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Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Your In-Laws (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Cross Radio
July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Establishing Healthy Boundaries With Your In-Laws (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 19, 2022 6:00 am

Well-known psychologists and authors, Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud share broadcast advice on how to relate with your in-laws. (Part 2 of 2)

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Motivates Focus on the Family with what you examine a very important relationship that can have really a profound effect and impact on your marriage and invest the relationship you have with your in-laws. I'm John Fuller and her hostess focus presidents and Dr. Jim Daly. Jim, last time we talked with some good friends Drs. Henry cloud and John Townsend about this and here's a comment from Dr. Townsend really summarizes their perspective on this, about what wired to have a good marriage when you got to have the love and the truth between you, your building a family or building a culture working on finances and parenting and all the things that create the next 40 or 50 years. There are all sorts of intruders that come in and kind of undo what you're doing. There's cultural intruders. There's there's sometimes friends that are kinda toxic and if you haven't done the leaving and cleaving. Sometimes the mother-in-law and father-in-law can be seen that way so your first job is to guard what you're trying to create in this family structure and that your primary responsibilities debarred from intruders. But you don't make the mother-in-law and the father-in-law of the bad guys here will not comment does grab the essence of what we discussed last time, and some of the dynamics that are in play when it comes to MR relationships that we know that these relationships can be contentious and that you know we make jokes about it and some couples will struggle more than others with that relationship with their in-laws. But as we continue this conversation with Drs. cloud and Townsend John. Hopefully we can shed some light on what creates this friction points in your family and how you can work through those issues to have a healthier, happier relationship with your in-laws and our guests. We've identified them already are well-known authors radio hosts and psychologist in this written or cowritten more than 25 books dealing with family and other relationships and we been referring here in our conversation to two of those books, one is boundaries and the others boundaries in marriage in July like this you posted something on your blog, and had quite an avalanche of response there we did. We had more than 300 people responded with stories and comments about their relationships with the in-laws and to be honest, I can't wait to dive back into this discussion because there is a lot of potential to improve your relationships and let me just say to Henry and John, welcome back to Focus on the Family to be here good to be here now. We've already address the negative side of this and it can be positive. That's we want people to understand. Let's start by talking about healthy boundaries when a couple is doing this right. Maybe we should role-play with that. Let's say John that I've I've got a problem. I'm coming to you for counseling and my marriage is on the line here me. We've had frustrations and they've just reached the boiling point we don't know how to deal with it. Maybe my mother-in-law is driving me crazy which doesn't happen. I love my mother-in-law but just for example sake let's say she's manipulating my wife she convinces her how to spend our money and how the house should look in just over involved and you know what I've scanned the point where I'm fed up with it and I don't know that I can maintain this relationship with all the stress on me. Did I say that up okay yeah and we heard a thousand times guys and it's really easy to make the mother-in-law, the bad guy. Now she's ruining my marriage. She's ruining my wife as opposed to what's the structuring your own marriage.

This allowing this to happen, you know, maybe in the mother-in-law's not aware of the fact that this is happening. Maybe she's just gonna let a dependent person. Or maybe she's has some controlling tendencies. But it's when you got to have the husband-wife talk to talk about what's healthy for us. What works for us so that we love each other we put each other first, and then how do we welcome mom in on our own level and so you keep mom it's really easy to blame the third-party when they're not there to defend themselves, but most the time is a problem instructor. The marriage itself solve that and it's an excellent yeah it's worth investing.

That's the point.

In fact, there was more research by a woman named Terry Orbach who spent 25 years studying 400 families and she found that men who get along with their in-laws are 20% more likely to have lasting marriages so when we talk about silver bullets in our marriages and the desire as Christians to make sure that we have a healthy vibrant relationship with our spouse, the researcher showing that part of that includes having a healthy relationship with your in-laws. Is it that critical writing is very very important. As part of God's design. The multigenerational family is the way set it up that to honor your parents goes you know from the beginning. All units are like the womb to the tomb and it's very clear in the Scriptures. In fact, in the New Testament it says it were to make a return to our parents and actually begin to take care of them. In some ways where people get lost in the weeds is there's a difference in honoring and obeying the Bible says children obey your parents, but every vice was to honor their parents and it's when the parents have the governing authority of a married couple. That's when things go. I let's roll the film back 25 years and what's happening in that parent-child relationship at that moment that is sowing the seeds for this dysfunction. 25 years from now when Junior is about to marry what is going on there. We putting the kids in a place that there even being treated better than your marriage is being treated. Are we creating that problem because our kids are more the center of the family than we are as married couples and there's a number of scenarios that don't work at that actually interrupt God's leaving and cleaving process. One of them is the young man who is still dependent on mom and dad for emotional support so you can kinda survive without their advice sometimes is the golden child that you know mom and dad given that a boys and trophies in heat.

He comes on with his wife is says you know you have picked up your socks so weak that his mother says you know you're the fourth member of the Trinity will you he has only been leaving cleaving either sometimes is the rescuing one where financial ties financial ties in rescuing where you feel like I've got take care of mom and dad because I've always been the glue that held them together there.

The reason I was the reason that they stayed married because I kept everybody happy. So the best thing you can do if you're looking down the corridors of time at your own kids getting ready for this promise to make sure your kids are equipped for life without you. So they love you, but they don't need you, but is a great relationship is not a need-based relationship and that they want to they want to be on their own and have autonomy, then you saw a lot of this you know you touching on something I think we should dig in a little bit on because I've experienced that with couples who have talked with me about difficulty they're facing, particularly in the 2030 something category where there's this prolonged adolescence that which is also to getting married category right adolescence is happening at the same time that they're getting married so correct in this idea of an unhealthy relationship with your parents, especially for young men that mom has taken care of them mean that they, in fact, Jim and Jean was tell me just the other day college campuses. Now you can pick from a menu of services where you can get your laundry done, you can have catered meals.

I think of the impact on that for young men, particularly that hey mom and dad. I mean I'm going off to college, but I'd like this. This whole list of services to be provided.

My laundry my shirts or RS drive home to you mom and you can do my laundry. His wish to have you.

Okay you know what this even worse, in that schools I've read articles were schools now have had to set up offices entire divisions that deal with parents day-to-day as it used to be when you go to college and call him once a week will now with texting and cell phones. It's like parents are involved in dorm room conflicts and all this comes up in the day-to-day life of college students at you when we look at boundaries which you guys are the experts.

This is so many of your books, talk about healthy boundaries as parents as couples dealing with your in-laws. I mean, you guys really are the boundary doctors and that when we look at that and we talk about boundaries, some that are not trained. What are some of the red flags. Let's say you're the mother of a son who's 23 and he's about to get married. What would be some of the conscientious red flags that maybe I haven't done the job. What would you look for in your relationship with your son or daughter that foretells a bad situation when they get married. One of them would be the over dependency. Okay, I gotta tell a funny story.

I was at breakfast with my girls who are 10 and 12 message so what kind guys do you think you want to marry my €10 is will I know what I don't want I said really what she does. I don't want some ice 40 and lives on his mother's couch. I mean how do you know it. It is just it's not normal for an adult to still be dependent on their parents and so parents have really got a role to play in this launching right and not enabling your adult 22, 23, 24, €25 to be living like they're 14 and that's absolutely true in and again you know so many write to us where their marriages in the first year or two are falling apart because my spouse and she does not do what my mom did for me that we gotta prepare young men to to go in wide open to know what that world looks like, you know that you got it. As you said, being responsible to others and for ourselves is one of the concepts you talk about we get a trainer kids be ready for that yet. And one of the best things.

If you're in that situation you just said that a couple can do is if the man really feels like my wife doesn't know a firmer respect or support of whatever like like my mother-in-law did he need to get a good men's group where there's other guys are talking about the responsibility man and how to get connected and have good friendships and it takes a lot of the pressure off the wife to perform as he thinks that she should because he's comparing to the mom he needs to get some other sources of support so takes the pressure off her so she can just be a person with and you know what a lot of times he's gonna grow out of his own narcissism because the idealizing mom has taught him that he can do no wrong, and he's never gotten a critical word and everything is wonderful and a wife just doesn't you know come with those batteries included in that right should her job is to speak the truth to him when typically I would think wives are going to be connected emotionally this way because they're better at it.

They're going to feel the nuance in the relationships with the in-laws. Both directions. One of those proactive things that a young couple should do to nurture a healthy relationship with their in-laws.

What should young men be thinking about what they can do with their father and mother to let their spouse know I care about you enough to love them. I think you hit a nail head. I think proactive is the word I think if you're reaching out and you're inviting them over to dinner if you're showing them that you want to spend time with them and you want to do these things, then you're taking the first step in your showing respect and you shall love your build a positive relationship that we have concentrate on a lot of the negatives and we want to talk about the positives of investing into that relationship with your in-laws. Let's hit some of those takeaways that when you invest in the right way that the dividend of a healthier marriage is going to be there.

What are some of those positives and why should we go to the effort of investing guys are just so many of those to have a great multigenerational family. First off, you got just the wisdom of being around people of been through that life in Canada and offer big perspective when you're upside down with kids or your finances or life or whatever. A second one is that our children need somebody to aspire to and disposed aspire to be like us… As parents, but then have another whole generation to aspire to.

That's that's what I want to be like I want to be like grandma want to be like grand debts or giving them great models and it's healthy and it's so healthy and then the third one is a sense of legacy that hears our family all the way through the ages.

Here's how we've done their part of that big kind of generational path that's bigger than us, but we fit into. So these are great benefits to a family that welcomes in-laws. I think the grandparenting thing is so huge that grandparents are so important to children and also to the couple and mean to have some help. Who doesn't want that right and to learn the values in the discipline in for kids to learn that they got obey somebody else besides just mom and dad and in and value them.

I think that that's a huge and I think another one, though, is just this year, fun of what it means to have adult relationships with parents and I would add to that that that there's a lot of good re-parenting I've seen so many situations where one of the spouses came from a situation where they lost a parent or they didn't have good parenting in their relationship with their mother-in-law or father-in-law was very, very healing in their lives in. That's a great opportunity. If you do this well that you we talked about this idea of leaving and cleaving in the importance of that and it comes indifferently to everybody.

I think that's a very individual experience.

There's general buckets. It dawns on me that my experience with that was actually facing my father when I was 11. You know I'd come out of foster care.

My dad and mom divorced I was five and there I was, I came out of a very bad foster care situation. My biological father reappeared on the scene and we lived with him for a year. My sister and I the other three siblings were grown and out of the house, but she was 17 and I was 11 and at the end of that year my dad was still struggling with alcoholism and the siblings and I we got together and we just thought it would be unwise for me when my sister turned 18 to remain living with my father and I had to face him in a family meeting at 11 years old and that my siblings were probably right in this coaching but it was hard but they said that's gonna have to hear it from you as if he doesn't hear from you. He won't believe it. And so I sat in that living room on that day and I told my dad I didn't want to live with him and that was a moment for me when I went from being a boy to being a man and when he looked at me and he said why not. And I'm sick and boy when I answered that. And I just said well because of the way you treated mom and the way you're treating me into his credit, he got up and he came across the room and he hugged me and he said I wasn't a good husband and I wasn't a good father, but men I had to face that and that was the day I can elect him emotionally. He died a year later, just add pain to it, but I think it's set me up in a very unusual way, in a healthy way when I was courting Jean to understand the special relationship that I would have with your mom and dad. I've never thought about that until now. As we been talking today, but that is the mechanism that God can use. It's that moment when you say you're no longer responsible for me right I'm going to be responsible for me in a good way to describe that I think is the word under then that's the one. The Bible uses. If you go to Galatians 4 pulses when we were children, we were under guardians and managers until the date set forth by the father nest on the bar mitzvah you know where your laws for the bat mitzvah and leaving. Cleaving is it's a lot of things but part of it is that day.

Jim, you said you know what, I'm not going to be under this behavior anymore.

I'm choosing a different place to go and when you say you became a man. It was under relationship.

And so when a married couple is under the family of origin, parents, that's God's created order out of whack. The other part of that mean I'm so I'm still costs dropped by the emotion of what you had to go through it and that age is when you look at the past been talking about all this time. Genesis 2 horses leaving click the word in the Hebrew to leave action means to abandon or make desolate so there's this ripping apart and you are having to face that it probably too young an age to do that but is ripping him apart. You partook that's why his good parents were supposed to help our kids do that in ways that don't damage anybody but it can sound like such a contradiction.

Healthy ripping apart the minute.

Well it is what were trying to do but but let's put it into the total picture. What are you ripping apart in the healthy scenario you're not ripping apart the relationship which are ripping apart is the old structure of the relationship so it's mom and dad, I'm gonna still love you and honor you and be with you and value you were going to rip apart the old contract and have a new covenant with each other in this differs so gonna rip apart where you are the governing force in my life and I'm in have to take that responsibility but were not going to rip apart. Having a relationship unless love you.

When you look at the culture today though. There's so much dysfunction in family relationships of my story is a more common story today than it was when I was a kid and it really does set up an environment where it makes it even more difficult to do these things in a healthy biblical way and I guess my question would be how when we come to Christ and we come in that relationship and we have all this garbage that we have been brought up with. How do we shake those scales from her eyes to see truth to see reality to engage it and to do it in a healthy way. That's a big question, but so many young people are saying I don't trust my parents they divorced and I was young I don't even trust the idea that I can have a marriage little work. I don't believe I could have a good relationship with my in-laws.

They're coming from such a deficit of un-healthiness that they don't see how it could be healthy.

Well, the scales get ripped when you understand it. The Bible teaches that there are two families.

Really, there's the family of origin.

What's the biological place or the family. Place whale came from that did lots of good things and probably some dysfunction to but the second and the greater family is the family of God. Where the Bible says that we are a family with each other and it says in Ephesians that the body grows itself up in love and so when you say that they used to have these problems. You wonder if you're ready for marriage are not ready for marriage or whatever you imagine you don't have enough whatever love or maturity or structure. You've got to reach out to God's solution, which is the second family find a healthy church, healthy believers, healthy small groups.

I healthy therapist and get all the antibodies and supplements. You didn't get the first time around because the family of God fixes and repairs, and supplements for the family of origin into the first time or speak to that that individual who is has had some good modeling and is trying but it's not being well received. I'm thinking of of someone I know who has tried desperately to reach out to those in-laws and in every good effort is failing and there's a sense of all never be accepted. Here they know what to do and they are actually doing everything they can to reach out and have a good relationship but it's kind of falling on deaf ears think the first thing that they have to do is to make sure that even though something they desire says something that they need and that there they're getting those those real needs met by the family of God and as John was just as John was just saying in that way. If they're not in a dependent role in relation to them.

Then there they're not going to be is heard in their Niobe is frustrated and then I think you flip it and it's exactly like the Bible says horses inasmuch as it depends on you, be at peace with you know with everybody else and and I think you've got to figure out what's the level of relationship that they can have and have that level of relationship. Now, having said that, I think that there's an aspirational goal here as well in the go would be if you really have tried and is being rebuffed to compensate. Can we get together and talk about something and you sit down you say you know what I I love you guys don't have a good relationship with you.

I'm really doing what I noted to have invited you here in different places and and for some reason it doesn't feel like to me that you desire that or I'm doing it in some way that is hurtful or can you just help me know why this isn't working and have the conversation, you know so many times were talking about how to fix things, or how to deal with things that that really haven't even ever been talked about and we don't know sometimes where somebody can go in solving a problem until we get proactive in speaking the truth in love and trying to fix it. That's been the key to the whole discussion here.

Every that's the thing that keeps coming back over and over again is have appropriate openness within the family structure so you can resolve these conflicts as best as you can and Jimmy know the Bible puts us in a sandwich. In that regard. It says if somebody has a problem with us you know if your brother has ought against you is says then put down your offering and go speak to them so that there bugged with eyes we've gotta take the first step and then on the other side it says if your bug to somebody else. You gotta take the first step so what know what basket there's no free pass in being passive about trying to make a relationship work in the onus of responsibility always falls hundred percent on each individual to do what they can do and in that context.

If it doesn't go well if they don't listen and you've done it in the appropriate way. I guess the additional scripture of kicking the dust off your feet. You can only do what you can do it well there just in between but yet people go from nothing to nuclear because there conflict avoidant and afraid of having the tough talk don't have the skills in all this and they go from just not do anything feeling hurt or resentful or empty to what work on it all off into the zest of there's a lot of steps in between. That's a good point.

You want to make sure you're taking adequate steps, even redundantly, having set up a conversation right so you give it a fair chance. There are bring in large parties it right. That is it objective way to do it that you are bringing your pastor or or bring in a counselor and have somebody they can sit down and try to find the meeting ground of what both sides need it would've heard here Jim to is that I think Henry used the word aspirational. I think all of us would want to have really good relationships between not just our spouses, but also with their in-laws and and as parents. Of course we want to have good relationships with whoever marries her children so there's a heart here that says we all want the same thing. It may look differently to you when they have to figure out a way to get there but I've been encouraged by that observation that you got the most all of us want to have good relationships with those in one's that's such a good word. John the close out this two day conversation with our guest Drs. Henry cloud and John Townsend as Henry shared just a few moments ago. Romans 1218 says, if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all and I'm certain those words apply in this context for the extended family of your spouse.

It's such a challenge at times that try to find the bright spots and know that these relationships are formed for a purpose. I think you know if Regina were always looking at, especially those within the family that don't know the Lord. We need to say what we need to do so here.

Focus we want to help you experience God's peace and grace in your marriage and family, and in those extended relationships.

That's why were telling you about resources like a John Henry's book boundaries when to say yes when to say no to take control of your life with the title really says it doesn't. And if you can make a monthly pledge of any amount Focus on the Family today will send you the book as our way of saying thank you for supporting the ministry and if you need to speak to a counselor we can facilitate that we have a team of caring Christian counselors who can pray with you and give you additional resources to help you move forward in a healthy direction. Yeah, we want to help and equip your family in any way we can. And so please donate as you're able get the book boundaries by our guests and connect with the counselor if that would be of benefit to you our toll-free number is 800 232-645-9800 the letter a in the word family or check the program notes to learn more and if a monthly pledge is more than you can commit to. At this time but would still love to hear from you.

One time gift will be really appreciated and we can still send John and Henry's book read out to and coming up next time some encouragement from humorist Phil Calloway about the bright side of life. Where's your file.

Where is feeding on the wrong stuff. Bad news and gloom and doom, whatsoever things are pure and lovely report excellent praiseworthy over thinking on those things on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. You know, nearly 60% of American adults don't have a will in place a big number. Having a well can leave a heavy burden for family left behind if you need a well but don't know where to begin. Let Focus on the Family help download our resource. 15 questions to ask when preparing a well it's our gift to you@focusonthefamily.com/prepare my well that's focusonthefamily.com/prepare my well