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How To Be a Better In-Law

Gary and Joy Lundberg are the Authors of Meeting Amazing Grace: Wisdom for All Families and In-laws and they share some of their tips.


For several years people were asking us when we were going to write a book about getting along with in-laws. Finally the time was right, and we came up with an idea that allowed us to teach without preaching. It would be a fun approach that would capture the readers with a compelling story and yet teach them how to improve not only in-law relationships, but all family relationships, including their marriage. Thus Grandma Grace, using her wisdom and magical power, takes Lindsey, a young woman in love but afraid of marriage because of her boy friend’s mother, on a journey of discovery. Through Grace’s humor and insights Lindsey becomes the recipient of the knowledge she will need, if indeed she does marry Jeff. And the fun part is, it’s a tender love story.

We are thrilled that our book seems to have hit the mark. It has become a bestseller at Costco, Deseret Book and other bookstores here in Utah. Please see a small sampling of the enclosed email letters we have received. Some bring tears to our eyes as readers pour their hearts out to us, expressing gratitude for the book. That’s our greatest reward.

The book is laid out in chapters that take the reader on a journey through windows of learning.

1. Window of a Listening Heart

Certain things can be done that, almost in an instant, can change a strained relationship. This chapter is an example of how that works.

In this window Grandma Grace (nicknamed Gigi) teaches Lindsey the power of having a listening heart. The principles of validation/empathy are used by the characters and are observed by Lindsey and Gigi. For example, they visit a family reunion and watch what happens with the mother-in-law, Helen, and her daughter-in-law Marianne. Because of Gigi’s magical power they are able to go back in Helen’s and Marianne’s lives and see what lead to this climactic, healing moment at the reunion.

This story can be easily netted out to make the main points. It shows how listening with your heart and using the right validating phrases can make a significant difference quickly, and heal a longtime strained relationship.

Grandma Grace’s Pertinent Point: Open your ears more and your mouth less, and put yourself in the other person’s shoes to see how it feels.

2. Window of Boundaries

Sometimes positive changes in relationships must take more time, such as is the case with setting boundaries.

The first story is the young couple expecting their first baby, when the young mother’s parents-in-law want to be there for the birth, but the young couple have other plans. This story shows how the couple can set a boundary without offending the parents. When this is done correctly it improves future relationships with in-laws.

The second story shows what Gigi calls the “Great Mother-in-law Manipulation Game”. Through asthma attacks this mother controls the visits of her children and grandchildren. Lindsey is stunned by the reality of this episode. It’s a bizarre and revealing case that shows how boundaries, though hard at times, must be set in order to have control of your own lives. By being kind, gentle, respectful, and firm, boundaries can be effective and peace-promoting.

Grandma Grace’s Pertinent Point: Setting boundaries kindly can help build a solid foundation for a healthy relationship.

3. Window of Privacy

Sometimes it’s a disaster to live next door, or close, to your parents and in-laws. This is a fun story because it show’s Gigi going back in time to when she was a young mother living next door to her in-laws. The story shows how it can work smoothly by respecting each other’s privacy, and specifically how this is done. It also shows how it absolutely didn’t work with another couple she knew, and why.

Another example of how important it is to keep private matters private is illustrated through the story of a mother and her daughter and how their conversation affected the relationship of the daughter and her husband.

Grandma Grace’s Pertinent Point: Keep your nose out of their private business and theirs out of yours.


Gary and Joy Lundberg are the Authors of Meeting Amazing Grace: Wisdom for All Families which is available on outlets like Costco and Deseret Book.

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