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How do in-laws affect the health of a marriage?

It's common knowledge that the relationship between spouses and their in-laws can be a contentious one. What many people don't know, however, is how that relationship can affect the health of a marriage. A recent study shed some light on the subject, revealing some surprising results.

Many readers probably assume that the closer a spouse is with their in-laws, the stronger their marriage must be. However, the research shows this is not the case. The results of the study showed that while a marriage benefits from a close relationship between a husband and his in-laws, the risk of divorce goes up when wives become close with their husband's parents.

The author of the study offered a number of possible reasons for these results. She said that the positive and negative effects of in-law relationships are mostly based on perception. When a husband gets close to his wife's parents, the wife tends to feel more secure, thus strengthening the marriage. A husband's parents, however, may be perceived as meddlesome or intrusive upon the wife's identity. By contrast, husbands often place less value on the in-law relationship than their wives do, creating a possible point of contention between spouses.

Spouses who are having difficulties with their marriages can use information from studies such as this one as a tool to examine their relationship and determine the causes of any conflict. In some cases, small changes can be made to help maintain an atmosphere of greater understanding.

In other cases, however, separation may be the best decision for both parties. When it becomes clear that this is the case, spouses should contact a legal professional for information about the first steps that need to be taken. Divorce may seem like a complicated process, but with proper preparation it can done smoothly, allowing for a relatively quick transition to a new life.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In-Laws And Marriage Study: Son-In-Law Key To Lasting Marriage," Nov. 11, 2012

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