Words spoken over us by our parents do matter, regardless of one’s age. It is important to honor parents with the respect they deserve as an authority figure, but it is also just as vital to guard one’s heart. You can set boundaries in love with respect and compassion.
Wendy Asks Nancy:
I am married to a wonderful and unique man. Despite his privileged upbringing he is very down-to-earth. His parents’ affluence afforded him many opportunities and still does. Unfortunately, my in-laws are snobbish, self-absorbed and competitive. They are critical of everyone — especially their grown son. They put him and each other down constantly. They cause scenes and can’t enjoy life.
My husband is trying to be patient because he knows his parents aren’t going to change at their age. But they consume so much of our energy with their constant dramatic highs and lows. Any advice for dealing with their drama? They do love us and can be considerate.
It is good that you and your spouse are united in your outlook towards his parents. It is important that he is free to maintain a relationship with them, and allowed to honor them. It is through love that transformation can happen in other people’s lives, including your in-laws. I suggest that you look at them through eyes of empathy, because they are definitely hurting and do not have the peace that comes from knowing Christ as Lord of their lives. Many people believe Jesus existed, but do not live in the freedom He provides, relying on the world to fulfill their emotional needs.
When they start with the criticism and put downs, I encourage you and your husband to change the subject immediately. If that does not work, end the visit. It is important to agree to a strategy and stick with it. The idea is to show your in-laws that you and your husband will not tolerate their negativity.
It is wonderful that your husband has compassion for his parents and knows there is love amiss their drama, but it is also important that he guards his heart. The words his parents speak over his life, even as an adult, do have an impact and he does not need to be on the receiving end of that bombardment.