is doing is just not acceptable and that trying to engage with someone who is operating in a mode that toxic is just not going to be productive. Praying for God’s wisdom for you and your husband and for God’s healing and regeneration for your MIL. She is trapped in a miserable prison by the enemy of our souls. But she is not beyond the reach of Christ. Sometimes, it can take family members refusing to engage to help people wake up. But even if she doesn’t wake up, it can be necessary to create space for our own sanity and spiritual/emotional health. I pray you will hear God’s voice clearly and respond in the power of His Spirit. I pray for His glory and healing for all in this painful situation.

      Much love!

  8. I can’t wait to get into the conversation with everyone – hopefully tomorrow night. Things are a bit crazy in my life right now. But I love each of you and am excited to talk about this important topic together. 🙂

    Much love!

    1. Thank you so much, Flower.

      All,

      My 94 year old grandmother has been on hospice now for 2 weeks and has deteriorated pretty rapidly with congestive heart failure. Earlier this week, she was mostly just sleeping and in pain when she was awake. But the past two days have been really different. Physically she is worse. Almost not eating or drinking at all. She is a believer in Christ. So thankful for that! She has started to have some of the signs of the “active phase of death.” I have never been around anyone who was dying – so I had no idea what to expect. But she has been alert and awake all day each day and she has been looking around the room at things we can’t see and up at the ceiling at things we can’t see. She has been smiling and laughing a lot and having conversations with people – asking them questions, answering their questions. Her word are really hard to understand many times, so we can’t always make out what she is saying – but I really want to be able to understand!

      Sometimes she has talked about angels flying around. Sometimes she has talked about people she knows – at one point mentioning her son’s name who had died 10 years ago. The past two days she has not seemed to be in pain which is such a blessing. And she seems to be with friends and loved ones – sometimes she looks straight through us as if the people and things we can’t see are a lot more real to her now than we are. Other times, she sees us and when she does, she smiles very brightly.

      I know where she is going- heaven! But what a joy to see her so happy already and to get to sit with her while she is looking up at the ceiling exclaiming, “Wow!” or “Ooh!!!” and pointing at beautiful things she can see. And to see her nodding her head yes or shaking her head no and having conversations – sometimes it seems to be with God, sometimes maybe with angels or with people – it can be difficult for us to tell exactly because she can’t always explain or we can’t always make out her words. She has been reaching her hands out a lot for many days and told the aide who was with her Wednesday that the angels are taking her hand asking her to go, but she is pulling her hand back. We talked with her Wednesday night (my mom and I) about that it is okay for her to go and we will be fine and will see her soon.

      I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had to love my grandmother, we call her Mom mom, and to be loved by her. She always loved so unconditionally. And then to get to see her be at such peace and be so joyful and happy – it has been the most incredible blessing. I hope to get to visit with her a bit more today.

      This life is so very short. I pray God will give each of us the power to be faithful to Him. It won’t be long and we will be standing before Him face to face.

      1. Amen, I just read your beautiful post about your grandmother. I didn’t receive this in my email or I would have responded sooner. Just want to offer you a hug of encouragement to my dear sister. Your grandma is so very blessed to be surrounded by bright lights like you and your family. She must be so at peace to be seeing the light of angels. Oh what a blessing. God bless your precious family. Thank you for keeping us posted. Much love to you.

        1. Thank you for the prayers, love, and encouragement, SisterinChrist. My grandmother, Mom mom, is still hanging on. My sister came to visit with her today. Mom mom lit up when she saw her and two of her children. She has been mostly sleeping the past few days. Not having as many conversations lately. She is getting so very weak. But when she does wake up and see one of us, she smiles so brightly and kisses us on the cheek. I am very comforted by being able to witness her experiencing a few of the joys of heaven already somehow in the past few weeks.

          Much love to you, also!

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: