by Harriet Hairston
My marriage hasn’t been a crystal stair, y’all. It’s been full of heartache, stress, poor decisions and frustration. Yet through it all, the love Mr. Incredible and I share still overcomes all those challenges and evaporates the manure we get ourselves into. We manage to always come out smelling like roses (thank God for His grace!).
However, if you have encountered these types of challenges, it can be easy to run to in laws and parents to glean some wisdom. That’s totally understandable because there is safety in wise counsel. What I’ve learned through that is that everyone has an opinion. It’s important for my husband and I, in the midst of all the seemingly great advice and sage opinions to come back together to get on the same page. We have to sift through the advice, opinions and perceptions of our in laws (and most of it is good, solid information) to make our own decision and go in our own direction.
I was talking to a friend, and we discussed some “Don’ts” when respectfully listening to our parents and in-laws. Don’t:
- Allow parents to step on your spouse’s toes. The decisions you and your spouse make are difficult enough without Moms and Pops trying to step in and be controlling, manipulative, or even just well meaning and concerned.
- Share too much information about the difficulties you’re having with biased relatives. They will take sides, and when all the dust has settled and you and your spouse are on good terms, they will still have that bad taste in their mouths from what you shared.
- Incorporate traditions that you don’t find relevant or necessary from your years growing up just to appease your in laws/family. I’m not talking about staples like prayer and communication, but what does it matter that you decorate your house blue and silver for Christmas vs. red and green? I don’t like black eyed peas, so just because we ate them every new year growing up, I don’t have to make my family miserable like that. LOL
- Share information with relatives that like to put 1000 on 10 (make mountains out of molehills).
- Subject your marriage to nosy family members or manipulative relatives that want to see things go their way. Nine times out of ten, you will find yourselves miserable and giving your relatives more fodder to talk about around their dining room tables.
These pointers are along the typical complaints we see from in-laws. Nevertheless, there are in laws and relatives that not only mean well, but have learned valuable lessons they have walked through so we don’t have to! I would definitely suggest you DO the following:
- Solicit prayer from relatives that have relationships with Christ. Obviously this is relegated to the Christian marriages, but remember that RELIGION does not equate to relationship. Know the difference and tread carefully.
- Communicate the resolving of conflict with relatives you may have mistakenly told your issues to. It puts out the fire on their tongues when they want to talk about your past difficulties in your marriage.
- Realize that more often than not, your family and in laws love you. That fact alone obligates you to treat them with the same love and respect in return.
- Listen to their wisdom when it’s irrefutable. In many ways, they have walked where we’re trying to tread, and they have seen the stumbling blocks that we may be ignorant of. Be teachable and coachable in that aspect.
- Allow them to speak into your lives with proper boundaries.
Like it or not, in laws are a part of marriage. When we married our spouses, we married their families as well. It’s important for us to love them and give them as much grace as we can. Yet it’s also important to be wise and use boundaries when we feel the need to share private parts of our marriage with them. Chew the meat, spit the bones out and live in peace!
BMWK, are there any other ways you chew the meat and spit the bones out with your in laws? Speak your piece!
Harriet Hairston is a woman who slips and slides in and out of labels (military officer, human resource manager, minister, mentor, spoken word artist and teacher). The only ones that have stuck so far are “wife” and “mother” (the most important in her estimation). The rest have taught her well that only what she does for Christ will last. There is one more permanent label she holds: “author.” You can purchase her first book, “Who Are You?” simply by clicking on the link. You can also contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.