There’s so much conflict in the world today, the last thing you want is a homegrown battle with your in-laws over the holidays. If you’re not one of the lucky few blessed with perfect parents-in-law, here are five ways to make sure that, even if you can’t completely lay down your arms for Christmas, you can at least declare a yuletide truce.
Know your enemy. Okay, so your in-laws aren’t really your enemies—they’re more like allies you may frequently disagree with. Remember that they gave you the love of your life, and remind them that instead of losing a son, they’ve gained a daughter. But the first step toward getting your in-laws to let you into their lives is to let them into yours. Get to know them and show them the respect you want your spouse to give your own parents. Follow the 10 Commandments of In-Laws to avoid causing trouble with your spouse’s family. Find out about their interests and their holiday traditions—your hubby is the key to inside information about them! Learn the dynamics of his family and the power play that goes on within it so you can figure out where and how you can fit in.
Pick your battles. Know when to let your in-laws spoil you and your family a little and when to tell them no. Include your spouse’s family in the holiday activities you plan, but also know when to go with the flow when things just don’t seem to come together the way you want them to. If your in-laws think of an activity for a day you had something else planned, try and compromise. Maybe you can go on that picnic they want to take you on tomorrow instead of today. Or maybe you can put off that trip to the beach you had planned. If your in-laws say or do things you don’t agree with, there’s no harm in standing behind your opinions, but also know when to let things go. As a rule, don’t sweat the small stuff! Draw your boundaries and don’t make an issue of it unless they’re crossed.
Call for backup. The first rule of in-laws is to never make your husband choose between you and his relatives . That being said, your hubby is your staunchest ally. Work out how you are going to manage both sets of in-laws as a team. Take the pressure off each other—you can establish a safe word or code so you can let each other know when you’re nearing the end of your patience and need a save. The fact remains that he has more experience dealing with his parents than you do, and vice versa, so take advantage of this! If you present yourselves as a united front, you’ll not only share the pressure, you’ll also be showing them what a solid, secure partnership your marriage is.
Plan a tactical retreat. Plan your schedule with your patience and blood pressure in mind—people may joke about the light at the end of the tunnel, but you’ll find it makes it more bearable to live with a little inconvenience when you know just how temporary the situation is. Remember that the farther away they are, the longer they’ll probably want you to stay. Then remember how many days out of the year you get to see your husband and kids, and how many days they don’t! Just make sure you get time for yourself and alone time with your hubby. If you don’t think you can spend more than few days under their roof, compromise. Plan a romantic overnight stay someplace special (look for resort options here) for you and your hubby—if you play your cards right, they’ll be more than happy to have the kids all to themselves—or you can always splurge and treat your in-laws to a yuletide date of their own.
Be gracious in victory. Remember: they may be your husband’s parents, but you’re his wife. That means you win, hands down. Be nice about it. Pick out thoughtful gifts for them that will tell them you took the time to find out what they’re interested in and what they might like. Hit those holiday bazaars with your in-laws and tick off your Christmas lists together. Offer to cook for them—check out Yummy.ph for quick and easy dishes designed to impress—or take them out to dinner. Maybe get your mother-in-law something to remind her she can still be a girl at heart, even with her kids grown and making families of their own.
Are you looking forward to spending the holidays with your in-laws or dreading it like the plague? Share your secrets to getting along with your manugang here. Leave a comment below or talk it up with other GIRLTalkers on our forum!
(Photo courtesy of Pep.ph)