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How does one bring peace to his family, especially when in-laws are involved in the conflict?

Number one, each partner should tell his or her father and mother, “Pa, Ma, stay out of it. Don’t say one word against my husband or against my wife!” Lay down the law and don’t be afraid to do it. Your wife comes first. It is written [in Parashat Beresheet], “A man should forsake his father and his mother, and he should be loyal, he should cling to his wife.”

It’s very foolish for a parent to talk to a child negatively about the child’s spouse. And if the parents are this foolish, you have to tell them, “Either you stop talking about that or I won’t talk to you anymore.” Don’t be afraid! “I’ll talk about everything but not about my spouse.” It’s the first thing, to lay down the law.

Secondly, a husband and wife should never criticize each other’s parents, or each other’s brothers or sisters. Never do that. That’s bad manners and it’s bad diplomacy. This is elementary, and very many people understand this through common sense, but some people must be told.

Sometimes, it has already started, and the war is on. What do you do? You must stop it. Of course, it’s not easy, because they’re already angry at you. There’s a back-and-forth, and they want to get revenge for what you did in the past, so you have to find ways and means of making up. Start sending little gifts to your mother-in-law, to your sisters-in-law, to your brothers-in-law. Find ways and means of being nice to them. They’ll continue to barb you, to needle you. But if you won’t react, then little by little, it’ll die out, and after some time, peace will be restored.

Of course, it’s much better to start out on the right foot. When you get married, start wisely. Make the firm decision that you’re going to be the very best to your husband’s family or your wife’s family that you’re able to be.

Finally, don’t have your mother-in-law around too much. A mother-in-law should not settle in her daughter-in-law’s house. If she has to live with a child, then she should live with her daughter, but never with a daughter-in-law. A mother-in-law would have to be an angel in order to keep her mouth closed, and the daughter-in-law would have to be an angel to tolerate her mother-in-law.

I had a member here whose mother was a widow and she lived with him. They managed to live in tranquility; the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law lived peacefully. It was a remarkable story. Many years passed, and never was there even a whisper of dissension. But it’s not something that should be done if it’s possible to avoid.

Questions and Answers supplied by (Tape #555). The answers are taken directly from the words of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, but have been slightly edited to allow for easier reading.