But it kinda depends whether you ask parents or the couple.

By Maggie Seaver
January 03, 2020

Ah, in-laws: They can fill your life with twice the love and joy—but they may also get on your nerves, and you wouldn’t be the first to admit it. Every family is different, and many lucky people get along wonderfully with their parents-in-law. But there’s no denying the common conception that in-law interactions and dynamics can make married life a little more complicated. 

So does the age-old stereotype of couples and their parents-in-law butting heads hold true these days? Based on a survey from Porch of nearly 1,000 people, who are either married and have at least one in-law or who have at least one child who’s married, in-laws and couples seem to have a different interpretation of their relationship. Forty-seven percent of in-laws—and only 27 percent of couples—said they get along "extremely well." What’s more, a stunning 70 percent of married people said their relationship with their in-laws has caused strain in their marriage.

These intra-familial tensions can be particularly prevalent for couples living close to their in-laws, or during multi-day visits (like, say, over the holidays or on family vacations). In a survey by Ally Home last year, the majority of respondents revealed that their ideal living distance from their in-laws is a nice 15- to 45-minute drive. Think: Close enough for visits, but far enough away to establish their own routine. And according to the above Porch survey, the ideal distance for some couples may be even farther: 65 percent of couples said they were content with the distance from their in-laws—and this group had an average of 328 miles between them and their partner’s folks. The couples who wished they lived farther from their in-laws lived an average of 146 miles away.

Parents-in-law, on the other hand, seem to have a bit of a different point of view. Just over half were content with the distance, but their particular setup has only 71 miles between them and the couple—a bit too close for comfort for most couples, based on the findings above. Parents-in-law were also more than twice as likely as their married son- or daughter-in-law to want less space between them, while only about one percent wished they lived even farther from one another.

And it’s a similar story for in-law visits. Couples who responded that they were content with the number of times their parents-in-laws came to stay with them said these happen eight or nine times per year. But parents-in-law lean toward a mentality of “the more the merrier”: Parents who said they’re content with the number visits with their married kids averaged at 23 visits per year. Seeing as the average length of in-law visits hovers around five and a half days, 23 get-togethers can really add up (think of all the entertaining, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and planning to do!). Is it any wonder there’s tension between families new and old with all these mismatched expectations?

Here are some expert etiquette and communication tips for when your in-laws are driving you crazy.

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