Relationship With In-Laws

By in-laws we mean the parents, siblings, and both close as well as distant family members of your spouse. In most parts of the Western world, especially in the United Kingdom, the extended family members are excluded. This is not so in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. What should be the relationship between a man, his wife and their in-laws? It should be cordial. However, the experiences of many people built from first-hand interactions, plus verbal and written reports of others, have proved that some relationships could be far from being cordial. As Christians we are to seek peace and pursue peace(Psalms 34:14). That means we should do everything within our God-given abilities to be at peace within ourselves individually and between ourselves and other persons. In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is written: Follow peace with everyone and holiness without which no person would see the Lord(Hebrews 12:14).

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife(united with her and cleave together)and become one flesh[Genesis 2:24]. – And the woman too. There is nowhere in the Bible where permission is given to the woman to remain with her father and mother after getting married. Does that imply a break up with one’s parents and siblings or cousins? Not at all. It is the drawing up of boundaries and the recognition of such boundaries by all the parties involved. It is the giving of respect and honour to the rights and independence of the new couple as another unit created by God for companionship, for pure and holy mutual sexual pleasure and fulfillment; and for procreation and the raising up of disciplined children.

We see the examples of Moses relating well with his father-in-law. Jethro counselled Moses in administration when he was over working himself. Thus he was able to delegate part of his duties and work more efficiently. Jethro earlier on brought Moses’ wife Zipporah and their two sons whom Moses had left behind when he went to meet Pharaoh. The relationship between Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, was very cordial. If Naomi had been nosy and critical or unfriendly, that responsible, loving and highly respected daughter-in-law of hers would never have opted to leave her homeland of Moab for Israel; more so after their bereavements. She chose to remain with her mother-in-law after her father-in-law and later her own husband have died. She was a strong and faithful supporter and source of comfort. She got rewarded with a loving husband in the end. In fact both King David and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ were in her lineage!
Examples also abound in this generation. There is the example of initial misunderstandings between the writer’s mother and his wife. These were later resolved to the extent that the two women became friends and confidants till the old woman died. During the period of misunderstanding, the writer stood his ground and protected his wife without being disrespectful to his mother. We have seen other examples where the husband or the wife chose to be rude to elders, whilst protecting their spouses. That is not proper.

Writing under the topic ‘The Expected’ and ‘The Unexpected’ in our marriage journey; and making references to parents-in-law, Drs. Thomas and Agnes Odejide wrote in their book

40 YEARS AFTER I SAID

I do

, published by Jesus Joy Publishing, 2011; pages 33-34

:

-my father died in 1990 at the age of 75. We did not regard his ‘home call’ as a tragedy even though we would have wished he had lived longer. It was expected that we would survive him so we celebrated his life during the burial ceremony. My mother followed about a decade later in 2000; she was 80 years old. My mother-in-law followed in 2001; she was over 80 years old. My father-in-law was the last to pass on in 2005 at the age of over a hundred years! We felt happy at the ‘home callings’ of our parents at very ripe ages We were particularly happy that God gave us the opportunity to take care of them. Although none of them lived with us permanently, we were not far from them and our home was always open to them. To God be the glory.

That is another example of honouring our in-laws as well as keeping necessary boundaries.
We cannot afford to lose our focus. God and posterity depend on us. The marriage institution must not be toyed with. Therefore those whom God has joined together, let no man; let no woman, let no legal, social, cultural or governmental policy or establishment toy with nor put asunder! Amen.

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