Whether Thanksgiving was your first foray into life with potential in-laws, or if it was just another pleasurably miserable experience with your spouse’s family, one thing is for certain: for a marriage to last, extended family members must get along.
What used to be just an old adage for single men contemplating marriage is now supported by scientific research. According to a HuffingtonPost.com report, a 26 year University of Michigan study found that when a husband reported having a close relationship with his wife’s parents, the couple’s risk of divorce decreased by almost 20 percent.
Essentially, when a husband makes an effort to forge healthy relationships with his wife’s family, she feels valued and protected, and that he will go out of his way to care for her. This can be especially helpful if the wife knows (or believes) that her family has challenges (e.g. eccentric fathers, controlling mothers, and siblings who are all hard to get along with).
While bonding is promising for son-in-laws, the opposite was true for daughter-in-laws. The study found that while women valued relationships with their in-laws, the ultimately saw them as meddling. What may be helpful advice could be seen as interfering with their identity as a wife (and parent). The study also found that when a wife reported a close relationship with her husband’s parents, the risk of divorce actually increased by 20 percent.
While marriages are more likely to work when extended family gets along, it was an interesting study into how the different sexes valued their in-laws and how these relationships could affect a marriage.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, In-laws and marriage study, son-in-law key to lasting marriage, November 27, 2012