Marriage Missions International

Changing Allegiance From Parents To Spouse

In Genesis 2:24 we read, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” This principle is repeated in Ephesians 5:31. God’s pattern for marriage involves the “leaving” of parents and the “cleaving” to one’s mate. Marriage involves a change of allegiance. Before marriage, one’s allegiance is to one’s parents, but after marriage allegiance shifts to one’s mate.

It is what the psychologists call “cutting the psychological apron strings.” No longer does the individual lean on his parents, but rather on his mate. If there is a conflict of interest between a man’s wife and his mother, the husband is to stand with his wife. This does not mean that the mother is to be treated unkindly. That is the second principle, which we will deal with shortly. The principle of separating from parents is, however, extremely important. No couple will reach their full potential in marriage without this psychological break from parents.

What does this principle mean in the practical realm? I believe that it suggests separate living arrangements for the newly married couple. While living with parents, the couple cannot develop independence as readily as when living alone. The dependency on parents is enhanced as long as they live with parents.

Living in a meager apartment with the freedom to develop their own lifestyle under God is better than luxurious living in the shadow of parents. Parents should encourage such independence, and the ability to provide such living accommodations should be a factor in setting the wedding date.

The principle of “leaving” parents is also important in decision making. Your parents may have suggestions about many aspects of your married life. Each suggestion should be taken seriously, but, in the final analysis, you must make your own decision. You should no longer make decisions on the basis of what would make parents happy but on the basis of what would make your partner happy. Under God, you are a new unit, brought together by His Spirit to live for each other (Philippians 2:3-4).

This means that the time may come when a husband must sit down with his mother and say,

“Mom, you know that I love you very much, but you also know that I am now married. I cannot break up my marriage in order to do what you desire. I love you, and I want to help you, but I must do what I believe is right for my wife and me. I hope you understand because I want to continue the warm relationship that we have had through the years. But if you do not understand, then that is a problem you must work through. I must give myself to the building of my marriage.”

…The principle of separation from parents also has implications when conflict arises in marriage. A young wife who has always leaned heavily on her mother will have a tendency to “run to mother” when problems arise in the marriage. The next day her husband recognizes that he was wrong, asks forgiveness, and harmony is restored. The daughter fails to tell her mother this. The next time a conflict arises she again confides in Mom. This becomes a pattern, and before long, her mother has a bitter attitude toward the son-in-law and is encouraging the daughter to separate from him. The daughter has been very unfair to her husband and has failed to follow the principle of “leaving” parents.

If you have conflicts in your marriage (and most of us do), seek to solve them by direct confrontation with your mate. Conflict should be a stepping-stone to growth. If you find that you need outside help, then go to your pastor or a Christian marriage counselor. They are trained and equipped by God to give practical help. They can be objective and give biblical guidelines. Parents find it almost impossible to be objective.

Honoring Parents The second principle relating to our relationship with parents is found in Exodus 20:12 and is one of the Ten Commandments: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” It is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16 and Ephesians 6:2.

The command to honor our parents has never been rescinded. As long as they live, it is right to honor them. In Ephesians 6:1, Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Obedience to parents is the guideline from birth to marriage. Paul’s second statement is, “Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (vs. 2-3). Honor to parents is the guideline from birth to death. Honor was the original command and stands forever.

The word honor means “to show respect.” It involves treating one with kindness and dignity. It is true that not all parents live respectable lives. Their actions may not be worthy of honor, but because they are made in the image of God, they are worthy of honor. You can respect them for their humanity and for their position as your parents, even when you cannot respect their actions. It is always right to honor your parents and those of your marriage partner. “Leaving” parents for the purpose of marriage does not erase the responsibility to honor them.

How is this honor expressed in daily life? You honor them in such practical actions as visiting, telephoning, and writing, whereby you communicate to them that you still love them and want to share life with them. “Leaving” must never be interpreted as “deserting.” Regular contact is essential to honoring parents. Failure to communicate with parents is saying, in effect, “I no longer care.”

A further word is necessary regarding communication with parents. Equal treatment of both sets of parents must be maintained. Remember, “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11). We must follow His example. In practice, this means that our letters, telephone calls, and visits must indicate our commitment to the principle of equality. If one set of parents is phoned once a month, then the other set should be phoned once a month. If one receives a letter once a week, then the other should receive the same. The couple should also seek to be equitable in visits, dinners, and vacations.

Perhaps the stickiest situations arise around holidays—Thanksgiving and Christmas. The wife’s mother wants them home for Christmas Eve. The husband’s mother wants them home for Christmas dinner. That may be possible if they live in the same town, but when they are five hundred miles apart, it becomes impossible. The solution must be based on the principle of equality. This may mean Christmas with one set of parents one year and with the other the following year.

To “honor” implies also that we speak kindly with parents and in-laws. Paul admonishes: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were father” (1 Timothy 5:1). We are to be understanding and sympathetic. Certainly we are to speak the truth, but it must always be in love (Ephesians 4:15).

The command of Ephesians 4:31-32 must be taken seriously in our relationship with parents: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

A further implication of honor to parents is described in 1 Timothy 5:4: “But if a widow has children and grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.”

When we were young, our parents met our physical needs. As they grow older, we may have to do the same for them. If and when the need arises, we must bear the responsibility of caring for the physical needs of our parents. To fail in this responsibility is to deny our faith in Christ (1 Timothy 5:8). By our actions, we must show our faith in Christ and honor for our parents.

If I could make some other practical suggestions, I would advise you to accept your in-laws as they are. Do not feel that it is your task to change them. If they are not Christians, certainly you will want to pray for them and look for opportunities to present Christ, but do not try to fit them into your mold. You are expecting them to give you independence to develop your own marriage. Give them the same.

Do not criticize your in-laws to your mate. The responsibility of your mate is to honor his parents. When you criticize them, you make it more difficult for him to follow this pattern. When your mate criticizes the weaknesses of his parents, you should point out their strengths. Accentuate their positive qualities and encourage honor.

The Bible gives some beautiful examples of wholesome relationships between individuals and their in-laws. Moses had such a wholesome relationship with Jethro, his father-in-law, that, when he informed him of God’s call to leave Midian and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well” (Exodus 4:18). Later on, after the success of Moses’ venture, his father-in-law came to see him.

“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent” (Exodus 18:7). It was on this visit that Jethro gave Moses the advice that we discussed earlier. His openness to his father-in-law’s suggestion shows something of the nature of their relationship.

Ruth and Naomi serve as an example of the devotion of a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law after the death of both husbands. Jesus directed one of His miracles to the mother-in-law of Peter, and she in turn ministered to Jesus (Matthew 8:14-15).

Freedom and harmony are the biblical ideals for in-law relationships. The train of God’s will for marriage must run on the parallel tracks of separation from parents and devotion to parents.

This article comes from the book, Toward a Growing Marriage, written by Dr Gary Chapman, which was published by Moody Press (unfortunately, it is no longer being published).

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Comments

83 Responses to “Changing Allegiance From Parents To Spouse”
  1. Bruno says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA) My situation goes like this, I’m am 21 year old man. I still live with my parents because I can’t afford yet to live on my own yet. My girlfriend (22) and family don’t get along. My parents accept her, but not my sister keeps putting horrible things in their head about her. I’m always the middle man and I’m tired of it. I decided I want to join the Portuguese army then I’m far far away and then neither party will have me anymore.

    My family is one of my foundations but I love her with my whole heart and would like to get married to her when I’m more financially stable. In the meantime she is suffering so much because of this. She landed in the hospital twice because of all the stress I have been putting on her. What do I do because I don’t know anymore?

  2. Joshua says:

    (UNITED STATES) Thank you for this article! I actually came across this website while searching for biblical information about whether or not wives are supposed to separate from their parents. My wife and I have been married for almost 16 months now, and I definitely feel like her parents have been too involved for the duration of our marriage so far. I have expressed to her repeatedly in the past that I feel she talks and texts to all of them (her mother in particular, but also her younger brother and father) a bit much, but she has told me that she feels like her relationship with them is normal. I have to admit that this has resulted in some pretty heated discussions between the both of us, and I have wrongly lost my temper because of her position. I have felt like she is choosing her family over my wishes as her husband.

    Anyway, I feel like her family has been overly involved for more reasons that just the frequency of contact. When my wife and I have had disagreements in the past, her mother has even interposed herself as our mediator. I kindly expressed to her through a text message that I felt that we were supposed to learn how to resolve our own issues, and it made my mother-in-law cry! She called my wife and talked about how she had lost her daughter. The worst part is that my wife, instead of telling her mom that we did need to learn to resolve our own issues, catered to her mother’s needs. Instead of choosing to follow my lead as her husband, she chose to give in to her mother’s difficulty letting us live on our own.

    As our marriage progressed for the next several months, my wife continued to call her mother more than once a day, about pretty much everything. It could have been to ask for advice, or to talk about her day. I felt overlooked, and it must have been obvious to my wife. She would often ask me why I was so quiet and sad all of the time. I felt like there was nothing that I could do, though. She already knew how I felt about the issue, and she had chosen to ignore my feelings.

    Within the past few months, I have grown more and more resentful towards my in-laws, as well as to my wife. I have allowed myself to get out of control, oftentimes losing all control of my temper. In mid-November, my wife moved out unexpectedly, leaving me a note. I was hurt beyond belief, and my resentment was increased exponentially. She has been living with her parents since then, and I feel like there is nothing that I can do but leave her alone. All of my efforts to bring her back have only resulted in heated arguments between the two of us, which always end very poorly. At this point, I have resigned to give her the space that she wants. The problem is that with every day that I spend apart from her, she builds her relationship with her family even stronger.

    I never wanted my wife to cut off her family, but the amount of involvement and contact was just too much for me. I feel like my wife should have been willing to let go of these things, since I expressed my wishes to her on multiple occasions. I should not have allowed my anger to control my actions, which I now regret greatly. However, I feel like my own sins were not the initial problem with our marriage.

    In early January, I sent my wife a long, detailed Bible study that I had completed that included every Scripture that I could find about husbands and wives. I expressed (in a Word document, in an email) that I felt that husbands and wives were supposed to place each other first in each other’s lives, and that each other’s desires should be paramount. I expressed to her very calmly how I believed a marriage was supposed to work, and that we needed to be allowed to cultivate our own life as independent individuals. I apologized for my own demonstrations of anger, and I promised that we could both work on our issues together if she would come back to be my wife again.

    To my dismay, my wife did not respond well to my Bible study. She did not feel that I had the right to send her anything of the sort, because it was supposedly my own anger that drove our marriage to the sorry state that it is in. She viewed my study as a self-righteous excuse for my behavior. She told me that I should have been apologizing for what I did without asking anything in return.

    Please help me. I am living by myself now, and I think about my wife every day. I do not know where I should go from here. She has asked for space, and I told her that I would give it to her. We no longer talk to each other or see each other at all, and it is incredibly hard for me. I have actually spoken with her mother about everything, as well, and I was encouraged by my mother-in-law to give my wife space. After two months of fighting, I finally agreed to stop trying. If my wife ever wants to come back to me, I will welcome her. For now, though, I am having a hard time coping with the situation.

    Was my position about the involvement and contact too harsh? Please give me your honest opinion. All I wanted was to be able to cultivate our own life together, and to figure out married life as independent adults. The problem is that my wife is not interested in doing this. She just seems too attached to her family, to the point that she would rather be with them than live with my desires. Please help. God bless you all.

    • Kemi says:

      (NIGERIA) I don’t know what your courtship was like. You should have seen traces of strong family ties in her. However it is obvious she is not ready to be committed to you in this marriage. I sense immaturity on her part. And I guess she is not a strong believer in Christ. Have faith, love is stronger than fire, keep praying and I know she will wake up one day crying back home to you pleading to be forgiven. Love conquers all.

    • Ryan from United States says:

      Joshua, I hope things have gotten better since you posted this message. I have no words of advice for you. But I wanted to let you know you are not alone. I am in the exact same position now and I feel your pain. I pray that your marriage will be restored.

    • Denise from United States says:

      My husband moved his whole family in. We had already discussed what it was gonna be. We have a 3 bed 2 bath; we are a family of four and he has moved in another four grown people. To my belief I was beyond pissed, for the past three weeks. Me and my husband have been arguing like cats and dogs and I’m tired. I feel I have reached my limit and I don’t know how much I can take. All I ask is that my husband be on my side, and he’s not. He feels like I’m disrespecting his mom and dad. But if I was they wouldn’t ever be staying in my house.

      I know I’m a strong woman; my mom raised me this way. But God, I’m tired and I don’t know how much more I can take.

  3. Lyala says:

    (USA) I am a Christian and I hardly ever see my only son. If I call or text my daughter-in-law seldom answers even though we have never had a single argument. My son does not carry a phone. I’m disabled and needed help and I called last week. She said she would tell him but I never heard back. For mother’s day I got a text saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” They did not even pick up the phone even though I’m not much of a talker. I only live 13 minutes away. I want to respond in an appropriate manner, but I don’t want to force my presence on them. I never drop by unexpectedly and she has not been to my home in over a year.

  4. Annette says:

    (USA) My daughter will have been married 2 yrs. in July. She was working/living about 3 hours away from us when she met her Husband online. He lived 9 hours away from us but she was able to meet and establish a relationship with him because her job took her to his city several times. It was a whirlwind courtship and the first time we met him at our home is when he proposed. Truthfully, no one in the immediate family was won over. I probably disliked him the most but after expressing my concerns with her she insisted he was the one. I was very disappointed but never showed it trying to know him the very few times we have even seen him (I can count on one hand).

    They moved to his city because of his job but where his family just happened to live also. He has only been here at Christmas for a week each time and my daughter has managed one visit alone for a weekend, both years. Not much contact. It was implied that after 2 years they would try to get closer so it would actually be possible for us to visit them. I care for my elderly mother and they have a dinky apartment with no room for overnight guests so even if we had managed it we would have had to stay in a hotel. My son-in-law is a teacher and could probably find a position in most major cities. I never actually expected for them to move back to our daughters hometown although it is a booming place and she loved it here but after living within 10 miles of his family and experiencing all holidays with them (even Christmas on the eve) sibling and parent birthday get togethers, trips, shopping, countless meals together I was hopeful that my time would come.

    Well, just a week ago my daughter informs me with no hint of what is to come except she had “wonderful news” that they would be moving to Abu Dhabi in August for 2 years (at the least) because her husband had always wanted to teach overseas. Apparently, he had been applying everywhere in other countries til he got a bite and then talked her into it. I feel quite betrayed by my daughter and a bitterness toward her husband. We are not young and an American living in the Middle East in such uneasy times doesn’t seem like a common sense thing to do. As Christians my daughter totally submits to him but when the husband makes a harebrained decision like that just because, I can’t help but think he doesn’t want to know us or have her maintain a relationship with us.

    I have never called them, not wanting to intrude. My daughter usually calls me once a week on her way home from work, never in his presence so it’s not like he could feel threatened. I’m so upset and we’re not talking now. Our conversation deteriorated rapidly texting and I don’t feel like I can talk to her without getting emotional. I feel like she has died and I am grieving. Don’t we, as her parents, deserve some consideration? Thank you for any help you can give me.

    • Emma from United States says:

      I am almost in the same situation, his parents live about 12-14 hrs. away from us in another state. They can spend weeks with his folks, but only a day or two with us. Now they’re living with his parents until he finds a job. It also looks as if he might try to get a job 4000 miles away from us because he used to live there before.

      There is also my grandson I miss seeing, and it makes me feel so sad. He is not even 2 years old yet. Why is it some parents are preferred over others? I have always been a nice mother-in law and never get involved with their personal lives or tell them what to do, so what is the reason? I just pray and leave all to Jesus, that’s what I do for now.

      • Cindy Wright from United States says:

        Emma, I SO sympathize with you. Our oldest son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, 9 & 4, live overseas (he is a professor in South Korea). It has been a couple of years since we’ve been able to be together, and trust me (which you know) it’s SO hard. The other parents are also the “preferred” ones and get MUCH more time with them (partly because they can afford to go visit and partly because they’re the “home” of choice when visits happen on this side of the world… unfortunately, they live on the other side of the U.S. so we don’t get to spend much time unless we travel and stay in a hotel and such, which is expensive).

        I tell you this to let you know that others are in the same situation. All we can do is the best we can do. That’s what God has shown us. Our heart and arms ache, but we do the best we can with this, as it’s possible. We Skype (when they’re available), and Steve and I read books to the kids. We have a box of books we pull from and our young grandson gets 3 books read to him (because they’re shorter) and our granddaughter gets chapters of a book read to her. We do everything we can to make the “visits” into pleasant experiences –talking about their stuff (and not trying to come across as too “needy” or that might make things worse), hoping that will help. And we think it does. But we still ache to spend the time with them.

        Emma, my heart goes out to you, from one mom to another, one grandma to another, and one sister in Christ to another. I pray that the Lord comforts you and helps you to focus your energies on what you CAN do, rather than on what you can’t. For some reason, this is the way things are right now, and all we can do is trust God (but still praying that it’s possible for this all to change), lean upon Him, and make the most out of this difficult situation. I hope you will… and we will too. May God bless you as you lean into His arms.

  5. David says:

    (UNITED STATES) Thank you for your article. I have been given a wonderful marriage and relationship with my wife in which she is my best friend. We enjoy the many blessings God gives to us in His goodness and grace.

    I read your article and seek for my biblical advice regarding the relationship between parents and children post-marriage. Specifically, I struggle with the relationship between parents and married children, not with my marriage but in the context of a sister-in-law and brother-in-law on my wife’s side. The sister-in-law, my wife’s sister, is the youngest child of the family and has been sheltered and protected her whole life. My wife tells stories of any who would threaten her happiness being lambasted by my in-laws, with no mind to any reason or temperance.

    The brother-in-law has not applied himself to work or schooling and has bounced from job to job aimlessly. They are now in a situation in which they live in my in-laws house, with children. Both sides of the family were concerned this would be the outcome even prior to marriage, but no one gave them counseling accordingly. They receive financial support from both sides of the family and beyond and earn a small percentage of what they need to live on. My in-laws are certainly not in a financial position to help them but do anyway.

    I have biblical concerns for their situation but don’t know if it’s properly founded. From a myriad of verses in Proverbs, God forbids laziness. The husband is clearly lazy and will admit to it and his need to gain more substantial employment. My wife and I have brought our concerns to them directly and to the parents repeatedly but are met with resistance. I have sent them your article above for which I received no response. There is an attitude of disagreement with the points you make, specifically with the idea of children physically separating from their parents. The parents on my wife’s side still hold an attitude of protection and shielding my wife’s sister from any “attacks”. I have expressed concern about an unhealthy relationship between my sister-in-law and mother-in-law to my brother-in-law. Apron strings are still tied very tightly. Another brother-in-law of mine, my wife’s brother and wife, have expressed the same concerns as us as well as other friends and acquaintances of the family.

    The relationship between us and our in-laws has been greatly hurt by the whole situation. We don’t have much of a relationship at all and when we do communicate, the “situation” is never discussed for the sake of peace. And, yes, we brought it on ourselves as we were the ones who expressed concern for the marriage under discussion. They don’t agree with us at all. I agree with your points above and believe Scripture would back them. The problem is now I’m not honoring my in-laws as I ought to and sin in that. I don’t know how to deal with this situation. I’m at a loss. I know it’s not justified to live with a grudge but neither is there any recognition of a wrong living situation nor desire to change it. Please help.

    • Cindy Wright says:

      David, I greatly agree with you that this is an unhealthy situation. Your in-laws are enabling this couple to NOT stand on their own financial feet. There’s a difference between helping and enabling. This could come back to bite them in the future in big ways. How very sad.

      But truly David, you have done your part. You can’t MAKE them do what they should biblically or otherwise. You have tried to help both families (actually his family too). If they don’t want to take note, and take this to the Lord and do the right thing by weaning this couple off of their support, then I believe you should let this be. The best thing you can do is quietly pray for them and let it go. Don’t allow this to do further damage to your own relationship with your in-laws. This is where you give your in-laws grace, try to rebuild your relationship with them, and let God be the one to work this out one-on-one with them.

      You have done your part, now release them totally to the Lord on this and do your best not to be “I told you so” people when things go bad because of their resistance. Sadly, they will reap negative repercussions from this in the future. Do your best to dust off your hands from feeling any responsibility in what will happen. You have been obedient… so move on and do the best you can, despite it all. I hope you will. May God bless you for your obedience in all of this.

  6. Meagan from Canada says:

    Hi, heres my issues… My in law were amazing and treated me well… Until we had kids! After our first they completely changed (and granted so did I). They treated me differently to the point where it felt like they were belittling my parenting. They never follow the rules I have and make snide comments to the kids that are directed at me. They were upset with me when I returned to work and put the kids in a day home two days a week. They are also at my parents one day and at theirs one day a week but they want them more than that.

    I have tried to be civil about everything but after our second it became harder. Anytime I would express my feelings to my husband he would say I’m overreacting and to just drop it. It has come to a point where I no longer go for supper (which is once a week) but my husband and the kids go. My husband recently spoke to his parents about some issues, one being that they need to respect the rules I have for the kids.

    Well, not even two weeks later they didn’t follow a rule (right in front of me). I told my husband what happened and he got upset with me and told me to drop it. My husband and I fight about his parents 85% of the time. My fight is that he doesn’t ever defend me but always has excuses for his parents. I’m so torn and don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Kari from United States says:

      Hello Meagan, I know this is a very late response however, I hope you see this. I was in the same situation about in-laws and snide comments. My husband would dismiss it and tell me to blow it off because some men and women are willing to make excuses for their parents dysfunction and expect everyone else to do the same, unfortunately. I refused to spend any more time with them and kept my kids from them as well for their safety since the parents would not respect me, they shouldn’t be around my kids.

      Well, my husband started to see how rude they became to him, since I wasn’t there to be the scapegoat, they directed it to him! So now, he rarely goes over there either. In situations like this, everyone needs someone to be a scapegoat for mean people, so protect yourself and your kids and beware of anyone who doesnt believe you, they just do not want to be the one who is attacked. Good luck

  7. Pat from Australia says:

    My mother in law is from the states and she came to our wedding with her friend. She has a disgusting relationship with her son where they are always hugging and kissing and she is obsessed with putting her hands on his chest. She is also a heavy smoker and is unkept in her appearance and smells like cigarettes. We had a new born baby when she came and we gave her the baby room where she smoked in there and would hold and cuddle and kiss our baby straight after smoking.

    We got married and though my family could sense how negative her energy was we just ignored it. At the wedding she did not congratulate me or talk to me and said a horrible speech about us not being better than everyone else. After the wedding she moved out of our house and was staying with her friend at a resort but she dragged my husband along and they had their own mommymoon. I would only see my husband at bedtime. When their accommodation ran out my husband asked me to pick her and her friend and friend’s daughter up and bring them to our house.

    That morning our son woke up sick so I asked my sister’s husband to pick them up and he arrived at their accommodation and they told him that they were not coming. They were expecting me to come and pick them up so they could confront me about being inhospitable. They were ready to fight with me so they have my brother in law the censored end version and told him that they were not coming to the house even to say goodbye to my mother and the rest of my family. They left in May and it is almost September.

    My husband and I argue everyday about his mother. He said he doesn’t care how I feel about the situation and I’m being dramatic. If I say anything about his mother he punishes me by not talking to me and sleeping in the guest bedroom. He even wants to send his mum’s friend some pictures of them on their mommy moon and I told him that his mother’s friend said some bad things about me and acted selfish and he doesn’t care.

    A week before the wedding I had shingles and meningitis and was hospitalized. But when his mother came he abandoned me and did not even tell them what was wrong with me. I tried to be a good host but his mother is in love with him so much that he’s blind to see that she is wrong. Her last night in Australia my husband informed me that he was going to spend the night with his mother at the hotel. I reached out to his mother despite the drama and I said I haven’t been with my husband ever since we got married and I was crying and she said oh yes darling, I will have him for the night because you will always have him. I am hurting in this marriage and my husband does not want any counselling. He said I should go for counselling because I am crazy.

  8. Gina from United States says:

    We are not a young couple. We married later in life but have been married for a short time. I have an elderly father who is just barely able to live alone. He needs frequent help and has to be checked on daily. My husband detests my father. He is either rude to him or ignores him completely. I understand that my first loyalty is to my husband. But it is to the point that my husband is forcing me to choose between he and my father. I cannot and will not abondon my father. What am I to do?

    • KW from United States says:

      Stick with your Dad …you will not have him forever. Do not desert him. That is not honoring him.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Gina, I agree with KW in that you can’t desert your father. But you also need to honor your husband. When you married him he became your first priority. So, from what I see, you have a real juggling act to do here. Personally, I believe I would try to talk to my husband when it isn’t a H.A.L.T. Time = when either of you is Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (because you’re more vulnerable to having things go in a negative direction during these times). I would proclaim my love for my husband but tell him that you also love your father. Tell him that you know that he doesn’t have the same feelings, and that you will try to respect that as best as you can. (Try not to get into an argument if he tries to go off into ranting about this or that concerning your father –just let him rant… be strong and yet kind in the mission of the message you are trying to get across.)

      Tell him that you wouldn’t be a very loving person if you abandoned your father –particularly when the Bible tell us to honor our parents. But because he doesn’t want anything to do with your father, you are going to try to help your father separate from him. You won’t ask him to help, or to visit, or to do anything for him. Tell him you will limit your visits as best you can (quietly trying to do things with and for your father when your husband isn’t around). God will help you to be creative in juggling both relationships at the same time. If you have siblings or other relatives that can help, make sure you get them involved in helping you with your father.

      It’s sad that your husband is making these demands on you. I don’t know what could compel him to get to this place. I cry for you in my heart because this is a terrible place to be in –one that should never be. But whatever it is that is driving your husband to these feelings, you have the mission placed upon you to honor your husband, and yet your father too in a backseat kind of way. Continually ask God for insight on this. You will need it. May the Lord give you strength, wisdom, insight, discernment, and extra doses of love and grace to do what is best to honor your husband AND your father. May the Lord shine favor upon you because of the compassion and love you have for both!

    • Object of Contempt from United States says:

      Gina, Your description is brief, but I have to wonder… are you being honest with yourself? You say you understand that your “first loyalty” is to your husband. What is “first loyalty”? At the end you say you cannot and will not abandon your father… Wow! that’s loyalty!… To your “dad”! Do you think your husband is valuable enough to consider it a huge deal when loyalty, honor, and love that were vowed to him are given to someone else? Your husband feels it deeply. Your dad knows better, and he doesn’t care either, apparently (Yes, he does. All men know this, just like they know you don’t flirt with another man’s wife.)

      I have to assume, since you mention how much help your dad needs, that you spend a lot of time with him. I think your loyalty to your dad also shows in the fact that abandoning him is abhorrent and impossible in your mind. However, in your heart, and every time you leave your husband at home to go help your dad, you’re abandoning him willingly and without remorse. It isn’t reasonable to expect your husband to be happy about this. It’s huge, and it hurts him.

      If your husband knew that that he had your loyalty (not just in words, or token actions), he might be less bitter about time you spend with your dad. You need to ask him what he thinks should be done about your dad, and stick to it. Loyalty doesn’t come and go. Loyalty means you can be trusted all the time.

      Honoring your father comes AFTER loyalty and honor to your husband. When it comes down to brass tacks, dishonoring your husband doesn’t translate to honoring your dad, anyway. It certainly doesn’t honor God if you go back on your vow, no matter how sweet or loving it feels to you.

  9. Dennis from Nigeria says:

    Dear all, Been thinking since I read this article. This is because a lots of marriages have a lot if struggles in this area and only a well crafted and matured mind can actually discern the truth in the separation of parents from their married children. Firstly, parents should remember that they have lived their own lives and should remember to allow their grown up children leave their and make necessary mistakes and adjust to their new partners.

    I believe the grand rule to this art of appropriate separation between couples is like the Bible said ‘remove the log in your own eyes’ as ‘against the speck in the eyes of the other’. The husband should if possible keep his family COMPLETLY from their home so also the wife it may sound weird but it is true. The place of honoring your parent should not be in bring them into your daily affairs/successes/&challenges.

    Parents love your children only enough to leave them to the person they have chosen to live the rest of their life with. Guess that it may not make sense but daily or even weekly calls to your parents is abominable because the major reason for such calls is to update with near unnecessary information.

    Take it or leave it the bulk of must strive in families is in-law based at list 40%-65%. Back to the grand rule; let the husband keep his love for his mum in the past and cleave to his wife and let the wife keep the prying eyes of her mother away from her new family. Even Bro. Paul admonishes older woman not to be busy bodies/minding their own business -I trust they don’t read that part of the Bible anymore.

    Let me say this quickly; one of the keys to marital bliss is true separation from wholesome family ties, father and mother attached to their daughter and vice verse. It’s unhealthy for bonding and true relationship. If I may sound blunt -the new couples doesn’t need the consent of their parents to relocate to any part of the world. They may decide to go live on the moon. As long as they’re happy with it so be it. Just give our blessing and let them be. Marriage is so funny. You have a certificate of completion before you start learning the process. It’s a huge institution and a huge responsibility to live up to expectation.

    • Lyn from Nigeria says:

      Dennis, you have spoken well. Families should let couples be. They are to plan together. They shouldn’t go seeking external advice from parents or siblings. Though this seeking of advice externally arises when you’re dealing with a man or woman who never admits wrongs. In fact parents and siblings should keep off.

      I am facing something similar. My husband has a special love for his family and a deeper one for select members of his immediate family. Anytime we travel home, he leaves me alone at home and runs errands for his people. I don’t mind anyway, but I get bothered when I am not allowed to visit my people or move out with our children. He tells me to go anywhere I wish without the children. It’s so hard to face. I don’t know what to do again. Even when they hurt you, he never reacts until you speak up. He gets angry at you for telling his siblings that they made you angry. I see me living in the shadows around him and his family. They jointly plan family affairs and then you are just told the decisions. Well, marriage comes with various challenges. It only gets better!

  10. Kay from Canada says:

    We have been married 10 years. My husband loves and respects and honours his parents. He still obeys them too, like a child. I feel third place. It hurts. They spend all their together. When I am finally home he doesn’t spend time with me but still them. I thought/prayed this would change over time but it hasn’t. He is their little boy, not my husband. It breaks my heart. We tried counselling but he doesn’t see the problem.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      So sorry Kay that this is happening with your husband. I will never understand why parents can’t see the harm this does to their “child’s” marriage when they insist on still being number one in their lives. Yes, having a good relationship is good, but not at the expense of one’s marriage. Kay, all I can say is to do the best you can not to be bitter –to hold onto the good and do the best with the bad that you can. Don’t allow it to eat away and decay the rest. And pray that someday your husband and his parents “get it” as far as how they are robbing you of being closest to his side, instead of them.

      When you married, they were to step aside and allow you to be closest to his side in all decisions. They were then to be in a supportive role of him and you –not in an interfering role. Again, I’m so sorry for this. If you can, try to not focus on this aspect of your marriage, unless by doing so, you can help to bring positive results. Ask the Lord to show you how to best do this –when to say something (and how it is to be said) and when not to, but to put your focus elsewhere in a place that is not harmful. I hope you can and hope the best for you in this.

  11. Guadalupe from United States says:

    Hi, I got to know my now husband through facebook, since we had friends in common in the Bible, but we met in person after 2 and half years. The church where we were participating didn’t allow us to have a relationship because they used to have this kind of “marriage by faith”, wich was an arranged marriage by the pastors head of the church. My church chapter was in mexico and His in USA.

    For some time I gave up since I was having so much pressure in the church to stop talking to Him and also from my roomates since all of them were shepherdess’ from church. I also had pressure at work. For half of year I decided not to talk to him since he was having a hard time too because the head pastor was his boss, and like me church was everything for him, so he was having conflict for going against what pastor was giving him advice to do.

    That’s why he was afraid to come to Mexico, and that’s why I decided to stop the relationship. At the same time, my coworkers saw the situation and kind of depression that I went through, so a guy that was interested in me, they encouraged us to get to know each other. However, my actual husband felt really bad because I stopped having comunication with him. So after 6 months I decided to reply back to one of his many, many messages, and then he told me he left the church and he couldn’t wait to come and see me. So I say ok. I wasn’t that excited at the begining because before he promised he would come but for the pressure of dissapointed people in church he didnt, but he did this time.

    Long story short, I’m now in the USA so we can be together and are in His parents house. He has been working from the begining and it has been hard. We had to get married in the court because we needed it to get the certificate for my immigration permit. But there are some things while we live with his parents that makes me feel tired and I feel our relation is being affected. Though we got married, his mother didn’t come to the court wedding. I’m still praying God to heal in my heart.

    The other issue is that we are planning to get married in a church, but they are from Iranian culture and his parents don’t go or are part of any church. They are pushing us to marry by the “religion of their custom.” My feeling and thinking is if I wanna get married before God and it is my only wedding and at least I expect to understand what the priest is saying (the service is in another language than english or spanish). On the other hand the custom is that the parents of the groom pay the for the whole wedding. I didn’t agree but still they are trying to start the payments.

    I’m really lost I don’t know if I should push my husband to move to an apartment. It is a little bit hard now since he is about to finish school, and because we are Christians, and his mother didn’t tell anyone we got married, so we dont wanna give a bad testimony. Please, I need some christian advice; more than that what I need help with advice to do what is right and what will please God. I have been praying since I think maybe I made a mistake by comming to live here, but I didn’t know any other way to keep the relationship.

    BTW…my family wasn’t that happy that I came, but I have been praying so they can support me emotionally but they are afraid I’m ruining my life, giving everything for nothing and that the years are passing. It has been a year since I came. Thank you and God bless you.

  12. Kristin from Australia says:

    I think I am leaving my partner because of his parents constant need to be involved in every part of our lives. They are intrusive and needy. When they do something to upset us my husband just wants me to blame him and not say anything to them. They’ve had a key cut to our home without our permission and are constantly there doing odd jobs and fixing things without permission. My MIL watches my son one day a week and calls herself mum to him! When I confronted her in front of my husband she started to cry and said sorry she didn’t mean to then when he isn’t around she does it again and again.

    She takes him places without asking and drops him off with other family members when she is too busy to have him instead of just saying she is busy that day. I’m pregnant with second child. We found out we’re having a girl and keeping it a secret yet they think they have a right to know also. I’ve admitted to my husband I find them intrusive and this is why I want this to be just for us. He said I’m being spiteful and has started to tell his friends we’re having a girl and said I should tell his parents when they next mention it to be more gracious and thankful for all they’ve done for us.

    They gave us 20,000 to buy our home and everyday I wish we had never taken it. I can’t seem to speak calmly about it anymore to my husband. I’m so angry he just accepts the way they are and is happy to be treated like a child by them. He appoligises on their behalf when they’re inconsiderate of my feelings but we cannot seem to move past it because ultimately I don’t want him to be sorry for them; I want him to stand up for me to them even half as much as he does for them to me would be something! I’ve suggested counseling for us and he told me I should go alone and learn to deal with my anger and frustration so I can be a better partner and mother. That hurt me a lot (like he doesn’t want to even try) and I feel like I’ve failed my children because I cannot stay in a relationship where two other people are constantly pushing their way in and my husband won’t stand with me.

  13. Rahul from India says:

    I have married from last 3 years. My wife said she was upset with me and went to her parents house on very small issues and is not willing to come back. She is saying she wants to stay separately and not in the house where me, my mom and dad are staying. My parents are very old and I feel it is my responsibility to look after them. Having said that, I have also said I will take care of her. Please suggest.

    • Gill from United Kingdom says:

      A man needs to cleave to his wife, not to his parents. God knows and expects you to help and honour your parents, but you have to leave your parents and cleave to your wife. You say it’s a small thing, but it wasn’t a small thing for your wife. You need to put your wife first, but find a way to help your parents if they need your help. Could you live in a house close to your parents instead maybe?

  14. Rue from Namibia says:

    Hie all, we stay in another country and have a tradition of calling our parents together every Sunday. However, I have recently discovered that my husband sometimes phones his parents alone. We have been married for two years. I accidentally stumbled on a message in which he was discussing an issue about his parents with his sister. Is this right? I just felt betrayed because I value honesty in marriage. Now I feel like a lot goes on that I don’t know. How can I handle this? I have not confronted him about it yet, just bitter inside.

  15. Denis from Cameroon says:

    1. In Cameroon, Should our parents choose our spouses?
    2. In Cameroon, Abortion should be laagered do you agree?

  16. LaVerne from United States says:

    I’m married to a wonderful man whose former wife has died. Each year his daughter gives a family Christmas Party the Saturday after Christmas at her home for the relatives of his former wife. My birthday is the 28 of December and my family usually celebrates on Saturday instead of Sunday. My husband reminded me the family Christmas Party is on the 27th. I asked if my family was invited and he didn’t respond. We’ve been married 2 years. When I attended the 1st year family members weren’t friendly at all. I’m not going to attend because I think he hasn’t wrapped his arms around the fact that he now has a new family.

  17. John from Chile says:

    Greetings from Santiago Chile. I’m writing this for myself to have a written record, for people to be encouraged, and also to receive biblical advice. Here’s my Marital testimony:

    I met my wife while studying abroad in Chile in 2010 when I was 23, I’m now 28. In 2009 I went through I life transformational Bible study and gave my life to Christ. I spent every day between classes reading and praying, listening to sermons, and I can honestly say that I was born again during this process. It was beautiful how the Lord began his sanctification process in my life, changing friends and habits. Before I left to Chile I specifically prayed that I didn’t want to get involved in any relationships until I was done with school and had a stable Job. I previously had a relationship that lasted about 2 years, which was completely built on a sandy foundation.

    Even though I had been emotionally healed from that, which was amazing grace (we ended badly but God reconciled us and I asked for forgiveness years later and healed me and she was touched as well), the next relationship I would have I knew that I wanted to build it on biblical principles. After 3 weeks of being in Chile and spending time with the Worship leader, who was also the pastor’s daughter, God revealed to me 1. “get to know her” 2. “if you build this relationship on my principles, I will bless your marriage”, 3. “her parents will disagree with it at first but over time will come to agreement.” After 2 years of marriage and looking back on our relationship, all these things have come true. 1. I got to know her spiritually, emotionally, then physically after marriage. 2. We kept our purity (even though I wasn’t a virgin coming into the relationship) and 3. Her parents put her through hell in 2010 and still have seeds of anger towards her.

    Before I left Chile, Daniela (my now wife) and I courted for 4 months. We only had two 1 on 1 dates and the Lord told us to slow down, meaning not to kiss or be physically involved (The Book “Choosing God’s best” was foundational for our early relational principles that we followed. We committed to a long distance relationship for a future marriage because we were convinced like this was God’s will. Before I left to the US I spoke with both of the pastors in their office and revealed my past struggles, how the Lord was working in my life, and my intentions to continue a relationship with their daughter (I did this in Spanish, so maybe I couldn’t express myself in the best way). After about an hour in their office, my intentions were revealed. I never felt rejected, but I didn’t feel accepted either. They were just concerned about some things of my past and also my age (I was 23, she was 28). I left their office knowing that I did the right thing in front of the Lord’s eyes because I wasn’t trying to be in secrecy.

    When I left to California to finish college, Daniela desired to go to the US to study a master’s degree in Dallas ,Texas (a desire she had for many years before we met). All hell broke out with her parents. Without going into detail and out of respect for their authority, let me just say my wife would cry herself to sleep most nights. They were expertly challenging her daily, saying she was making emotional decisions about going to the US and being in a relationship with me and that I was going to hurt her.

    Daniela and I skyped every day for hours and I never tried to wedge her against her parents. In fact, I would always consider how they felt as parents, having a foreigner who is 5 years younger in another country who was just saved a year prior, is now going to date our daughter, the worship leader? This, however, doesn’t justify the absolute psychological warfare and torment that they put their daughter through night and day. I’d always tell her just forgive honey, don’t get bitter towards them. My wife sought prayer from 2 people in the church (had about 40 members). The Pastors accused her of dividing the church against them. The confrontation, which escaladed in physical contact from the dad at one point, lasted for 8 months, until the day Daniela left to Dallas to study (which she did for 2 years). Daniela and I were convinced that this was the Lord’s will for our lives. Her parents were utterly and stubbornly convinced this was all emotional. Daniela came to Dallas full of faith but full of wounds and scars from the constant fights between her and her parents (the Lord is still healing her to his day).

    I moved to Dallas to support her after I graduated and we got married a year later (in Chile, by her parents). When I asked for her hand in marriage over Skype, they said yes and I put on a hat to joke around like gringos do. In that precise moment, both her parents looked at each other with surprise and said that I was the one for their daughter. The dad began to explain to me that 5 years earlier he had a dream from God about his daughter’s future husband driving a car with a hat on. When I put on the hat I was that man in the dream. This was no coincidence because they got the same revelation at the same time, right after I asked for her hand.

    Another confirmation was Daniela’s schooling. After 2 years God opened the door for her. We had enough to pay for 1 semester of schooling at Dallas Baptist University DBU but in those 2 years she received the most scholarship money out of any international students (according to the financial director, who I might add was very legalistic towards money and had this way of putting gloom over her provision, citing that we need to work hard, which we agree with, but I know he was just being jealous) and we only had to pay 1000 dollars as a couple. God provided and was justifying our decisions.

    During this time in The US, the Church in Chile began to lose many people and entered into a crisis period and different bad things happened. 1. about 8000 us dollars was stolen during a funeral service from the church. 2. There was a teacher that came with his wife, under no church coverage that I’m aware of, and he began to lure members away. Although this is now pretty clear, the parents had this idea that Daniela’s rebellion was the root cause of the church’s steady decline.

    Even though God was opening the doors for Daniela to study in the US and to build a relationship on purity and in Godly principles, which promoted the steady keeping in touch with her parents on Skype, this was the root of division in their hearts because of her emotional decisions in 2010.

    Towards the end of the 4th semester at DBU and right after we got married, we prayed and asked for direction. We felt from God to spend a season in California and then move to Chile. We did this, spending 4 months living with my parents and 1 year living with her parents. We both were clear to our parents about boundaries and that we’re now married so they need to respect us as a married couple. It was hard for all parties to cleave and cling while still living under the same childhood home, not so much for us as a couple, but for our parents perspective towards us, especially in domestic activities such as cooking and cleaning. I’m proud of my wife though because she always supported me first, then her parents, and vice versa.

    When we moved to Chile last year we had high hopes of helping out in the ministry, but the 2010 roots of bitterness prevented my wife to be in a position of leadership for about a year. Even though her heart was really to serve God and to support her parents, especially that she was now equipped with 2 years of additional ministerial education, she wasn’t put in a position to lead, and neither was I. I can say, however, that we were only interested to serve God in any way and truly not looking for a leadership position, so I cleaned the church for a year every Saturday and Daniela took a lesser role on the worship team.

    The church has gone down to about 15-20 active people and we switched buildings this year. Even though God has been amazing to reconcile and renew relationships, especially between my wife and her parents, my wife and I still sense roots of bitterness towards us, but especially her.

    I realize after reading this article and reading some comments, it’s clear that marriages are complicated, and especially how leaving and cleaving is handled not just by the couple, but especially by the parents. If, like in my case, parents are Christians, I would hope that the expectation from parents for obedience from their son/daughter would change into honor instead. I would hope that all the parenting and a lifetime of spiritual, emotional, and physical nurturing would be transferred to the spouse, once and for all. I would hope that the married couple is able to grow and resolve conflict on their own, leaving the parents out of it.

    In the case of my wife and I, we feel very limited because of bitter roots and a posture of submission and obedience that the pastors put, which I agree with if it is in the context of church. The problem is they seem to apply that same principle outside of a spiritual context in many small ways, which has cause some tension and conflict at times.

    I realize that we should receive godly council, like proverbs says, but I feel limited knowing that my parents-in-law have a very hard time separating family/church/marriage, therefore I don’t feel even remotely comfortable seeking godly council from them because it’s like mixing old wine with new.

    Please feel free to comment and anything about what I said. Maybe advice, maybe a comment I don’t know, but please feel free to respond. My wife and I have felt isolated at times emotionally, but never shaken. She is an extremely strong and faithful women and the price she has paid and we have paid has been worth it because God is faithful. Please keep us in your prayers; my name is John, God Bless!

    • John from Chile says:

      One thing I forgot to mention is that for the last year my wife and I have been both working and living in our own apartment, which has been a huge blessing. I am so thankful for my parents and her parents letting us live with them for a season, but I know that it is wonderful to have our own place and that we’re becoming independent from them both, financially and emotionally. I love our parents and I want to have healthy relationships with them both, I just hope my parents or my parents-in-law don’t become dominant and demanding when we have children.

  18. Ashley from United States says:

    We have been married for 4 yrs and have two children together. We live on our own and fully support our selves. The issue is with my dad. He lacks in supporting himself even though he seems to be capable. He has lived with us for 3 yrs now. Our house is small so he stays in a tent in our basement and is fine with that, which kinds bugs me. He was living between a camper trailer and sleeping on a not so great friend’s house. We invited him to live with us for a while… not giving him a time frame.

    He had always had problem with Adderall and was prescribed to it until moving in with us. We don’t allow drug use in our home. He’s been clean 3 yrs and I’m proud of him! My husband got him a job at the hunt club where my husband works. He won’t work a full day …he naps in the middle of the day and doesn’t see any issue with it. He makes enough to move out and can certainly work more hrs to more than support himself in his own home.

    I want him to move out. Like now. I have talked to him about it. With anger, kindness and sadness I’ve explained my reasoning of wanting him to leave. I think its disrupting my development as a wife, my husband as a husband, and both of us as parents. Chris and I have a great relationship and are good parents.

    My husband likes my dad. He would like him to move out but doesn’t want to step up and tell him to move out. When I ask my dad to move out he says he can in 2-3 years! I think he’s waiting for SS! I don’t know what to do! He’s got to go! He’s wanting to put a shed in the backyard and live there forever. I’m scared he will go back to using Adderall again if he moves out. I told him this and he said so what, if he does?

    I’m lost. Should I just give him 30-60 days and kick him out? Is this wrong? Selfish? Mean? What do I say? That hasn’t been said?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Ashley, I’ve been praying for insight as to how to reply to you on this matter. Truthfully, I love it when families can be supportive of one another, and help one another. You have done that, and I’m so proud of you and your husband for doing that. But as the Bible says, “there is a season for everything.” It seems to me that the “season” of your helping your dad to the degree that you felt compelled to previously, appears to be closing. Somehow, he needs to realize this, although it will be very difficult (because he obviously has addictive traits within him, and right now, your basement seems to him to be a safe zone).

      I don’t know your dad, so it’s difficult for me to project what he is actually feeling and thinking about all of these matters. But from what I read into what you have written, I’m not thinking your dad will make any type of move out of your basement unless he is pressed on this matter –given a type of deadline. This should be done by you, as his daughter, with your husband standing behind you in support (with both of you talking and praying about this so you are essentially “on the same page.”). He is your dad; you need to do the talking to your dad (but you must be united with your husband).

      I’m thinking that it would be better if your dad did move (although I can’t say for sure –again, I don’t know all of the circumstances). Perhaps he can get a small apartment, or rental unit, or rent a trailer or mobile home near where you live (and you can help him look for it and help him get the things he needs, because this may overwhelm him… I’m thinking he probably needs your help to make this work). This way he can be located near you, but not be right there within your home all the time. (My husband and I did this with my brother, who became homeless for a while –he stayed with us for a time, and then we helped him to find another place to live close by us… helping him set up the necessities he needed before moving out of our place into his “new” one. We’ve also done this for a few other relatives and it has worked out well.)

      You have to know though, and count the cost, that he may go back to another addiction “drug” of choice. If that’s in his personality, he may act on it. He may be viewing you and your family as a type of accountability factor, and an offset to complete loneliness, by being in your basement. But ultimately, you aren’t his “moral police” or the “guard” over what he will or won’t do… He is an adult, and you have to make decisions based on that. I know of a gal who had a granddaughter who was troubled… they were able to move a small trailer into her backyard and her granddaughter lived there for a period of time. She was independent (not living within my friend’s home), but not completely because her grandmother lived right close, and it was a healthy stepping stone for her. She is now completely on her own and all is better.

      Ashley, you sound like a nice person, a great wife and mother and a good daughter. You WANT to do good by your dad, but you also know the dynamics of what will work best for your home. You need to trust that. You aren’t a bad daughter because you need space from your dad. You are married, and your first obligation is to your husband and children. Your dad needs to accept that, as difficult as it may be for him. You just have to figure out how to help his step up to living more independently than he is trying to do right now, and feel that you have done what is best for all. It’s not like he is gravely ill and needs you to house him… that is just his preference. It’s okay to have him live apart from you –that is healthy.

      Pray about this with your husband and talk about it. Figure out a game plan that will work for the both of you and your children. I’m thinking that giving a “deadline” would be important. But within that deadline, give mercy. Offer to help him find the things he needs. I went to thrift stores and garage sales and got my brother the basics. He HAD no money… so we had to buy those things for him. He is now on SSI and can afford the modest rent he is now paying, but couldn’t afford to purchase anything up front. Your dad is in a different place. Determine with your husband ahead of time what will work best for all concerned. Maybe you know of others who have extra furniture here or there (the basics like a table, chairs, sofa, and such) where they will give it to you for your dad. I don’t know. Your dad obviously doesn’t appear to need much.

      Also, figure out a “deadline” that will work best for all concerned. But help him meet that deadline, if you can. This way it doesn’t appear that you are rejecting him as much as you are helping him to be more independent as he should be, which hopefully, will help him to feel better about himself, and help all of you to have a better relationship, in the long run. Figure out your wording ahead of time too, so you can let your dad know that you love him, but you just need a bit more physical space between you –that you are still there for him, but that it’s healthier for all if he is a bit more independent than he is right now.

      I hope this helps and pray this goes well. I pray for wisdom, strength, and peace about your situation once it is worked though as it should be, for you, your husband, and your dad.

  19. Jessica from Canada says:

    There has been a huge strain in my family for a few years now. My mother-in-law decided to treat her depression with drugs and alcohol. She and her husband are no longer together but he still encourages myself and his son, my husband, to try to stay close to help her. My parents are divorced. That was really hard for me and I’m only now able to speak to my dad again (6 years later).

    Because of the addictions, my MIL has gaps (sometimes HUGE gaps) in her memory and has less control over her emotions than normal. Our last phone conversation ended with her yelling at me after I told her that if she has a problem with me she needs to tell me, not call my husband, her son, and yell at him because of me. I felt disrespected, angry and hurt. Later that month, my husband said I needed to come to the Christmas brunch he and his sister were arranging with the MIL. He knew about our last talk but said he needed me there with him. She acted like nothing was wrong. I spoke very little and never directly to her.

    Today she wanted to give me a birthday gift, which I didn’t want. When she showed up she started saying things like, “if I have a problem with her new life style I should talk to her and not hide behind my wall.” I told her I was mad because of the way she spoke to me on the phone. She got angry all over again and talked down to me, again just being disrespectful. I told her to stop, to leave and told my husband to close the door. My husband was too dumbfounded by what was happening to actually register that I told him to close the door when she was being rude. It’s not something he expected or is used to dealing with. He didn’t so I tried.

    She got in my face and shoved me. He got between us then but got upset at me because he said I should’ve walked away instead. Yeah, I should have but it’s my home. Someone treats me badly or makes trouble in my home they leave not me!

    So tell me, in a case like this, where it’s not just simply a difference of opinion, what should happen? What do I say to him? What is his role at this point?

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      Jessica, You say nothing about your faith, or Christian values in your comment. As an administrator of this Christian web site, I feel compelled to ask you if you are a person of faith, and if so, what do you think Jesus would have you do?

      • Jessica from Canada says:

        I am a Christian. I accepted Christ when I was a preteen. Up until my folks divorce, I had no real problems with believing and really tried to follow what He would ask of me, whether from something read or felt in my heart.

        He would want me to forgive her. I really believe I did that soon after the blow out. I don’t trust her. I don’t want to be around her but I’m trying not to hold that against her. I’m stubborn but I know someday I need to try to rebuild the relationship. Right now, I’m too afraid to let someone I cared so much about back in to hurt me, whether they actually meant to or not.

  20. Alessandra from United States says:

    Live with inlaws and in a different state than parents, I miss my family so much. I have more support in my hometown than here. I have my family who loves my daughter so much. My parents treat her like she’s their own. They would help me take care of her so I can finish school and not worry about putting her in a daycare. His parents have a daughter that’s two, one year older than my daughter, so they always put her first and they don’t give my daughter as much attention.

    My husband’s family is nice as well but sometimes his sisters can be rude. They will be really nice and the next thing you know they won’t even say a word to me. His mother is nice most of the time, I appreciate them for letting us stay in their home. wWe still pay bills and pay for food so we’re not living here for free as well as rent. I’d rather live in my own home where I can do as I please. It’s really hard for me to live with his family when I miss mine so much.

    I pray my husband would change his mind one day and we could go back to live next to my family members. He says it’s never going to happen though. He states that here he gets better pay and it’s easier to live than in my hometown. I just can’t live here anymore. I’m so homesick but I love him so much and I can’t go back.

  21. Jon from Canada says:

    So here’s how it is for me. Any good advice/scripture readings would be appreciated. My relationship with my fiancé is great, but something has happened with her parents that I’m worried might cause us problems in the future. We’re going to be starting off our marriage with very little money already, but now her parents’ mental health problems are making her want to take care of them. Basically they can’t get jobs or keep them because of mental stress and depression. They have no money and can’t really make any apparently.

    I obviously don’t want them to be homeless or anything, but I don’t want them to be dependant on us during our first few years of marriage. I feel like this will only pull financial stress and emotional problems into our marriage. I think one of the problems I have is that I don’t really understand mental illnesses that don’t affect people’s learning abilities or like hearing voices etc. When I hear about problems with people’s emotions (clinical problems) I just don’t see how it’s different from other people. I feel like everyone just has different temperaments (even though I know that people say it’s actually a metal illness). I just don’t understand it. I really would love to be just free to live out our marriage not relying on or being relied upon by others. Please give me some insight here.

  22. Mongol from Nigeria says:

    I got married in 2013 to my husband that my mother so much liked and their rapport was cool. Not until after the wedding did everything change between them. We stay (personal residence) in the same area with my parents, in fact it’s a trek-able distance. My husband said my mum is expecting too much respect from him and wants to help him control his home. While my mum on the other side said my husband didn’t do the things she wanted during the wedding.

    He is arrogant, doesn’t respect her as a mother in-law. This lingered on so that my husband even took it to the church elders. Right now my parents want me to leave him, that he is not my husband. They say, what husband says he loves his wife and disregard her parents? I know my husband has his flaws in this issue, but is leaving him really the way out? What is the way out? We have no kids yet.

    • Lisa from United States says:

      Your husband comes first. She is disrespecting him and you by telling you to leave him because she cannot control his home. That may be why he seems disrespectful, which may not be the actual case, but he feels disrespected by his inlaws.

  23. Shannon from United States says:

    I need help trying to put something into words my husband can understand. His parents have said awful things that I won’t get into here. He’s been attempting to keep his distance but still when his parents send him texts he texts them back sitting on the fence… Refusing to take sides. Always nuteral. There is a funeral today. He’s not going because our daughter is sick but he was planing on it. They were his neighbors but he hasn’t talked to them in years. His parents are going and he cannot give them the cold shoulder or politely say he’ll sit somewhere else… He cannot do it.

    So if he went he would make nice, buddy, buddy them for appearance sake… Probably go to their place for lunch or spend an hour after standing around talking to them. To me, in my mind that’s almost the same as saying he agrees with them. They will look at him and think, “well it doesn’t bother him enough to be upset about it.” He told me last night I was trying to convince him to “make a scene;” I told him no…I know him well enough to know he can’t do it no matter what, so I simply said it’s best not to go. Avoid the possibility of making a scene or hurting me by playing nice. They said awful things…things I can’t even bring myself to repeat. He doesn’t understand that by refusing to take a side he is hurting me; betraying me. And I don’t know how to get it across to him.

    • Lisa from United States says:

      Sweetie, You won’t get it across to him by constantly talking to him about it. That is HIS family, and some men have a HARD time making a choice when it comes to family of origin and family of choice. Ask me how I know. I could write a book about the awful things my inlaws did and said, and all of the crying, cajoling, trying to get my husband to FEEL what I FELT.

      He didn’t; he divorced me for putting a wedge between him and his family. Yes, my complaining about his family made him bitter with ME and made him agree with all of their faults with me. Yes. Had I been smarter, I would not have chosen a man so tied to his family and then battle with them for first place.

      So with that being said, what can you do? One, ask God to change you and have compassion for him. It’s not easy for a man to choose parents vs wife. He is a part of them so when you find fault with them, you’re somewhat finding fault with HIM at least in his mind.

      Pray to God to strengthen the bond between you two. DONT mention his family to him at all. In fact, for a season, let him go visit with them alone. Don’t communicate with them. In fact you can let him know that you’re not comfortable around them, but he can go. Make things pleasant for him at home, so there is nothing negative that can be said about you. See, if you make him free to visit and no pressure, eventually he’ll come around and see things your way.

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