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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).
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.
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.
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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!