<<relations by marriage>>
Thank God for your in-laws – if it wasn’t for them you would not have your spouse!
can lead to derogatory comments and jokes about the other side of the family. Neither set of parents should meddle in or impose their views in the affairs of the young couple – if advice is asked for, this can be given or help can be offered. For instance, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, identified his very heavy workload and addressed it with him (Ex 18:13-27). The widow Ruth had a close bond with her mother-in-law and highly respected her, pledging to care for her at personal cost (Ruth 1:16-18).
In all interpersonal relationships acceptance, tolerance and respect should be exercised, especially within the marriage context when there are often differing cultural and social standards, besides varying viewpoints or ways of doing things that are introduced into the equation as both parties bring in ‘their norm’ of family heritage. For the newlyweds the Bible’s directive is “to leave father and mother and be united with your spouse”, not that there is a shunning of parents, rather the closeness must be transferred to the marriage partner (Gen 2:23,24; Eph 5:31). A well-meaning in-law can be an overbearing and intrusive busy-body and is contrary to God's plan for the family (1 Tim 5:13). Boundaries need to be set and maintained to prevent friction between those involved and the health of the marriage.
Traits and mannerism (both desirable and annoying) that are evident in the in-laws are commonly manifest in their children.
See also: busy-body, marriage, relationships, Ruth.