mother in-law
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We understand that your whole family is ecstatic because your oldest brother finally got married. His wedding was a long time coming, and now that he’s crossed over, you’re itching to “orient” your sister-in-law into the family.

You have tons of advice to give her, but before you bog down your sister-in-law with unsolicited advice, think about whether your words will help or hurt her. Many married people confess to feeling hurt by remarks their in-laws make. Here are some less-than-helpful remarks in-laws should stop making.

“When are you having kids?”

There seems to be an unwritten rule that people are expected to have children soon after their wedding. The in-laws especially mount that pressure. If a couple takes years before having children, questions and comments like “You need to give me a grandchild” and “You’re not getting any younger” start to arise. However, it’s careless and outright rude for in-laws to sneak in such comments. Remember that childbearing is a sensitive topic, and no one wants to be coerced into discussing their reproductive health, especially with their in-laws.

Also, some couples don’t have children because they’re dealing with varying degrees of infertility. They’re not simply “killing time,” and prodding them on the same is poking a throbbing wound. Others just don’t want to have kids. Acknowledging that they’re adults, it’s best to leave them to their choices because chiming in with unwanted advice and forcing them to listen to your experience on the subject is intruding on their privacy. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, the Bible reminds us to mind our business.

“Their ex wouldn’t do that.”

Imagine this: your sister is in the final trimester of her first pregnancy, and her husband has to leave town for a week on an urgent business trip. He’s tried his best to get out of this trip because he’s worried about his wife. However, it’s not possible. He gives you a call explaining his frustration and asks if you could check on his wife (your sister) while he’s away, which makes your blood boil. You can’t believe he’s actually going on the business trip. Out of anger, you tell him that her ex wouldn’t leave her at a time like this. Comparing your new in-laws to your kin’s ex is awful. It would be best if you appreciate them with their flaws and strengths. After all, your family chose them above any other potential mates, which is all that matters.

“You’ve really gained weight.”

Let’s be honest: a friend could observe your weight loss or gain and get no reaction from you. You could easily disregard the comment and move on. However, when an in-law starts zooming in on your body image, that’s bound to ruffle your feathers. People lose or gain weight for numerous reasons, and some factors are out of their control. Commenting on their weight instability is overstepping your boundaries. They’re likely to feel that you’re attacking their body image. Furthermore, people are much more than their dress size.

“You should’ve told us first.”

Maybe you grew up in a close-knit family and asked each other’s opinions on almost everything. Buying a new car, changing jobs, and moving cities had to be discussed by the entire family. When one of you gets married, you don’t think anything will change. So when you discover that your brother and his wife opened a restaurant without telling the family, you fly into a tizzy, asking why they kept it a secret and why they didn’t ask the family first.

In Genesis 2:24, the Bible tells us that a man leaves his parents to be joined with his wife, and they become one flesh, meaning that a couple is free to make decisions without seeking the approval of or consulting their family. If they decide to share the information, it’s all well and fine. However, if they don’t, no one should condemn them. As in-laws, it would be best if you didn’t hold your married family members hostage and set them free to make decisions for themselves.

“That’s not how my daughter/son likes it.”

You’ve indeed known your daughter all her life, and you know what makes her happy and sad. As her birthday nears, you can’t stop the itch to discuss her likes and dislikes with her husband. You feel that you need to warn him that she doesn’t like surprise parties and doesn’t care for flowers. However, a small, intimate dinner with family would sweep her off her feet. You hope to find out what your son-in-law is planning for her birthday so you can put him in the right direction. However, doing so is overstepping your limits. Remember, your daughter is now joined with her husband. Unless he asks for your advice, it’s best to let him run the show.

“Why would you name the baby that?”

Your son-in-law calls to share the fantastic news that you’re now a grandparent. You nervously ask, “What’s his name?” He replies, “We named him Aaron. We’ve asked God for this child for so long, and we couldn’t think of a better name.” You bitterly reply, “You named the baby what?” because you don’t like the name and hoped they would name the baby after you. However, they went out on a limb and chose a name outside of the family line.

Having your in-laws poke holes at the names you picked for your kids is upsetting. Moreover, parents don’t name their children on a whim and a lot of prayer and thought typically goes into that process, so everyone should respect that.

“Why do you live so far away?”

Maybe your mother-in-law feels that you whisked her daughter away from her. However, she has a plan. She found an apartment near her house and wants you to move the family there. She even offered to pay the moving company so she could be reunited with her daughter, but this action is offensive and intrusive. In marriage, a man is asked to leave his parents and cling to his wife. Therefore, relatives shouldn’t persuade their married family members to live near them because they’re free to live wherever they see fit.

Adding someone new into your family via marriage can be an exciting time. However, as in-laws, you must realize that they have to forge their own path and make a life that works for them. You’re free to advise them if they ask for it, but if not, try to support them from the sideline.

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