New research by SSW Professors Geoff Greif (r) and Michael Woolley (l) has been published in the Journal of Family Social Work. The article, is titled "Sons-in-law and their fathers-in-law: Gaining a preliminary understanding of an understudied family relationship."
With more than 2 million couples marrying each year in the U.S. (CDC, 2015), the need for understanding in-law relationships that are newly formed with the marriage and continue for decades, is important. While women’s in-law relationships have been explored, little is known about how men view their in-law relationships. The focus here is on sons-in-law’s relationship with their fathers-in-law. We explore relationship dynamics from the perspective of sons-in-law with a focus on those whose relationships seem to be close and those that seem to be distant based on analyses of qualitative interviews. Six cases are highlighted: three cases where the sons-in-law feel close and three where the sons-in-law feel distant. For those who feel close, relationships tend to coalesce around sons-in-law joining families where fathers-in-law have warm relationships with their daughters, value family, are well-liked, and maintain boundaries. For those who feel distant, relationships are characterized by the emotional withdrawal and physical absence of the fathers-in-law, by some emotional distance between the fathers-in-law and their daughter, and by the sons-in-law being open to more contact but resigned to it not being forthcoming. Clinical implications and areas of future research are offered.