No matter which holidays your family celebrates, there’s almost no way to get out of seeing your in-laws during this season of family togetherness. Whether you split time with your family and your spouse’s by holiday, by year, or by trying to fit them both into the same holidays (which is kind of crazy to begin with), you’re going to have to find ways to deal with a situation that can be tense, to say the least. But if you’re looking to keep the holidays stress-free this year so that you can actually enjoy them for a change, here are just a few tips to keep the murderous rage at bay and possibly even have a pleasant visit with your in-laws.
- Host festivities. Sometimes all you need is a change of venue to ensure a different outcome at family gatherings. If you traditionally go to your spouse’s family home, offer to host at your house this year instead. This will give you some control over how the event proceeds (as well as the home-field advantage).
- Offer assistance. If you simply can’t maneuver the situation in your favor and you have to go to your partner’s family home, at least adopt a positive attitude and do what you can to reduce the pressure on the hosts. Offer to cook, clean, or wrangle nieces and nephews so that your in-laws don’t feel overwhelmed. This alone could be enough to reduce stress and frustration.
- Talk about problems. A lot of families simply sweep things under the rug and let the tension build until someone blows a gasket. However, there is no problem that cannot be solved if all parties are willing to sit down and discuss them like rational adults. Of course, you can really only control your part in this scenario, but make an effort this holiday season to smooth over the craziness and really talk to your in-laws. Offering the olive branch is a good first step, so try not to be combative or accusatory when you call your partner’s family out on their craziness.
- Make time for yourself. Sometimes you just have to get away. The effort required to deal with in-laws can often be taxing, so rather than pushing yourself over the edge, just slip away here and there for a cup of coffee, a walk through the woods, a bubble bath, or a nap with the door locked. And snag your honey to join you once in a while. You’re doing this for your partner, so let him/her remind you why with a few moments of romantic alone time.
- Get on the same page with your partner. The problem with most interactions with in-laws is that your partner doesn’t want to be put in the middle. He/she just wants everyone to get along. Unfortunately, there are times when a line must be drawn, and when your spouse said “I do”, a promise was made to place you ahead of all others. So if your problem seems to be a doting mother who refuses to relinquish control of her child’s life, or a sibling who persists in treating you like an outsider who has no say in family affairs, you’re going to have to insist that your partner take your side. The two of you must present a united front or everyone is going to suffer and nothing will change. It’s either that or relationship counseling.
About Guest Blogger:
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California