Tips to deal with difficult in-laws during the festive season

Tips to deal with difficult in-laws during the festive season

Now that the holiday season is here, and the in-laws or other relatives come to visit, these tips on how to deal with the especially difficult ones will be very helpful!

That time of the year is here again — merry making, gifting and simply general goodwill all around. You have cleared your annual leave, decked the house in lovely reds, greens and golds; this is going to be the best holiday ever, you think to yourself.

And then reality hits you. The in-laws will be spending the festive season with you! You feel your holiday mood rapidly dissipating.

No matter what festive season it is, whether it is Christmas, Chinese New Year or even Diwali, it is a time for the whole family to gather together. Part of being married means that you also have to get together with people whom you might be unsure of how to deal with.

That is perfectly normal because unlike your own parents, these are folks with whom you have not grown up with. Who knows if what you say might spark off a full-blown conflict? They also have a different family culture from yours that you might or might not fit into.

But it doesn’t have to be a full blown conflict though. Here are some tips on how to deal with the in-laws, or any annoying relatives whom you would rather avoid (but can’t) during the festive season.

difficult relatives

Try not to get difficult relatives get under your skin this festive season.


1. Choose your battles

Most conflicts are not worth getting into, especially during the festive season. There will always be a difference in opinion, sometimes, and even if it does get your heckles up, let it go. It if makes it easier, recognise that in most cases, people don’t mean any malice — they are simply untactful or unthoughtful.

For instance, if a relative asks you “Why still no baby?”, when you might be in the midst of struggling to conceive, smile, take a deep breath and simply walk away. Engaging could mean prolonging a painful conversation.

But draw a line. If your mother in law is constantly criticizing your food, for instance, without making an effort to be nice, point out politely with a smile that perhaps she could help out with the cooking next year!

2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

When hosting relatives with whom you might not meet up on a regular basis, do plan ahead. Make the effort to find out what they enjoy, and what they don’t.

They will appreciate the effort, helping to foster cordial relations even before the meet-up. This also helps eliminate potential points of conflicts.

3. Do not gossip

You might think that you are just letting off steam, but gossiping about what you don’t like about the husband’s side of the family can lead to more problems.

Your in-laws or relatives might get wind of it, or if you gossip about the in-laws in front of your husband, your husband will feel uncomfortable and trapped.

4. Don’t read too much into gifts

difficult relatives

In the case of difficult relatives, it’s best not to read too much into gifts.

A part of the holidays is about gifting — whether it is money or actual gifts. If it is money, do not compare the amounts different people may give.

Whether someone had given your children less money or more money, doesn’t matter. The fact is, she did, and that’s that. Comparing breeds resentment.

If you receive a gift, for instance, of a bottle of body soap, do not assume it might be an implication that your relative thinks you could smell better. That simply makes yourself, and eventually the people around you, very unhappy.

5. Be the better person

Above all, be kind, gracious and polite at all times. Resist the urge to retort with catty remarks. After all, it’s the holidays and you are going to having to interact with them only for a short period of time!

The holiday season brings its own set of stresses and problems, but with some planning (and teeth gritting), everyone can have a great time.

Tell us your horror stories about what your relatives said or did during a happy occasion that made you really upset, and how you dealt with it in the comments below. 

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Written by

Leigh Fan

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