Holidays and In-Laws

Couples list problems with in-laws near the top of their gripe lists. Add holiday visits to the family mix and the emotional temperature often rises.

Why is this such a feverish mixture?

Leah Averick, author of How In-Laws Relate: It's All Relative, says when you go home, "Suddenly you're treated as the son or daughter you used to be." You become whatever role you played in the family, and spouses wonder what happened to the person they married.

What can help?
Set up signals to break the old ties. For example, have a signal that lets your spouse know it's okay when his parents retell the same stories about his childhood.
Remember who comes first. [Be confident that your marriage and family together is most important.]
Talk about problems that may come up. For example, talk about how your sister-in-law deflates your self-esteem. Think of ways to cope with your feelings. You may decide to talk about your feelings, get away to visit friends, or take a walk.

Reprinted from For Parents Only, November/December 1993.

© 1996 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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