How do I deal with in-laws who are not nice?


Hello and good morning,

I recently came upon your website and saw a question and answer section and wonder why more churches of Christ do not have this. I struggle with pride and sometimes do not wish to ask questions at church or there just does not seem to be an opportunity. As I digress, I have two questions, or maybe they are just problems, that I need reassurance and biblical relevancy to. I am an ever-failing Christian and have been brought up in the church of Christ. Although it was not a continual upbringing in the church, as I never lived in one place for more than two years growing up. I moved from my mom (who decided her life with her boyfriend was more important) to my grandparents (who my grandfather is a preacher for a church of Christ). I kind of feel like I missed a lot in regard to my Christian lessons. I have put on Christ in the watery act of baptism and am striving to sit down and learn what I need to live my life in accordance with the Word.

  1. My husband is an alcoholic, and I struggle to keep my positive attitude and be a good wife. He quit drinking after a life-altering attempt to end his life a few years ago. It got better and is much better today than it was before. Can you help me find strength in the Word for when he slips? My problem is I am a huge softy and always try to think of others, which normally ends up with people walking all over me. I also do not like confrontation. So then I start to wonder if I contribute to problems by not "putting my foot down," but aren't I supposed to be a good wife and be there for my husband? I am just unsure of how to be a good wife when it comes to this situation.
  2. My husband's family really doesn't like me. When my husband and I got together, it was not God's way but in a worldly way. My first daughter was an infant at our wedding. We were both baptized the day after our wedding. I felt like it was time to have that family that I always wanted and to start living the way God intended. During the time we dated I felt his family liked me. But remember I am that 'glass half full' type of gal and was star-struck by such a large family that I shrugged off many questionable comments. My main focus has always been my husband and our children. I always try to remember we all have bad days and every new day is a fresh start. This worked for many years, and then finally I guess it all just came together -- these people do not like me. I may be a bit slow here (haha). Anyway, I started to stick up for myself in a respectful way but realized it got me nowhere, except with more harsh comments. I got tired of being the emotional punching bag -- remember at this time I was living with a drinking alcoholic. I just wanted a family! After many years I gave up trying to start a new day with his family and started distancing myself. Some of the stuff was pretty hurtful, such as being told by my mother-in-law she would not be attending the wedding since she would try to talk my husband out of marrying me, that I am an unfit mother, some family members trying to convince my husband our first child is not his, getting banned from being around other family member's children if they were mad at me, being told constantly about a high school girlfriend, of how I was too skinny, too ditzy, too money-hungry (someone ran into my car and I had the audacity to ask them to fix it). The list goes on. So I just worked on my marriage and devoted my time to my husband and children, making sure my children had a good foundation in the Lord as they grew.

I realize I need to look toward the future and forgive and forget the past. We have moved across the country, but we still have to visit. This is my husband's family, but how am I  supposed to implement forgetting when my feeling get hurt so easily, and I know I am so unwelcome and unwanted there? I know this is a lot to take in, but I hope you can help me find biblical answers to my problems. Have a great day!

Thank you and God bless.


I'm sure the reason is that it takes a lot of time and effort. Each of us has our particular talents. Mine happens to be in written communication.

The first concept that you have to realize is that you can't make anyone do what is right. The most that you can do is encourage them in doing right and discourage them from doing wrong. "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:23-26). Talk with your husband about what would best help him when he slips and starts drinking. Perhaps you can call someone he respects to come to get him so he isn't drunk in front of the children. If he brings alcohol home, quietly toss it out. If he asks what happened to it, just gently mentioned that you know you can't stop him from drinking, but there won't be any alcohol in your home. None of this requires yelling, screaming, or blaming the other person. It is just acknowledging that these are the rules of the house.

Talk to him also about what is triggering his need to drink and then see if you can figure out ways to avoid those triggers (not all are going to be in your control) and alternatives that he can do that don't involve drinking.

Regarding your in-laws, the problem is that you have a standard of morality you are upholding that makes them look bad. "For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil" (I Peter 3:12-17). It really doesn't matter if they like you or not. All that matters is whether God approves of you. Your in-laws are not your family. They won't be with you eternally. Your family is your husband and children, and your brothers and sisters in Christ. If your in-laws are rude, then keep your involvement with them to a minimum.


Mr. Hamilton,

Thank you for your kind and uplifting words. I would like to say in regard to my husband's alcoholism, he does not drink around me nor the children anymore as this is where I have to take a stand. I guess his trigger is when he is away from me he ends up doing this and so far in the past two years has "slipped" 3 times, so definitely progress is happening; Praise be to Jesus. I guess I just wanted you to know so you don't worry about that (because that is what I do when I know someone is in trouble).

You gave me a lot to think about and I appreciate your time and the biblical references, I will keep these near. I would also like to let you know how freeing the second part was. After reading your email, it literally felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my heart. So again thank you!

In Christian Love,

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