When couples marry, the bond they create includes way more people than just the two of them. For better or worse, the in-laws they “acquire” also enter the picture.
Recently, Reddit user u/sdgkoufcnkk took his wife and kids to a family gathering. A big one. The kind where every niece, cousin, and uncle show up to hug out the last year or however long it has been since they last saw each other.
The whole gang was having a good time too, so when u/sdgkoufcnkk’s partner decided that it was time to leave, her mother-in-law tried to change her mind.
But whether the woman was in a bad mood or simply had one too many drinks, she snapped and the situation escalated from zero to a family disaster in a heartbeat.
Image credits: Alex Green (not the actual photo)
Image credits: sdgkoufcnkk
In the woman’s defense, however, we do not know what’s the history between her and her husband’s mother. And according to research, chances are, it’s not very pretty.
A study from the University of Cambridge Center for Family Research and an organization called the Stand Alone Institute discovered that rifts between parents and their son’s wife are among the most common reasons for family estrangement.
The study was based on the responses of more than 800 men and women in England who had little or no contact with their families. It found that divisions between parents and sons lasted a third longer than those between parents and daughters. The issues most commonly listed as “very relevant” in the breakdown of relationships with daughters included mental health problems and emotional abuse. But the issues most closely associated with sons included divorce, in-laws, and marriage.
Experts say that one of the reasons why in-laws aren’t getting along is the fact that marriage has become so separated from family and community. We no longer see this union as an economic alliance between two houses and, for the most part, discount the opinions of our kin when making decisions about a spouse.
But that might have negative consequences — when multiple generations get along, it has positive effects for everyone. Vern Bengtson, a professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, has been studying extended families for the better part of four decades now. According to him, “These intergenerational connections are protective factors for a lot of life risk conditions.”
We tried to get in touch with u/sdgkoufcnkk to find out about the aftermath of the conflict but he hasn’t responded yet. If he does, we’ll keep you posted!