The Interference of the Mother-in-Law
Regrading the interference of the mother-in-law, the Bible teaches the “leave and cleave” principle in marriage: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24). So in marriage, a man and woman should leave their birth families and begin a new family, and they cleave to each other with love. A husband that allows interference from his parents, in laws, or extended family is not following God’s instructions.
The New Testament sheds more light in the following passage: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Here are some guidelines for the married couples in relation to their parents, in-laws, and extended family:
- Explain to the parents God’s directions of the leave and cleave principle in Genesis 2:23-24 and Ephesians 5:25-33.
- Set respectful and loving boundaries (Ephesians 6:4).
- Guard your privacy. Keep family problems inside your home (James 4:11).
- Assure your parents and in-laws of your continual love to them (Deuteronomy 5:16). Spend quality time with them (Mark 12:31).
- Allow parents and in-laws to spend enough time with your children (1 Corinthians 13). Involve parents and in-laws with your family occasions like birthdays, holidays, graduations…etc. (Ephesians 4:2).
- Never dishonor your partner before your parents or in-laws (Ephesians 5:22-33).
- Pray to God with your parents and in-laws (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Be financially independent if possible (Romans 13:8).
- Always apply the “golden rule”, which is “Do unto others what you wish them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
- Make sure you meet the financial obligations of the needy elderly parents and in-laws (1 Timothy 5:8).
Parents and in-laws should be treated with respect and love. The Bible teaches, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Remember that the fifth commandment is the only commandment with a promise of a long life, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12 also Leviticus 19:3; Matthew 15:4).
In His service,