How to Deal With In-Laws during the Holidays

There are so many fun elements of the holiday season. The festive parties, extravagant decorations, and of course well-wrapped presents under the tree are just a few! It can be wonderful to get together with the family, too. But sometimes spending time with the in-laws may bring feelings of stress and conflict.

Thankfully, we’ve put together five tips for surviving the holidays with your in-laws.

Anticipate Pinch Points (and enlist help!)

Talk with your spouse ahead of time about topics or situations to avoid. It’s also helpful to plan how the two of you will help each other escape.

It may be a little uncomfortable at first to have this conversation with your significant other. But by making a game plan, both of you will be better positioned to react calmly rather than defensively.

Here’s one way to approach this with your partner before getting together with the in-laws. Use open, “I”-based statements and let them know you trust their judgment. For example: “I’d rather not talk with your mom about when we plan to give her grandchildren. How do you suggest we handle it if it comes up?” Your spouse likely knows the best way to handle their mother, and it also presents the two of you as a united front.

Respect Differences

It seems inconvenient to change up family recipes to accommodate a recently-vegan sister-in-law. And it’s hard to bite your tongue while your partner’s family discusses politics. But if you can keep a long-term view, it’s easier to let these differences roll off your back. Will it matter in ten years that you couldn’t use butter in the mashed potatoes of Christmas 2021?

When it comes down to it, it is next to impossible to change someone’s opinion or behavior. You don’t have to agree with your in-law’s political views. And it’s entirely possible that SIL will be back to eating meat in the new year. Still, it’s possible to respect these differences even if you disagree or find them silly.

If you’re finding it difficult to grin and bear it, change the subject. Plan ahead and have ready new topics to talk about.

Act in Good Faith

Consider that these are the people who raised the person you love. There has to be something good about them! Most of the time, people are just trying to do their best. Did your spouse’s mother actually mean to be rude about the cookies you brought? It’s more likely she just worded it poorly. Is it possible that your father-in-law genuinely just forgot you’re gluten intolerant? Yes, it is.

By reframing potential slights into honest slip-ups, you’re setting yourself up for a more pleasant, less-tense holiday. You’re helping create a relaxed atmosphere by assuming the best of your spouse’s family.

Act in good faith to your mother-in-law

Set Boundaries

You may try your hardest to respect differences with your in-laws and assume the best of them. But that doesn’t mean they won’t still push things too far. You don’t have to let your partner’s family trample all over you just in the name of “peace.”

Clearly and calmly let the family know where the line is. Better yet, get your spouse to do it! “Mom, we’re not starting a family right now, and we’d appreciate it if you dropped it until we’re ready to talk about it.” This gives your mother-in-law the opportunity to back off without automatically leading to a showdown.

If the in-laws refuse to respect your boundaries and continue to escalate, you might have to leave as a last resort. You are not obligated to allow your in-laws to disrespect your wishes.

Build in Downtime

It can be particularly challenging if the whole family is staying under one roof for days. Volunteer to walk the dog or do the grocery shopping for an opportunity to get some alone-time. Schedule a movie for after dinner (no talking allowed!) and don’t feel guilty for hitting the sack early.

By giving yourself some time away, you can decompress and recharge your emotional batteries for the holiday.

PrestigeHaus is here to help you this holiday season, whether it’s tips on in-law harmony or great gift ideas.

How do you handle your in-laws over the holidays?