How Do You Live With Your In Laws and Still Love Them?

Photo by FrameAngel, courtesy of
Photo by FrameAngel, courtesy of

Living with your in laws (parents), or having them live with you, is a complicated situation —particularly for those of you who live in Africa and the Middle East, and other parts of the world, where this is a common cultural practice. This may work out fine in some households. However, some of you may not have a family that works together to make this an easy living arrangement.

This whole situation is a particularly perplexing one because the Bible tells you that as a married couple, you are to leave your parents and cleave to each other as husband and wife (see: Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; and Ephesians 5:31). But when circumstances stare you in the face where you feel it is not possible to live separately from your in laws (parents), married life becomes more complicated.

How do you live out the Biblical principle to “leave and cleave” now that you are married, and yet live under the same roof in a peaceable manner with your parents (in laws)? You want to always love and “honor” your parents (in laws), because you know that is the right thing to do, but when they don’t make it easy, how do you do it?

To be quite honest, we don’t know. This may be an almost impossible situation! And yet the Bible says that with God nothing is impossible! So if there isn’t any other choice you can make in this matter, there must be a way to make this work. It may not be as peaceable or as comfortable as you want it to be, but with God’s help, you can do it.

The Bible warns us of the various tribulations we will encounter in this life. Even in married life we are told “those who marry will face many troubles in this life” (1 Corinthians 7:28). Living with your parents (in laws), may be a tribulation or a “trouble” that you will need to work through with the Lord’s guidance, and strength. This could be an “iron sharpening iron” situation that the Bible talks about (Proverbs 27:17) where you have the opportunity to allow the Lord to bring out His character within you as circumstances and people rub you in a way that causes sparks. Follow the rules for Holy living that you can read in Colossians 3.

It’s true that the ideal may seem to be that you and your in laws (parents) live in separate households. But the ideal isn’t always possible. So after you have prayed, if you see that things aren’t going to change at this time, the next wisest choice is to make the best of the circumstances you are in, rather wasting energy on complaining or wishing for that which you cannot change at this point in time. There is a time to say something and there is also a time to be quiet and let God say it. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.) Other times God tells us to “be content in the circumstances we find ourselves.” (See Philippians 4:12-13.) And this may be what you are facing at this time. Ask God to show you what you are to do in this season of your life.

Keep in mind that you and your spouse can still “leave” your parents in your mindset and in your attitudes —finding ways to cleave together, even if you can’t live apart from your family in your living circumstances. You just have to be more cleaver in how you make this happen —firmly placing the boundaries that are possible. The Lord can show you how to do this.

You may even have a spouse that doesn’t fully join with you in working through this situation in a “cleaving” type of way. And that is most certainly perplexing and sad because this is definitely not how God intended for marriage to work! Our hearts go out to you. But don’t give up. God is with you as you reach out to Him for help. Cry out your circumstances to Him and ask Him for continual guidance as to how to make the best of a situation that seems to be the worst!

And don’t give up if you pray and God is silent for a period of time. His silence will not be forever. It’s not that He doesn’t hear you, but there are reasons for His silence that you need to accept. He is God and His ways are not your ways. God tells us in the Bible, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8).

If you are wondering why God is not answering your prayers as quickly or in the same way you believe He should concerning this problem (or others), consider the following thoughts, which come from the teaching of Oswald Chambers from his book My Utmost for His Highest, (published by Barbour and Company). Chambers writes:

“We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith. It may be so in the initial stages; but we do not earn anything by faith. Faith brings us into right relationship with God and gives God His opportunity. God has frequently to knock the bottom board out of your experience if you are a saint in order to get you into contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings.

“Your earlier life of faith was narrow and intense, settled around a little sun-spot of experience, full of light and sweetness; then God withdrew His conscious blessing in order to teach you to walk by faith. You are worth more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight and thrilling testimony.

“Faith by its very nature must be tried and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. …Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him —I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ —this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole Bible.”

It may seem cruel of God to withdraw from you when you are dealing with so many problems, but we encourage you to understand that God has a reason why He allows certain things to happen in certain ways and at certain (or in uncertain) times. His silence may be a time when He is trusting you to live by faith at this time and to cooperate with Him in stretching your character beyond the limits of what you may think should happen. We encourage you to trust His silence and trust His heart. He loves you and knows what is ultimately best for all concerned.

If you have a spouse that recognizes the Biblical mandate to “leave and cleave” and yet you can’t physically live elsewhere at this time, ask God as a married couple to help you —even if it is something you feel you must do within your mind and actions within the same home as your family. God will lead you (at the proper time) as you lean upon Him, rather than upon that which you see right now. (See Proverbs 3:5-6.)

If you don’t have a spouse that at this time recognizes the “leave and cleave” mandate, then ask God how you are to proceed each day (hour, minute) under the constraints you find yourself living. God will be your guide. And what you see today in your spouse may actually change in the future. Trust God in this.

To help you further in this journey, we’ve searched for articles you can read that may give you insights into how to make your living situation work. We’ve found a few (and hopefully will find more in the future) that may help you. Even if your circumstances are not the same as in the articles we provide below for you to read, pray and then glean. Ask the Lord to show you what you can and cannot use, and what you can tailor in such a way that they will work in your situation. Open your heart and mind to all of the possibilities that God can show you.

Just make sure that what you use is not contrary to scripture. It is important that you are not allowing your own mind or a contrary spirit disguising itself as “angel of light” (that is working against God’s ways), to fool you. Be on the alert! (See 1 Peter 5:8-11.) Let the Bible, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, lead you into Truth in the decisions you make.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Ask the Lord to help you to be strong in doing what is best and right for all concerned —especially for the health of your marriage.

We want you to know that one or more of the articles, is not written from a Christian perspective. But we believe you will still find helpful things among all the articles that could help you. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide as to what you should and shouldn’t use. Please click onto the links provided below to read:

Posted on the web site, Sarah Haymaker writes:


From Pastor Walter Snyder, who addresses this issue:


On the web site, Sheri and Bob Stritof address:


On the web site, Be About Jesus, Pat Sieler discusses:


This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


Filed under: Dealing with In Laws & Parents

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


49 responses to “How Do You Live With Your In Laws and Still Love Them?

  1. This speaks to me. My husband and I got married almost two years ago and we have been living with his mother since we got married. She’s disabled and doesn’t receive enough money to live on her own. So we’re living with her, helping her make her monthly house payment. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’re making it work.

    I have not been the best wife in this area and it has caused strain on our marriage, but I’m becoming okay with the situation and trusting the Lord. Thank you for this! We’ve been told by many people that we’re doing the wrong thing by helping his mom and living with her. Some of the things that we’ve been told “You should just kick her out of her house.” “You shouldn’t have to take care of her, because you’re married now.” “You’re not doing the right thing, because you should cleave to your wife and leave your parents.” However, we feel we’re doing what is best and have lately been thinking, is the advice we’ve been receiving what Jesus would do or what God would want us to do?

  2. (USA) I am in a situation in which I feel misunderstood and misplaced. I have gotten married with my spouse 4 months ago. Because we both are still in college, he decided to continue living in the 2nd floor apartment above his family to save money after marriage. Then we will move out. During the week of our wedding he was laid off his full time job, and now we both depend on unemployment benefits to pay bills. However, I feel as though the phrase “leaving thy father and mother” is not visible to me.

    He has 6 younger siblings, he is the oldest being 27 years old. Two of them are married and they moved out, and the youngest just turned 7. So I would understand they are a big family, inseparable and have gone through many hardships as a family. However, they depend on him too much. His excuse is that his step-father pays the mortgage (since its a lot) while he is in charge of paying every other bill (which is about the same amount as paying the mortgage), including everyone’s phone bill. Also that he has a special relationship with his mother (Past experience that he does not want to tell me about, because it is unnecessary) which motivates him to still support his family. I don’t mind my husband visiting them and helping them out, but we have our own house responsibilities to take care of. But I feel as though he tells her everything that is going on. I thought that because he is married everything will change, but everything is still the SAME. The only difference is that now I am living with him.

    I understand that in marriage it might be a bit rough in the beginning getting used to each other, and both of us must deal with it together. But I feel as though his family becomes involved when it comes to me transitioning to married life. They want me to get used to THEIR lifestyle and my husband gets upset if I don’t. However I want to create my own lifestyle with my husband, in which both my husband and I can work together; but they prefer their lifestyle is the best way. Every family is different, and because they are a big family (compared to my small family of 4) the way my family does things are different. However, because my family was against my marriage, it is hard to communicate with them when they don’t want to see me.

    I feel frustrated and alone, and when ever I try to explain to my husband how I feel, he sees it as I hate his whole family all together, even though they have been there for me when my own family hasn’t. I want the Lord to help me on this road but I feel as though things are’t going well. Any advice?