Why Your Parents Hate Your Spouse

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Hint: it’s all about the genes.

Well before, and well after Romeo and Juliet, lovers have lived with parents who disapproved of their match. Even in cultures where parents held—or hold—absolute control over their children’s choice of a spouse, parents and children can clash over love.

For evolutionary scholars, this struggle is especially intriguing. Why, if it causes so much angst, conflict, and, as in Romeo and Juliet’s case, death, do parents (and young lovers) never learn? From a strictly energy efficiency perspective, such drama is far from adaptive — rather, it’s a drain on precious emotional and physical resources. And generally such wasteful behaviors don’t survive generation after generation, as disapproving parents and rebellious lovers have. So why has this conflict persisted so obstinately throughout history?

Turning to a computer model, researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of Groningen have ventured provide an answer. In a study published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, they propose that genes may have a lot do with it.

(MORE: The Key to Happy Relationships? It’s Not All About Communication)

Evolutionary theory suggests that parents and their daughters (and sons, for that matter) should both want a caring and supportive mate. That would work for all of them. And they do both strive for this. But parents, apparently, want it more. The study’s co-author Tim Fawcett, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Bristol, this model of parental and filial behavior is predicated on the fact that parents presumably value all of their children (and therefore the survival of their genes) equally. So parents want to allocate their resources optimally and make sure that each child ends up with equal share. But if one daughter marries the hunky but unreliable handyman and the other comes home with the gawky, devoted investment banker, the former will probably require additional investment of time, money and emotional support to survive, and the others will get less from the parents.

Spending their resources that way may not seem appealing to parents, but, says Fawcett, “it is in their evolutionary interests to do so. The conflict arises because daughters will settle for a partner who provides less support than her parents would ideally like.” In other words, parents feel a need to fill in the gap for the child married to the handyman so that daughter, and her hunk, have the same chance of raising a family and having children who continue the genetic lineage as the daughter married to the wealthy banker.

As for the daughter, she gets the mate she’s most attracted to, she benefits from more help than her siblings receive, and her parents will supply what her husband can’t. So she’s not necessarily pressured to find and marry a mate that meets with her parents’ approval.

(MORE: More Satisfaction, Less Divorce for People Who Meet Spouses Online)

There’s another reason this may work for the daughter on an evolutionary basis, says Robert Kurzban, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the study. She may be better equipped than her parents at recognizing a guy who’s got good genes and will give her more children — despite his less than stellar supportiveness. In the study, evolutionary success was defined by which daughters had the most offspring who lived to reproductive age. And daughters who chose a mate with fewer resources (and who received more parental support than their siblings did) did indeed have more children. Previous research also showed that parents tended to prioritize social class and family background for a son-in-law while daughters placed greater value on physical attractiveness, sense of humor, and even smell, which some scientists believe helps people identify lovers with compatible genes. All of these, in the end, may help them to populate the next generation.

But will a star-crossed couple be happier? The study makes no such claims. “These models,” says Kurzban, “are trying to give us a sense of human evolutionary history without making any judgment on modern mores. They make no claims that a daughter’s strategy of marrying despite parental disapproval will lead to marital happiness or even to having more children.” What they do suggest, however, is that defying parents when it comes to choosing mates isn’t just a matter of the heart — or of misbehavior — but one of genes and survival. If only the Montagues and Capulets knew.

38 comments
PendersonArian
PendersonArian


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osicater1
osicater1


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KimSalyers
KimSalyers

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EvelynJeff
EvelynJeff



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StevenGeorge
StevenGeorge

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PricessAisatNuhu
PricessAisatNuhu

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EdwinWallace1
EdwinWallace1

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sevdagulea
sevdagulea

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sandracobe200
sandracobe200


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keerthi
keerthi

hi I am keerthi

i got a one problem plzz..... solve it friends

 my age was 23 just i got married 4 months ago . the problem was my husband won't talk with my parents y i don't know when i will ask he will say that  no i wont talk because my dad also won't talk his father in law.

but my parents like him so much because i only one daughter that to we are in u.s my parents are in india 

my parents had 2 daughters but recently my sister died. their are very intrest to talk with my husband but my husband wont talk and he won't call also and his parents also in india he will do phone every 2 days and he will say that to do me also phone to his parents i will do i will think that his parents also my parents y he won't think like that.i  think that his full grip of his parents i think so his parents said that don't talk with her parents that's his doing like that.just i am thinking whats the real that's gods know..

please solve the problem..........

SuePreedy
SuePreedy

 Hi I am SUE PREEDY from London I got a love spell done on my fiance actually he left me after one year of engagement I was shocked when he told me he does not love me any more he is going to marry with another girl it was very difficult to believe because we were in love from last 5 years he was the guy who never thought to live without me for a second he used to give thousands of phone calls in a day and he was saying to me he does not love me any more, it was a worse news for my family because I gave a very good treat to my friends and raletive on my engagement and we put engagement ring to each other in front of hundreds of people now if he didn't marry me so it was shame for me in my society so I decided that I will get him back any how, than I found Dr.Trust on Internet I told him my problem he told me not to worry I will fetch him back to you he said that he will come himself and will beg me.he gave me 48 hours time and of course it happened before 48 hours he come back to me and said he is sorry for what he did to me,that he is ready to marry me. we get married and we are happy now as husband and wife. really Dr.Trust is a Miracle Man. contact him for your own help ultimatespellcast@gmail.com or ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com call me +2348156885231


JosephineSanna
JosephineSanna


I’m sharing this testimony because someone out there might have same problem,Am very happy today because i was having a sleepless night since the only man i have ever love in my life left me for another girl,trying to get him back i met this testimony of a Woman called Lilian and she said somebody called Dr kizzekpe helped her to bring back her lover. i took a leaps of faith and contacted Dr kizzekpe and he also brought back the only man i have ever love to me.I’m so happy sharing this testimony,contact Dr kizzekpe in his email: kizzekpespells@outlook.com and believe me his going to make you happy once again

Caren22
Caren22

My fiance and I kept on getting into fights all of the time. We were close to breaking up a few times. I knew that we needed something to stay together because he was pulling away from me day by day. I contacted drstanleyspelltemple@hotmail.com who really helped us stay together and become a closer couple. She did a love binding spell that worked perfectly! He started making more of an effort to talk to me about how he was feeling which helped us work through our problems so much better. My fiance tends to shut down whenever there is conflict and this spell helped him communicate with me. I can also tell that he is more attracted to me because he keeps sending me flowers at work and is always trying to touch me in some way. It's actually really nice and I am very grateful to drstanleyspelltemple@hotmail.com for all that he have done for me.......Caren

Parker78
Parker78

thanks to  Ekpiku for bringing back back my lover in just 2days with the help of Ekpiku love spell, if you need help your relationship or marriage contact him via email address: Ekpikuspelltemple@live.com

kithy754
kithy754

I can’t thank you enough Email: ekakaspelltemple@yahoo.com for all that you have done for me. About a year ago I my partner had a misunderstanding that lead to break up, we had both made BIG mistakes in our relationship. He ended up moving away from me to pursue a new life. I knew in my heart that he would be the only one to make me happy. I was relieved when I found your site and what you had to offer. I requested 3 to 4 day casting of the reunite us love spell and within 4days Denny company had relocated him back to our hometown where I still lived. We immediately reconnected and move in with each other i am so happy that i found you and i was all patient to following your order thank you Dr Ekaka.

ttkrishnan
ttkrishnan

Love marriages are gaining increasing acceptance among the educated in India and parents often reconcile to children making their own choices. But in countryside, defying parents and marrying persons of their choice would most often lead to disowning of the children and even honour killings by the families of the children. In such cases not only is their no support system for the daughter marrying the handyman, there is no opportunity even for the genes to survive.

charwhitley
charwhitley

As a Parent, it’s important to show my Son and Daughter it is okay to kindly set personal boundaries, by saying no.  Sometimes, it may simply mean keeping my mouth shut when one of them may be trying to manipulate me into purchasing something for them or their other half.  I call it “not falling for the trap”.   Too many Parents, parent from guilt these days, the kids know and get over on them.

porichkid
porichkid

some true ,but to broad a brush stroke

CyndyHaggart
CyndyHaggart

This artical is very shallow, due to it painting an etremely wide brush across extremely variable situations.

We are all as different as the fingerprints we carry. Yes there are track records of situations but by no means due they apply to all.

Liberals_Suck
Liberals_Suck

My parents always accepted whomever us kids wanted to date and marry. There is no divorce in us 4 kid"s marriges. We plan to do the same.

SamuelAdams
SamuelAdams

My mother pushed and manipulated my father into disowning my sister for "marrying a bum" and after he kicked her out of the house, my mother would sneak around to visit her and then played the family hero by "softening" up my father into finally accepting her back into the family.  3 years later, her husband was finally admitted to family gatherings.

He's now a multi-millionaire, having worked his blue-collar butt off and now owns a plumbing supply company, but my parents (especially my mother) never acknowledged that he wasn't quite the failure that they painted him as being.


My point?  Parents are humans just like their children are, and are JUST as subject to being WRONG about something.  Being a parent doesn't mean automatically that you have all the answers.

tynkyr_belle
tynkyr_belle

"She may be better equipped than her parents at recognizing a guy who’s got good genes."

Watch ANY episode of Jerry Springer, and you will see you are in abject, total error.

StevenR.Freedman
StevenR.Freedman

I noticed the side bar reference form Dr Gupta.  Since he's changes his mind on pot don't you think this lilnk is a little misleading?


dwildmangreen
dwildmangreen

i have one daughter...she married at the age of 23 to a man she met on another planet (family joke)...he is the greatest son-in-law you could imagine and we get alone great with his parents as well...all i can say is, from what i have heard, this is a gift and one for which i will always be grateful.

ColleenKellyMellor
ColleenKellyMellor

I think this is waaayyy too simplistic, suggesting parents equate 'supportive' with how much mate can provide, financially. So not the case.  I look to see if my daughters' mates can provide emotional and psychological support, in the tough job of parenting, especially in a culture that appears to toss out minimal behavioral standards. Why?  My daughters make more than enough money on their own.  They are the heavy-hitters, in providing. This study sounds like something that might have been apropos in our Baby Boomer era, when we were young adults.

emptynester2013
emptynester2013

I do not alienate them by any definition of the word, they come to dinner, cookouts etc... I go visit them etc.. We have a good time together. What i mean by investing in the couple is they have not said "I do" yet and as we all know things can go sour quickly in relationships. I do encourage them to be good to each other, stick with their plan of no children and advise them that if they did have children it would change EVERYTHING about their relationship.  Luckily for them they are smart enough to use a BC method that lasts for 3 years so there will be no accident.

  My heart and soul are  with my daughter and IF they get married I will come to love this young man in my own way. He is a nice fella but limited and I never wanted that for my daughter but ultimately it is her life and his to live and learn from.  Shoot my goal in life is to retire and have a fruity little drink with an umbrella somewhere on a beach

Predictor
Predictor

Maybe. Than again, maybe "evolutionary psychology" is, at best, an educated guess, since its ability to experiment or provide falsifiable hypotheses is extremely limited.


pahanka
pahanka

I wish they wouldn't publish headlines this way.  All it will serve to do is alienate sons and daughters- in- law and make them question something that isn't necessarily a problem.  I have two daughters.  I have one "son-in'law" whom I consider a "son"--because my daughter picked him, and it is my responsibility, as a parent,  to encourage a happy union. People need to butt out of what is none of their business regarding adult children.

awayfromhere
awayfromhere

My husband and I have been together nearly 13 years. She's known I haven't wanted children since I was 16, and used to lecture me about being selfish (yes, preach to the teenager about having children). While there are potentially genetic concerns about not reproducing, she was also unhappy that she no longer had control over her son, that he moved away, has different religious values, that he also did not want children, that he went into a career field and level of education (a Master's, when she wanted him to become a massage therapist with local cert.) she didn't support, and so on. All of these things have been blamed on me. My husband comments constantly that what she doesn't understand is that if I disappeared tomorrow, he'd eventually find another woman that shared HIS values and lifestyle, not hers. She would be happy if I vanished, because she thinks he'll move back to his home town, come to family dinner several times per week, have a bundle of grandchildren for her, and live happily ever after. Of course, given the age we met and how long we've been together, we have influenced one another over the years. She has no idea how much encouragement I provide when it comes to contacting and seeing his family, or remaining active spiritually. The things she dislikes most about me are actually the things I spend the most time doing for him on that front. I'm sad that I don't have a loving second family. Thank goodness my family adores him.

OhMyDog
OhMyDog

My daughter married at 18. They didn't have much in the way of resources, but he joined the Navy, as a following spouse, they paid for an LPN degree, which she parlayed into a BSN while working fulltime. He got out, is now in school (and working full time), they have a year's salary in the bank, their cars are paid off, they have no credit card debt, and they have mortgages on two homes (one is rented out). AND they've been married for nine years and are now thinking about children.

They got very little financial help from me, mostly because at that point, I had little to give. What I DID give her was that we discussed finances while she was still little and she learned how to hold household and save money. Learning how to save and spend wisely is way more important than financial help from parents, who may or may not have it to give.

emptynester2013
emptynester2013

My daughter who is turning 21 wants to get married next year to a good ole boy who is 9 yrs older than her. She has been with him for about a year, when I told her she had to find some place else to live (she was not contributing to the household and was stagnate in her ambitions and goals) she ran straight to him.  They are in love and she takes every opportunity to spread the saccharine sweetness in every social network site she belongs to.  We talk of wedding plans and it will be great fun. He is good to her and she is good to him. They have no plans of ever having children which I support 100%. I do not think my families gene pool needs to be extended any further, too much mental illness and chaos abounds throughout the generations.

I will not invest any emotion into this man until he places a ring on my daughters finger. He is a nice man but has never been out of his own backyard, does not have a high school diploma and sits all day playing video games.  I do not dislike the fellow but he is not who I envisioned my daughter marrying but then I planned her life out for her when she was 1 minute old. She was going to grow up happy, be educated, go to an ivy league University then marry some affluent boy from society.

She will wake up some day, look around and think "dang I totally settled" and will venture out to find herself again. When that will happen I don't know but it will happen so in the meantime I support them and support the birth control in their relationship. As we all know once kids come into play then the game changes and everyone is trapped.


As parents we set ourselves up for disappointments from the get go when the kids are born because at a certain point in time the kids will turn around and say "this is my life and I will do what I want"

In the long run this is the man SHE is choosing to marry and SHE will have to live with HER decisions. I can be cordial and friendly with the man but I will not invest in their future that is their doing not mine. I have to invest in my own future now, hmmm child is grown what to do what to do?????

Did I just ramble, yup, did you just waste a minute reading this, maybe...

OhMyDog
OhMyDog

I will say that I thought they were too young, and I wasn't all that thrilled with him as a spouse for her at the time (not that I ever would have said that unless she asked)...but they are very happy together.

awayfromhere
awayfromhere

@emptynester2013 If they divorce, statistics are on "your" side, so you can proclaim how correct you were in withholding any affection for the man. If they stay together, anyone in your extended family will see how you treat him. If they do have kids, they will sense, extremely young, how much grandmom/dad dislikes daddy. Not everyone is going to like or love their in-laws, but since he isn't from an Ivy League or rich, you seem to not even be willing to give him a chance. She is perfectly capable of finding herself while with this man; they're both still fairly young. I don't know what you think investing in someone's future is. It isn't financial. But you can provide warmth, encouragement, and a friendly haven. You're setting yourself up to alienate your daughter, which will be your choice. It all sounds horribly sad.

Dillon100
Dillon100

@emptynester2013  Wish more parents of grown kids were more like you  -- they're adults, let them make their own mistakes (And I must say it sounds like your daughter is walking into a huge one.) It probably takes a lot of restraint on your part to keep your mouth shut.

Lonecia
Lonecia

@awayfromhere @emptynester2013 


Either you are not a parent, or, you are one of those parents who are blind and enable poor decision making, or, you are the layabout boyfriend who spends all day playing video games.

awayfromhere
awayfromhere

@Lonecia You actually "liked" my original post/comment, before you commented on this one. With so few comments, I'd expect you to catch the username. So, you read my story about a mother-in-law that alienated both myself and her son. Emptynester2013's post would have been an acceptable criticism, except for the fact that she is complaining that her daughter didn't marry a society man. Yes, everyone has visions for who their children grow up to be, but I find it difficult to take her description of the fiancee as accurate, given her ideal picture for her daughter. If they live happily ever after, is it still settling because the daughter didn't "find" herself the way mom wanted her to? @pahankasaid it best in his/her reply: " I have one "son-in'law" whom I consider a "son"--because my daughter picked him, and it is my responsibility, as a parent,  to encourage a happy union."