When You Marry a Spouse You Marry a Family

2012 07 21 VH Reunion Group 1But Esau’s wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26:35 (NLT)

Typically, when you marry, you are not just entering into relationship with a person but with an entire family. Your spouse or spouse-to-be is part of a family system with its own traditions, culture, ways and means of doing life. In my experience, people don’t talk much about family of origin when they get married. There might be the passing conversation or even a pre-marital counseling session dedicated to talking about our families, but the conversation is usually covered in the fairy-dust of two people desperately in love with one another and living in the delusion that nothing could possibly diminish the feelings of infatuation they are experiencing at the moment.

Just wait until the holidays.

The brief observation made at the very end of today’s chapter holds a huge lesson for all of us. When we enter into a marriage we enter into our spouse’s family system. Make no mistake: It’s a package deal. We can either be a blessing or a curse to that family. I can’t control whom my family members marry, nor can I control the way they behave or relate to my family. But, I can control how I behave and relate to every one, especially my wife’s family. By speaking and acting in loving kindness towards her family, I am not only honoring my wife but keeping myself from being a source of tension and conflict in her family system (I am blessed that Wendy’s family makes it easy ;-))

Today, I’m thinking about the role and responsibility of being an in-law. The truth of the matter is that part of loving my spouse well is loving spouse’s family well. If/when I dishonor or make life difficult for my spouse as it relates to her family, then I diminish my love for her. When a spouse dishonors your family, it can wound deeply, leave scars that never completely heal over, and continue to itch long after they are made.

 

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