About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Aloha, Robin! LOVED that idea about sending my husband’s parents a “thank you” card on his birthday…BRILLIANT!
    While my in-laws and I had a rocky relationship at first, I’m happy to say that now we are thick as thieves. While they didn’t handle all situations perfectly, I honestly feel that it was ME that was doing more to damage our relationship. I cringe at some of the selfish things I did and some of the fits I threw. Nothing like being 21 and throwing a temper-tantrum that would make any toddler proud.
    I definitely saw improvement when I started praying for a heart to love them like I knew Jesus wanted me to have. Also, I think I made a conscious effort to put myself in their shoes and see challenges from their point of view. No magic formula…I think mostly God just did some heart surgery on all of us!
    Thanks for writing this, Robin. Great food for thought.

  2. Hey! Thank you for this text. I wanted to read this, because me and my husband have encountered some in-law problems. He comes from different culture than I am and my parents don’t know much about his context. I believe I personally don’t have and won’t have any problems with my husband’s parents who live in another country. BUT recently my mum and my boyfriend have been fighting… But you know what Robin? Maybe I could use your ideas the same way with my parents and my husband to cure their relationship :). And I realize I need to start praying for it as well.

  3. Thank you for your wise words.
    I have found that since my in laws have been retired for quite a few years, my greatest gift for them is listening to them. Most of their days are spent in each other’s company. So when they call or come over they have a lot of words stored up for us.
    God has given me patience in listening to the older generation (which I am rapidly becoming one of myself)! It also carries over to my children (ages 22 and 19) who learn from my example the importance of respecting their elders.

  4. Oh boy. This is a tough one for me. I have in-laws who are very tough to love, and getting tougher by the day. You have given me a lot to think and pray about, Robin. Thanks, I think.

  5. LOVE this!
    I’m old enough now to have been on both sides: I’ve HAD parents-in-law and I’ve BEEN a mother-in-law. The in-law relationships needs special attention in prayer and Christians are no exception. We still accept from each other the rolling of eyes at the suggestion that the MIL is coming and fool ourselves into thinking we are helping each other by engaging in stories about what WE have had to put up with.
    We, as believers, must set the tone by moving to a higher level on this.
    I heard a young mother recently saying how grateful she was for her mother-in-law and I wanted to rush across the room and kiss her! It is so rare to hear.
    THANK YOU for tackling this topic!
    And let me add that I have the most terrific DAUGHTER-IN-LAW. Sure, it took a couple of years for us to get comfortable with each other, but she is so perfect for my son and a marvelous mother and clearly thinks of us and wants to please us…….

  6. As for in-laws, mine were the best; but like you said, they weren’t perfect. They were the best grandparents for my children–I’m glad we had them for the time we did. I felt blessed to have known them. I often miss them because both now have passed away. Now, I am an in-law, and my new daughter (in-law) has been a member of our family since my daughter was in middle school. They were fast best friends! She and my son got to know each other better in college; and although 2 years apart, they became good friends and then sweet lovers. Now, she is a new daughter to love. They married last October. How blessed am I? Very!!!! She is sweet and smart and she really loves my son. That definitely fills a mother’s heart with joy. Thanks for all the advice. All of it is good. God Bless! 😀

  7. One thing that I learned which helped me FINALLY toward the 4-5 year of marriage was that it wasn’t about me. I had walked into a bad Mother/Son relationship. When I finally figured that out I was able to stop taking things personally from my MIL and things got a lot better. We have been married for 8 1/2 years now and I am grateful that I stuck to my guns and are still in contact with my inlaws. My grandchildren deserve a realtionship with their fathers family, and their lives would be a lot different if I had given into emotion and let my husband have his way – meaning not talking to his side of the family anymore. It was REALLY difficult but definitely worth it. So, I guess what I am saying is HANG ON if you are having hard times.

  8. In-laws, you take people that you barely know and are forced to become family.
    My relationship with my in-laws has gone from horrid to very special in my 17 yrs of marriage. It is a difficult relationship to manage at best.
    I loved this article. I sent it to everyone I know!

  9. Thank you so much for the reminder that it is ESPECIALLY honoring to God when we honor difficult in-laws. I really needed to hear that.

  10. My relationship with my in-laws is fragile. We currently live 1500 miles away from them so it’s not something I deal with often…but that just makes the time we do spend together more difficult. I definitely feel a conviction from your post (in a good way) that I need to pray for the relationship more. I really need a change of heart in this area. I’ve been with my husband since I was 17-years-old so it has been a hard transition from high school teen to adult in their eyes. I know I have made mistakes and like a previous commentor threw tantrums. Your post gives me encouragment that God can make a complete and lasting change in our relationship and not just put on a bandaid.

  11. Oh, this is a tender point for us. My ILs were abusive to my husband, and he chose when it continued into our marriage to sever the ties until they choose to resolve the relational problems instead of pretend they don’t exist and then keep doing abusive things.
    The hard part is that we *are* in contact with his younger sister who has never had a problem with her parents. Get togethers are strained simply because there is the giant elephant in the room that we can’t talk about.
    This keeps coming up in the last several weeks, and I have been convicted about prayer for this situation. I *need* to be on my knees about resolution however God decides to work that out. It *will* be a miracle when it happens, and God will be glorified through it. I need to persevere.
    Thank you!

  12. Thank you for sharing this. My relationship with my in-laws is strained and what you say is very true. I have allowed God to transform my life and prayer in so, so many areas of my life yet I still struggle with the in-laws and am always on the lookout for practical things to help me with my attitude. I like the thank you note for husband’s birthday. Good idea.

  13. This is definitely a conviction type of post. However, my in law problems stem more from my sister in law, than my parents in law.
    I have such a bitter, hard heart towards my husbands sister. She has purposely disrespected me and my children. My 6 year old has asked her a question, and been ignored. On purpose. She is 41 years old (I’m 26). It has been hard, and I have tried to change my heart… but not really. Very much from a self-centered point.
    Any advice about the siblings? LOL!

  14. I am EXTREMELY BLESSED by my in-laws. I love them and they are wonderful to my children! I needed this to remember NOT to take them for granted!

  15. Thanks for the words of wisdom. I am prayerfully considering what God would have me do in my relationship of 3 years (this weekend is our anniversary) with my boyfriend. He has been patiently waiting on me. I am trying to move forward but get stuck by fears and expectations and hurts(I was sexually assaulted my freshman year of college by a boyfriend). I’ve tried counseling but really need God to give me the clarity, freedom, strength, and peace I need to move forward. Lots of other things on my plate to, with my parents marriage in a bad place suddenly, a condo that won’t sell after almost a year in a city i no longer live in, work stress, health concerns…Please pray for me. I need God to move powerfully.

  16. Thank you for trusting me (us) with your need; its not one thing, its so many, and I do pray God will manifest himself in such a way, that its undeniable hes at work in the midst of ALL your circumstances.

  17. I have to say my relationship is good. But at first it was hard. I prayed for me to change and not be so hard headed about things. Amazing how God used that as a tool. I was surprised to see how easy it was to get along when I was trying to see things from their side, etc. Today they are such a blessing.

  18. Wow – to think that just last night I was praying and discussing with God my relationship with my ILs. It has been a long road just to get to where we are now (seven year journey) and we are not at the best of spots. I am constantly asking God if it is okay to not have anything to do with them ~ and then he gives me gentle (and somtimes not so gentle) reminders that we are to continue on the path, but to let him be our guide. I tend to try and rush ahead of Him and all He wants is for me to walk with Him through this, let Him take the brunt of their comments and actions and to continue to love and honor them as parents. :0)

  19. WOW! This really hit home for me. Actually, I have been in a dark place recently when dealing with my in-laws and this is just what I needed. Definitely sent from the Lord straight to my heart. Thanks for sharing!

  20. I have been guilty of everything you mentioned at one point over the last 6 years of marriage.
    The most important change I made (at the suggestion of someone much wiser!) was to stop saying negative things to my husband about his family. Even if he agreed with what I said it served no purpose to talk down about my in laws.
    I was amazed by the change that was made in my heart by making just this one change with my mouth.

  21. Love this! As someone who isn’t married yet, sometimes I wonder if there is going to be a manual when I do about how to deal with this stuff. haha. Thanks for the great advice, I am going to save this away for later 🙂

  22. “(God-centered instead of self-centered)”, Seriously, Robin?!?!?! Can you break it down for us any-more than that?
    Bring it. 🙂 and, Thank You.

  23. We started out VERY rocky (42 years ago) but our relationship developed into love and respect. I also, sent my MIL flowers on my husbands birthday thanking her for bringing him into the world for me to love. And 42 years later, I still do, I love him more every day. This is a wonderful post and GREAT ideas for young married men and women.

  24. My relationship with my in -laws was tricky. I adored my FIL, and he adored me. The MIL was a different story. Our relationship was very rocky, and marred by immaturity on *both* parts (yes, “mature” women can be immature, too!). Lots of snide comments through the years. She was the root of many of the squabbles between my husband and me. I was a brat, and like many others have said, it was all about ME. But, once my FIL had gone to be with Jesus, and my MIL became ill, I was the one to tend to her. And I did a good job of it. In the end she knew I loved her, and I also knew that she loved me. Now that she is gone, what I’d give for a “do-over” of those early years! I miss her so!
    And I challenge ALL of you the crown for best temper tantrum! I was a master of it in my early years of marriage. Thankfully those days are (mostly) over!

  25. I second the request for how to handle sister in law issues.
    We have worked hard to improve our relationship with my inlaws, but my husband’s sister likes to throw a wrench in the happiness every once in awhile. Then my MIL gets upset and my family suffers b/c of my SIL’s inability to have a happy relationship with her parents.
    I like the idea of sending my MIL a card thanking her for her son! 🙂 I will try and do that this year!

  26. This is a great post. A hard one to swallow though, too. After seeing my parents have a difficult relationship with each set of their in-laws, I prayed and dreamed mine would be different. But once we got married, something totally went off in me in the wrong direction: a generational pattern of how I was relating to my hubby’s parents was set in motion and spiraled downward. It is a constant battle for me, but one that I recognize is a huge battle of the flesh in how I choose to respond. One of the things that has helped me change the most has been my son (1 year old) and the truth that I will reap what I sow. The thought of my dil responding to me the way I act towards my in-laws would be devastating. So by the Lord’s help and grace, He is changing a generational pattern and my sin of selfishly thinking that my relationship to my in-laws is all about me.

  27. I am blessed with wonderful inlaws, although the road wasn’t always lined with roses. Time, and God’s hand, helped mark our communication paths with love. A little something that we do is send valentines day cards to the grandparents from the kids, or when I know the grandparents aren’t home my four and two -year old will call and leave a message on their answering machine. Both sets love to replay the message…

  28. I have struggled over 14 years of marriage to love and understand my in-laws, and it became much trickier when we moved to the same town 6 years ago! I have had a few temper tantrums myself, but I eventually figured out that I was expecting them to to be like MY family, and for the same things that are important to me to be important to them. I have been so hurt and offended several times when they didn’t even know they’d done anything “wrong!” When I did realize that I was only hurting myself with my resentment, I was able to let go of some of it, and the rest has gradually faded away as our relationship has developed and gotten stronger over time. I won’t say I don’t get frustrated with them from time to time, but I have learned to appreciate them for who they are. My family is 500 miles away, so I am grateful for the active role my in-laws are able to play in my children’s lives. Even if it’s not the way MY mother would do it…lol!

  29. Is it okay if I just print this out and carry it around in my wallet? I live with my MIL, so things get super tense from time to time (moment to moment?). Thanks for the wise words.

  30. Wonderfully written. I too struggle with my husband’s family. Sadly his mother died of cancer a few days after we were engaged, so it is his father and siblings. There is a lot of hurt, dysfunction, past abuse, unresolved issues, passive aggresiveness, and poor communication. The first few years I was energized and optimistic about the whole situation, but as time wore on i became more apathetic and distant. Then we had children who are now old enough to be affected by behaviors, harsh words, etc.
    It is by far one of the most complicated parts of marriage. I just told some friends the other day, one of the hardest mission fields for me as a Christian is family (on both sides). It is much easier to live out my faith on the mission field or among strangers, which doesn’t say much for my evangelism.
    I continue to tell myself that I need to rise above the fray and live the life God wants for us. I need to love them with His love and see them as the people He made them to be. The more I pray for God’s wisdom, strength, and joy- the easier it gets. It has been a great exercise in boundaries, but no matter what the situation I am called to love them.

  31. My own family has not been an example of good… so way before I met my husband I started praying for a husband from a godly loving family… and that’s exactly what I got (for the first time). So my message to all the single girls out there is – it’s never too early to start praying for your future husband AND his family!
    I am so grateful for my in-laws – and I loved the idea of sending a card on my husband’s birthday.

  32. I am commenting late…but just had to say, I love the wisdom and practical advice in this post. I have a positive relationship with my in-laws. My mother-in-law is so easy to love…my father-in-law…not as much. And that’s because he and I are cut from the same cloth. Once I realized how similar he and I are, it became easier to swallow his flaws…because most of them are my own, too.

  33. Wow, I wish I could do this, I really do, but my mil is a depressing, hateful woman. Been married 10 years and in the family longer…can’t seem to shake the hate I have for her. I have done many of those things before and thanked her for my hubby because he is NOTHING like any of them except that he looks like her.

  34. My in-laws are distant. They rarely call, rarely write, rarely visit. When we do get together or speak, I notice them trying to sound as if they know us well, as if they are involved, as if they are a part of our lives. That shows that they WANT to be a part of our lives, but just don’t…or maybe can’t. Keeping that bit of knowledge in my head is very helpful, because then I don’t resent how distant they are. I always wanted a mother-in-law that was an understanding, affectionate, helpful, godly example to me and my girls, someone I could call for advice or to chat, someone who wanted to be together and supportive. I don’t have that, but I have a woman who genuinely loves us and who actually needs OUR love and support. All those things she can’t be to me I CAN be to her. That perspective should (although it doesn’t always) keep me properly focused.

  35. hmm – this is one of those action provoking posts. Putting artwork in the mail today…I do love them, but don’t follow that up with ACTION very often…
    Blessings!