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You Can Have Healthier Holiday Relationships with Your In-Laws

You Can Have Healthier Holiday Relationships with Your In-Laws

Some tips for planning and being together
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Adjust your expectations. Let's be realistic: none of us will have a "perfect" holiday. The turkey might not be done on time, a child might have a grand mal tantrum, and Uncle Toney might show up with his "special friend." If you picture a Hallmark movie going into the holidays this year, you are going to be disappointed. Instead, make room for reality and look for things at each celebration that you can laugh about and be thankful for.

Create a backup plan/code word. Hopefully neither of these will be necessary. But if things get particularly hairy, it can be helpful to have a backup plan in place. One husband I know felt frayed after about six hours of holiday celebration at his in-laws', and his wife knew he needed some "alone time," so she suggested he go get some ice. Now "getting some ice" is his way of taking 20 or 30 minutes to be alone, reset, and come back to the family restored. Marathon holiday weekends can lend themselves to stress in a contained environment, so if you need to, pick a code word that will let your spouse know you need a break. Love your family, but also take care of each other. This isn't about escapism, hiding out for hours at a time, but a chance to recharge and then reconnect.

Deliver your plans with empathy and love to the people who love and raised you and your spouse! Prayerfully consider an honest conversation or letter that could clear up some misunderstandings or standing issues that crop up every year. Decide to expect and accept what the holidays will actually be like, not what you dream they will be like, and put a little plan in place for when things get, um, too "real."

Jenny Schermerhorn is seeking to live an abundant life in motherhood, ministry, and marriage. She's a freelance writer and communications director at her church.

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December 03, 2012  7:12am

Thanks for the article, it is perfect timing for this Thanksgiving & Christmas season!

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November 23, 2012  3:14pm

Uncle Toney bringing his special friend is something that can ruin your holiday? Regardless of how you feel about Uncle Toney or him having a special friend, shouldn't he be able to be apart of the holiday and participate with the family? It doesn't feel right to me to categorize someone coming to dinner in the same category as a turkey prep issue or a child's tantrum. If I had an "uncle Toney" who had a "special friend" (whatever that means) I would hope that having him be with our family on the holiday would add to the togetherness and specialness of the day. I don't think this is an example of an imperfect holiday that should be used in a publication for Christianity Today. Surely Jesus would be the first to invite all of our "Uncle Toney's" to dine with him.

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November 23, 2012  11:30am

To PS ~ God bless you! You ARE doing the right thing for you and your children. Recently went thru something similiar and this will be my family's 3rd Christmas WITHOUT toxic drama... and without that it really doesn't matter if the weather is awful or the turkey is done late or whatever... we're together and enjoying each other and that's what really matters! Just lovely (even with a late turkey!) AND my kids (now college-aged) have all thanked me for taking that step and removing us all from that drama. Stay strong and remember you are passing on a legacy to your children.

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