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So many things change when you first get married!

You and your husband are suddenly a family, just the two of you, separate from your parents.

We all know the Bible calls on our husbands to leave their parents and cleave unto their wives (Genesis 2:24). But this leaving and cleaving doesn’t mean that they aren’t still a part of their larger families as well. Their parents will always be their parents (although the roles and interactions definitely have to change after marriage).

So this reality brings with it a whole new role for newlywed women: Daughter-in-law.

Maybe you’ve been blessed with laid-back, supportive in-laws who never make waves or interfere in your marriage. Or maybe you’ve been blessed with (yes, I really meant to type that) in-laws who present more of a challenge and require added measures of grace, love, and patience.

Either way, here are some thoughts on striving to become the daughter-in-law that God wants you to be (as written by a woman who is undoubtedly still a work-in-progress in this area!).

Think of God as your Ultimate Father-in-Law.

Your husband is a son of the Most High King. That makes him a pretty special guy, right? And his Heavenly Dad has a vested interest in ensuring the care of His son.

Does that thought change how you think about your husband? What about your prayers to God when you focus mainly on phrases like, “Lord, please change him”?

When I first came across this concept, I was blown away. It broke my heart just thinking about how much it must hurt God when I hurt His beloved son. I realized that it is impossible to have a good relationship with God if I am actively mistreating one of His children.

The connection was easy to make from there: Doing everything I can to be the best wife I can be will bring me closer to God (keep in mind, this doesn’t mean never messing up, but it does mean seeking forgiveness when you do).

(For more on viewing God as your Father-in-Law, check out these great posts on Fierce Marriage and To Love, Honor, and Vacuum!)

So now, let’s apply this concept to your relationships with your earthly in-laws. How are you treating their son? Do you complain about him to them? Do you insult or emasculate him when they’re around (or at all)?

How about talking about how much you appreciate him, his accomplishments, his most positive traits?

Remember, this is their son. The man they raised from the time he was in his mother’s womb. They are fiercely protective of him and, if you’re not treating him well, they will notice and this will negatively impact your relationship with them. On the other hand, being a committed, loving, nurturing wife will endear you to them.   

Be patient.

It takes time to build relationships with people. Think about the time and energy you and your husband invested in your relationship while you were dating and engaged. His parents only get a fraction of that time to get to know you and then you’re suddenly part of the family! It must be a shock to the system, to say the least!

Give his parents time to really get to know you. Answer their questions fully and honestly. Don’t become defensive. Let them see the real you. If you’re afraid they won’t like you, just remember that your hubby knows all your flaws and still loves you. They will too!

Encourage the relationship between your husband and his parents.

Leaving and cleaving doesn’t mean that he can never talk to his parents again. Even as married adults, we are still called to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

Do whatever you can to facilitate healthy relationships between your husband and in-laws. Remind him to call every so often and make sure their birthdays are in the calendar so you don’t forget to send a card. Makes plans to visit (this may be more of a challenge if you live across the country as we do, but make the effort anyway!). Communicate with his parents through phone calls, text, or email so that they know they are important to both of you.

Pray for your in-laws.

It’s pretty much impossible to dislike someone for whom you pray regularly. Make it a point to add them to your daily prayers. If your relationship with them is rocky, make sure your prayer focus is for a change in your heart attitude and for their well-being, rather than for God to change them.

God wants you to actively seek peace in your relationships (Romans 12:18). This may sound easier than it really is but that’s why we have to pray: God will see us through!

Finally, if your relationship with your in-laws is strained, allow God to use it as an opportunity for growth.

Go into each interaction from them prayerfully, actively trying to learn and grow as a woman of God. Your husband will appreciate these efforts and you will grow closer to him and to God as a result, even if the in-law situation doesn’t improve any time soon.

Every situation is different but these are just a few ways to approach the new (and often daunting) task of becoming a daughter-in-law!

Now I’d love to hear from you about your experiences as a daughter-in-law in the early days of your marriage!Becoming a Daughter-in-Law

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8 Comments

  1. I love how you said, “…require added measures of grace, love, and patience.” We all require grace, love, and patience and sometimes we require added measures. Love that. Thank you for the reminder to allow God to use challenges as an opportunity for growth and to not assume it is only the other person who needs change. Love you!!

    • Haha, I know I need added measure of grace, love, and patience from others every single day! Knowing how flawed I am reminds me to give others more leeway! 🙂 Love you!!

  2. Hey Bree,

    I got married in May last year and being a daughter in law has been the hardest relationship transition. I agree with everything you wrote, but have a question about something you didn’t cover. My mother in law and I are nothing alike so communicating things to her without offending her can be hard. My husband and I used to live five minutes from his parents, but moved 1,200 miles away 8 months ago. Since then, his mom tells us when they are coming to visit. She never asks if they can come, she just says they are coming. I was raised with the idea that you never invite yourself to anyone’s home without asking. This has happened three times and it really bothers me, but I’m not sure how to express my frustration without hurting feelings. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Kristen! That’s a tough situation! It’s sounds like you’re a wonderful daughter-in-law who really wants to love your in-laws well, but that you also want to find healthy boundaries in your relationship with them. I’ve been praying on your questions, and I have a few thoughts that I hope can be helpful to you. First, pray on this situation. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment for handling this in a way that honors and glories Him. Ask Him to show you any places in your heart and attitude that might need to change before you approach your in-laws. Then, talk to your husband about how you’re feeling. Ask him what he thinks and how he wants to address it. He probably has many good insights about how to bring this up with his parents. Look to God’s Word for guidance on how to approach your in-laws with love, compassion, and grace. You may find ways to anticipate the visits without frustration or you may find ways to talk to your in-laws to create better boundaries. It sounds like you’re working hard to keep peace in the family, and they are blessed to have you as a daughter-in-law! Thank you so much for your question!

  3. Hi,

    I am always seeking any kind of impartial council I can get when it comes to my relationship with my mother in law. My husband and I have been married for 6 months. Before we married, we dated for almost 6 years (from age 17– high school sweethearts). We have a really special relationship. We are absolute best friends. He treats me wonderfully and I would say I do the same. We do have our arguments but very infrequently. We know each other very well so we know how to navigate each other’s personalities.

    My relationship with his mother was somewhat rocky during the years that we dated in our teens and early twenties. I am a very reserved and quiet person; it doesn’t come natural to me to pursue close relationships. I did try my best, though. It is easier for me to open up to people I feel comfortable with. His parents are separated and his father and I get along really well. His mother is one of those people who can become easily offended. It doesn’t matter who you are, you have to be very careful what you say around her because she has many triggers that will cause her to get fired up. So, because of this, I have never felt comfortable around her and she honestly kind of scares me.

    Fast forward to a couple months after we got married… My husband landed a great job that was offered to him from my father. As soon as his mom heard this news, she was livid. My husband has always aspired to be a firefighter, and had been doing it on a volunteer basis at the time. When this job opportunity came up, he took it without hesitation because it allows for him to still be a volunteer firefighter but make a whole lot more than he would as a career firefighter. In the midst of an immense blessing for my husband and I, his mother proceeded to disown him. She blamed me for him “forgetting how he was raised”.

    This was near Christmas. We have not seen her since. I will make sure my husband is texting her occasionally because I don’t want her to think we are okay with the way things are. We pray often together for God to heal the relationship. After the way his mother acted, my husband has very little desire to have a relationship with her. I’ve spared many detailed but tried to get the main ideas through. Most people just pray for me because they don’t have the first idea of what type of advice to give. I want to forgive her but it’s hard. She said a lot of really hateful things about me that I feel are very undeserved. We are at a point where it is a lot more comfortable to not have a relationship with them than it would be to try.

    • Bree Reply

      Hi Liz,
      First, please forgive me to taking so long to respond. Our family has been sick so I’ve gotten behind on nearly everything, but we’re all on the mend now, praise God! I’ve been praying over your question since I first read it, and I want you to know that you sound like a wonderfully caring wife and daughter-in-law who just wants to make the best decisions for her family. Your situation is definitely not an easy one. Please continue praying over your mother-in-law, your relationship with her, and your husband’s relationship with her. Next, I would say you and your husband should really dig into your Bible and study what God says about relationships with our family members and forgiveness. Usually we are able to find the answers we need in His perfect Word. One final suggestion would be to talk with your pastor or another trusted Christian (or Christian couple) who can help guide you two through this situation. It may be a process of forgiveness and reconciliation that has to be repeated many times over so having the support of other Christians will be a good thing for you both. For example, my husband and I often seek the counsel of the couple who did premarital counseling with us. They have so much wisdom and experience that they are able to provide insight that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Their friendship and guidance has been invaluable to us. Thank you so much taking the time to read this article and post such a heartfelt question. I’m praying for God to give you the wisdom, discernment, and guidance that you need.

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