Take Sides with Your Spouse Over Your Parents Don't let your parents or in-laws drive a wedge between you and your spouse; and encourage the loyalty with support. BY JENNA D. BARRY
If your parents are bad-mouthing your spouse, don't participate in their bashing.
“ When we marry, we are supposed to transfer our loyalty so that our spouse becomes a priority over our parents.”
What would you do if you found out your spouse listened to his parentís gossip about you? Would you yell at him for not defending you? Would you demand that he cut off all contact with his mom and dad? Would you accuse him of being a traitor?
Itís easy to escalate from zero to angry in 1.5 seconds when you have in-laws problems, and that can take a negative toll on your marriage. Ideally, a husband and wife will unite as a couple whenever they need to overcome a marriage obstacleósuch as the loss of a job, a miscarriage, an unruly teenager, difficult in-laws, etc.
When we marry, we are supposed to transfer our loyalty so that our spouse becomes a priority over our parents. If you feel that your mate doesnít make you a priority, then you can either help him become a loyal partner or just complain that he isnít one already. In other words, you can choose to behave in a way that brings you closer together or drives you farther apart.
At first glance it may seem that your spouse is disloyal whenever he listens to his parents gossip about you. But the truth is that loyalty isnít a pass/fail class like gym in junior high. There are different levels of loyalty, and just because your husband isnít galloping around on a white horse slaying everyone who utters a hostile word against you, doesnít mean he feels no loyalty toward you.
There are several ways your spouse can respond when their parents start to gossip about you. They can demonstrate their loyalty by defending you, or by refusing to listen to them talk behind your back. They can also remain silent while your in-laws say negative things about you. Iíll admit thatís not the best option, but itís better than joining the folks in criticizing you. If, in your mind, the only way for your mate to prove they are loyal is to proclaim you a perfect wife while shoving their parents off a cliff, then you have a warped definition of loyalty.
The next time your spouse behaves in a way that leaves you feeling betrayed, take a step back and look at the situation from an optimistic point of view. Maybe your husband or wife didnít behave the way you would have liked them to, but perhaps he or she was partway up the loyalty scale even if he wasnít at the very top. Try to find something positive about his behavior and thank them. Then gently communicate how youíd like them to behave the next time the situation comes up.
For example, you could say, "Honey, thanks for not agreeing with your mom and dad when they said I was a disrespectful daughter-in-law. From now on, when they start to say something negative about me, Iíd like for you to tell them that you donít like being caught in the middle, and that you arenít willing to listen to them gossip about me anymore."
Whenever you and your spouse have a disagreement over in-laws, seize that opportunity to grow together as a couple; and remember to behave in such a way that your spouse will have the desire to make you their first priority as well.