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Can in-law relationships determine chances of divorce?

If you're married, you probably have definitive feelings about your spouse's parents, whether they're positive or negative. But could your relationship with your in-laws say something about the future of your marriage?

A recently released study found that having a close relationship with your in-laws could have some effect on your own marriage. But that effect depends on your gender. The study identified 373 couples in 1986 during their first year of marriage, and followed up with them periodically over the next 26 years. The study's author, a psychologist and research professor, noted which spouses were close to their in-laws.

The study concluded that when a man reported having a close relationship with his in-laws, his and his wife's risk of divorce decreased by 20 percent. But when a woman reported having a close relationship with her husband's parents, the risk of divorce increased by 20 percent.

This could be because of the importance that women place on relationships, the author said. As much as a wife might value her in-laws, she's also more likely to view them as meddling. Conversely, men are more focused on providing for their families and are less likely to take their in-laws' words and actions personally.

A good relationship between husbands and in-laws might also suggest to wives that their husbands are invested enough in the marriage to actively get to know their in-laws and perhaps even take care of them.

This doesn't mean that your relationship with your in-laws will doom your marriage or help it succeed. But the study does provide a guide for parents of married adults. Being sensitive to your son- or daughter-in-law's feelings could make a difference both in your relationship with them and in their own marriage.

Source: The Huffington Post, "In-Laws And Marriage Study: Son-In-Law Key To Lasting Marriage," Nov. 27, 2012

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