3 Relationship Tips to Keep your Relationship Sane in the Midst of your Family’s Holiday Insanity

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, falalalalalalalala.” The holidays are once again upon us. Families travel by trains, planes and automobiles to spend the holidays. Are you entering the holiday season with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head or does the reality of your family’s holiday season look more like a train wreck?

If you are bringing your partner to your family holiday gatherings for the first time, or the umpteenth time, your relationship can become strained as family (dys)functions are brought to new heights. Don’t distress. Read my 3 relationship tips below to stop your relationship from becoming a train wreck this holiday season.

1. Remember your family, like everyone else’s family, is perfectly imperfect. Clue your partner into the unique nature of your family’s imperfections and idiosyncrasies and they won’t be caught off guard. For example, your slightly eccentric Aunt Jane is guaranteed to act slightly eccentric and your “strange” cousin Bill will be true to form and act strange. Allowing your partner to anticipate the imperfections and, okay, I’ll say it – downright weirdness of your family -during the holiday season will prevent them from getting caught “off-guard” when these behaviors are displayed for all to see – especially your partner. Anticipating inappropriate remarks aimed at you and/or your partner by family members will certainly soften their blow.

2. Avoid your family’s hot buttons and avoid them like the plague. Make sure you let your partner know what your family’s hot buttons are – and avoid them at all costs. For example, if your family holds strong religious and/or political views, especially if they’re different from your partner’s – clue your partner into these emotional “danger zones”. “Dare not tread where angels fear to go” – that’s all I have to say on this topic!

3. Rehearse rescue “get away” signals and/or looks prior to family functions. You know – have a designated look or a certain word-phrase practiced ahead of time which silently signals your partner that you need rescuing from a conversation or an uncomfortable situation with a family member. For example, if you or your partner repeats the phrase: “Wow, that’s amazing” two times in a row – swoop in for the rescue and find a way to remove your partner from the 4th game of Texas Hold ‘Em with Uncle Sam or the 33rd version of: “Did I ever tell you the story about the time I was blah, blah, blah?” – you get the point. Is this tip a little manipulative? Maybe, but hey, we are going for survival, not sainthood.

Remember – our families will still act like they usually do – no matter what the occasion. Giving our partner a head’s up on what their unique peculiarities and danger zones are will help them – and you – avoid embarrassing situations during these family holiday get togethers – and keep your relationship together and strong.

Rekindle Romance and Happiness in Your Relationship,

Dr. Patty Ann

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