Marriage is a multi-faceted relationship. How a husband and wife get along is not the only relationship that has significance for a couple and their marriage. Among the most important are their relations with their in-laws. A researcher from the University of Michigan has made a surprising finding in a study of couples and the risk of divorce.

The relationship between the couple and their in-law produced a surprisingly converse result. In a marriage where the husband has a close relationship with his wife’s parents, there was a 20 percent decrease in the risk of the marriage ending in divorce.

But, in marriages where the wife had a close relationship with the husband’s parents, there was a 20 increase in the likelihood of divorce.

The 26-year longitudinal study followed 373 couples from 1986, their first year of marriage. Terri Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at Michigan, and the author of the study thinks the difference is caused by how men and women interpret relationships.

When a husband has a close relationship with his in-laws, it is seen by the wife as indicating concern and care for her, because they are her parents, and if he cares for her parents, he must really love her.

This is different for women, who because of their sensitivity to relationships, may come to view the behavior of her in-laws as meddling and interfering with their role as wife and mother.

Source: The Huffington Post, “In-Laws And Marriage Study: Son-In-Law Key To Lasting Marriage,” November 27, 2012