Sunday

Bless Your Marriage: Love Your Mother-in-law

I’m a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law. 

Funny how we need to add “bad” or “good” to the first title before forming an opinion, but mother-in-law carries all sorts of negative connotations without a single adjective added. 

Ironically, I think mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships are usually strengthened or damaged more by the daughter-in-law than the mother-in-law because few daughter-in-laws give their husband’s mother a chance—a real chance. 

We women are nurturers and home-builders. We want to protect our own—mark our territory. And we easily fall prey to the lie that our relationship will be better with our husband if we’re the only woman in his life. Sometimes we daughter-in-laws even misuse Genesis 2:24 as an excuse to distance ourselves from our in-laws, not realizing this weakens our marriage, our family, and our relationship with God. But before you say that’s not the case with you, let me tell you that I was never conscious of that attitude in myself until I began to pray about my in-law relationships.

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Scripture clearly commands us to honor our parents (and this includes in-laws when we marry). But Satan knows that honoring our mother-in-law will bring us personal and marital blessings, so he works overtime to confuse us with lies, fill us with insecurities, and create barriers between us and our husband’s mother.

I’ve been a daughter-in-law for 42 years, and I’ve had lots of experience doing things the wrong way. And I’ve also seen God turn things around when I obeyed His commands and quit believing Satan’s lies. 

I've written a series of posts on improving your marriage by improving your relationship with you mother-in-law. The link to each post is below. I encourage you to read each one and take time to pray about the various aspects of your relationship. I believe it will make your life and your marriage more complete. Whether your relationship is weak, strong, damaged, or just okay, I think you’ll benefit from this series.

This week’s homework: Would you make it part of your daily prayers to ask God to open your heart to new and better ways of relating to your mother-in-law? And I also encourage you to read this article from Focus on the Family writer Dr. Juli Slattery: Love Your Husband by Loving Your Mother-in-Law

The rest of the series:

Another great post on this subject by Lindsey Bell: 7 Ways to Get Along With Difficult In-Laws 

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31 comments:

  1. Do you have suggestions for honoring a mother-in-law that mocks your faith and that your husband does not want to spend time with?

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    1. I do...stick with the series, and I think you'll find some hope. And I pray for you as I write this that God will give you grace and wisdom in dealing with a relationship that is very important to Him. So much in life has to do with our actions, not the actions of others. Really, stick this out with me and I think you'll find some peace and hope in it. I made this a series instead of one long post because it's an area that has to involve prayer and openness. I've been where you've been...really. Please do this week's "homework" and come back next week for some more insights from God's Word on this subject.

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  2. I'm thankful to have a mother-in-law whom I really respect, but it wasn't always that way. Although I definitely didn't give her a chance in the beginning and pulled away from her, she also had a very hard time giving us space and learning not to criticize how we were doing things differently. It was a learning process for both of us. I used to be so easily offended by things she said until one day it occurred to me that she's not a mean person! Nothing she said came from a mean spirit! Once I learned that, I started to appreciate her much more and now we're both involved in women's ministry and biblical counseling at our church. She calls me her "Personal Research Consultant" (for finding good counseling resources) and she's my "Personal Blog Consultant" for when I come across issues that I have no idea how to handle on my marriage blog.

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  3. This is a huge challenge and I'm so glad you put it out there. So many times I'm tempted to just roll my eyes and think that it's just the way it is with a MIL, but they truly are a blessing. I realized it more when my son was born - she is just as much his grandma and my mom is. It was a very eye-opening experience and brought a lot of godly conviction as well. I'm working on loving her better...

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    1. Thanks for sharing...realizing her equal importance with your children is so important..thanks for mentioning that factor. Many MILs are made to feel more like aunts than grandmas.

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  4. Great post! I have a wonderful mother-in-law. My husband and I spend a lot of time with his family {parents, aunts, uncles, etc.} and I think it's great. My parents live 4 hours away, so it's nice to have SOME family nearby, even if they aren't blood related to me... they're important to my hubby. My mother-in-law and I certainly don't always see eye-to-eye on everything but during those times I want to take offense, I just remember: I could have had someone not-so-wonderful as a mother-in-law.

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    1. Good perspective, Alana. I think perspective is so key in our relationship with our MILs.

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  5. What a great series! My relationship with my MIL started off rocky, but improved greatly over the years. I now have a DIL, and we are blessed to have a great relationship!

    Perhaps you will want to link up with my Marriage Monday series?

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    1. I think a lot of MIL and DIL relationships start rocky... unfortunately, some stay that way. It's always good to hear when God blesses!

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  6. The title of your post drew me in. And all I can say is "AMEN." I've grown to appreciate my mother in law over the past two decades. But wish I'd been more gracious in those newlywed years. Stopping by from Better Mom Link Up today. Blessings from Iowa!

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    1. I know what you mean, Alicia. Thanks for sharing from Iowa : )

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  7. I'm looking forward to your series, Gail! My MIL has contempt for my husband and being that my loyalty is to him....well, let's just say I keep my mouth shut A LOT! Right after we got married and were leaving for our honeymoon, my husband asked his mom if she could keep our wedding cake in her fridge because we were going to eat it when we got back (we weren't going to save it for our 1 year anniversary, like tradition.) Anyways, when we got back and came to pick up our cake she said it was so good that she couldn't help herself and she ate the whole thing. I was mortified! I couldn't believe she had zero respect for us and I felt so unaccepted by her. When she hurts my feelings or has zero care to be a grandma to my boys my heart hurts, but my husband is always reminding me that she is a selfish person. It's hard. I didn't come from a Christian family but my husband did. She is a Christian woman who's involved in ministry and such but her heart doesn't spill over into our family. So glad to hear you're sharing on this topic.

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    1. Thanks for this input, Jolene. It helps guide my pen as I write about this subject. I would also appreciate your prayers that my words would clearly reflect God's heart in this matter.

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    2. we also have inlaws who are uninterested in our children and to be blunt, do not even LIKE our children. oh and they are professing "christians" as well. We spend as little time with them as possible.

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  8. Just wanted to say I will definitely be checking in with this series. It's a difficult subject and I'm sure more complex than we think.

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  9. You are so right about the negative connotation of mother-in-law... we have such a responsibility to NOT fall into that!
    would love for you to link up at Hearts&Home at http://www.mercyINKblog.com - def a heart-felt post worth linking!
    blessings!

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  10. What do you do if you have caught your MIL in lies concerning your children? Things that she knows matter to you and your husband. We no longer trust her with our children and barely did before. She also seems to have a negative influence. But, as I think about when my girls have their own children, I think of how much I will want to be involved and that makes me hurt for her, but, still, the lies...

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    1. Your #1 priority and family loyalty is YOUR little family. If someone can't be trusted with your kids, they can't be trusted. Doesn't matter if they share some DNA with you or not. You can still be around the family, but you may choose to limit interactions to times when you will all be there (no sleepovers at grandma's) or something. Especially if the lies were safety related ("Yeah she used a car seat" when in fact the child did not)

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  11. I love my MIL. She is respectful and respectable. She wasn't a very loving mother while my husband was growing up, but as a Grandmother and mother of an adult son, she does well and is a blessing.

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  12. can't wait to read more - this is a great topic that should be encouraged more often! thanks!
    amber from ithoughtofitsecond.blogspot.com

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  13. amen nice post thanks for sharing looking for to visit more..blessings from arnhem

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  14. Ooo...I'm going to be following this one as I can so use some encouragement in this area. I know its all my attitude too! Augh. Thanks for sharing!

    Kathy

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  15. I have a wonderful mother-in-law and a fairly good relationship with her but your post has been used to convict me of lack of pursing that relationship to make it even better! Thank you for sharing with us at No Ordinary Blog Hop. Keep linking up. every blessing, Kelly

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  16. Daughter-in laws,please make the effort to correct your relationship, there is much to gain. I've been a DIL for 3 years and I took a long time to learn how to be humble and to let go, my head was full of the 'liberated woman' thingy even though I thought of myself as a 'righteous' Christian.
    Christian Daughter-in-laws are in a unique position to be a light unto the world. Don't believe the lies around you. By honoring we are honored by our husbands, by our children when they are older, even by other unrelated on lookers. In my case, I had to ask Jesus to heal my wounded spirit first, to help me stop hurting from past hurts and to be willing to engage again.

    For MILs who are hurting, please be patient. Don't add to the injury by hitting out yourself. Your DIL will come around if you pray consistently and are loving, because 'God is a God of Restoration'(as my MIL said when I fought with her last year).

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    1. Thanks. There's lots of sound advice in what you've said. Bless you.

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  17. I have a mother in law who we had to move in with as she had a stoke and lost her husband to cancer. All within 6 months. We were are newlyweds who have been married for two years. She has recovered physically but the family went through a harrowing time dealing with the loss and my mother in laws new state of dependency on us to take care of her. It has been challenging for my husband and myself to say the least, it seems to get harder as time goes by, her neediness is almost suffocating and it is compounded by depression and a complete lack of zeal for life. I haven't given up though, and will look at the series.

    Sam-amy
    Jamaica

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  18. I have a MIL that I have issues with. We had a big fight 17 years ago when my husband and I were newlyweds. I was only 19 years old and as I have come to realize didn't give her a chance. We both said and did things that were very hurtful. O forgave, but she never has. We get along most of the time but when I say or do something she doesn't like she always brings the past back up and throws it in my face. I have tried and tried to right my wrongs with her but nothing ever changes. I hope this blog will help me repair our relationship. I do really love and care about her.

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    1. Dear Tonya,
      I pray that your mil will see the sincerity of your attitude and soften her heart toward you.
      God bless you as you seek to improve this relationship.
      I believe God will give you strength and wisdom.
      Gail

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  19. Hi, I am seeking God's advise through this blog. Both my MIL and myself get along very much. She praises me for all the things I do. I take care of her (not only physical support but also financial). My husband is still a momma' s boy. I am ok with that too as long as he loves me very much. But one thing I cannot take is she provokes my husband that my parents are not good. Now we have a no-talking relationship b/w my parents and my husband. I love my parents too and this really hurts me a lot. My MIL hurts me with soft words which I cannot complain or point fingers at.

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  20. I'm so sorry that you are caught in this situation. It truly sounds difficult.

    Just as God expects you to honor your husband's parents, He expects your husband to honor your parents.

    I do not know how to advise you except to encourage you to pray and ask God how you can handle this situation the best way.

    Can you talk to your husband about Ephesians 6:2-3 and the importance God places on honoring parents?

    I pray God will show you how to handle this.
    Gail

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  21. A man named Jerry left a message. I have edited the comment to leave out some personal elements, but I wanted to tell Jerry, in case he checks back, that I will be praying for his situation.
    Sincerely, Gail

    Jerry's comment, in part:
    My sister-in-law is emotionally abusive to my mother. And my sister-in-law considers herself a wonderful example of a Godly, Christian woman...

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