Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Out-law or In-law: Son-in-law relationship key to divorce

The holiday season has an usual way of highlighting family drama. If there is already tension or discord in the family, the nerve is probably going to get stepped on, several times over. Visiting family all staying together, who is not going to see their family, and the fear of in-laws not getting along are perhaps the biggest in-law/out-law issues many of us face these days. Many divorcing clients have told me that a strain is when you have to choose which side of the family to visit with on a given holiday. Many families struggle with parents putting pressure on their own children to come “home.” However, care should be taken to establish a relationship with your son-in-law, it might just strengthen your daughter’s marriage.

In my many years of practice, I have seen what type of support parents can give to their own children as they go through the New Jersey divorce process. I have heard from many clients that their in-laws put tremendous strain on their marital relationship. Making demands of time, religion, ethnic customs, and parenting traditions can sometimes be too much and a couple can buckle under the pressure. Research conducted by the University of Michigan nods to my experience and actually supports a theory that in-law relationship can strengthen a marriage.

New research recently highlighted that the son-in-law relationship can be critical to holding together his own relationship with his wife. The research showed that when a husband felt strong ties and connections to his in-laws, his own marriage is likely to last longer. Researchers surmised that a husband putting time into his in-laws shows to his own wife that her family relationships are important.

The University of Michigan research team purported that this close relationship could account for a 20% lower divorce rate when these strong bonds are present.

However, the divorce rate was 20% higher in couples where the wife is close with her in-laws. Twenty six years of research yielded a possible explanation. While women value close relationships, she often finds difficulty setting firm boundaries with the husband’s parents and look at their actions as meddling.

The advice: If you are the parents of the wife, make sure your son-in-law knows you are a valued part of the family. If you are the parents of the husband, stay close but do not go in with advice on career, parenting or life in general. Appreciate that your daughter-in-law may be sensitive to your ideas.

Marriages fail for many reasons, and in-laws can be a contributing factor. If you are experiencing marital strife and think you are heading towards a split, it is in your best interest to find an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer to help you through the process.