Dealing with Your In-Laws During the Holidays

Nearly two-thirds of women report long term unhappiness and stress due to conflict with their mothers-in-law. How do you deal with yours?

Emily Maywood • eHarmony Labs

The Situation: You find yourself in the middle of an argument about whether or not the kids should take an extra day off of vacation to spend time with an in-law (or really, any argument with an in-law).

The Fix: According to Apter’s book, the occurrence of this conflict is typically with a woman and her mother-in-law. She contends that conflict between a woman and her mother-in-law is derived from a feeling that one is trying to undermine the other. The way a husband interacts during this type of conflict is especially important. Indeed, research has demonstrated the importance of a husband’s intervention in this dynamic and the effect it can have on the quality of the marriage. Support from a spouse is one of the key factors that affect well-being in the marriage. In other words, it’s critical that the husband shows support for his wife during this situation by defending her and, again, exhibiting a united front with his wife.

The most important thing to remember during the holidays is that as a couple, you have a unique power to make decisions, including the decision to be happy. These decisions will influence the success of your holiday season as well as the success of your in-laws’. While ensuring that you and your spouse are a solid unit, try to find compromise when you can, and don’t forget to put yourself in their shoes. You can pick your spouse, but you can’t pick your in-laws. And considering how research has shown that even after decades of marriage, in-laws play a huge role in how couples view their marriage success , it’s important to remember this advice year round.


About eHarmony Labs: eHarmony Labs is the only industry laboratory of its kind researching the initiation, growth and maintenance of life’s most important relationships.  In-person research is conducted within a laboratory setting, featuring four observational rooms, and a state-of-the-art digital video control room.  eHarmony Labs is comprised of a state of five PhD researchers, all of whom are recognized experts on human relationships.


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Want more relationship advice? Check out what Bethenny Frankle had to say about gettied married and having a baby— all in the same year!

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