When we first get married I doubt that most of us think of the relationship we will have with our in-laws and yet it inevitably becomes one of the most important relationships that we deal with in our marriage. There are married couples who have bitter conflicts with their in-laws and there are couples who have harmonious in-law relationships. I assume that most of us fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Honestly, the relationships with our in-laws is a bit odd. In getting married we also receive another set of parents over night. We may already have trouble with our current parents and now we have been given another set of parents to navigate the relational storms. There are two reasons that we often have these issues with our in-laws. We either fail to honor them or our spouses have failed to leave their parents.
When you get married and you ‘receive’ a new set of parents you may not at first trust them. It is not that you want to openly dishonor them, but it could be that you do not trust them and are hesitant about listening to anything they say. They may start to give input during the engagement or when you make your first big decision as a married couple or especially when you first have kids. You may think ‘Why should I trust or honor my in-laws when they are not even my parents’? However, in asking this question we can forget that they are our spouses parents and she or he is called to honor them. It may be hard to do at first since it is such a new relationship, but we are called to honor them as we honor our own parents. One of the biggest issues that you may face with your in-laws is that you do not honor them as if they were your own parents. In Exodus 18:5-27 we see the relationship between Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. When his father-in-law comes to Moses after traveling to see him, Moses bows down before him. This is a sign of deep respect. Further on in the chapter we even see that Moses takes the advice of his father-in-law and it helps his cause. Instead of our in-laws being sources of frustration, honor them and let them bless you.
On the other end of the spectrum of in-law problems can be the spouse’s failure to leave their parents in a meaningful way. It may be an issue if your husband still goes to his parent’s house to do his laundry. It can also be an issue if your wife still calls her father when things go wrong, looking to him as the man who has authority in her life. These may be obscure examples, but there are plenty of little ways in which it is possible that we have not left our parents yet. We may even be blind to how the failure to leave our parents is affecting the relationship between our parents and our spouse. Our spouse is our most immediate family and we must look to love and honor our spouse above all human relationships. Finally, we can have confidence in letting go of our relationship with our parents knowing that God has called us to do this and that he will provide in the midst of it. Let us come to worship a God who knows what is best for us and deals with us patiently calling us to obey his word.
Scripture: Exodus 18:5-27
Sermon: In-Law Troubles
In Our Households Heavenly Father
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Here is a great link to the first of ten blog articles from focus on the family about in-law problems: