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Getting Along with In-LawsYou didn’t read the headline wrong, and the answer to the question is yes and no. In a study conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research found that women who get along with their in-laws are more likely to seek a divorce, while men who get along with their in-laws are more likely to stay married. The findings seem a little off, but before you start speculating the study is bogus, let’s study the facts.

Structure of the Study

In 1986, psychologist and research professor of University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, Dr. Terri Orbuch, gathered 373 same-race couples, between the ages of 25 to 37, in the first year of their marriages. At the beginning of the study, Dr. Orbuch asked each subject to rate the level of intimacy with their in-laws on a scale of one to four. Dr. Orbuch then followed her subjects and collected the data from them for the next 25 years.

By year 16 of the study, Dr. Orbuch’s study revealed that men who initially indicated having a good relationship with their in-laws were 20% more likely to remain married, while women who initially indicated having a good relationship with their in-laws were 20% more likely to file for divorce. Dr. Orbuch believes the divergence manifests from the fundamental differences in the way men and women value and maintain relationships.

The Differences Between Men and Women

According to Dr. Orbuch, men and women value themselves and their roles differently, which influences how they relate to others.

Dr. Orbuch speculates that men do not value relationships as highly influential as women do, and so men do not let their role in relationships become a part of their identity. Women, on the other hand, include their roles in relationships as a part of their identity; because of this, women view advice and input from their in-laws as criticism of and interference in their role as a wife and mother.

Men view their role in a marriage as a provider, and view that relationship as separate from all other relationships (like the relationship with their in-laws). It’s easy to not feel judged as a husband and father if you don’t think you’re being judged.

What Does This Mean?

Dr. Orbuch’s study has brought a very interesting dichotomy to light, but scientific or psychological research is nothing without some new piece of wisdom to take away. And this particular study has quite a bit to share with the world.

The advice being passed around on the news tells parents of married sons to respect their daughter-in-law’s boundaries and to be careful about intruding in the relationship. To parents of a married daughter, word on the street is you should try to be as welcoming and open to your son-in-law, because he will appreciate it and she won’t mind.

To husbands, the study encourages bonding with the in-laws because it will tell the wife that you fully accept and care about her (remember, one of her roles is still ‘daughter,’ and that role is a part of her as a whole). To wives, don’t be overly sensitive and do not bate your in-laws to cross the line; keep your relationship strong and close, just be sure to also keep your boundaries clear.

You can follow this advice to the fullest, but as we all know, the future is not a sure thing. If divorce is somehow in the cards for you, just be sure to protect yourself, your children, your assets, and your relationships by being information and making sound decisions. For divorce information, divorce forms, and information on how to divorce, is here for you.

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