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Women Programmed Not To Like Their Mother-in-Laws

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NEWS.com.au: It is the butt of jokes at dinner tables, the source of arguments at family gatherings and has even been grounds for divorce. Now, the reason behind the age-old problem of feuding between mothers-in-law and their son's wife has been answered. Wives are programmed to dislike their partner's mum.

Women Programmed Not To Like Their Mother-in-Laws
In a new book that has arrived in Australia, Dr Terri Apter suggests that even if a wife or girlfriend wanted to like her in-law, she already has an expectation they won't get along, The Daily Telegraph reports.

But Australian experts believe it is the men who are to blame.

Relationships Australia NSW chief executive officer Anne Hollonds said men needed to take charge.

"It can be a great source of conflict and part of the problem sometimes stems from issues between the mother and son. The (issues) have not been resolved when he starts a new relationship," she said.

"Instead of the husband sorting out the relationship with the mother and his wife, he will stand aside and let the women fight it out."

More than 200 people, including 49 couples, were interviewed for the book. Almost two-thirds of women complained they had suffered long-term stress because of the friction with their husband's mother.

Just like in the film "Monster in Law," most mothers-in-law felt they were being excluded from their son's life.

Dr Apter, a psychologist and senior tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge in the UK, said both women assumed that each was undermining the other.

"This mutual unease may have less to do with actual attitudes and far more to do with persistent female stereotypes that few of us manage to shake off completely," she said.

"Both mother and wife are struggling to achieve the same position in the family -- primary woman."

Putting an end to the family feuds can be easy if husbands define each woman's role.

"I think as mothers-in-law stay in the work force longer (and) have a life of their own, they are not so interested in worrying about their son's life," University of South Australia Professor Alison Mackinnon said.

Exceptions to the rule are those daughters-in-law like Hollywood star Jennifer Aniston, who still reportedly gets along with her ex-husband Brad Pitt's mother.

Mother-in-law Lyn Horan believes the trick to getting along is to treat everyone equally.

She describes her relationship with her daughter-in-law Renee Hall as like "mother and daughter."

"We have got along since she first met my son Michael more than 15 years ago," Mrs Horan, of Richmond, said. "I don't think you need to meddle. I go to Renee sometimes for advice and she comes to me."

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 8, 2009, 9:35 AM

I’d love a great relationship with my MIL, but she hasn’t given me a chance. I finally gave up. The main problem is that my husband hasn’t got along with her in years, since LONG before I came along. So I wasn’t even allowed to meet her for the longest time - and she assumed (and still continues to do so) that it was me not wanting to meet her, etc. She’s also set in her ways, so whatever I’ve tried hasn’t worked… so I just gave up.
Hubby, however, LOVES my mom - more than his own!

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:19 AM

Nice info! Good and fun reading. I’ve got one opinion to submit about shirts.


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