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10 Tips on Surviving the Holidays with Your Partner’s Family

by Cathie Wigert
10 Tips on Surviving the Holidays with Your Partner’s Family

The holidays are a time to come together. But for those of us planning weddings during the holiday season this can often mean your “time together” involves your partner and their family members.

We understand the multi-faceted nature of these interactions…the positives, the negatives, and all the grey areas in between.  To help give you a little extra support this time of year we’ve drafted a small survival guide to help you get through the holiday season with your partner and their family. You got this. And we’re here for you.

1) Set Expectations: Setting clear expectations can be a powerful thing. Take a moment with your partner to set clear expectations, for both of you, regarding how you see social events going. If you want to leave by a certain time, communicate this. If you don’t want to be left in a corner with a specific relative the entire evening, communicate this.

2) Offer Help: If this is your first time spending the holidays with your partner and their family (or if it’s your twentieth) make yourself useful. This is particularly helpful if you are feeling anxious or shy. Offering to assist with dishes or setting the table can keep your hands busy.

3) Brainstorm Conversation Topics with Your Partner Beforehand: If you are meeting some family members for the first time, take a few minutes before to think of talking points with your partner. This is especially helpful if small talk isn’t your favorite activity. Are certain topics off-limits? Does a specific uncle love being asked about his cuckoo clock collection? Get these gems before you walk in.

4) Step Away for a Minute: Repeat after us: it is okay to step away from a social gathering for a minute. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, frustrated, or drained, allow yourself to step into another room. Go outside for a breath of fresh air. Excuse yourself to the restroom. Do what you gotta do.

5) Hide Your Phone: Time with your partner’s family is a time to be present. It can be really easy to take a peek at your cell phone and then get lost in a maze of updates, photos, and breaking news. Make an effort to keep your phone hidden away so your partner, and their family, can get to know you sans-screen.

6) Snack Smart: Food is everywhere during the holidays! And there’s a good chance your partner’s family will have their favorite foods as part of their traditions. If you are used to certain food or have certain diet restrictions, be sure to bring them along with you to help contribute to the feast and keep your tummy happy.

7) Be Vulnerable: It’s understandable that many of us feel guarded around new people or large groups. This guard can feel even stronger if we are around people we want to like us. But remember that the most powerful connections come from moments of vulnerability, so don’t be afraid to be real.

8) Grab Your Partner: Your partner can be like a recharge station for your soul. Grab their hand. Give them a hug. Rest your head on their shoulder. Though you are a strong individual there is nothing wrong with leaning on someone else for support every once in a while.

9) Get Grounded: Socializing means you’ll often be bombarded with questions. People might want to know what you do for a living, if you’re planning to buy a house soon, or how quickly you’re going to start popping out babies. If you start to spiral, take a few moments to ground yourself. Identify five things you are able to see right now, four things you can hear, three scents you can smell, and two things you can physically touch. This will help you practice mindfulness and stay grounded in the moment.

10) Practice Compassion: This is a biggie, probably the biggest one on this list! When you are immersed into another family you are exposed to an entirely new way of living. Their normal may not be your normal. They may have new traditions, new conversation topics, and new interests. Change can be uncomfortable for some of us. So, above all, remain rooted in compassion and patience. Your partner will love you all the more for it.

Surviving the holidays with your partner and their family can be challenging, but wedding planning doesn’t have to be. Let Joy help ease the stress of wedding planning with beautiful wedding websites, online invitations, and more.

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