Marriage is a beautiful union between two people. However, whether we like it or not, being attached to your spouse comes with their “support system.” When you marry someone you not only get the one but you also get the parents and siblings, making you now a part of the family. This new extension of the family could include bountiful blessing or debilitating baggage and maybe even a little bit of both. Despite the way you may feel towards your in-laws it is your duty to still honor them. In the Ten Commandments, God clearly states, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life…”(Exodus 20:12). When we choose to honor our in-laws we are also honoring God and our spouse and in that there are blessings. Finding ways to honor your own parents may seem to be an easier task, while your in-laws may come more challenging. Yet the challenge must be conquered because having a good relationship with your in-laws is worth it. So let’s discuss some ways you, as a couple, can bring honor to the in-laws.
Adopt Affectionate Terminology
The traditional title of your spouse’s parents is “in-laws.” This term has been around for centuries and, regardless of what your relationship looks like, there has been the tension that has surrounded the “in-law” title. Becoming an “in-law” is a milestone of age and refers to now being secondary in their child’s life. This alone can stir up emotions that may not come out well. It is through this concept that the media loves to use as entertainment, hints at Jane Fonda’s “Monster-in-law” character. However, not all in-laws are this way, and may even deserve a warmer and kinder title such as mother and father “in-love.” This may even just be how you describe or introduce them because in person you may decide to call them mom and dad. It is with these terms of endearment that will also result in respect.
Get to know them! Humbly listen to their thoughts!
Through life experience and knowledge gained along the way, your in-laws have amassed a wealth of wisdom. As you spend time with your in-laws, hear their hearts, and understand the way they operate you may begin to learn a thing or two about what they know. Many in-laws would love to pass on the practical knowledge they possess; however when we recoil it prevents us from gleaning from their experiences. Honor your in-laws by listening to what they have to say and by being willing to open yourself up to their thoughts. You may not agree with every bit of information they offer but choose to learn and grow from what you can. Getting to know your in-laws by attentively hearing them will make them feel valued and loved.
Sacrificially meet their needs
One of the most beautiful stories of an “in-law” relationship is that of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible. This story depicts the precious sacrifice a daughter-in-law was willing to give her mother-in-law simply because of the deep love between them. What are some needs your in-laws may have? What are you willing to sacrifice? Time? Money? Space? As your in-laws get older they may need more assistance with housework, driving them around, or making ends meet financially. Take notice of Ruth’s example and be willing to bless your in-laws by offering support and meeting their needs.
Speak highly of your spouse and share admiration
Your spouse is your in-laws’ child and no parent wants to hear all the negative sides of their son or daughter. So be intentional in sharing the wonderful attributes of your spouse with your in-laws. Show gratitude and admiration for how your in-laws raised their children. Express to your in-laws how grateful you are that your spouse is so hardworking, respectful, generous, and/or loving. Every parent, no matter how old their child is, desires to hear positive praise about their child. Be your spouse’s greatest cheerleader and recognize the hand your in-laws played in their life.
Respect your in-laws! Don’t complain about them!
Your spouse’s upbringing may have been completely different than yours and some of the things your in-laws do may annoy or even irritate you simply because it’s not what you’re used to. It is a danger to allow yourself to dwell on the negatives or differences because Philippians 2:14 reminds us “Do everything without complaining and arguing.” If you begin to complain about your in-laws whether outwardly or inwardly then negativity is all you will feel towards them. It is in these types of waters that bitterness and resentment can take place. So choose to take your thoughts captive and look for ways you can praise or be thankful for them. Share and think of their positive qualities and then the result will be feeling more positively about them.
Be considerate of their traditions
Even though building your own traditions with your spouse and children is important, be respectful of the traditions your in-laws have built. Don’t disregard and ignore traditions that they hold dear to their hearts, instead be willing to be flexible and accommodate both old and new traditions. It can be through these special traditions that can strengthen the family bond.
Choose to love, honor and respect your mother-and-father-in-law; and then you will reap the blessing that comes from having a special bond with them. If your relationship with your in-laws feels hopeless begin honoring them by praying for them. Cherish and treasure your “in-loves” and see what God does!