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Dealing with the In-Laws and “Outlaws” (Part 1)


Your “in-laws” have profoundly shaped every aspect of your spouse’s life.  Your parents, the “outlaws,” have impacted yours.  When the two of you start making decisions both of your family’s views and values can clash.  Add some unsolicited advice from the in-laws and/or outlaws, and a showdown begins brewing between the two of you!  But you’re not feuding over the decision; it’s all about supporting or defending your parents!

So, how do you treat your in-laws and outlaws?

Leave and Cleave:  Genesis 2:24 states that you are to “leave” your parents and “cleave” to your spouse.  “Leaving” means you are to run from the arms of your parents into the arms of your spouse.  “Cleaving” means that you’re holding onto one another so tightly that nothing, including your parents, siblings or even your own children, can squeeze between you!

Re-prioritize your relationships.  Your spouse is to be the number one person in your life!  Yet, God’s command to honor our fathers and mothers is still in place.  You don’t stop loving, honoring or respecting them but you do need to:

Establish New Boundaries:  You are husband and wife, a separate family that assumes responsibility for yourselves.  Many parents have trouble letting go.  They’ve loved you for your entire life!  But this is especially true if they’re not happy in their marriage, or with your choice of a spouse.

So, if you’re dealing with in-law or outlaw behavior that is disrespectful, demeaning or derogatory, it’s time to end that.  You don’t need to subject yourself, your spouse, or your marriage to that abuse.  Lovingly, and privately, tell the offenders that those actions, or words, are wrong and not acceptable.

The old adage, “good fences make good neighbors” might come into play here.  If they’re getting too invasive and involved, it’s time to have a talk about setting boundaries … and once these boundaries are in place, insist that they are respected.

Next week we’re going to talk more about our relationships with parents and in-laws.

Knee to Knee nose to Nose Questions: 

How are we doing with “leaving and cleaving”?  Has someone, or something, been able to squeeze in between us?  Who or what … and what are we going to do about that invasion to our intimacy?

What boundaries do we need to develop to protect our marriage?  How will we do that?

How can we help our married child(ren) to “leave and cleave” better?

How can I demonstrate love and respect to your parents better?

Words, inlaws and outlaws

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