How to Communicate With Your Brother or Sister-in-Law (when there is conflict)

How to communicate with your in-laws @

How do you communicate with your brother-in-law or sister-in-law when there is conflict?

That’s the topic for this post and the topic for the Facebook Live presentation you can find here: Communicating with In-Laws.

Here are the notes for this talk:


You are not obligated to do certain things

1. Do not need to answer or respond to criticism

2. Do not need to win an argument

3. Do not need to be competitive 

4. Do not even need to feel obligated to carry on a conversation but you still need to be kind. 

5.  You are not required to be friends, so don’t feel like a failure.

This lesson can only be applied with an incredible amount of self-discipline.  Remember, if you trust and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, he sends the Holy Spirit to give you the fruit of self-discipline. It certainly takes quite a bit of self-control when you have a conflicted relationship with your brother-in-law or sister-in-law.


We will use the acronym:  TRUTHFUL

T - Think

Think first. 

James 1:19 - Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Prov. 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things. 

Think about your relationship with him or her or what the in-law is saying.

Don’t be hasty in your words.  Respond, don’t react. 


R- Respect

1. Show respect

a.   Have respectful language

(1) Use wholesome language 

Ti. 2:8 - …and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

 (2) This means that your speech lacks evil  

Psa. 120:2 - Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.

b.  Respond appropriately but don’t react.

If someone verbally attacks, criticizes, or blames you, do not respond in the same manner. You don’t need to. 

Rom. 12:17 - Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

1 Peter 2:23 - When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Give up trying to defend yourself.  If the person likes you, she doesn’t need your explanation.  If the person dislikes you, she won’t believe it. It is a waste of time and energy defending yourself.

c.  Do not blame or criticize the other person. Instead, restore, encourage, and edify.

Rom. 14:13Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

  I Thess. 5:11 - Therefore encourage one another and build one another up… 

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Romans 12:17-18  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

2.   Be respected – insist on their respect

a.  Insist by your presence

Your aura, body language, demeanor, and so forth.

b.  Do not permit interruptions

 People who interrupt do so for a variety of reasons, few of which bring value to or enhance the conversation. 

* Some interrupt because they are not listening. They need to listen or your time and energy is wasted.  

* Some interrupt because they have little respect for you or others in the conversation.  There can be little mutually beneficial interchange when there is little to no respect.  They need to be respectful.  

* Some interrupt because they are too arrogant to believe you have anything of interest or importance to share. They need a measure of humility to be able to interact with others in any useful and meaningful way.

c.   If they abuse the conversation or disrespect you, you are not obligated to stick around.

U - Understand

1. Seek first to understand (and understand to connect)

Prov. 18:2 – A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.

Understand the other person’s opinion.  Make allowances for differences. Most disagreements happen when there is a  and conflict between viewpoints.  Give the in-law grace to hold onto whatever opinion he has, no matter how stupid it is.

Peter deLisser in Courageous Conversations at Work, at Home says,

“I decided, ‘I’ll give up expecting anyone to understand me!’ Instead, in every conversation, with every person, every day, I’ll accept responsibility for what I say and how I listen.” 

2.   Define and describe what you mean.

Be careful to define and use the right words at the right time, since words are important (Prov.10:19).

Proverbs 10:19 - When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

3.   Make good use of questions.

The person who asks the questions is often the person in control of the conversation. But control isn’t necessarily the objective.  Rather, using good questions will get to the heart of the issue and help engage people in the process of dialog and communication.  Ask until there is clarification by using the “who-what-when-where-why and how” questions.


T -  Temperate


1. Use speech that is without bitterness, anger, wrath, yelling, slander or malice (Psa. 10:7; 64:2-4; Eph. 4:29-32).

2. Do not become involved in quarrels. 

It is possible to disagree without hostile arguments.

Prov. 17:14– The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

Prov. 20:3 - Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.

3.   Do not respond in uncontrolled anger.  

Use a soft and kind response and tone of voice.

 Prov. 14:29 – He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who isimpulsive exalts folly.

Ephesians 4:31 - Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Note: Brain scientists tell us that a calm amygdala, the emotional center of the brain, calms another person’s amygdala.

4.  Be a ready listener

and do not answer until the other person has finished talking (Prov. 18:13; James 1:19).


H - Honest

Ephesians 4:25 - Speak the truth to your neighbor. 

We often tend to play games with people by not being open and honest.  This is a practice for those who have learned to be passive aggressive. However, the people we admire the most are those who are honest and truthful.  Men or women considered to be leaders, or have charisma, or are given high respect are those who can speak with candor. So, speak with candor

James 5:12 - Let your yes be yes and your no be no. 

Speaking candidly does not mean speaking harshly, rudely or in a way that can harmful. Learning to speak the truth with tact or finesse will give you freedom in your ability to work with people and reward you with positive regard from others.


F - Firm

1.  Learn to use words that are firm, but diplomatic

…even when correcting opponents (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:23-25).

2. Speak boldly.

Speak appropriately and with straight-forwardness (Matt. 5:37). Truth can be offensive, but that should never keep you from speaking it. You are to speak the truth, and not be so concerned with how the recipient will respond. 

Often s/he will respond by taking offense, but that is not your concern. Speak boldly the truth and leave the consequences to God.

3.   Be specific.

State what bothers you and then give an example.

If you can, bring a solution. 


U - Uplift

Ephesian 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.


L - Love    

1.   Be kind.

1 Corinthians 13:4 – love is kind

2.   Speak with love

a. Ephesians 4:15 - Speak the truth in love 

This is not speaking with syrupy sweetness but speaking in a way that seeks their ultimate benefit.

Gently but firmly, with the intention of helping and building up (Pro. 15:4; 1 Cor. 13; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:15; 5:9).

b. Compassionate confrontation is a matter of engagement rather than of declaration (2 Sam. 12:1-7; Esther 5:1-8; 7:1-7).


 For additional help with communication, go to 21 Ways to Communicate Effectively.

 If you need specific counseling for your relationships, contact me today!