Q) I love the holidays, but really dread having to be around some of my in-laws and other family. We look forward to being with most of our family, but others not so much. How do I enjoy the holidays and keep them from getting under my skin?
Don't Feel Bad
Don't feel bad about disliking family members who are hard to like.
Add the total number of family members between you and your husband, and the odds go up of someone getting under your skin.
Sometimes we pressure ourselves to get along with others, especially our family! We think it's wrong to have negative feelings toward them, so we feel bad when we do.
A title does not demand more respect than that which is earned.
You likely fell in love with your husband long before you had any such loving feelings toward his family.
I have questionable feelings toward members of my own family, especially around a presidential election, and I've had years to get used to them!
Focus on the Positive
Remember the reason for the season. It only comes around once a year.
Spend what little time you have with family members you do enjoy. Seat yourself next to them for the holiday meal.
Be thankful of your time together and that you only have to see the more irksome in-laws once or twice a year.
Create a Diversion
My cousins and I all have children around the same ages, so we plan a holiday craft project. It's a great way to distract yourself (and the kids) from Aunt Negative Nancy.
With so many relatives around to serve as babysitters, my husband and I sometimes sneak off for a quick walk just the two of us.
Take the high road
Cut yourself some slack and accept that at least one negative or rude comment might rub you the wrong way.
Instead of stooping to their level, try these more assertive ways to take the high road.
To the unsolicited advice-giver, simply smile and say "I appreciate your concern" and then walk away.
Another option is to try something elusive, yet agreeable, like: "At this juncture things are as to be expected given the circumstances."
When the conversation veers off into dangerous territory (like politics), change the subject by asking the speaker (or someone else) a question.
Share your awkward family moments in the comments below!
Thanks for taking the time,
Amanda is a licensed counselor with a practice in Westfield, just north of Indianapolis. She counsels worry warts, distant couples & also offers online coaching packages for busy moms who want to have it all on their terms. She lives with her husband, two boys, and not-to-be-ignored cat Sphinx.