Inlaws or Outlaws? – MM #78

Inlaws - Dollarphotoclub_10242610.jpgWe’re told in the Bible, that when we marry, “For this reason” we are to “leave” the primary allegiance we had with our mother, father and “cleave” to our spouse. We are “no longer as two” but were are to be as “one.” In other words, after wedding vows are exchanged they are to step behind each spouse both emotionally and authoritatively. If this doesn’t take place the offended spouse, quite often, starts viewing their inlaws as “outlaws” because of the intrusion into their marital union.

“This is not to suggest that children and parents should cut off their relationship under the guise of leaving and cleaving. But your primary human relationship now is with your spouse, not your parents. Your commitment to God comes first; then your bond to your spouse, then to any children you might have, then to your family of origin, and then to extended family and friends” (Sandra Lundberg, from the book, The First Five Years of Marriage).

Dealing with Inlaws

The importance they still have in our spouse’s heart shouldn’t be underestimated. But the influential role they once held in our decisions is to change.

If this hasn’t been the case in your marriage up to this point, this can be a time of “NEW BEGINNINGS” in your relationship with your spouse and his or her family “from this day forward.” It’s important that you make the necessary changes and stand by them together. With this in mind, please prayerfully consider the following thoughts. They come from an article titled “In Laws or Out Laws,” written by Dr Randy Carlson

He writes:

Lately on our radio program, I’ve been hearing from more people than ever about the difficulties they’re having in their marriages dealing with their mothers-in-law or fathers-in-law. The complaints vary. For one caller, it’s his father-in-law that’s showing favoritism for one grandchild over the other. Another person gets angry because her mother-in-law is always trying to control her husband.

For many couples, it’s the in-laws that simply won’t let go of their children and let them grow up. They constantly give unwanted advice on parenting, finances —even church. And then there’s the concern about in-laws who are not believers, who are having a negative influence on their grandchildren.

Afraid to Confront Parents

Whatever the circumstance, the way to overcome the conflict is through communication. But far too often, the husband or wife is afraid to confront their parents, or worse yet, just prefer to sweep the problems under the rug and pretend they don’t exist.

In the meantime, resentment and anger builds to the point that the easiest solution is just to stay away from the meddling in-laws, thereby depriving their children of an important and foundational family relationship —their grandparents.

Three Tips

“Here are three practical tips to help you deal with your in-law outlaws in a way that will glorify God and move your family toward healing, closeness and renewed trust.

1. Your in-laws are not the enemy:

Couples need to start with a little self-analysis. If you see your in-laws as the enemy, you’ll never get anywhere with them. No matter how troublesome they seem, you need to take the lead in working toward solving the problems.

“One thing that might help is to remember that your mother or father-in law is different from your parents. You cannot compare the two, because in most cases your in-laws will come up short. Therefore, you need to get to know them for who they are, not for what you want them to be.

2. “The biological connection:

If a wife has a problem with her husband’s parents, it is the responsibility of the husband to bring that issue before his parents —no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Truth is, the biological child will generally carry more credibility with his or her own parents, and should discern how to best communicate with them. It is then vital that the biological husband or wife lovingly but firmly defends his or her spouse and family.

3. “Stay unified:

Finally, couples need to be 100 per cent unified in their communication with their in-laws. It’s important for the mother or father-in-law to sense that there is no way they can possibly use their parental influence on their own child to try and drive a wedge in their marriage or in their role as parents.

“How can you do this while keeping the Biblical command to, ‘Honor your father and mother?’ By understanding and then communicating God’s design for families as established in the second chapter of Genesis. ‘A man will leave his father and mother,’ verse 24 says, ‘and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’

Leave and Cleave

When you marry, you are to ‘leave’ your parental home and ‘cleave’ to your spouse and build a new home—with rules, expectations and goals set by you, not your parents. As a couple, you set clear boundaries regarding how you will maintain your relationship with your in-laws, and how you will communicate this to them.

In fact, it’s best to do this when you’re engaged so that the expectations of both you and your in-laws are established before marriage and parenting enters the picture.

When In-Laws Are Not Believers

Special relationship dynamics do exist when your in-laws are not believers in Christ. First, you must remember that it is still vitally important to nurture your relationship with your unsaved in-laws, especially when grandchildren are involved. But, as a couple, you need to stay sensitive to spiritual issues.

If your non-Christian in-laws are prone to use obscene language, live a carnal lifestyle, or try to directly influence you and your children against Christian beliefs, you need to step in and address the situation as lovingly as you can.

Goal: to Alter Behavior

Your goal here is not to change your in-laws. It’s to get them to alter their behavior as needed to protect your children and marriage as you see fit. But in extreme cases, where the mother- or father-in-law is an alcoholic, addicted to drugs, or is violent, you must draw the line to safeguard your family. Be sure to also communicate to your children what is happening with their grandparents. Encourage them to pray for the situation.

“In-law parents and grandparents are important members of your family. But your marriage and role as parents is now the priority. Wise couples will do everything they can to ensure they have a long, healthy relationship with their in-laws. Communication is the key to making that happen.”

Further Help

To help you further on this issue, we have numerous articles, quotes, testimonies, and available comment sections dedicated to Dealing with In Laws & Parents, posted on this web site.

Plus, below there are several links to web site articles, to read that could help you further with this issue:




— ALSO —


We hope all of this helps you to set your marriage in God’s order.
Cindy and Steve Wright

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Filed under: Marriage Messages

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74 responses to “Inlaws or Outlaws? – MM #78

  1. I’m a step mother and my stepdaughter’s fiancé has been inappropriate. Sexual innuendos. I built up the courage to tell my partner about it. He thought I was lying at first, but at the same time he believes me. The weddings in March; family from overseas is coming. First time experience of being in this situation I told straight away and got abused. I never told my partner the first time, but 2nd time I have.

    Now, my partner’s trying to decide whether or not he lets his daughter get married or not. He saying I put him in an awkward position. I’m trying to build strong relationship with my partner so I took the risk and told him. Now we have no idea what to do. Do we let his daughter sort it out herself? If it was my girl and I knew I’d say something but she would probably go through with it. HELP!

    1. Hilda, Cindy and I agree that it would be best for you and your husband to take his daughter aside and tell her the truth. She needs to know this so SHE can make the decision. Yes, this is hard to do, but if she does not know the truth about her fiancés behavior before they get married, we can almost promise you he will continue this after he’s married. He appears to be a “player” and feels there is noting inappropriate when it comes to getting what he wants from women.

      So, to save your friends and family from the inconvenience of having to cancel reservations and your personal embarrassment you will be jeopardizing your step-daughters marriage. She will find out eventually and if she ever finds out you knew about this before she got married and never warned her, you will be in for a world of hurt in your personal relationship with her.

      I also have to clarify for your husband that YOU didn’t put him in this awkward situation; it was the fiancé. Don’t take any of this guilt upon yourselves – he is responsible for this mess that he created himself because of his extremely inappropriate behavior. And unless his daughter is underage (younger than 18) your husband can’t legally stop her from marrying this guy. Ultimately, it will be her decision…and hopefully she will choose wisely, even though it will hurt a lot for a while. But it will save her a world of pain in the future.

      Your step-daughter needs to know he will probably try to lie his way out of it, and/or apologize and tell her it will never happen again. We can almost promise you, Hilda, that what he did to come on to you wasn’t the first time he’s done this, nor will it be the last. We wish all of you the best in this matter.

  2. My problem is my in-laws are unbelievers and we are Christian. My mother in law always makes comments about us going back to their religion. They consume alcohol with my husband and if there is a fight my mother in law blames religion. She gets drunk and behaves in a rude manner, and then she wants to bully me into taking the blame for bringing her son to Christ. How do I deal with her because my husband won’t do anything?

  3. Right now my husband and I are seperated due to domestic violence. We do have a 1 year old. I feel me being His 2nd wife my husband doesn’t see how much his parents or his mother has ruinned our relationship. In fact I personally do not want to ever see her again and I want him to cut her out of our lives. I will never trust her ever. He wont. He stands by his mother as if she is his wife.

    She has mental behavioral issues that only God can free her of and my husband. How can I explain to him that becoming one means in everything! That he is to believe his wife if certain events had happened and that is not a good thing. That he has toxic parents. That whenever he’s around them just for a little bit. He becomes very cold, aloof, quiet he changes or maybe he’s just a violent man I don’t know? Please give me advice. Plus there is prejudice. So instead of building my trust by staying away from them. He goes againt my wishes. I hate my marriage! God knows how horrible it is.