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Interaction and Negotiation of Privacy Boundaries Between Children-in-Law and Parents-in-Law in Positive Relationships

Jaclyn S Marsh, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In-laws are often viewed with a very negative stereotype and routinely characterized in the media as negative, complex, and challenging; depicting the in-law in a very destructive fashion. While most research has focused on the negative aspects of the relationship between children-in-law and parents-in-law, in the dissertation I examined positive in-law relationships from the perspective of the children-in-law. I used a turning points methodology to represent how the relationship has changed throughout the course of their marriage and engaged Communication Privacy Management Theory to better examine how children-in-law are creating, negotiating, and attempting to maintain a positive relationship with their parent-in-law. . I undertook 36 in-depth interviews with persons who self-identified as having a positive relationship with one of their parent-in-laws. From the analysis, I first employed and extended the turning point typology created by Braithwaite et al., (2018) by adding two turning point types present in these data to characterize the ebb and flow of the in-law relationship over time. Second, I examined how children-in-law are creating and negotiating privacy rules with their parent-in-law, and also noted that at times children-in-law created and negotiated privacy rules with their spouse before interacting their parent-in-law. Third, I analyzed how children-in-law managed times when boundary turbulence was present with their parent-in-law to better understand how they attempted to build and maintain positivity within their relationship at those times and after. Contributions of these findings are offered, along with implications for interpersonal and family communication. I conclude with applications for families with the goal of facilitating positive in-law relationships.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Marsh, Jaclyn S, "Interaction and Negotiation of Privacy Boundaries Between Children-in-Law and Parents-in-Law in Positive Relationships" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI13814865.