Men who get on well with their in-laws have a 20 per cent lower risk of getting divorced, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research studied 373 couples from a similar ethnic background over a period of 26 years. When the study began in 1986, lead researcher Dr Terri Orbuch asked the couples, all in their first year of marriage, to rate how close they felt to the in-laws, and then followed their progress.
The research team discovered that while men who get on well with their in-laws were 20 per cent less likely to divorce, wives who made a similar effort with their husband’s parents were 20 per cent more likely to divorce.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Dr Orbuch speculated that wives may find it more difficult than men to set boundaries in their relationships with their in-laws and so may eventually come to see them as meddling in her life:
“Because relationships are so important to women, their identity as a wife and mother is central to their being. They interpret what their in-laws say and do as interference into their identity as a spouse and parent.”
Men, meanwhile, are less influenced by family members as they tend to see themselves as providers first and husbands and fathers second.
The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the academic journal Family Relations.