Monday, December 27, 2010

Being with the In-laws at Holiday Time

Did somebody forget to tell you that when you married the person - you married the family? You don’t have to have seen the movie series “Meet the Parents” to know what challenges may lie ahead. The holiday season usually involves extended and in-law family members getting together and this can sometimes cause conflict.

Unfortunately for some, we can’t control the way our in-laws behave towards us, but we can control the way we react. Some family therapists offer the following tips. First, identify the issue. Are your in-laws unreasonable or are you being impatient?

Second, regulate your reactions. Take a deep breath when necessary and control your temper in heated situations.

Third, look for compromising solutions. Don’t be a victim, but be willing to sacrifice for the sake of maintaining peace. You don’t always have to be right and you don’t always have to have the last word.

Finally, act rather than react. Prepare yourself for possible conflict and decide ahead of time how you will react or respond. Remember to be control of your actions and words – even if the in-laws are not!

Renowned marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman says that when dealing with conflict with the in-laws, it’s important to put your spouse first and not to tolerate any contempt toward your spouse from your parents. This simple act set a precedent that your marriage cannot be divided. Discuss issues with your spouse prior to visits with the in-laws to ensure that you will always be on the same page. Beware making critical comments, however, after all, these people you may be complaining about are deeply connected to the person you love.

If you and your spouse actively listen to each other and tend to your relationship (in preparation of dealing with conflict as a team,) you will be more likely to become stronger than to be broken down.

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