How to Survive the In-laws During the Holidays

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The holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, but it can also bring its fair share of stress, especially when spending time with your in-laws. Whether you’re a seasoned pro at dealing with your partner’s family or bracing yourself for the first holiday get-together, these tips will help you navigate the season with grace and patience.

Open Lines of Communication

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Open and honest communication with your partner is the first step to surviving the in-laws during the holidays. Share your concerns and anxieties, and encourage your partner to do the same. These conversations can bring you closer and help you set boundaries regarding family gatherings. Remember, you both may have different perspectives on your respective families, so mutual respect and open communication are vital.

Set Realistic Expectations

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The holiday season can be a whirlwind of activity, from meal prepping to gift buying and sometimes, awkward conversations. Recognize that your in-laws have their own unique quirks, traditions, and personalities. Embrace the opportunity to learn more about your partner and their family by approaching these gatherings with curiosity. Remember that nobody is perfect, so try not to take things too personally.

Embrace the Situation

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Whether you adore your in-laws or find them challenging, the holidays are here, and they are here to stay. Embrace the fact that you’ll be spending time together, and don’t let minor annoyances ruin the visit.

Avoid People-Pleasing

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While it’s natural to want to make a good impression, you don’t have to go overboard trying to please everyone. Be yourself and allow your partner’s family to get to know you as you truly are. Saying “no” when needed is perfectly acceptable.

Choose Your Battles

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Holidays don’t have to be the time for family confrontations. Discuss potential issues with your partner in advance and create a game plan for handling any conflicts. Setting boundaries is essential, and you don’t have to engage in confrontations with family members.

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Be Diplomatic

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Complaining or treating your in-laws poorly won’t change their habits. Approach them with compassion and patience, just as you would with your family during a difficult situation. Let your partner take the lead in resolving conflicts with their own parents.

Buddy Up

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Establish a buddy system with your partner to support each other during potentially challenging moments. Recognize the signs when either of you is nearing the end of your patience and find ways to step away from the situation briefly to cool off.

Have an Exit Plan

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If all else fails and the situation becomes unhealthy or abusive, have an exit plan. Create a safe word or phrase with your partner and agree to remove yourselves from such situations before they escalate. You should never feel obligated to endure dysfunction or abuse.

Nurture Your Relationship

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Consider this holiday season an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your in-laws. Don’t just “show up” to gatherings; engage with your new family and make an effort to connect with them. Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to personal growth and stronger relationships.

Make Plans Outside the House

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Plan family outings with your in-laws, and focus on enjoying quality time together. Let your in-laws take the lead in spending time with the family, and capture those moments in photos as meaningful gifts.

Set Up Surprise Activities

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Surprise your in-laws with special activities or experiences to spend some time apart. Tickets to a museum or reservations at their favorite restaurant can provide a much-needed break.

Go to Bed Early

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Sometimes, the best way to maintain your sanity is to get some rest. Going to bed early can give you and your partner some alone time, and you can use the excuse of being tired from dealing with the festivities.

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Practice Self-Care

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Remember to take care of yourself. It’s okay to step back from the holiday preparations and find moments of self-care to recharge and stay in a positive mindset.

Don’t Nitpick with Your Spouse

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Stay on the same team as your spouse and avoid unnecessary arguments. Pick your battles wisely and focus on what truly matters.

Have Canned Answers

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Prepare polite responses to uncomfortable or inappropriate questions in advance. Having these canned answers ready can help you maintain your composure and keep the peace.

Patience is a Virtue

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Give your in-laws the benefit of the doubt and try to see the good intentions behind their actions. Remember they are spending the holidays with you because they care about your family.

Breathe

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Even when your in-laws get on your nerves, take a deep breath and stay calm. Most of the time, everyone is trying to create memorable moments for the family. Don’t let minor annoyances ruin your holiday spirit.

Remember, It’s Temporary

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Lastly, keep in mind that the holiday season is temporary. Take it day by day, stay patient, and focus on the end goal. You only have to get through a limited number of days together.

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