By Karen Friday
Is living in harmony with your in-laws even possible? I’ve found that with God’s help, this relationship dynamic can be true!
Disharmony with Your In-Laws
Do you ever have pressure points in your family? What about with your in-laws? What about as an in-law?
My hand is raised.
After all, each of us is a daughter-in-law, a mother-in-law, or both.
Maybe disharmony in your family centers around something simple, complex or everything in between. Does any of this sound familiar?
· Honey, your family deserves good home-cooked meals, not this frozen stuff or take out.
· I chose to stay home with my kids instead of working, at least while they were young. You’re missing out on them growing up.
· When I was a child, we spent our days outdoors using our imagination, not on a computer. I’m so glad we didn’t have devices back then. What’s our world coming to?!
· That boy needs a good old-fashioned spanking!
These subjects often land a sour note in our family harmony.
Especially where in-laws are concerned. Even your spouse might feel a tug-of-war to choose sides on a matter.
Living in Harmony With Your In-Laws
Let’s look at three issues that play a part in family unity and discuss some antidotes.
1. Generational differences.
Keep in mind that you and your in-laws are from a different generation.
For example, my in-laws came from a generation when take-out was not a thing. Wives prepared home-cooked meals, often with foods from the garden. While you may have a garden or purchase fresh produce, your time is most likely limited in comparison.
If you work, homeschool or provide care to aging parents or a special needs child; here’s a great way to create harmony in this situation: make weekly meal plans and enlist family helpers to prep, cook, serve and clean up.
Finally, splurge once or twice a week (or month) to order pizza or take-out everyone enjoys! Just make sure you and your spouse are in agreement for the budget. Invite the in-laws over for both types of meals.
2. Upbringing and childhood experiences.
The way we were brought up can vary mildly or drastically from our in-laws.
For instance, I grew up with a mom who had a demanding job and worked more than forty hours a week. So my sisters and I either rode the bus to my mom’s office or went to a neighbor’s house.
My husband’s mom stayed home when he and his siblings were little, then worked part time, but still had the majority of responsibility to run the home.
To promote harmony in this particular area, evaluate your personal situation. Take into account: work hours, ministry hours, home-school hours (virtual school), shared or not-shared responsibilities at home, date-nights and other categories that apply.
Then, make a plan that works for your family and convey this to the in-laws, even suggesting where they might help out.
3. Personal preferences.
Everyone has personal preferences and opinions on topics, and family life is no exception. The key to harmony is to stay open-minded and listen to other viewpoints.
Disciplining children fits nicely in this category: time outs, taking away a toy or activity, spankings and grounding older kids.
My husband and I incorporated each of these disciplinary actions when our kids were growing up.
Once my daughter had kids, she and her husband decided what measures they would use, which is using the list above in steps: time out first, take away an activity, and so on.
Now, as grandparents and in-laws, we try to stay consistent when we have the kids at our house. Although I only use time out and I say this to myself a lot, “Are you being a good listener?”
The antidote is this: consistency. Convey to your in-laws how you as the parents have decided to discipline your children. Share any allowances your in-laws have, if any, in discipline when they have the kids. As much as possible, attempt to have everyone on the same page. If you’d like more help on parenting, read here.
By practicing these steps and asking for God’s grace, you can be living in harmony with your in-laws this year. That is of course if they’re willing to respect you as parents. For more on toxic in-laws, read this.
Wife Step: Which tip can bring harmony to your relationship with your in-laws? Discuss this with your husband and brainstorm together.
Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader. A blogger, Karen “Girl” Friday engages a community every week, Hope is Among Us. She has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media, and is currently working on her first book. Vulnerable about her own marriage journey, Karen knows life never gets more real than as a wife. Karen and her husband Mike have two grown children and two grandchildren. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. Visit her blog at KarenGirlFriday.com