Extended Family Friction
Here are a few steps to resolving conflict and setting boundaries with family members, parents or in-laws:
- Remember that your marriage relationship comes first, even if your family members, parents or in-laws have a valid concern about a certain situation. Your spouse must take priority. That said, be sure to remain humble and as objective as possible. Be honest about your feelings, and determine to resolve the situation.
- Remember to be respectful when you talk about each other’s family. Talk privately as a couple about the situation. Openly communicate, and fairly resolve the problem together. Then come to an agreement on how you will handle the situation with your family members.
- Go to your family members, either together or, if needed, talk to your biological family alone. During the discussion, be sure to protect your spouse and children. Realize that you’re probably not going to change your family members’ opinions, but assure them of your love and respect. Be calm and kind, but be clear and firm in the decision you made as a couple. Be sure they understand that the two of you are in agreement, that you support your spouse, and that your marriage comes first.
- Set clear boundaries. Explain your rationale clearly and as objectively as possible. But do what’s best for your marriage and your blending family. Remember that you can’t please everyone all the time.
- Love each other, regardless of the outcome. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Extended family dynamics can also influence your nuclear family in surprising and unexpected ways. Discuss as much as you can so you can alleviate as many misunderstandings as possible, but know that there will always be surprises along the way.
Adapted from The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness, by Susan and Dale Mathis. Copyright © 2012, all rights reserved. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more on the adventure of remarriage.