Another priority question.

This one from a reader:

Who is on top of the priority list once you’re married? Your parents or your spouse? What if your family majorly dislike your spouse?  Do you show up to family events without  him / her, or do you stay home to support him / her, or do you go and present a united front even though you know your spouse will be miserable and mistreated?

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  1. @wifeofmottel says:

    Spouse – without a doubt! You always have a mitzvah of kibbud av v’eim. Your parents raised you and without them you wouldn’t be alive. You owe it to them to be eternally grateful. But – as I mentioned in the last question on priorities – their greatest accomplishment was raising you and sending you out into the world to forge your own way- with your spouse.

    You ask some tough questions. Ideally – even when not on the best of terms, parents and spouses should all act like adults and put up with one another at once/twice/thrice-per-year family events. If the relationship is so strained to the point where this is not possible, I don’t think that generalizations can be made– how to handle such a situation must be dealt with case-by-case, ideally with the input of a wise third-party professional.

  2. Rivki says:

    Definitely your spouse, but that’s an extremely complicated question. It sounds like you live in the same city, which can exacerbate an already tense situation. This is definitely the kind of question to be taken to a Rav who excels at dealing with interpersonal relationships. And also crucial to have a friend/mentor who you can get guidance from and vent to when the pressure gets high.

  3. The Torah says that adults should leave their mother and father and cleave to their spouse, so I think that’s pretty clear. That having been said, as others have said, if things are so bad, maybe some family counselling is in order? The parents need to be at least civil to the spouse, or they may end up not knowing their grandchildren.

  4. Dave says:


    And if there is a problem, it is the directly related spouse who deals with their own family — if there is a problem between your husband or wife and your mother or father, *you* are the one who draws the line with your parents, not the spouse.

  5. Mary says:

    I don’t think that’s an easy question to answer. Each person finds his or her own path. My opinion, though, is that you aren’t going to be the winner by choosing one side or another. And you shouldn’t be expected to choose. While it’s impossible to force them to like each other I would expect both my spouse and family to behave civilly to each other for my sake. I would expect my spouse to come with me to family occasions and my family to all turn out to my occasions. You know, sometimes even blood relations don’t get along. It’s never going to be perfect, but you need to talk to both sides, set the ground rules and stick to them.

  6. Dena says:

    My spouse. I am not in a situation where my parents do not like my spouse but my husband does have an issue with my father that stem from my father having an affair and leaving my mother after 30 years of marriage. They can be in the same room together but my husband doesn’t always feel like socializing with my dad. However, he doesn’t make a big deal of it.

    In a situation where my parents just really hated my spouse I would visit them but I wouldn’t ask him to go with me. I wouldn’t want to subject him to mistreatment.

  7. RubyV says:

    My refusal of my spouse to put me first ended my first marriage in two years. Enough said.

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