It’s time to talk about in-laws! This is number three in the worksheet series for our Catholic marriage book, The Four Keys to Everlasting Love. Since chapters are organized by topic, you can join the discussion at any time, even if you’re late to the party. So please feel free to participate in the 4 Keys Online Book Club on Facebook, where we discuss the book every Saturday. TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS WORKSHEET, CLICK HERE.
Chapter 3 Worksheet
Turning Union into Communion:
Extending Your Love to Your In-Laws and Beyond
Marriage is more than the union of just two people. It’s also a union of two families. A married couple needs to craft a delicate balance between two Biblical priorities. First, they are called to leave their father and mother and cleave to their spouse, as it says in the Book of Genesis. Second, they still have the duty to honor and respect their parents, according to the Ten Commandments.
Many couples struggle with learning to love their in-laws. It helps to remember that in most cases what the in-laws really want is for your marriage to be successful, long-lasting, and happy. By loving our in-laws and extended family members, we follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
The more differences there are between the two families of origin, the more difficult it can be. As Manny and Karee say in Chapter Three of The Four Keys, “The two of us have extended families that include Sevillanos, Madrilenos, Colombians, French-Moroccans, Poles, Argentineans, Egyptians, and Virginians. Our family members’ religious affiliations range the gamut from Catholicism to Episcopalianism, Judaism, Coptic Orthodox, and former Muslim.” When we join our families in a new community of life and love, we fulfill Jesus’ desire that all the peoples of the earth may be one.
In Chapter Three, Manny and Karee show how marriages have a powerful ability to draw relatives closer together and how respectful communication techniques that work for the two of you also work with in-laws. They recount fascinating and amusing stories about relationships with in-laws from the Bible’s Old Testament. Chapter Three also teaches you how to:
- Draw appropriate boundaries between yourselves and your in-laws
- Respectfully listen to your in-laws ‘advice, even if you don’t ultimately follow it
- Negotiate trouble spots like wedding planning, gift exchanges, and hosting the holidays
You can use the following conversation starters to get a discussion going among yourselves or in a small group. If it helps, think it over on your own time, take it to prayer, and jot down your answers before talking about them.
1. How would you describe your process for deciding how much involvement your in-laws have in your married life?
2. Can you remember a time when the two of you reached an impasse on this issue? How did you resolve it?
3. How do you handle holidays? Do you see room for improvement?
4. What do you believe is your responsibility toward both sets of your parents as they become elderly?