Inlaws, Outlaws, and Bylaws

My experience with inlaws

During our 31 years of married life, my late husband and I lived hundreds of miles from both families. We only saw each other once or twice a year. We were accepted by each other’s relatives, but none of them lived nearby to drop in unannounced or to interfere with how we raised our children—not that they would have. Also, we didn’t have cell phones, email, or skype, and long distance was VERY expensive so contact was minimal. My husband died years ago, and I still have a wonderful relationship with my inlaws. Today long distance costs very little or nothing, and we talk far more often than we did when the children were growing up.

Now, I am a mother-in-law myself.

My son chose a beautiful, godly wife nearly ten years ago. She is a wonderful wife and mother. Over the years, they have worked out traditions for their family—a little from his side, a little from her side, but mostly theirs together. Although I love her dearly, I would never try to take the place of her mother. Her parents are godly people and we have the same dreams and aspirations for our children and grandchildren: to have a healthy, happy, home where God and His Word determine their lifestyle. I enjoy my grandchildren and love to spend time with them; however, I do not drop in without an invitation. My married son’s home is not my home, yet I know I am welcome there. Whenever I’ve needed something, they have responded immediately and helped me resolve the problem. With parents on both sides, they truly fulfill the bible admonitions (bylaws): But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God (1 Tim. 5:3-4). Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives you (Ex. 20:12, Amp).

Let me just say, “I’m not an expert! I have much to learn.”

I definitely do not pretend to have all the answers but through decades of counseling ministry I have encountered most of the dilemmas addressed in these articles. There’s nothing unique about the situations described. Many books have been written covering them in depth. However, as Christians, the cardinal principle for maintaining any relationship is to remember that agape love overlooks faults, doesn’t pick up offenses, and hardly even notices when others do it wrong (1 Cor.13; Mark 11:25-26). This modus operandi is the only way to live in peace. Following Scriptural counsel as your bylaws will prevent your inlaws from becoming outlaws. 

The questions answered in these articles have come to me via email or telephone from several different states and mostly from people who know me personally or have been in conferences where I’ve taught on relationships. First posted on my blog in 2010-2011, I have moved them to The Alabaster Box Archives and divided them into four articles: Part 1, 2, 3, and 4. To read them, go to and choose Inlaws from the category list in the right column.

© V26N09Y11 The Alabaster Box/yvonnekarl.       

Note: The Alabasterbox website is closed and these four articles are lost at the moment. When found, they will be posted. -Yvonne  (January 2018)