In-Law management in marriage involves couples discussing and establishing God’s plan for in-laws. One of the best places to begin to resolve this issue is to determine what the Bible teaches about your relationship with your in-laws. What Scripture teaches on this subject must be your standard of truth concerning what is right and wrong. Notice the first thing God declared after He created Eve and brought her to Adam and she became his wife. God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Therefore, from the very beginning of time God saw the importance of giving this direction to couples. It is the leave and cleave principle. The word leave is one of the strongest Hebrew words meaning to forsake, leave behind, let alone, or abandon. The word cleave (join) is another very strong word in the opposite direction. It means to stick like glue, pursue, or hold fast to. God is giving you a direct command to cut the cord with your parents and to be glued together as one with your spouse, thus creating a new family structure independent of all others. Hence why the Bible says in Mark 10:9 ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.’ (The no man here includes the couples themselves as well, they are not allowed to put their union asunder)
So in some instances because the leaving and the cleaving has not taken place, you will have situations like this: I will tell Daddy or my Mummy all you have done to me, you will have spouses come back to say Daddy said, or Mummy said, this and that, and that is what we must do. With the men, it will be my mummy said this and that or the women will say my Daddy said we should do it this way and that’s final or why can’t you just be like my daddy. This is a dangerous path to walk in and it leads to destruction.
Matthew 22:37-39 says: ‘Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 5:16: ‘Honour your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’(NIV)
(The land the Lord your God is giving you is your marriage and your home in this case. Your home, is like a Potter’s House, where stars are born, where destinies are molded and shaped, where nations are raised, where miracles, signs and wonders happen, so you cannot afford to short change yourself in this area, you do not want to raise godly seeds for God in a dysfunctional home. So therefore, by the grace and the mercies of God we will build our homes with God and His wisdom and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us in Jesus name)
Proverbs 20:20: ‘Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.’ This shall not be our portion in Jesus name.
An Overview of Ruth & her Mother-In-Law Naomi:
In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So, a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chillon. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Chillon also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
6 When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”
Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.
15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
20 “Don’t call me Naomi, [b]” she told them. “Call me Mara, [c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
Let us pray, please join me and say: Father as you have brought me to sojourn in this land, do not let me leave this land empty in Jesus Mighty name. Father as I sojourn this evil earth, this sinful & wicked world, please do not let me lose my soul in Jesus Might name.
Elimelek means ‘My God is King’ Naomi means ‘Pleasant’. Ruth means ‘Friend’. Bethlehem means ‘the House of Bread’. Mara means ‘Bitter’. Moab is the son of Lot’s eldest daughter that was fathered by her Father Lot. The nation of Moab was cursed by God because he said in Psalm 60:8 ‘’that Moab was His wash bowl.’’ Orpah means ‘a place of dust’ Mahlon means ‘Infirmity’. Chilion means ‘Finished, complete and perfect’.
This is not the message for today but I wanted to digress a bit, how can a man named ‘My God is King take his wife named pleasant and his two sons away from a land called ‘The House of Bread’ because there was famine, to a nation that God had cursed and was using as His wash bowl. The famine obviously was temporary, and even in the famine God would have provided for them. I don’t think Elimelek consulted with God before he made that journey and he suffered a great loss, his two sons died and he also died and left his wife Naomi and his two daughter-in-law’s (Ruth & Orpah) destitute. We observed in Ruth 1:20 where Naomi was telling her people not to call her pleasant but Mara (bitter) because the Almighty had made her life very bitter. She said, ‘I went away full, but the Lord brought me back empty, the Lord has afflicted me, the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.’’
Often times when we go through challenges in life we put the blame on God or the devil, even when we know we are the cause of the affliction we are going through, we brought it upon ourselves. The grass as it were is not always greener on the other side.
Brethren in our walk with God Total Obedience is the most important key that opens doors with God. This is a very good example from the Bible.
Genesis 26:1-6 ‘And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
2 And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
Genesis 26:12-13 ‘12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him’.
13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
Have you noticed that in city where there is famine, there is always a money lender, the irony of life. Different strokes for different folks. But our portion in life as children of the Most High God is that when there is a casting down, there will always be a lifting for us in Jesus Mighty name. I declare by the grace and mercies of God we will not suffer any lack or loss in Jesus Mighty name. This is our year of all-round consolidation, God said it to us at the beginning of this year 2020, he will do it and make it good.
(The Train: the life of Evangelist Mike Bamiloye: He got admission to attend 2 Colleges of Education, and he choose to attend the Best out of the 2 which happened to be the Best in his State of origin at the time without consulting God. He got to the institution, after registration, he sat in his hostel accommodation and was relishing in the moment, when he heard God’s voice say to him, you are in the wrong place son, you need to pack up and go register in the other institution. He was very sad, but he obeyed God’s voice, when he got to the institution, he found out that there were no structures in place and his classes were held under the tree. The Lecture asked him where he was coming from and he mentioned the college’s name and he asked him why he left, because the lecturer said whoever asked him to leave that option was foolish and he told the Lecture that it was his Father (God) because he wanted him to come to this college instead. Apparently, he was in the right place where God wanted him to be because that is where his Drama Ministry startedd, and he met his future life partner Lady Evangelist Gloria Bamiloye)
Brethren I believe that our God is not foolish, but the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:25 ‘Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.’
Our God does not make mistakes, He is intentional regarding everything He does, He pays attention to details, He is a Miracle Worker not a magician.
The Bible says in Psalms 37:23‘the steps of a good man is ordered by God and He takes delight in his ways.’
Psalm 25:14 ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him and he will show them his covenant.’
Proverbs 3:6 says, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.’
(Brethren note that the 8th Book of the Bible is named after Ruth and not Naomi her mother-in-law). A very good example of leaving and cleaving, a loving mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, she left her father, mother & siblings (immediate & extended family members) and followed her mother-in-law to a strange land and people, to serve a God that she did not know. She left her comfort zone and ventured into the unknown. She had every reason not to follow her mother-in-law. She had every right to go pursue a new life and path without her, after all what joined them together her husband was no more. Even her sister-in-law Orpah that was following initially, later turned back and went back home, when Naomi encouraged her to so. I believe the statement Ruth made in Ruth 1 verses 16-17 made her mother-in-law to stop encouraging her to go back to her people. Ruth demonstrated agape love towards Naomi, an unconditional love, the love that does not expect anything in return. Ruth gave her mother-in-law the highest honour and respect, not minding that she had lost her husband and did not have children for him while he was alive, so technically there was nothing connecting her to her mother-in-law anymore. No wonder her name means Friend, there is a friend that sticks closer than a Brother/Sister. They say a friend in need is a friend indeed (a person who helps at a difficult time, is a person who you can really rely on). You say you have a friend, wait till you fall into trouble, then you will know, if they are really your friend.
Your in-laws are a crucial part of your spouse’s life. This makes them a crucial part of your life as well. No one ever said it was easy to balance your needs with the needs of others, especially the needs of an entire new family. But creating family harmony is possible and it is very much worth the effort.
You realize it will not be easy to build bridges and rebuild some that have been burnt, but you also realize that it is a valuable way to spend your time. The return you get on your investment will last the rest of your married life.
Some Tips on how to manage in-laws in marriage:
Work with your Spouse
This is the key rule. Dealing effectively with in-laws all starts with first working conflicts through with your spouse. Remember, you are in this together.
Never put your spouse in a situation where he or she has to choose between you and a relative. If you do so, you are putting your spouse in harm’s way and your in-laws might dislike you for this. Instead, try to understand the bond your spouse has with his or her parents, siblings, and grandparents. If possible, try to support these relationships. Even if your spouse has parents from hell, they are his or her parents, you cannot change them, but you can soften their hearts and win them with the love of God in you.
Set Boundaries and Limits
Work as a team, set and agree your family values. Then communicate your values to your in-laws, after you have committed it in the hands of God, prayerfully ask God for the wisdom to communicate this with great respect. For example, when you decide to give money and gifts to your in-laws, let your spouse give to your parents and vice versa. Please do not give gifts to your family without the knowledge of your spouse, this can lead to conflict in marriage.
Speaking of boundaries, do not make promises that you cannot keep. Always consult with your spouse before giving an affirmative answer to a request that has been made by your parents.
For example, your mother wants to visit, and she seeks your permission and you say yes out rightly without discussing this with your spouse, this can lead to an argument.
Enforce the Boundaries and Limits
Whenever possible, avoid communicating through a third party. Do not ask your spouse to talk to his sister about something she did that hurt your feelings. Talk to your sister-in-law directly.
If something bothers you, address it as soon as possible. Sometimes it is a genuine problem; other times, it might be a misunderstanding.
A lady called Tori married into a family whose members had been born in Germany. Every time a family member went into the kitchen, he or she shuts the door, often leaving Tori out. For years, she stewed over the situation. Finally, one day she summoned the courage to ask her mother-in-law why she closed the kitchen door.
“To keep in the heat,” she answered. “We always did that in Germany.” Closing the kitchen door had nothing to do with Tori. A cultural misunderstanding had caused years of distress for her, which neither her in-laws nor she ever realized.
Do not try to remake yourself or pretend to be the person your in-laws want. Try to win them with the genuine love of God, the love He has shed aboard in your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells and works in you.
Get with the Program
Put away the stereotypes and adjust your thinking to the reality of the situation. Do not expect what people cannot deliver. People can only give you what they have.
Learn to Cool Off
While we are at it, play nice. Spare your in-laws the insults and character attacks. Words are like eggs, when spoken, it falls, and you cannot gather it back. Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, ‘people say oh I did not mean to say what I just said.’ The bible says in your anger do not sin. We are encouraged by the word of God to guard our hearts with all Diligence because out of it flows the issues of life.’ The bible says in 1 Samuel 18:14-16
‘And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.
15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.’
Your parents must love you; it is in the contract. But your in-laws do not necessarily have to. Accept the fact that your in-laws are not your parents and will not follow the same rules, but you can win them with the love of God in you. They can grow to love you as their own son or daughter from the way you relate to them. Try to think and look at situations differently, always give your in-laws a benefit of the doubt, make excuses in your heart for them, people cannot give what they do not have, for example, if you have in-laws that are not born-again Christians, you will need the abundant grace of God, patience, endurance and long-suffering to relate with them. Please do not judge them, win them with the love of God. To make this work, give in on small points and negotiate the key issues. Be careful not to report your spouse to your parents because you can make up with your spouse and forget that they offended you, but your parents will not forget.
Learn to see the situation from your in-law point of view. And even if you do not agree, act like a big person, a matured Christian full of wisdom. For example, A woman said she did not like pork. She never ate it. Nonetheless, for years her mother-in-law would make a pork roast when she and her husband came to her house for dinner, because her son loved pork. She said for years she had to forbear with this because she did not want to offend her mother-in-law nor her husband who enjoyed eating the pork. Thank God there was salad on the menu, so she would fill up on that.
Make exceptions sometimes. Allow your in-laws to give your children names (this is common with Africans; it is a cultural thing). Be mindful of the word of God that says whatsoever a man sows he will reap. I have heard that some ladies pray they marry a Brother that does not have a mother (someone who, his mother is deceased). This is not a good prayer. As parents you will have children one day, you too will also become in-laws. We need to be careful the words and seeds we sow, because a harvest will surely come. They say if you did not sow it, you will not reap it in Jesus mighty name.
Even if you have to grit your teeth, try to say something nice. And if you really cannot say anything nice, shut up and smile. Season your speech with grace and salt so you know how to answer your in-laws.
Keep Your Sense of Humour: ‘Someone who has a sense of humour often finds things amusing, rather than being serious’. Try not take everything seriously, try not to take everything to heart, people sometimes act in a certain way because they do not know any better.
I kind of liked King David’s sense of humour when he answered his wife Michal when she despised him in her heart and asked him: In 2 Samuel 6:20 ‘How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovered himself!’ King David answered her in verse 21: ‘And David said unto Michal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord. 22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.’ This story did not end well because verse 23 says ‘Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.’
Michal thought she was despising her husband but she despised God, because it was the God of Israel her husband was dancing to not unto any man. Let us be careful not to despise people in our hearts because we might be in danger of offending God. I want to believe that if she received her husband properly with honour and respect, David was approaching his palace to bless his household, she would have been blessed and God would have made her fruitful. She was the only woman in the Bible that died barren. It is not the desire of God that anyone should be barren.
In conclusion: We can also replicate the example of Ruth and Naomi’s relationship in our lives and relationships with our in-laws. United we stand, divided we fall. First of all, it is essential that you and your spouse present a united front and deal with every situation with the wisdom and understanding of God, with prayer and fasting too. And finally show love and love some more, try to love even when it is difficult and challenging.
Colossians 3:12 says, ‘Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and longsuffering. May the Lord God Almighty assist us all in J
Jesus Mighty name. God Bless you all.
Altar Call: Luke 15:11-31 tells us the story of The Prodigal Son:
Verse 17: ‘When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father’.
O Lord, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus Christ died for me. And I believe with all my heart that He arose from the dead. I ask you to save me right now and give me everlasting life. I believe in Jesus Christ and trust you to save me. Thank you for forgiving my sins, saving me, and writing my name in the Book of Life. If you said this prayer with me. I will like to congratulate you and welcome you into the household of God, please read your Bible and find a spirit-filled bible believing church to attend, so you can grow in the things of God.
The Bible says in 1 John 4:8 ‘8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.’(NLT)
*Father your word teaches me in 1 John 4: 8 that You are love, please help me demonstrate your genuine love to others, even when they seem difficult to love and please.
James 3:2 ‘Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.’ (NLT)
Colossians 4:6 ‘Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ (KJV)
*Father please help me to season my speech with grace and salt, so I know how I ought to answer every man.
Deuteronomy 5:16: ‘Honour your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’(NIV)
*Father assist me to give honour and respect to everyone it is due to, so that my days may be long and that it may go well with me in the land you have given me.
*Father help us to build our homes with you, your wisdom, understanding and knowledge.
*Father please help us to continue to walk in total obedience to you and your words, even when it does not make sense, Father please help us to continue to walk and not question or look back in Jesus Mighty name.
The sermon, In-Law Management in Marriage, by Pastor (Mrs) Anthonia Obafaiye, was delivered on August 9, 2020.