Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Turning Union into Communion: Loving Your In-Laws (4 Keys Downloadable Worksheet)

This is number three in a series of downloadable worksheets to use at home, in small groups, or during break-out sessions with our Catholic marriage advice book, The Four Keys to Everlasting LoveTO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT, CLICK HERE.

Chapter 3

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 

Conversation Starters

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?

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