Study: Getting Along With In-Laws Can Both Increase and Decrease Divorce Risk

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Divorce on Monday, December 3, 2012

‘Tis the season to spend more time with family, including in-laws. Recent research shows that getting along with in-laws can lessen the risk of divorce — and oddly enough, it can also increase the risk of divorce.

Data from a study that spanned 26 years finds that when husbands get along well in-laws, the couple’s risk of divorce drops by 20 percent. Yet when wives get along with in-laws, the couple’s risk of divorce goes up by 20 percent.

So if both halves of a couple get along with their in-laws, the risks of divorce even out.

The study was carried out far from St. Louis, at the University of Michigan, beginning back in 1986 with 373 couples who had been married less than a year. Researchers then followed up with the couples over the next quarter of a century to note changes in their relationships.

The psychologist and research professor who began the study said she believes the differences in divorce risks when a husband gets along with his in-laws and when a wife gets along with her in-laws has to do with how husbands and wives differ in their approaches to relationships with in-laws.

“Women value a close relationship with their in-laws but may ultimately view them as meddling, while men are more interested in providing for their families, and take their in-laws’ actions less personally,” she said.

Because women typically take relationships more seriously than men, she said, they often interpret the words and actions of in-laws as damaging to their roles as spouses and parents.

Women are more likely to pay attention to how their husbands get along with their parents. If he makes an effort to get along with her parents, she might well feel that he’s making an effort to nurture and protect her as well.

Like all studies of marriage and divorce, this one makes generalizations that often simply don’t apply to us as individuals.

Source: The Huffington Post, “In-Laws And Marriage Study: Son-In-Law Key To Lasting Marriage,” Nov. 27, 2012

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