What should I call my in-laws? My family is in LA, his family is in NY, we live in Chicago, how in the world can we really get to know each other?! These are just a few of the awkward questions I’m still figuring out about our families, eight months into marriage.
Now that I’m married I can see how relationships with in-laws can be a source of conflict fa real! Right up there with money and sex. Alex and I are definitely still in the beginning stages of knowing each other’s families. Thankfully, we’re blessed to have both our parents be supportive of our marriage, and haven’t had any huge conflicts…yet. However, I know for many couples, relationships with in-laws are STRESSFUL. In many cases it is even toxic! Our pastor’s wife, Tracy, openly shared with us how HORRIBLE her relationship was with her in-laws for the first 8 years of her marriage (Yikes!). This post is the interview I had with Tracy sharing how she protected her marriage from her Monster In-laws. Oops! I mean her in-laws, and how she eventually learned to love them.
What did the journey towards marriage look like for you?
It was short! We met in July 1998. I worked for an inner city ministry in Chicago. He worked as a youth pastor in North Carolina, and brought some high school students up for a week long mission trip. I was the liaison for the local ministry and when the trip was over he asked for my phone number. I gave him my email instead [lol]. We both had solid relationships with Christ, similar ministry goals, and loved spending time together. By December we were dating, In June 1999 we married. It was a complete whirlwind!
What was it like to become a part of a new family? Did they embrace you?
It was scary! When I first met his family they were super sweet. But because our dating and engagement period was so short, I think they were afraid they were going to lose Jason.
Once we got married Jason put up boundaries as to where we would spend our time. They would ask him, “Would you like to come home?” He would respond by saying, “Let me ask Tracy.” I think they felt like I was taking over. I did not feel accepted at all for the first eight years of our marriage…But now I do.
What were some unexpected conflicts you had with your in laws? How were they resolved?
We had conflict very quickly after we were married. Jason’s parents wanted to sit down and make a budget for us! At the time, we were 23 and 24 years old, independent, and we did not have financial problems. This was not going to work. Jason had to stand up to his parents and set boundaries. That soon became the pattern.
How did conflict with your in-laws impact your marriage?
The first year was very tense! It was really hard for Jason too. I think He felt very torn. Here’s his family that he loves and has known his whole life, and here is his new wife and a very turbulent relationship. I felt very insecure and didn’t know who he was going to choose. We had to learn how to become one unit instead of two different families. So Jason met with his dad, man-to-man, and told him, ‘I am the head of my house.’ He set up boundaries and held on to them. It was so life giving for me!
How helpful was your husband in fostering a connection between you and your in-laws?
We prayed about it a lot. I was really angry, bitter, and hurt. No one in my entire life has hurt me more than my in-laws. Three years into the marriage God convicted me of being bitter. I knew I had to forgive them. They may never apologize but I forgave them…It was not easy.
“No one in my entire life has hurt me more than my in-laws.”
For engaged and newlywed couples, what words of wisdom would you give them?
My advice would be, get to know the details of how the family works: holidays, how involved they are with each other, etc… Learn how you can be a part of it. Study the family and inner workings of the relationship. You can’t do everything, but figure out where you fit in.
Avoid complaining about your spouse in front of your parents. Instead, make it a priority to compliment your spouse and build them up in front of your families.
*End of Interview* (Names changed for privacy).
Tracy’s story and perseverance to make peace with her in-laws was very insightful for me, (8 yrs of extreme conflict? My God!). I hope it encouraged you. She will be celebrating 18 yrs of marriage this summer 🙂
What has been your experience with your in-laws? What advice do you have? Share below in the comments section!
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