Maturity means you are able to separate from your parents. Being married means you have entered in a relationship that requires you to form a partnership. This partnership means that you and your spouse are a team of two, which doesn’t include your parents or your in-laws.
Being supportive of your spouse doesn’t mean you have to be adversarial to your partners. It might mean that you have to stand up for your spouse at times and side with him, even if your parents don’t agree. It may mean that you aren’t able to gain your parents’ approval in every situation.
In-laws can be a major source of stress for many couples. People who “straddle the fence” or try to stay neutral when there is conflict between their parents and their spouse are not helping the situation. Instead, they may be fueling the fire.
Emily and Steve had been married for ten years. Steve’s mother had always been a source of contention. Steve’s mother offered to help them frequently but Emily felt she overstepped her bounds. She would complain to Steve frequently but he said he didn’t want to get in the middle. He told Emily to just tell his mother how she felt. He sometimes agreed to talk to her himself but he “forgot” to have those conversations sometimes.
Steve wasn’t able to show a united front to his mother. He wasn’t siding with his wife and sticking up for their marriage. He wasn’t actively working toward solving the problem but instead was perpetuating ongoing problems while trying to “stay neutral.” This was increasingly frustrating for Emily and it was causing ongoing marital problems.
Do you have difficulty standing up for your spouse when it comes to your parents? Do you expect your spouse to do it by herself? Unfortunately, this can set up your spouse to be disliked by your parents if you always make her do the confronting. If you have difficulty speaking up for your spouse or being assertive, consider the problems this causes in your marriage. Remember your marriage vows and the reasons you agreed to leave your parents and form a partnership with your spouse.