A few years ago I was invited to be a guest on a talk show. An interesting question came up from a young man who wanted some information on the topic of in-laws. He wanted to know if I had ever known of a couple divorcing because of their in-laws. My response was that although divorced people may blame the in-laws for the marriage failure, in most cases this does not happen directly, but indirectly- YES!
Let me explain; it’s important to understand that every newlywed couple wants the same thing in their marriage. That is to have a relationship with their in-laws that consists of L.A. – something we call at T.E.A.M. (L)ove and (A)cceptance. The young couple needs to feel loved and accepted by their new set of parents, otherwise this often becomes a source of tension and strain on the couple’s marriage.
There are several reasons for the difficulties. Such as: 1. the wife’s mother may be very sensitive to the way in which her daughter is treated, because the daughter symbolizes herself, to some degree. 2. The son-in-law’s occupation or lack of it as compared to the father’s. 3. The difference in the husband or wife’s working style may tend to freeze social relationships between the households. It’s interesting to note that when in-laws feel grudgingly that they are forced to accept the new couple, it often has an effect on the young couple’s relationship.
When working with couples, I have a 1 to 10 Assessment Scale of the L.A. (level of the in-law relationship), 1 being lowest and 10 being the highest. If this level is too high I find that couples will blame and say hurtful things to each other and not even know why.
In-laws are often not aware of the transference that takes place if they show any signs of the 4 R’s Resistance, Resentment, Rejection and finally Repression. Repression is the most dangerous stage of them all, when it seems to husband or wife that the in-laws no longer love them. We call this stage numbing when the couple and their families no longer feel anything towards each other.
Over the years in analyzing the cause and effect of in-law friction, I have come to the realization that the individual’s reaction to his/ her parents indirectly affects the way spouses communicate with each other. The process takes place in unconscious or semiconscious motive.
What takes place is that the self-directed hostility directed toward an in-law may shift toward a spouse who is a safer target or less dangerous adversary.
In plain English what this means is that the relation to one’s in-laws may rest on frustration or substitute reaction toward a new stimulus.
It is of the greatest importance for in-laws to have an understanding that Happy in-laws = happy relationships, then happy relationships = much joy and Shalom Bayit in the young couple’s marriage.
T.E.A.M. is endorsed by many prominent Rabbanim. If there are any topics you would like me to discuss in my articles, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at CPCMoishe@aol.com or at 718-435-7388. You can also log on to CPCTEAM.org to download past articles and for more information about the T.E.A.M. approach.
Moishe Herskowitz MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education and Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is also a graduate professor in Touro College’s Mental Health Program.