"My husband and I feel the same way about his parents. We don't like them. But whenever I say something negative about them, he gets defensive! What gives?"
Anyone who's ever spoken a harsh word against hubby's mama has encountered the same thing: a bad case of smackdown. Counselor and co-author of Mad About Us: Moving from Anger to Intimacy with Your Mate (Bethany),
Dr. Gary Oliver has this warning: "If crazy is to find out what doesn't work and keep on doing it, then saying negative things about your in-laws probably isn't anything even close to smart. Unless you enjoy being miserable."
Rules for in-law criticisms:
- When tempted to say something negative, keep quiet.
- When tempted to agree with someone from the family about someone from the family, nod up a storm inside your head. Then see #1.
- When tempted to badmouth your in-laws in front of your children, keep your lips sealed.
As much as your husband may have issues with his family, they're still his family. Only family members who have toughed it out since childhood together have a right to take issue with their own.
I know it's tough! They probably do get on your nerves. But the old saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" has biblical roots. Proverbs 10:14 (NLT) tells us, "Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites trouble."
Dr. Oliver agrees. "If you must say something, start with something positive, then share one concern that maybe you and your husband can do something about."
If your in-laws are doing something that's directly affecting your marriage or your children, then definitely have your say to them about it. But don't stoop to their level. Say your piece with a spirit of grace that shows your class.
But more often, the better approach is to simply let it go. The next time you want to join a gripe fest, try this instead: Agree mentally, then ask God to give you a heart of peace, eyes that see the good, a mind to ignore the not-so-good, and a faith to trust that the God who created us all can do much more in their lives than your criticizing ever could.
"My husband keeps asking me to do things in the bedroom I'm not comfortable with. But when I tell him "no," he gets upset and the whole mood is ruined. How can I make him understand my point of view?"
This is a hot-button issue in a lot of marriages. And it can come from two completely different angles. One is the "This is sin; no other way around it" category to which you should be uncomfortable and say no. The other is the "I don't want to, therefore it's wrong, so stop asking" category. Too often women put the second category in with the first, and that's a problem.
Certified Christian sex therapist, Debra Taylor says, "Share your feelings about doing with him the things he's suggested. Is that how he wants you to feel during sex? Be specific about what makes you uncomfortable."
If your husband's asking you to break out of the routine and try new locations or positions, or if he's asking you to take a more active role in the event, or if he wants the lights on, then maybe he's not the problem. Maybe he's requesting something that's totally within his rights as your lover. If he wants to see and caress your bodyand that's all God-honoringthen why not give it a try? You hold the power to a fantastic love life. Get over your self-consciousness and have fun, baby!
If, on the other hand, he's asking for something that definitely, no doubt about it, falls into the first categoryanything that degrades a human being created in the image of Godyou have every right to say, "No. End of story." No matter how often or persistently he asks.
Then later (not right after the request or in the middle of lovemaking), tell him the specific reasons why you won't engage in that type of behavior. Explain that lovemaking isn't just about self-centered gratificationit's about making a loving soul connection with each other. And that means honoring and respecting each other and keeping the marriage bed pure (Hebrews 13:4).
Be firm, but not rude. He may huff, but stand your ground. And pray that God will help you both have the right perspective on your relationship.
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