ADVICE & ANSWERS: In-Law/Parent Relationships as a Newlywed?

Allison, a newly married Making Home reader, brings this question today:

I am a young wife, ( I'm 19), and my husband and I have been married for not quite 4 months. The city we live in could be considered a "college-town," and my husband and I met at church while he was a student there. It is also my hometown, so until the day of our wedding, I lived at home with my parents and younger brother.

Now that I've given you a little background, my question is basically this - what should my relationship with my parents look like now that I am married? I realize that they are no longer my source of authority, but that my husband is. My question is not so much one of authority, but of time and relationship. How much time is appropriate to spend with them? What are some basic "Do's" and "Dont's?"

So what would you say to this newlywed? What advice would you give, from the Bible, from your experiences, and from what you've seen in your own life and the lives of others? I look forward to reading the advice you'd give to Allison!


Melissa said...

Ooooh! Excellent question!

I was in a similar situation when I got married 13 years ago (one month before I turned 19!) and had a really hard time figuring out how to work full time, be a wife and an "adult out of the house child". My parents had a VERY difficult time with it too and often would try and make me feel guilty for not calling enough or not coming over enough.

My advice? Seek out God's word and make your husband the priority! By honoring your husband (taking care of your home and such needs first) you will bring honor to God and begin your marriage on the right foot. Good luck!

Many Blessings,
Vancouver, WA

jennifer said...

I stumbled across your blog and I am intrigued. I was married at 21, and have been married 19 years now.

I strongly believe Genesis 2:24. become one. Now I appreciate the fact that you are concerned about your parents.

I have a son that just turned 18, so I feel like I see both sides. Listen to family advice as long as there are no barbs or negative comments about you and your spouse. Marriage is a full time job and one should always give the spouse the benefit of the doubt before anyone else is told about their failings.

The marriage is yours as a blessing from the Lord, and if you give it a chance it will be. Allow no one to come between you. Not a high school friend, not a mother, not a sibling. You are now part of a new family...yours, and all others are now extended family.

So my advice is be strong and allow this family to grow. Keep traditions from the old and blend with the new, but at all costs, if any try and make you choose them over your spouse it is a no brainer.

For my children I have always told them that when they marry even the holidays become their own. As grandparents my husband and I will watch the children create their own memories, just as their dad and I have.

Great question, forgive me for running on

Katy-Anne said...

No longer is a married person required to obey their parents, they are only required to honour them. That doesn't mean that they have to be there all the time to do that. If it is your parents making you feel bad, don't let them, because that definitely will come between you and your husband.

Anonymous said...

I'm 25, and I got married 1 1/2 years ago. I've always been very close with my parents. My main "don't" would be not to go to your parents with marital disagreements. Keep what is sacred in your marriage within your marriage. Let there be things that only you and your husband share.

I have really enjoyed having my parents visit us at our home. It's been fun to plan meals for them and "show-off" our place! It's also a nice dynamic-- it makes me feel really grown up. You could try doing that to establish you and your husband as a family, separate from your parents and siblings but still together.

Sorry for such a long answer, Jess.

Good luck!

dcrmom said...

Great question, and you've had some good advice. I also went from my daddy's house to my husband's. I was 23. But. I moved away. And my parents never, EVER pressured us in any way. Neither of our sets of parents did. If you have any of those issues, then I'm probably not much help.

I think it's fine to spend time with your family as long as everyone enjoys it. But if it starts to interfere in your marriage, then you need to reevaluate, really listen to any concerns your husband might have.

I wouldn't get in the habit of eating dinner there more than once or twice a week. You don't want to become dependent on them, you know? You do want to establish your own family. But until you have kids, that's kind of hard to do.

Mrs. Brigham said...

Alison- The amount of time spent with your parents is really up to you and your husband. Building your relationship with your husband ought to be your first priority, but there is nothing to say that spending time with your parents would be a problem. I did not live near my parents when I was first married, but now that we are back in their neck of the woods, my parents (& sometimes sister) come over for dinner once a week. On other weeks I might see my parents a time or two more, and this usually happens when my husband is at work as not to interfere with my time with him. My grandparents also typically come over one time a week to see me and my daughter during the day. Also, my dad & husband get along great and work right next door to each other, so they have lunch together once or twice during the week. I typically only see friends (unless they are a couple/family and we are all getting together) when my husband is at work as well. There may be exceptions in certain cases, but guarding my time with him & our daughter is very important to me.

As far as "dos" and "donts" there are several bits of advice that I was given that have been beneficial to my marriage.

*Try to have a special date night once a week, even if it means staying home to eat homemade pizza & wings and watching rented movies or having an indoor picnic.

*NEVER speak ill of your husband to your family/friends or let them know the nitty-gritty of your disagreements. Words said in anger can be nasty, cause your husband to appear awful to your family, and cannot be undone. Work your problems out with him, not others.

*If a problem is too tough for you two to handle alone, seek out help from your minister or similar third party. They will be able to offer objective help & observation to solve whatever might be going on.

*Give "gifts" freely, and by gifts I mean compromises. If something does not really matter to you, but does to your husband, let him have his way. If there is a habit that annoys your husband, try your best to give it up, rather than defend it. Be willing & ready to put his needs above your own with a *happy* servants heart, and do this rather than focus on what he might or might not do. A Christ centered marriage marriage is 100/100, not 50/50.

*Be sure to turn to THE book on martial advice, God's Word, before you turn to any other book about marriage. The recipe for worshiping & serving God, marriage, parenthood, helping others, and life in general can only, truly, be found in the Bible.

Best wishes on your recent marriage, Alison. I pray that the Lord blesses y'all richly! :o)

Brenda said...

Ah, yes. I think my husband had a bit too much of my family when we first married. Both my sisters lived right near us in the apartment complex and we were having a blast together! Then I noticed my husband kept retreating to the very tiny patio we had--hmmm. Luckily, my parents are not the kind to drop in all the time, so it just took me deciding not to go over there so much to change things. It would be a bit harder if your family was coming to you all the time. I would ask him "Do you mind if I run over to mom's for a while?" just out of courtesy to him.
I had a friend who married at 19 and for the first 3 Christmases they were married, they spent Christmas eve at her mom and dad's house b/c her little brother still lived at home and she didn't want to miss her Daddy ringing the bells like Santa at midnight and all the Christmas morning traditions of her parent's house. I felt sorry for her new husband having to sleep over at his in-laws so she would enjoy Christmas morning. I thought they should start their own traditions first and then go visit at her parents house later in the day.

Kristin said...

I've been married a year and a half (now 27), and haven't lived close to my family the entire time my husband and I were dating/engaged or married. However, I'm very close to my family, my mom especially, and I have three pieces of advice for you:
First, be very aware of the amount of time you spend with your family (or friends, or church groups, etc.) in comparison to your time with your husband. It's so important to establish a strong relationship and clear priorities, especially that first year! Make sure he comes first for you and that his needs are being met before you look to others.
Second, make it a point to tell him first about any new events in your life, your day at work, thoughts about the future, worries, hopes, etc. It can be easy to keep your parents, a sibling or a best friend in that role - especially living so close to family - but you need to make sure your husband knows about you first and that he really feels like he's your best friend.
Finally, make sure you're getting his approval for any plans you might want to make with your family, and if he says no, accept his decision. This will show him and your parents clearer than any words that the authority has transfered.
God bless you in your desire to honor Him, your husband and your parents, and enjoy that first year!

Word Warrior said...

We have the privilege of living next door to my parents, with whom I have a close relationship. They are great about letting us be our own family, with little interference.

I have had to check myself in the area of seeking my father's advice over my husband's. It's easy to do, since our fathers have far more experience and wisdom than our young husbands, but I think it is a dangerous area that could easily damage our husband's confidence.

Also, the area of raising children can be tricky. Grandparents are often not exactly on the same page with your child-raising parents don't interfere much at all, but I know some couples can have tremendous difficulty trying to communicate their wishes about their children to the grandparents.

It may prove helpful for you and your husband to sit down together and write out some things that are important to you regarding your parents' involvement and assistance with your children. (Do's and dont's when they visit, etc.) And then, share it with them, in honor and love, but with a firmness that says you are the parents.

Anonymous said...

Wow Allison could be me! That's my story exactly - 15 years ago. I love Melissa's advice and I can't think of anything else to add to it. Seek God, put your husband and your relationship first above your family.

Anna S said...

I so enjoyed reading everyone's input. I've been thinking about this lately too.

In some cultures it's more complicated - when it's common for parents and children to continue living together after marriage, especially when elderly parents need their children and don't feel comfortable living on their own anymore, power struggles may arise. It's a tough balance.

Allena said...

You've gotten some great advice.
I've been married for 8 years now and i also got married at 19. though we didn't live near our parents. (my husband was in the army at the time)

Anyways, I think talking with your husband first about what he thinks about how much time to spend with your family is probably a great idea. He should now be the 2nd person you talk to about your decisions. (after praying of course)I didn't do this at first, in my marriage, so when I started asking my Dh what he thought about things he looked at me like i grew 2 or maybe 8 heads b/c it was a new concept for him and us as a couple. But it showed him that i valued what he thought and also that i was submitting to his leadership.

Also it's been mentioned before but don't bring your parents into your squabbles or dissagreements.

Look into finding a church that has a newlyweds or young couples group that you can join. So you're doing a Bible study with your DH and also creating relationships with other couples. It's good to know you're not the only couple fighting over how to hang a towel or whatever.

Also find a good women's bible study to join. getting to know "older" women is a great way to grow. You're going to need those ladies to teach you how to love your husband.(titus 2) Plus it's nice to know you're not the only women who has a hard time with things and praying with and for other women is phenominal!

one more thing a good bible study aid book I really liked that helped me in a lot of areas. anyways it's A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

ok i've written a book sorry about that i hope it helps!

Brenda said...

I thought of one more thing: for heaven's sake tell your husband good news/bad news/big news FIRST. Don't call your mom first and have your husband find out later.

I know people who told their parents or friend that they were pregnant before they told their husband!!! What?

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