It’s not something you dreamed of when you thought about married life, but it happened. You find yourself muttering to yourself, “I hate my in-laws!”
Chances are, you might have a valid point as to why your in-laws get your ire up. However, the friction between you has grown to be unbearable. Before you lash out and say or do things you regret, step back and let Jesus help you love them.
Whatever the reason, if you don’t get along with your in-laws; how do you handle it? Maybe you try to avoid them. Maybe you’ve even moved out of state just because you don’t get along, or maybe your dislike for your spouse’s family has caused fights between the two of you.
When you dread spending time, or even receiving a phone call or text from your in-laws, there is no doubt that biblical figures like Ruth are probably not among those whom you currently relate. You may even dream of having a mother-in-law like the one to whom Ruth commits her life when she said:
Your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried. Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if anything but death part you and me. —Ruth 1:16b-17
Wow! Imagine begging your mother-in-law to be so much a part of your life that you’d rather die than be apart from her.
When you hate your in-laws, the level of love that Ruth expressed is most likely a foreign concept that you might not even desire to pursue at the moment. However, there is a way to move from hating your in-laws to, at least, not wanting to run and hide or create an unforgettable scene of conflict whenever they are around.
First, choose to stop nurturing that grudge between you. It sounds like good advice until you begin seething over all the injustices and idiosyncrasies you have endured with your in-laws.
You have a choice of continuing down the path of hurt feelings and anger, or deciding to stop the cycle of exchanging evil for evil between your in-laws. The choice to be the bigger person and pursue peace for the sake of your spouse has some unexpected rewards. It is honestly quite freeing for you.
Keep in mind that choosing to shed some love on the in-law situation will most likely help you more than them. The end result really benefits you, your health, your marriage, and your children’s relationship with their grandparents and extended family.
Here’s a few practical pointers as to how to diffuse the volatile emotions toward your in-laws
- Refuse to put your spouse on the spot, or feeling as if he or she needs to choose an alliance with you or the in-laws when tempers flare. It is important that you don’t dump all your thoughts onto your spouse as you dog the in-laws. It is his or her family, after all, in the center of the conflict. Like it or not, he or she is still part of their gene pool.
- Find a trusted friend whom you can vent to when the feelings of discord become too much for you to bear. Choose a friend who will pray for wisdom and peace before offering advice, and also kindly redirect you toward loving thoughts and even hold you accountable to change your way of thinking in exchange for a better relationship with the once-dreaded in-laws.
- Make a list of all the traits you absolutely love about your spouse. Turn it into a game of spotting these similar traits in his or her parents.
- Devote the issue to prayer. Set aside feelings of injustices that have been done to you, and really tell God how you feel and ask Him to deliver you into forgiveness and love. This step takes a ton of humility and a huge swallowing of pride. After all, these in-laws really may be quite unlovable in their mannerisms towards you.
- Whenever you find yourself feeling angry about your in-laws, open up your Bible and begin to read until the feelings subside.