Romantic breaks are fine and the occasional bunch of flowers won’t go amiss – but researchers claim the real secret to a happy marriage is as simple as getting on with your in-laws.
And it’s much more important for the husband to have a good relationship with his wife’s parents than it is for her to get on with his mum and dad. Psychologists said this could be because women tend to be closer to their parents than men in adulthood.
Experts at the University of Michigan quizzed 132 middle-aged couples and found relationships with both sets of parents ‘may be a source of support in a marriage, but conflict may lead to chronic stress and negative emotions’.
They also discovered that couples were much more likely to be content with life if both of them enjoyed the company of the wife’s parents.
The research, published in the journal Family Process, can only add to the pressure on husbands-to-be to make a good first impression with the in-laws – already a stressful situation, as portrayed in countless sitcoms and films, such as 2000’s Meet The Parents.
These new findings follow a 2013 poll which revealed that interfering in-laws were responsible for up to one in ten divorces in Britain. Rows over how often couples saw parents were another major factor.
Psychologist Dr Janet Reibstein, of Exeter University, said the findings were not surprising as most couples placed greater emphasis on ties with the wife’s parents. She added: ‘Family life tends to be engineered more by the wife.’
Dr Max Blumberg, from Goldsmiths, University of London, said evolutionary forces meant a woman’s parents often strove to build strong ties with their son-in-law. ‘They know if he’s happy he’s less likely to disappear,’ he said.
SOURCE: PAT HAGAN