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Tips for Surviving the Holidays With Your In-Laws [LIST]

In Laws at Christmas
Echo/Getty Images

There are a lot of things to look forward to at the holidays: parties, food, time off from work, just to name a few.  But as we move closer and closer to December 25th, there’s something a lot of people are dreading: spending time with their in-laws.

There are some things you can do to make sure your Christmas celebration doesn’t resemble something out of the movie ‘Christmas Vacation’.  Your Tango has seven suggestions:

1) Don’t expect it to be like your family. The fact that your in-laws aren’t the same as your family is a good thing for lots of us, but not for some. Just because you do things a certain way in your family, don’t expect the same from your in-laws. Be open to differences and learn to go with the flow.
2) Tread carefully with your partner when it comes to his/her family. What seems strange to you might seem normal to your partner. Kissing grown adults on the lips comes to mind. Remember, when you grow up in a country where everyone eats live fish, it seems perfectly normal to you.

 

3) Notice the nature of communication among family members and consider matching it. I’m not saying you can’t be yourself, but consider it more like being at work than spending the holidays with your family. If you’re in a room of stiffs, you don’t want to come off as a hysterical, loud comic, even if that works for you most of the time. If the in-laws are outgoing and you’re too much of a wallflower, they’ll think you don’t like them.

 

4) Remember that affection and emotion are expressed – or not expressed – differently in different families. What’s happening in this family? You’ll make people uncomfortable if you ask about their feelings and touch people if that’s not their family’s way. You’ll also make people uncomfortable if you shrink away from the big hug from Uncle Bob because that’s not your family’s way. Find a happy medium.

 

5) Remember, your spouse will seem different with his/her family. We all have a role in our family of origin (FOO). When you get together with people you only see once or twice a year, you are expected to play that role. This is true despite the fact that you are now a grown-up and not a sniveling child or adolescent. Chances are, you will see your beloved in that historical role. Don’t knock it; it’s probably the same in your FOO. Be kind.

 

6) Remember, not everyone will love you all the time. Borrowing from Albert Ellis’ wonderful irrational beliefs, you have to recognize that, unlike your FOO, your in-laws are not obligated to love you. In some families, there’s a clear norm for embracing the in-law like a blood relative, whereas in others, not so much. Remember, your self-esteem is not on the line and neither is your relationship. And you’re not going to love them all either.

 

7) Make it fun. Particularly if you know it’s going to be difficult, I like to challenge people to tell me one or two ways to make it fun. Some examples to get you started: Learn something new about someone; give someone the gift of listening to them; make someone laugh; or, set an intention to see the humor in everything

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