Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dealing with In-Laws

In our Marriage Counseling Practice we often see couples whose In-Laws are causing problems in the marriage. Whether it is too close, or not close enough, In-Laws can turn into Out-Laws very quickly.

The problems don’t always begin the same way. Sometimes there has been no “individuation” (becoming separate) on the part of the adult children. The Bible instructs couples to leave and cleave in order to become one flesh. This is not possible if the adult children do not separate in a healthy way from their parents. The parents may or may not be trying to hang on, but the results can be the same.

When adult children maintain a dependence on their parents after marriage, it interferes with the husband wife relationship. Even when it is disguised as asking for advice from a parent it can cause a division between the couple. If the wife looks to her father for help in making decisions, the husband can feel totally disrespected. He may feel that he (the husband) is not the primary male figure in the marriage.

Likewise if the husband is overly close with his mother the wife is unable to assume the role of nurturer and the number one woman in his life. This is especially true if the couple is living with the parents. This keeps them still in the role of a child.

When adult children receive money from their parents the help often comes with some sort of “strings” attached. This may be overt or covert. Maybe nothing is even said about it.

When parents disapprove of the “in-law “adult child, it puts their child in the middle between the parents and their spouse. The adult child’s allegiance should always be to their spouse; number one after the Lord.

A case in point would be when Mary’s parents are speaking disrespectfully about Mary’s husband Tom behind his back. Rather than defending Tom, Mary should explain to her parents that it’s not ok to talk about Tom that way. If Mary’s parents continue, Mary should walk away.

If Mary’s parents are disrespecting Tom in front of him Mary should get between her parents and Tom and boldly say, “If you continue talking about Tom this way, we will leave.”

It is important for couples to keep their “marriage business” private. They should not be discussing their marital issues with their parents, family or friends.
These discussions should be limited to their Pastor, Christian Counselor, or one trusted friend that both spouses’ agree on.

We recommend the book “Boundaries in Marriage” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
As the Bible says in Genesis 2:24, therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Of course this applies for women as well.

In our Marriage Counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, we regularly see couples who need help restructuring the family dynamic in order to “leave and cleave”.

God’s Blessing on your marriage. Let it be healthy and happy.

About Marriage Rescue Associates | Christian Marriage Counseling

With over 23 years of experience, Marriage Rescue Associates have discovered many effective methods for helping couples restore their family and marriages. As Christian Marriage Counselors, Marriage Rescue Associates can help construct solutions to rekindle love and rebuild trust that has been torn down by endless conflict, indifference, and unmet needs.

Don’t let your marriage or family become another statistic when you can actually do something to change it.

Seek out Marriage Counseling from an experienced Marriage Counselor that understands your situation and makes you feel comfortable with them.
To learn more about Marriage Rescue Associates, visit us online at

1 comment:

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