In-Law Relations

Men close to their in-laws are 20 percent less likely to divorce than women who are close to their in-laws, who are actually 20 percent more likely, according to research conducted by Dr. Terri Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and the author of Finding Love Again: 6 Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.

In a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Health, Dr. Orbuch studied the relationships of 373 couples between the ages of 25 and 37.  In the study Dr. Orbuch asked the couples to rate “how close they felt to their in-laws.”

A man’s close relationship with his in-laws helps a marriage to survive; a woman’s close relationshjp to her in-laws has a negative effect. Dr. Orbuch believes that a wife’s close relationship may include “a large amount of meddling.”

“In-law ties are especially stressful for women. And, when they are close to in-laws, especially early in the marriage, this may interfere and prevent a formation of a strong bond with their husband. It is impossible for newly weds to establish clear emotional boundaries. Relationships are more central and important to woman in general. We analyze them and want to constantly improve them. We take what our in-laws say as personal, we interpret it as interference and meddling and we can’t set boundaries.

“[Men’s] identity as a father and a husband is often secondary to their identity as a provider. As a result, they don’t take what their in-laws do or say too personally.”

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