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Divorce and in-laws

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By Bernard Rowan

One cause for divorce in Korea today is pressure arising from in-laws. This ranges from in-law interference to financial conflicts. Money problems and in-laws have destroyed several friends' marriages. In other cases, emotional and power issues with in-laws create problems. Let's explore this cause of divorce and family stress a bit more.

In my study of mature Korean women, the ajumma, I learned about myeonri sijipsari, or pressure on the daughter-in-law from the husband's mother. In the past, neo-Confucian norms and multi-generation households urged the pressures. Today, it's less discussed, still around, but less so than 50 years ago. Koreans live in more nuclear families. But the tie to a couple's parents persists. My male Korean friends' wives don't tell me it's so bad for them, though my data set is small. The growing respect for women and ideas of self-development don't truck with the groom's mother so much. I have some friends who seem subservient to their wives' mothers frankly.

Also, if one reads the news and related analyses, I'd argue........

© The Korea Times