It is impossible for me to remember all the times I’ve heard women complaining about mothers-in-law. And, almost the same number are the cases I’ve heard mother-in-laws expressing dissatisfaction for daughters-in-law. Not to mention the rumors and stereotypes created by media. They say 60% of daughters-in-law say their mother-in-law is “a witch”. Unfortunately, I don’t have a mother-in-law, as she passed away many years before I married. And all this vortex of discussions made me curious to investigate if there is any scientific base for this. I mean any research at all about relationships of married couples with their in-laws.
“Adam and Eve were the happiest, and the luckiest, couple in the world, because neither of them had a mother-in-law.”
Studies about In-laws Relationships
The first thing I noticed is: the topic of married couple’s relationship with their in-laws is little studied. Probably this is one of the reasons why these relationships carry so much conflict and stress in everyday life. Anyhow, I’ll bring to your attention some findings of several scientific researches carried out after years 2000.
Findings of Studies
These findings will help us to understand what is the real truth about these relationships. Here are some of the most interesting findings from research
- The quality of relationship after the marriage is affected by the introduction int he first place. So, if the in-laws loved future daughter-in-law since the beginning, most likely the relationship will be good even after the marriage. The opposite is also true. If daughter-in-law/son-in-law is not approved from the beginning, the relationship will be cold even after.
- Mothers-in-law are more important in relationships with married couple. They interact more with the couple compare to fathers-in-law.
- The relationship of the mother-in-law with the daughter-in-law/son-in-law is not greatly influenced by mother-in-law relationship with her own child. So, that’s why we face situations such as: mother-in-law has terrible relationships with daughter-in-law, but she has excellent relationship with her son and vice versa.
- Studies show that more frequent contacts among mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law/son-in-law (especially without the presence of own child of mother-in-law), negatively affect the quality of the relationship between them
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More Findings about Mother-in-law relationships
- Daughters-in-law and mother-in-laws tend to have more aggravated relationships. While mother-in-law and son-in-law relationships seem more relaxed.
- Inclusion of other family members (siblings) generally has a negative impact on the couple’s relationship with their mothers-in-law.
- Vacations are one of the things that ‘frustrates’ the couple’s relationship with their mothers-in-law. As having a vacation without them is being considered as lack of loyalty.
- Another issue that affects relationships is the ongoing debate between girls and their own mothers. Why? Daughters reject their mothers’ interventions in their affairs, criticisms, and mothers’ complaints about the exclusion from their daughters’ lives. These debates increase expectations that future daughters-in-law have to face the same issues with their mother-in-law. Consequently, the tension and negativity of the relationship is raised up in the sky.
- Studies show that the relationship between the mother-in-law and the couple is not so conflicting as it is advertised in the media.
- The quality of relationship between son-in-law and his in-laws can affect the durability of the couple’s marriage. So, men who go well with their in-laws tend to have long-term marriage, then those who do not go well. It turns out that although the relationship between the woman and her in-laws tends to be conflicting, this relationship does not affect the quality of couple’s marriage.
- The two main problems facing couples in marriage are communication and conflict.
- Successful career mothers-in-law prefer for their daughters-in-law not to be women in career. Because they require full dedication and support to their sons and grandchildren.
What Findings mean
Most of the above findings confirm the general perception of such delicate relationships. The reason why is the fact that these relationships are created when the couple is on adult age. Thus, it requests a ‘forced’ union of the two families of origin. The basis for building relationships is the romantic relationship of the couple. And this is considered less likely than the blood connection that exists between members of a family.
“Marriage is like a table with four legs – the couple, the children, the parents and the in-laws. Neglect any of these and your marriage crashes on the floor.” – Siddharth Katragadda
This is the truth about relationship daughter-in-law/son-in-law with their in-laws my dear friends. Nothing is as bad as it looks. More tolerance and understanding is needed to make such relationships work. That will remove a great deal of the stress they caused to us.
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