The States With the Best (& Worst) In-laws

When you marry someone, you don’t just get the love of your life, but their family, too. While in-laws sometimes get a bad rap, there are other times where they end up being the extended family you never knew you needed. We wanted to see how people in different states feel about their family-in-law, so we put together a survey that garnered both simple ratings and also answers to supplemental questions about mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, and everyone-else-in-law.


Our survey ran for a three-week period at the end of November. We recorded responses from 1,900 people in 41 states and an additional 1,000 people for the general portion of the survey. Participants were asked to rate their in-laws on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being awful and 5 being great) to see which states, per opinion, have the best and worst in-laws overall. The supplemental portion of the survey then gave us some detailed insights into things like how well people get along with their in-laws, how similar they are to them, how likely they are to spend time with them without their spouse, and what traits make a good or bad in-law. Note that the states of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming didn’t have enough participants to draw conclusive data from, and thus were left out of this article. 

States With the Best In-law

A chart showing the average favorability score (between one and five) of in-laws by state

And the state that loves its in-laws the most is… Rhode Island! Rhode Island is actually the only state that hit an average of 4 or higher on our 1-to-5 rating scale, as every other state falls somewhere between 3.19 and 3.94. That 3.19 belongs to Arkansas, or as we can now call it, the state that hates its in-laws the most, and the 3.94 belongs to, get this, Massachusetts. This means that the number one and number two states for in-laws are actually bordering each other. But it actually goes even further: The second-worst rating after Arkansas is a 3.38 belonging to Connecticut. This means that the geographic triangle created by Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut is actually just the most conflicted area in the country when it comes to opinions of in-laws. 

A series of graphs covering how well different generations get along with their in-laws

Now let’s take a look at how our survey respondents, on average, answered some in-law-specific questions. In the battle between mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, people are just over 1% more likely to have an “awful” relationship with their father-in-law and just under 4% more likely to have a “great” relationship with their mother-in-law.

When we look at generations, there’s an apparent trend toward getting along better with in-laws the younger you are. However, when looking at the likelihood of spending time with in-laws without their spouse present, basically every generation is about even except for baby boomers, who are much less likely to spend time with any children-in-law.

A Look at In-law Relationships

A series of graphs detailing different aspects of peoples’ relationships with their in-laws

If you’re like us and thought that in-laws stay with their kids more often than said kids would like, think again. Our survey data shows that the preferred visiting time versus the actual visiting time of in-laws never differs by more than 7%.

If you don’t have the best relationship with your in-laws, there is still hope! While about 10% of our respondents have seen their relationship with the in-laws get worse, a whopping 44.6% report that they’ve seen improvements in the relationship as time has gone on. The majority of our other statistics also lean positive. For example, only about 15% of respondents think their in-laws act differently toward them if their spouse isn’t around, about 78% don’t feel additional stress with their in-laws during the holidays or special occasions, and over 75% say they are comfortable being themselves around their in-laws.

There is a whole one out of five people that said they’d never see their in-laws again if given the choice, however, so there is at least a little truth to the old stereotype about the rocky relationship some have with their spouse’s parents.   

What Makes a Good (or Bad) In-law

A graph detailing the good and bad traits in-laws have

If you yourself are an in-law, here’s the section you can actually draw some useful information from! If you want your son- or daughter-in-law to love you more, avoid giving unsolicited advice, keep your distance from their personal life whenever you aren’t invited, dial down the drama, and don’t talk about them behind their back. As for things you should do? Welcome them warmly into the family, treat them like your own child (maybe those two go hand in hand?), provide all the help you can when it’s asked for, and respect their space. 

Closing Thoughts

Families are always welcoming new members through marriage, which means new in-law relationships are being created and developed every day. If you’re thinking about tying the knot and getting some in-laws soon, don’t settle for less when finding the perfect ring to symbolize your love. Visit the Shane Co. website to browse our gorgeous selection of wedding rings and other fine jewelry today. 

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