The Real Reason Your In-Laws Don’t Like You

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a young fiancee who was upset because her future in-laws didn’t like her. As she shared her experience, it was hard to believe that these adults, who were otherwise decent people, could be so socially tone deaf, so oblivious to their own unkind words and actions.

The woman wanted to know how she could fix it, how she could make them accept her. But the sad fact was that there was probably nothing she could do but ride it out.

Families are like bodies that have been functioning for several years with the same hearts, livers, stomachs, spleens, and various other guts. And like human bodies, they don’t respond well to transplants. The moment those new organs move in and start trying to become a permanent fixture, the body’s autoimmune system detects a foreigner and starts the process of transplant rejection.

This part doesn’t belong here!  It doesn’t match!  It hasn’t been here for years like the rest of us!  Purge, purge, purge!

Some folks are blessed enough to become family transplants and only need a period of minor adjustment. Many others suffer years of rejection before the family body gives up the fight and recognizes that the transplant is there to stay.

When a body tries to reject a transplant, it often needs powerful drugs to reverse the rejection process. And in the case of families, the most powerful drug to stop the natural process of rejection is loving humility.

Families have to recognize that there’s more at stake than maintaining their cabal of folks who have shared the same last name for several years–there’s a new marriage that needs support, a new transplant that feels completely out of place and needs to be assured that he or she belongs.

God designed families to grow by bringing in new transplants. So the next time you get a new family member, do your best to recognize that the new member isn’t just some expendable accessory – he or she is a vital organ that your blood relative can’t live without. And if you go with your natural instinct and reject, you might end up losing a lot more than you bargained for.

This appeared on on September 2, 2015.  If you’d like an email with a weekly recap of what I’ve written, click here.  You can also keep up with my latest articles (and more) on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Graeme Phillips

    In today’s age of nuclear families, I don’t see why we make such a big thing of in-laws. In the days of extended families being intricately involved in the village’s workings in the pre-industrialisation days, more adjustments need to be made, but rarely these days.

    If I didn’t get on with in-laws, I just wouldn’t bother visiting them (or dealing with them), except where I really could not get away with not doing so (say a family wedding).


  2. Nice article! Out of love and respect for your spouse it is best to make an honest and enduring effort with your in-laws. Maturity, reason and commitment to a life together requires such. Sometime it is a challenge but time does help!


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