In-Laws Not In-Loves: 4 Ways to Keep Your Peace During the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, the thought of dealing with in-laws might be putting a damper on your otherwise celebratory move. Perhaps you and your in-laws don’t see eye-to-eye on politics, religion, or other hot-button issues. Or maybe they took a long time to warm up to you, and even now, you still don’t feel entirely comfortable around them. Maybe your personalities simply clash, or maybe they’ve turned out to be overbearing grandparents whose parenting ideas conflict with yours.

Despite your misgivings about your in-laws, you know that you’ll be spending ample time with them this holiday season. By setting boundaries for yourself and talking over your concerns with your partner ahead of time, you can alleviate some of your stress. Here’s how to cope with your in-laws throughout the holidays.

1. Get Support From Your Partner

First, it’s important to share your feelings with your partner. Remember, you work as a team now. You shouldn’t be dealing with these issues all alone. You have to tackle the situation together. If their parents have said things that upset you in the past, let your partner know how it felt and what kind of support you need from them if something similar happens today. Your partner needs to be ready to come to your defense and have your back if their family members cross your boundaries. It isn’t always easy to have these conversations, so be patient and respectful. Do not come across as though you are attacking your partner’s family.

2. Stick to Safe Conversation Topics

Sometimes, your in-laws might make upsetting comments about your political or religious beliefs or make it clear that they do not share certain values that you hold dear. It’s best to simply avoid these topics altogether. While it’s understandable that you may want to stand up for your beliefs and views, very few people will be genuinely persuaded to a new point of view during an argument that occurs at a holiday gathering.

Instead, come up with a few “safe” conversation topics that are unlikely to lead to arguments. For example, you could ask your in-laws about recent events in their lives, chat about new movies you’ve seen, or inquire about their plans for the new year.

3. Book a Hotel Room

Are you traveling to see your in-laws this year? Even if you usually spend the night at their house, you might want to consider a change of plans this time around. Talk to your partner about spending the night at a hotel or AirBnb instead. This might require some advance planning, as the holidays are a very busy travel time. But if you book a place to stay ahead of time, you may be able to get a good deal. You may also have to discuss it with your in-laws if this is a big deviation from your usual arrangements.

4. Enjoy Your Own Downtime

When you’re not with your in-laws, let yourself indulge in everything that you love about the holidays. Spend time doing what you truly love, and make the most of the traditions that you have with your partner! When you have free time, turn off your phone and let yourself fully relax. You can also bring a few things to keep yourself entertained if you do end up staying with your in-laws. For example, if there’s a book series you love, pack some books and let yourself stay up late reading after the festivities end!

Are you stressed out about dealing with your in-laws this holiday season? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for couples therapy to find a solution together.