n-laws conflicts are legendary jokes at relationship conferences, in-laws unfortunately get a bad rap - either rightfully or wrongly so - there are fire beneath the smoke of the in-law issue, but it could be put out easily and then enjoy a nice fire on a crisp night.
Parent in-law issues like every other problem in marital relationship, stem from our Nature and Nurture and how we learn to make it work, throwing out what does not work and embracing what works.
When two individuals come together in MARRIAGE, they bring along people they've loved all their lives and whoever relationships they have with such people (parents in this case). Those parents bring along their personalities, their cultural view and heritage, the relationship (good or bad) they have with that child - especially emotionally.
Parents In-laws could be aggressive, passive-aggressive or passive, they can have strong cultural view of marriage relationship - which differs from tribe to tribe, among my tribe- Yorubas, the woman is a property, the husband listen to his parents before his wife and his parents when visiting feel at home at a son's house, than at a daughter's house.
A lot of Parents also believe that no youngman is good enough for their daughter (especially if he does not have an education they deem as good enough), many also believe some young ladies can't take care of their son, like they did. It is also amazing to me how, in-laws suddenly expect their son's wife or daughter's husband to behave like their own child - when he or she was raised in a different home (different worldview).
The SOLUTION to in-law palaver is actually simple in theory but difficult to apply for many:
Recognize that ONCE MARRIED, your parents (regardless of emotional relationship) is NOW more important than your parents (Gen. 2, Matt. 19 and Eph. 5)
Parents NEED to understand that they are STEWARD of God's children (God has no grandchildren), they are to raise them in the ways of the Lord, and let them go as adult to raise their own children - while holding them up in prayer. There is a transition of our assignment in the lives of our kids.
The newly wed must SET BOUNDARIES for both set of parents (and family), they must take each parent's personality into consideration and must have rules when there must be a family get together. Knowing the parent and coming up with how to engage them is HUGE.
If a child, say a daughter is close to Dad or son to a Mom - there must BE a period of weaning, with a recognition that, even though it might take time - I must develop a new intimacy with my souse while changing what I had with my dad or mom.
The newly wed MUST ensure, when boundaries are crossed, each person must take on his or her own family, NEVER take on your in-laws (the standard of insult for you is different from a biological child). Don't agree to take on your parent, and chicken out, while your spouse think - you did.
NEVER - undermine or underrate each other to each other's parents, when you talk down about your spouse, the in-laws would do same - that is natural.
...start with the above and you'll enjoy your in-laws
William Femi Awodele is the Executive Director of Christian Couples Fellowship International, Inc. and a Vice-Chair of Embrace the Heartland in Prayer (http://www.prayheartland.com)