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Parents: Past and Present
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"A couple can protect their marriage by not allowing flaws in their upbringing to intrude and by establishing suitable relations with their in-laws"
Exodus 34:5-9
Matthew 5:33-37
The influence of parents on young children can have a powerful impact on their marriages as adults, either for good or for bad. Parents also have a direct impact on their children once they are married. These two stages of development can be defined as " parents past" and " parents present."

The "parents past" issues that can cause serious damage in a marriage are iniquities and inner vows.

An iniquity is a tendency toward a particular sin due to that sin being present in the lives of one's parents. Examples are racism, chauvinism, and physical abuse; and there are many more. It is like a tree and a prevailing wind. Over time, the tree becomes bent in a particular direction. Similarly, if we see a certain behavior in our parents, we come to think of it as natural and we adopt it for ourselves.

We can overcome a family iniquity by recognizing it for what it is, taking responsibility for our own sin, forgiving our parents, and turning to Jesus. In this way, we break the chain of iniquity and bless our children.

Inner vows function the opposite of iniquities. An inner vow is a self directed promise resulting from unpleasant exposure to a life situation or from hurt caused by a parent or someone else. For example, if someone is poor as a child, he may vow, I'll never be poor again. Or if someone is beaten as a child, she may vow, I'll never spank my children.

While understandable, such vows can be devastating to a marriage. That is because in effect, they isolate a part of one's life from the influence of God. The solution is to recognize that Christ is Lord of all and to ask Him to show you how to live from this day forward.

When you get married, your parents can be blessings or curses to your marriage. Four principles can help you to keep the in-laws (parents present) as blessings to your marriage.

Honor-respect your in-laws, but don't allow them authority over your marriage.

Separation-remain close to your in-laws, but establish appropriate boundaries.

Protection-if a parent is causing problems in his or her adult child's marriage, allow that child (not the spouse) to intervene with the problem parent.

Friendship-maintain friendly relations with your in-laws, but expect them to obey the usual rules of friendship.