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Why Does My Wife Put Her Family Before Me?

When your wife needs guidance or has some great news to share, who does she turn to first? Many husbands are frustrated because mom or dad always comes first for some wives. This may leave you wondering, why does my wife put her family before me?

A wife puts her family before you either because she has not established healthy, clear boundaries with them and has an unhealthy attachment to them that formed during childhood, or she does not have complete trust in you due to an unresolved issue.

There’s an old moral dilemma often used to test a potential partner’s morality in Chinese culture. It goes like this: If you, your spouse, and your mother were on a sinking boat and you could only save one person, who would it be?

In China, the “correct” answer is your mother. It’s proof that you honor your family’s sacrifices in raising you. But, in reality, the exact opposite is what keeps a relationship strong. In fact, putting parents before a spouse is often cited as one big reason to divorce.

In this article, we’ll learn how to tackle this issue and be each other’s priority(as you should be)!

Should your spouse come before your parents?

Marriage works best if you put your spouse before your parents. That doesn’t mean the parents’ needs and wants don’t matter, but your relationship with your spouse should be the most intimate one in your life.

It’s critical to feel like a priority to your spouse.

Putting parents before a spouse is a surefire way to make them feel neglected and unimportant- something often named a big reason for a relationship failing.

When you think of who knows the most about you, the person who you can tell anything to, who comes to mind? It should be your wife for a few reasons.

First, there comes a time to distance ourselves from our parents.

Obviously, everyone should love and care for their parents. They’ve sacrificed a lot to raise you! But, that love and respect need to come through healthy boundaries eventually. If not, it can make it impossible to form a full attachment with a potential partner.

Your intimate emotional space needs to be reserved for your spouse.

There’s no room there for a parent, as much as you may love them. Any energy directed there is energy not spent where it matters most – your spouse! Ideally, you and your spouse should be each other’s trusted confidant, advisor, and best friend – not your parents.

A spouse is a family too, one of your choosing. And for those raising children, you’re quite literally making a new family.

You and your spouse are the foundation of that family.

You’ve made the two of you, the center of your family life. The gravity of that responsibility should be respected in your priorities. 

Why is my wife too attached to her family?

Your wife can be too attached to her family for a few reasons. She may be looking to them for something she doesn’t get from you. She might be codependent on her family. Or, she has unclear or no boundaries with her parents.

Bonds not adequately formed in childhood can lead to attachment problems in adults.

Sometimes, these problems surface as over-reliance or attachment to parents extending well into adulthood. Read on to see if your wife might be overly attached.

Is there a pattern in your wife’s behavior?

Does your wife reach out to her family for one or two particular reasons? Are her boundaries with them otherwise okay? Maybe there’s simply some need of hers that you’re not fulfilling. Make sure to communicate and ask if she’s okay.

See if something has fallen through the cracks that you might have missed.

Your wife being close to her parents is okay as long as it’s not harming your relationship. Calls or visits once in a while are fine. But, if the calls and visits come more frequently than you, there’s a problem.

Unhealthy boundaries were mentioned a lot so far. So exactly what are some signs of unhealthy boundaries with a parent? You might see:

  • Relying on them for money
  • Constant calls and visits
  • An uncomfortable openness and intimacy in conversation
  • The parents guide the spouse’s decisions
  • Sharing news with them before you
  • Parents take care of their responsibilities

Seeing one or more of these consistently means having a talk about it is in order.

Worried something deeper is causing overattachment, such as her planning for divorce?

Check out my recent article here to see if you need to prepare for the worst. In that article, I go through all the proven signs spouses tend to exhibit when they are actively thinking about divorce, including the 1 sign that’s almost a guarantee of it.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you deal with your spouse’s family?

Your spouse’s family is an extension of your spouse, and they should be respected and they should respect you too. It’s not always possible to love your spouse’s family. But to preserve your marriage, it’s crucial that their family is not seen as your enemy.

Ideally, your spouse’s family feels like yours.

After marriage, they are yours. If you’re lucky enough to have a functional, wholesome relationship with your in-laws, great! Count your blessings.

And if not, treat time with them with a bit more formality.

Be respectful and polite as long as they are. But, keep a healthy distance between you and them. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, being disrespectful, or mishandling your marriage, no harm done.

Like, this whole article is saying, your priority should be loving your spouse. The in-laws are a distant second. But if things have been strained a long time, you may have some work to do.

Find out how to do exactly that in my recent article about rekindling your marriage! In it, I walk you through the exact steps I took in 2013 after my wife left me. Here we are now, years later, with a 3rd child, and happier than ever.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

What do I do if my in-laws are ruining my marriage?

If your in-law’s relationship with you and your spouse is starting to ruin your marriage, you need to get your wife on your side first. Tell her how their actions make you feel, and the damage you see it causing. Ask her for feedback about what she sees and thinks the solution should be.

You’ll need her on your side before doing anything else.

It’s going to be tough, if not impossible, to confront the in-laws without your wife’s help. They’re without question more likely to listen to her over you. So, if you decide to directly confront an issue without her, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Ensure your wife understands your perspective and is genuinely on your side before you think about moving forward. Having a united front against the problem is your goal, not winning an argument with her parents.

Point out unhealthy boundaries from above and explain how it’s hurting your relationship.

Show her the toxic behaviors she might not even be aware of. Tell her you don’t want to remove her parents from her life or hurt their relationship in any way. But, the way things are is painful for you.

With effective communication on your part and an empathic heart on your wife’s part, you should be well on your way to solving this.

Again, don’t confront the parents without your wife.

Be the concerned husband looking out for the best for you both, not a disgruntled man who can’t get along with the in-laws. Work as a team, and grow together!

Fighting a little more often than usual?

You might wonder if it’s healthy or normal to have so many arguments. In my recent article, find out why arguing every day might be the best thing for your marriage.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do I get my wife to put me above my in-laws?

If you want your wife to finally put yourself above your in-laws, tell her you feel unimportant in her life. Explain how her and their actions make you feel. Then, ask what you both can do to make it happen.

Tell her you’d like to be her number 1 again.

Your wife likely gets a lot of comfort from her parents. That’s natural! But, you should never have to feel like second place.

Explain to your wife how important she is to you. Tell her if there’s something missing with you, you’d like to try to provide it. You can’t be everything to your spouse, but you want to feel valued.

Ask if she can make an effort to start keeping you in mind before she turns to her parents.

In good and bad times, you’d like to be right there with her. That’s what you both signed up for when you got married. So, try to continuously keep that promise together!


It can be so frustrating to have a standoffish relationship with your wife’s in-laws. It can be even worse when she puts them before you. But there’s always hope!

Make sure you and your wife establish healthy boundaries with her parents. Share your feelings and tell her she’ll always be your number one.

Pretty soon, you’ll be right back at the top of her list.

Looking for a ton of ways to restore your marriage and fall in love again? Check out my recent article here that’s loaded with everything you need to save your marriage!

Jeff Campbell