In-Law Tips

In-Law Tips

Probably the biggest mistake couples make regarding their family of origin, is that when they get married they fail to cleave from their parents – specifically, their MOM. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s taken right from the Bible. The first thing you might want to ask yourself is, “why would that specific instruction be given?”. If you believe that the Bible is the guideline or the manual for how to function at your very best as an adult, and how to handle all the many situations you will encounter in your life, you would have to be at least a little curious about why we would be instructed to shift allegiance and primary connection from your original family to the family you are creating through your marriage.

The answer is quite simple. And you have heard it said in many ways.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

You cannot serve two masters at the same time.

There is only room for one at the top.

And, the funny thing is if you weren’t applying the meaning of those quotes directly to your marriage, you would easily agree with the wisdom they contain. It would be very simple to see how true they really are, and how it works best in every situation you apply them to if you were making an exception because it’s your family or your mother, or your special circumstances. This business of creating a new marriage is a sacred undertaking, and the couple-hood that results is the new “family”. It is in the number one position. There are divided loyalties it will be to the detriment of marriage every time, Because a strong healthy marriage requires wavering commitment, and uncontested loyalty.

Of course there is nothing wrong with being close to your family, helping or taking care of people in your family of origin if they need assistance, visiting them, etc., but your first obligation is as a spouse. Your days of primarily being somebody’s son or daughter are done. Many times adult children are ready to cut that umbilical cord and move into their new roles and responsibilities, but it is the in-laws – mostly the mothers – who seem to have the most problem letting go. It’s very common to have women with adult children become quite confused about who they are when they no longer have “children” to parent. Many mothers mistakenly believe it is there lifelong mission and duty to be somebody’s mom. They think nothing of butting in, interfering, offering suggestions and criticisms without being asked, and worse, forcing their biological offspring to choose between their parents and their new spouse when there are conflicts.

The other very common issue is most married women today are still seeking the approval, support and validation from their mothers. When they marry, that becomes the husband’s privilege. When women go to their mothers for advice and feedback, it is most often the case that they are simply wanting an audience… someone to agree with their original position. There is a big difference between male feedback and female feedback. Between girlfriends, sisters, female co-workers and their mom, most women are flooded with female reactions and perspectives. This is inherently disrespectful to the husband. There is, in the end, only one opinion that should matter the most to a wife: her husband’s.

Without exception, everyone who knows about and is even remotely connected with the new marriage has one duty. One obligation. And that is to wholeheartedly and generously support that marriage. There is tremendous amount of harm done to marriages that comes packaged in the disingenuous wrapper of a parent “helping”. Based on results, if anyone is doing or saying anything that negatively impacts the marriage, causes arguments, emotional stress, and certainly if someone is actively doing harm trying to break up the marriage, that person needs to be put at a far distance. It does not matter if that person happens to share DNA with you, of friends family and acquaintances fall into one of two categories. They are either helping and supporting you, wishing you well in word and deed, or they are not. If they are not, you need to put a lot of space between you and the harm they can do.