As the divorce rate for first time marriages in the US remains steady between 40 and 50 percent, there are a plethora of new and diverse reasons cited as the principle contributor to separation. Aside from the core factors that have traditionally sounded the death knell for relationships (such as infidelity and unreasonable or violent behaviour from one partner to the other), other issues are becoming pertinent in disrupting marital harmony.
An increasing percentage of the divorce rate number is made up of couples who have cited issues with in-laws as the primary cause of the separation. Of these, conflict between the wife and her mother in-law is the most prominent, with a minimal number of cases even including instances of violence. Another common problem of this type is conflict between a partner and their brothers or sisters in-law, typically concerning jealously and the disruption of previously close sibling relationships.
Potential Problems and Conflict Resolution
Issues concerning married couples and one or both sets of in-laws can arise for several reasons. In the issue of friction between a fiancée and her partner’s mother, the common trigger is an often misguided view from the mother that she is being replaced as the single most important female influence in her son’s life. This sense of insecurity and inadequacy creates ill feeling and potential acts of resentment, which are completely unwarranted and confusing to the fiancée involved.
This particular issue begins once a relationship becomes serious and intensifies during the wedding preparations. Any disagreements or discord caused by aspects of the wedding plan, or a parental in-law feeling marginalized by proceedings can turn from minor concerns into full blown conflict. It must be understood that forming a long term relationship and planning wedding create highly emotive feelings for everyone involved, and if these emotions are not given due consideration and communicated then there could well be persistent problems.
The key to assuaging such tension (especially the conflict between fiancée and future mother in-law) is communication, and an understanding on both parties of the others feelings. The fiancée needs to take significant steps to calmly reassure and allay her partner’s mothers concerns, making here feel significant in the relationship and any future plans or wedding discussions. The mother is then less likely to feel the need to re-enforce her perceived place in her son’s life, enabling her take her place as a source of strength and guidance.
Sibling Relationships and Jealousy
The development of a romance can be particularly threatening to close and deep sibling relationships. The key cause of conflict between partners and siblings is jealousy, where established and possibly co-dependent relationships are disrupted and made to feel secondary or less significant in the great scheme of things. Again, if not recognized and dealt with early enough then such brooding animosity can lead to deep resentment the harbouring of unnecessary ill feeling.
The lingering sense of any resentment, whether justified or not, is detrimental to any relationship. However, the situation is worsened when it involves in-laws due to the emotion involved and the fact such disputes involve more than just 2 people. The only possible way to tackle such conflict is discourse, where all the parties involved are required to sit together and each have their say regarding their concerns and feelings. Through listening and showing empathy, then there is no need for either a sibling or a life partner to feel marginalized or sleighed.
Communication is clearly key to solving conflict with in-laws and a partners loved ones, but displaying intense listening skills and showing empathy to others feelings ensures that issues that are discussed are resolved effectively. Whatever the reason for conflict with in-laws, the emotive often complex nature of the relationships involved (not to mention the fact these types of conflict typically effect more than just 2 people directly) requires all involved to remain calm and considered, and respectful of others opinions regardless of their merits. Through everyone having their say and their opinions respected, the emotion can be drawn from the situation allowing common sense to prevail in the relationships.