Boundaries for In-laws

Establishing rules to protect your marriage
Boundaries for In-laws

Parents can be a blessing to a married couple by offering love, wisdom, and encouragement. The Bible makes note of several supportive in-law relationships, namely Ruth and Naomi, Peter and his mother-in-law, and Jethro, who guided Moses. Yet the abundance of in-law jokes and stories testifies to the fact that parents can also be a heavy burden for a couple to bear. The Bible also has an example of this. David's father-in-law, King Saul, tracked him down to try to kill him. And you thought you had problems.

Whether you've had them for months, or it's been many years, in-law conflicts are certainly nothing new. Occurring in many forms, they tend to be ongoing issues that revolve around the couple as a whole. The first step toward finding a solution is to identify the problem. Here are five circumstances to consider.

1. Favoritism

Parents develop an older and deeper relationship with their adult child, which is to be expected. Even so, healthy parents will welcome their child's spouse into their lives, if that person is loving and kind. However, when a parent's preference for their own child over their child's spouse exists and is expressed, distance and hurt can result. During a visit or phone call, parents may show more interest in their child's goings-on than in a spouse's. Or they may give more lavish gifts to their child, disregarding a spouse. These gestures of favoritism can lead a spouse to feel left out and not valued when around in-laws.

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