How to Navigate the Holidays with Her Family

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Wed, Nov 26 - 2:39 pm EST | 3 years ago by
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    Holidays can be a hard time for a couple — or at least half of a couple — when you have to spend them with one partner’s family. Things can get especially difficult when her family members aren’t your favorite people. Don’t worry, you’ll get through this. You can survive the holidays with her family.

    Holidays with extended family
    Source: Shutterstock

    Remember, it’s a few days, not a lifetime

    Keep this time in perspective. It’s not forever. It’s a few days at most. Sure, they might not be the most pleasant few days of your life, but they don’t have to be the worst.

    “I just remind myself that we’re here for three days. Three days is 123rd of my year. I can manage that,” says Ron, who would rather “walk across hot coals than be around his wife’s family.”

    Don’t expect too much 

    For the optimist, it can be easy to forget exactly how unpleasant your wife or girlfriend’s family is. Last year may have been miserable, but you know, this year might be better, right? Don’t tell yourself that. Set reasonable expectations. If their track record isn’t great, assume it will be the same this year. Being disappointed sucks. Knowing it’s coming is better.

    Flip the script

    If your dislike of you in-laws is a result of them regularly criticizing you, instead of trying to defend yourself, put it back on them. When one lays an insult on you, respond with, “Really? That’s so interesting. Why is it that you think that?”

    Keep doing it. At some point, being asked the same question over and over — and don’t forget to smile — will either get old and help them stop or it will make them mad enough to punch you. My money’s on the former, but if the latter happens, at least you’ll get to leave.

    Deal appropriately 

    I often hear that the issue some men have with their wife or girlfriend’s family is their passive-aggressiveness. Passive-aggressive people are tricky to deal with, and they have a lot of practice. Some of the best, simple advice I’ve read is this:

    “There may be an urge to “strike back” overtly by arguing and using pointed language, or worse yet, by becoming passive-aggressive yourself. Neither approach is helpful, as the passive-aggressive will likely respond to your overt accusations with denial and claims of victimhood, and to any passive-aggressiveness on your part with even more covert hostility.  All the while, you’re suffering because you have allowed this instigator to take away your equanimity. Don’t give someone the power to turn you into the type of person you don’t like to be.”

    Take a minute

    When things feel like too much, take a walk. Come up with a reason to run to the grocery store. Do anything to take yourself out of the situation for a few minutes. It’s okay to walk away for a breather.

    Remember to keep your eye on the prize. The prize, of course, is the end. Focusing on the fact that you will get to leave will help you arrive there smoothly. And if spending the holidays with your girl’s family is truly miserable for you, it’s time for a talk. We make sacrifices for each other, but if holidays with her family are too much to bear, it’s time to make new plans next year.

    Also check out these holiday gift ideas for your in-laws.

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