This topic is adapted from the Bryan & Tracy Dwyer YouTube channel.

Setting healthy boundaries with your in-laws is one of the most practical – and difficult – tasks for any couple. Here are a few simple tips:

[Related: The Art of Listening]

Tip #1: Get on the Same Page as a Couple

Before you do anything else, get on the same page with your spouse about the situation. Be honest about the boundaries you’d like to set up. Be clear about times they have crossed the boundary, and how that made you feel. Don’t be vindictive or hurtful with your words, just be honest and get on the same page.

Tip #2: Get on the Same Page with God

Be sure to get clarity about what God says about marriage. Remember, you are one with your spouse, not your parents (Ephesians 5:31). Talk about how to set your spouse apart.

Tip #3: Draw up Your Boundaries

Once you and your spouse have gotten on the same page with God and with each other about how to view this issue, it’s time to get practical. Talk about the boundaries you’d like to see established with your in-laws. Debate and negotiate with your spouse, but be sure to agree on clear boundaries and write them down.

Tip #4: Speak Truth in Love to the in-Laws

Now it’s time to have the difficult conversation with your parents. Be honest, but also be respectful and sensitive. Try to help them understand your perspective, and ask them to respect the boundaries you’re setting up.

[Related: In-Law Conflict: Your Wife vs Your Mother]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Rate yourselves on a scale from 1-10 on how well you think you’ve done in setting boundaries with your in-laws. Explain. Rate your spouse, too.
  4. If you have conflict over your in-laws, what are you fighting about? What needs to change to fix the issue?
  5. Read Ephesians 5:31. What does it look like, practically, to leave your parents? In what ways have you left? In what ways are you still holding on to your family?
  6. What conversations do you need to have with each family to alleviate the stress in your marriage?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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