Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Honor Thy Mother-in-Law (Part 2)

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In yesterday's post, we discussed the importance of honoring your spouse's parents.
  1. If your spouse is emotionally healthy, honoring his or her parents may be a pathway to even stronger relationship between you, your spouse, and his or her parents.
  2. If your spouse is not emotionally healthy or is healthy in spite of his or her parents, honoring them may be a pathway to healing.
In today's post I want to discuss some practical ways to foster a better relationship with your spouse's parents. These tips are also helpful for any relationship. Take a look:
  1. Adjust your expectations. Chances are more than likely that your spouse grew up in a completely different kind of household than you did. Just as you have to get rid of inflated expectations in order to have a happy marriage, you have to rid yourself of inflated expectations that your spouse's family will immediately be accepting and welcoming of you into the family. Adjust your expectations and be happy.
  2. Adjust your approach. Your family may sweep their feelings under the rug, while her family airs their grievances like a hobby. Your family may be jovial, while your spouse's family is more serious. No matter your thoughts about your spouse's family, in order to foster a "working relationship" you have to adjust your approach to the side of your spouse's family. You can seek some common ground here and there will likely be some. For the most part, however, you will need to adjust your approach and be happy.
  3. Earn the right to be heard. There's an old saying "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This is definitely true when trying to get your spouse's family to come around to your way of thinking. The key to affecting change in any relationship is the relationship itself. You have to invest the time and love and honor without the expectation of change in order for real change to occur slowly. You and your spouse's family will be better off for it in the long term.
I can personally attest to how this has proven true in my own life. My Mother-in-law, whom I love very much, is caring and sensitive. I'm caring and sensitive, too, but about different things. I'm also very jovial and sarcastic. There have been numerous occasions where my joking and sarcasm has hurt, so I have had to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Over time, as I've adjusted my approach, I have earned the right to "dish". She's even started to "dish back" which is fun.

Romans 12:18 says:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
Obviously, your issues with your in-laws may be more serious than earning the right to joke around with them. I hope these steps above are helpful to affecting change in any of the relationships in your life. There's likely change that needs to happen on both sides of the relationship for true and lasting change to occur.

Honor is the key. Honor thy Mother-in-law.

Has anything above resonated with you? Am I way off? Please leave a comment and let's discuss further. I ain't skeered! Are you?

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