I Can't Stand My Husband's Family: What To Do When You Can't Stand Your In Laws

The issue of in-laws is one which many wives wish did not exist in marriage. This is because it is the bane of many ailing marriages. Many daughters-in-law tend to dislike their mothers-in-law and very few daughters-in-law have ever had any thing good to say about a mother-in-law. Many spinsters wish that they will not have one when they marry their husbands.

Many mothers-in-law are often seen as overbearing, busybodies and a wife's greatest rival. The questions to ask are:

'Why are mothers-in-law generally understood by their daughters-in-law?' 'Are mothers-in-law truly bad?'

In many homes across the world, there is usually an unending, raging conflict between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.

There are two parties to the conflict - the wife and her husband on one hand and the mother-in-law on the other hand. To be able to provide understand the causes of the conflict, it is pertinent to assess the roles played by each party to the conflict.

The wife and her husband

Many wives, come into marriage, fully prepared for battle based on pre-conceived notions that mothers-in-law are evil and must be put in their right places. Thus they have formed an opinion of their in-laws and have concluded that the in-laws are antagonists. So, if a wife has a kind and loving mother-in-law, she would misconstrue everything that the mother-in-law says or does.

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A wife may have an illusion that once her husband marries her, he must abandon his parents and cling to her. This illusion is based on a scripture that says that '' A man will leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife''. By their faulty interpretation of this scripture, they seem to forget that the same scripture commands that 'a man should honor his parents''

A sensible man will not abandon his parents because he married a wife. He must continue to relate with them and to provide for them. However, his relationship with them should not allow unnecessary interference in his affairs, especially marital affairs by his relations.

Unfortunately, in many places, relations do interfere in the marital affairs of a married relation and this attitude is a product of cultural values particularly the extended family system.

The extended family system is a beautiful and commendable cultural system that allows a member to be his brother's keeper. However, one major defect of this system is a member's assumed right to meddle in the marital affairs of another member.

No parent has the right to meddle in the marital affairs of a son except the son grants them the power to do so. Such powers, when given are often abused and the mother-in-law is the chief culprit. A son who grants rights of interference to his relations is obviously lacking in maturity and is still in bondage to his parents i.e. tied to their apron strings. Marriage is for adults and real men. Real men are not just men by physique as some men really are. Maturity is the ability to take full responsibility for one's actions and to face one's challenges

There is a world of difference between a healthy respect for one's parents and servitude to them. Many men do not seem to know this difference. A son who allows undue interference in his marital affairs is consciously or unconsciously setting the stage for a conflict especially where his wife detests and resents such interference. In this wise, the son/husband has become a part of the problem.

Some men are emotionally attached to their parents especially their mothers and this is the loop that a mother-in-law takes advantage of to trouble her daughter-in-law.

The mother-in-law

A mother-in-law wants to be loved and accepted by her son. She wants to be remain relevant in his life and be treated as a priority. The Mother-Son relationship is one of the most intimate but non-sexual relationships.

Mothers are usually very passionate about their sons. Some mothers who may have had rough and difficult marriages in their time with probably impossible husbands usually take solace in their children to comfort them and care for them. They may have suffered a great deal and had borne numerous indignities to train and bring up their children. They would see their children as their little husbands.

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Suddenly, a young woman appears on the scene to take away her son's attention from her. She feels oppressed and becomes heartbroken. The mother fails to realize that when her son gets married, she now belongs to the backseat while her daughter-in-law takes the front seat in her son's life. The mother still desires to have the full attention of her son which her daughter-in-law will see as rivalry and competition.

Therefore the conflict between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is a battle for the attention and control of the son/husband.

Some mothers-in-law are unnecessarily difficult and can not be pleased or satisfied by a daughter-in-law. Sometimes it is out of envy especially if the mother-in-law had a rough and unhappy marriage and her daughter-in-law now has a happy and cordial relationship.

Some mothers-in-law have good intentions, genuinely interested in the welfare of their son which the daughter-in-law may misconstrue to mean poke nosing.

The Way Forward

The relationship with one's in-laws is a sensitive one that requires knowing how to handle it without rupturing it. Also, the marital relationship is so unique that the couple must not allow their relationship with in-laws to destroy it.

It is the husband's role to lead every conflict resolution involving his wife and her in-laws because he is the head of the home. In-law misunderstandings are bound to occur and should be tackled as they occur, rather than being left to degenerate.

A husband has the duty to protect his wife and to stand by her at every time. Marriage is 'leaving and cleaving''. What this means is that all the relationships that existed before the marriage must be broken before the marriage bond can be formed. A husband who is a real and matured man, who is not tied to the apron strings of his parents, must be able to stand on his feet and must disallow external interference in his marital affairs. This does not mean that the husband will cease to relate with his relations.

In spite of hostility from in-laws, a wife can not distance herself from them because when she married her husband, she married his family as well. So, there is no way that she can obliterate her in-laws. She should look inward to check herself first to see if there are any issues within her which caused the friction.

She must realise that today,she is a wife and daughter-in-law to someone,but tomorrow she will have daughters-in-law and her daughters will also have mothers-in-law. What she sows today in her relationship with her mother-in-law is what she will reap in future when she becomes a mother-in-law

A wife must learn to do her best to tolerate and accommodate in-laws, and also love them. She should be humble and friendly with them, show respect and care. These efforts on her part will show that she is from a good home and with good upbringing.

However, if in-law misunderstandings still arise, it is the duty of her husband to protect his wife from his relations while maintaining cordiality in relationship with them. This does not mean that the husband will quarrel with his parents. It will require the application of tact and wisdom on his part because relations with in-laws must not be ruptured on account of any marriage.

For peace to reign in the home, the onus is on the wife to maintain cordial relations with her in-laws and her husband must demonstrate the maturity that is necessary to disallow in-laws' interference in his marital affairs. The wife and her husband are one flesh in marriage and they must both protect their marriage against external attacks.

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Those who take those steps down the aisle are making a commitment for a lifetime. A successful marriage for amount of time - hopefully several decades - doesn't come without sacrifice and effort.

Blooming Love

Falling in love is pretty easy because it is often little more than initial infatuation. Blind dates, acquaintances or even great friendships can develop into a romantic relationship if there are common interests and attraction involved.

The initial stages of romance can be a thrilling experience for a couple. This is when many relationships seem to be at their best - at least they feel that way. Both people are still on their "best behavior," putting their "best foot forward" when around each other.

Avoiding "I Do" Shifting to "Uh Oh"

When such a relationship becomes marriage, the excitement and passion eventually putter out if not tended to. Couples need to still make time for one another. Fun activities such as dance classes or learning a skill together can help two people solidify their bond over common interests.

Spontaneity may unfortunately be somewhat constrained by other obligations and financial limitations, but couples should nevertheless still try to surprise each other on occasion. An unexpected gift or assistance with a task your mate dislikes can help make him/her feel special. Sincere compliments go a long way in building a conscious awareness of love.

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Couples additionally need to make an effort to communicate - something that frequently doesn't come naturally for at least one of the spouses. It is easy to cease talking because you are too tired or there doesn't seem to be anything exciting to discuss. However, when verbal communication slows to a crawl, couples lose that thread which helps them reconnect daily.

Autumn Love

Whether intended or not, a typical marriage eventually matures into a secure and less romantic relationship over a lengthy period of time. It's not that romance and passion are dead (not at all), but time commitments get reprioritized. Children, for example, have a huge effect on marriages.

Kids are wonderful, but their presence can also be demanding and take up a high percentage of physical and emotional energy. By the end of the day, neither mate may not have much left for the other. Life priorities may not leave you as much alone time as either of your would like, but it is important to take full advantage of any available.

Married couples who regard each other as best friends experience a high level of success in their marriage. Such couples have enough trust and respect between them that they can even talk about touchy issues without much tension. Any time spent together for them is enjoyable because they simply like each other's company.

People who grow in love and eventually marry do so with the hopes of enjoyment and passion for a lifetime. Both parties, however, need to work at the relationship if they expect that as a reality for decades. A marriage based on more than the early flames of passion has a great chance thriving.

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TO HAVE and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; until death do us part... the marriage vows.

Never do we realise on our wedding day how our vows will be tested. Sure, we may assume that testing will come, but rarely do we realise what it will cost or require of us. Rarely do we say, 'I know it will take every ounce of my strength and more to get through some tests'. We may even say, 'I love my spouse so much that I will do whatever it takes'. With divorce rates ranging from 70 percent (Belgium) to 43 percent (Australia), as indicative for the Western world, even accounting for legitimate divorce,* there are myriads of couples who find it impossible to keep their wedding vows.

For all of us, words are cheap. We inventively think them up and then speak them into creation. Then our vow stands for all eternity, somehow in future to be thwarted. Yet those marriage vows have, in theory, been long thought about and prayed over, reflected upon, and taken seriously. It's why we're reminded when we make them, that we make them before God.

Few if any married couples would keep their vows with 100 percent purity over their lifetime. It's the same principle why God had to come in Jesus to save us; we could not keep 'the law' - i.e. the Ten Commandments. We needed help, and today we still need help. We need to forgive and be forgiven if marriage (or any realistic relational endeavour) is to succeed.

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Marriage vows certainly should be kept. There should never be unfaithfulness or infidelity in marriage. But the fact is there so often is - whether it be a little 'white' lie we tell or a full-blown affair.

One of the greatest blessings in marriage occurs when both partners arrive at a place where they can accept the unlovable traits of the other (because we all have them, and we promised to do just that); where both display the capacity to accept faults, errors and mistakes in the other. These certainly need to be apologised for. But, for the reasons of our human frailty, forgiveness is a necessity in marriage.

My solitary point is this: marriage vows are a commitment to strive toward one day at a time over a lifetime, never to give up on, not a standard of perfection to hold our partner or ourselves guilty to that nobody attains faultlessly.

* Legitimate divorce for reasons of e.g. domestic violence, desertion, unreconciled unfaithfulness.

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There is need to clarify what love and sex means or stands for in marriage. Many people attach the same meaning to the two, which is a serious error. The keywords in the title are love, sex and marriage. It is imperative to explain what each word stands for.

Marriage is an agreement between a man and a woman to live as husband and wife. It is an institution created by God primarily for the purpose of companionship. It is a bond and an everlasting covenant that is meant to exist for as long as the couples live. It was created to terminate only by death of any of the partners.

Love is the foundation of every marriage. Love is not in words but in action. Love is better demonstrated than said by words. Love is not a feeling, because there is much more to love than jumping into bed with the opposite sex.

Love is sacrifice and service by one to the other. To love is to give what is the best for the benefit of the other, and to accept him as he is and not on the basis of what is to be gained from him.

To love is to make a self-sacrificing concern for the benefit and welfare of another and to love the other without condition in spite of the other's actions or in-actions. Love is a strong emotional attachment to another person. It is a deep affection for another person, to be fond of the person and wanting to be with him/her all the time. Love is a heart-to-heart connection between husband and wife. To love is to accept the imperfections of the other and to accommodate them.

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Love is fueled by personal intimacy which must be developed by the couple for their love to grow. Without personal intimacy, love wanes or fades and gradually dies. This is how many marriages have failed because the partners took their affection for granted and did not develop it.

Many people are in marriage but very few are in love.

Sex is sexual intercourse or a sexual union between husband and wife. It was created by God to be expressed within marriage as an instrument for husband and wife to express their love for each other. However, sex is not love because it is possible to have sex with a person you have no feelings or love for. Further, there are other ways to express love for each other apart from sex. Sex is not the exclusive means to show love to another.

Sex alone, without strong personal intimacy, can not sustain a marriage. Sex without personal intimacy is driven by passion and passion is a weak and unstable foundation to build a marriage on. Moreover, passion can easily take the place of real friendship.

Many marriages are mere sexual relationships because the partners rushed into for romantic connection without developing the intimacy connection. Intimacy is friendship which takes time to develop, to nurture and mature. In a marriage built on sex driven by passion, there is no real love for each other and each member exists to derive mere physical and sexual pleasure from the other which quickly becomes boring.

Full expression of love can be said to occur in marriage when personal intimacy is developed and maintained and is combined with sexual intimacy. Then will love be complete.

Saying or doing the wrong thing can actually cause your spouse to feel even more distant from you. You can make your spouse fall back in love with you, all over again.

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