Christmas with your in-laws can be wonderful and hard all at the same time. I adore my in-laws and yet, I can still sometimes feel like an outsider at family gatherings where traditions that are new to me are present. Dr. Greg Smalley from Focus on the Family is a marriage expert who unpacks the 3 keys to an awesome Christmas with your in-laws in my latest podcast. Scroll down to listen to the full episode now.
1. Understand Your Own Expectations
“We feel disconnected, and now we are finally going to be together and have so much fun!” There is no way I’m the only one who can look at the holidays like one big chance to reconnect. However, if I don’t recognize this expectation then it can come out sideways towards the people I love when something goes wrong. It can be hard to be thrown into new traditions or dynamics with in-laws that you are not familiar with. First taking a look inward at your own hopes for the holidays will help you evaluate what would make this time truly special for you.
2. Communicate Expectation to Your Partner
Owning what you are hoping for will make your time with your in-laws so much better. Sharing your expectations with your spouse helps you both to be on the same page. Ask, “What would make this time a 10 for you?” Sometimes we put too much pressure on family time to be like a Hallmark movie when nothing is that perfect. Engaging with your spouse about your own expectations and being curious about theirs helps to shine a spotlight on things that may not be possible or realistic. It can also help you see the priorities for your partner so you can rally behind those things that matter to them as they do the same for you!
3. Ask Your Spouse How to Be a Good Wingman
Something strange can happen to us when we are surrounded by immediately family. We can fall back into old patters of interacting, sometimes even acting like our childhood selves again. Some family dynamics will not make sense to you so ask your spouse how you can best support them in their unique family dynamics. Is there a relative who you want to avoid certain topics with? Do you want to make sure you get one on one time with a family member who you cherish? Finding out how you can support each other helps you function as a team while with your in-laws. It also helps to have a daily check in to see how you are doing at being each other’s “wingman.” These check-ins keep communication flowing to keep any frustrations from building up.