What if your wife feels she is getting less of you than your family (parents, siblings, and so on) is getting? What if she thinks your relationship with those folks is cheating her? It’s not really something either of you can prove you are right about, as it comes down to perception. It is not a fight you can win.

In general, women don’t complain about this as long as they feel their needs are being met. This means making better use of the time you spend with her is likely to do more to change her perception than spending less time with your family.

Another potential problem is how she feels your family treats her. If she feels like an outsider, time spent with your family is going to be boring at best and possibly miserable. If you have suggested, in words or actions, it is up to her to change her “place” in your family, you have a problem. You have placed yourself with your family and apart from her. That probably was not your intention, but it is how you have made her feel.

Angry mother-in-law © Roboriginal | Dreamstime.com

If your family chooses not to make your wife feel welcome – and please realise it is a choice they make – what do you do? Do you expect her to suffer for their bad choice?

If any of this sounds familiar, my suggestion is you talk with your bride and ask her to work with you to find a solution with which she can live. Yes, she should be willing to sacrifice a bit, and put on a good face on occasion, but she should not be doing all or even the majority of the sacrificing. Ask her which member(s) of your family are the most difficult for her to deal with, and make it your job to find ways to limit such difficulty. That could mean less time with the person, being on guard when she is with the person, or having a private talk with the family member.

Hopefully it never comes to it, but if it does you need to be ready to clearly tell any member of your family that your wife comes first. The bottom line is if they can’t get along with her it will mean you spend less time with them. Yes, I know how that makes her look to them, and I know how it makes you look to them. I also know how it makes you look to your bride, and to God.

What if your bride is the one being unreasonable? First, make sure she is actually being unreasonable. Think it out; put yourself in her shoes. Don’t just think about how things are now, consider the entire history she has with your family or difficult member(s) of your family. Is there more to her complaint than you want to admit? If you’re convinced she is wrong, talk to her about it – preferably with a third party to help work through the various issues.

The other side of this is her family, how much time she spends with them, and how they treat you. Everything above applies in reverse here. My suggestion is love should result in you “taking more” from her family than you would ever expect her to take from your family. However, this does not mean put up with anything and everything – there must be a limit. If you have discussed it with your bride and it has not made a difference, I would again suggest working through it with a third party to help give an outside perspective.

[This post originally appeared May 22st, 2009]

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