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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 13, 2012  10:14pm

JE... I don't think this writer is singling out this incident as more worse than the other, but instead writing about some various situations that could be a challenge for different individuals and this could certainly be one. We have that in our own family & while that may have not related to you it does to others and it is another reality that may be difficult for some so I appreciate that it was written. Uncle toney could mean anything but it basically means that person who arrives who makes the reader tense & maybe a significant other.... As much as we love & accept them as Jesus does it also doesn't mean we will never feel tense about it. And this article is just what you're hoping for, how to deal with such tense feelings so we can accept others. Bashing an article just because one point doesn't relate to you doesn't mean it won't relate to others & help them have a restored relationship with their uncle toney, whatever that means. I appreciate article so much thank you!

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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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