Last time, I shared about some of the strategies Josiah and I implemented in the first year of marriage to encourage unity between our family units. Here are a few more.

4. Participate!

Whether it’s a project, a group dinner, a board game night, I’m usually the one who initiates things.

(Cruise director was a label I heard a lot from my mom growing up. Often paired with relentless. If you hear her complain, you may remind her she has no one to blame but herself. She is also a force to be reckoned with. What did she think would happen after 18 years of observation?)

This means it’s usually my job to get people together for fellowship time. I try to balance our time as fairly as possible. I create opportunities to gather for various combinations of people. At major holidays, I remind myself (and others!) it may or may not look like last year, but we will all celebrate somehow.

If you haven’t initiated some gatherings, give it a try! I believe it blesses your spouse when they see you making time for their side. It also builds trust with your in-laws; you’re not taking away their child, whom they love very much. You’re joining the party!

Even if you’re not the planner, do your best to participate in events on both sides. Shared activities are key to building relational bridges.

5. Protect boundaries.

I’m a big believer that healthy boundaries = healthy relationships. Josiah and I engaged in family activities and love it. But sometimes, we say no to protect our us-time. Saying no ensures that when we say yes, we are fully engaged.

I’ll be honest. When we say no, rarely is it unanimous. Generally one of us, for whatever reason, has a need that requires us to say no. I’ll be even more honest. Usually, the no is from Josiah. Not because he doesn’t like our families, but because he has a greater need to sometimes hide in our cave than me. I spend every day with two 2 year olds. I am always ready for some adult conversation!

But being married means working as a team, even if it means saying no to something you’d like. For the sake of your marital and familial harmony, make sure you protect boundaries so that everyone feels respected. This will only strengthen your relationships.