Last night, I sat at a table with 8 other women who are all married. I asked them if they enjoyed spending time with their in-laws (i.e. if they LIKED them). ALL 8 women said no! I knew I was in the minority, but I didn’t realize how much.
The thought of living near your in-laws may sound like a nightmare and bring back scenes from Everybody Loves Raymond in your mind, but I really could live next to my in-laws. My in-laws are incredible, Bible-believing, world-changing people. They have been missionaries for the past 14 years. They’ve seen the world. They’ve raised 3 boys to become incredible men who love the Lord first.
I say all of this to not rub it in your face or brag about my in-laws, but to instead tell you that it IS possible to like AND even love your in-laws.
A lot of circumstances are out of our control. We can’t control if our spouse’s parents are still married or if they’re divorced. We can’t control personalities or habits.
But we can control OUR attitude towards them.
We can make a conscious effort to get to know them better so that every holiday, we don’t dread spending time with them. And let’s be real; if it weren’t for our in-laws, our spouses wouldn’t be here today! (Perspective!)
Here are some of my tips to get to know your in-laws better:
1. Find a common interest.
My mother-in-law and I both love to craft. Every time we get together, we work on a craft together. A few weeks ago, we both designed and made ornaments to put on our Christmas trees. It gives us a chance to be together just the two of us (because the guys don’t want anything to do with it!) We work and talk as we go. Find a common interest with your in-laws and plan to spend some time together.
2. Ask your in-laws to tell you stories about your spouse when they were little.
One of my favorite things about my in-laws is that they tell stories…and they have some good ones! I love hearing what Sam was like as a little kid (even though I’ve known him since we were 10.) They lived overseas when we were in high school so it’s fun to hear stories about life then and crazy things that happened to their family while living overseas. Take the time to ask them to tell you stories and really listen. (Bonus: Looking through old pictures is also fun!)
3. Include them.
It’s not going to help your relationship if you purposefully exclude them when making family plans. Include them in your traditions. Ask them to go along with you on a family adventure or vacation. Chances are, if you have kids, they’ll want to be with you even more, and if you are the one that invites them, instead of them inviting themselves, it will make the dynamics better from the start.
4. Remember to “Leave & Honor”
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
Ultimately, we must never forget that Jesus is first and our spouse is second. Our marriage and our family always take precedence. If you’re having “in-law problems” (like so many do), have a conversation with your spouse. Make sure you’re on the same page before dealing with it.
I’d love to know if you’re in the minority or majority on this issue. Comment below to let me know if you’ve tried these tips or if you have other ideas to help get to know your in-laws.