So you’re spending Thanksgiving dinner with your husband’s family this year and you’re wondering how you’re going to get through it… There are five essential steps you can take towards making this time as painless as possible for yourself and your family. Apply these strategies to avoid thanksgiving stress and cope with your in-laws.
Step 1: Attitude Adjustment
Although past experience may have caused you to expect the worst, it is important that you go into this new occasion with a positive attitude. Whatever may have happened before, see this as a fresh opportunity to be the best you can be. Out of your love and respect for your husband, you have chosen to accompany him and spend this special time with his family. Having a positive attitude means not making gloomy comments or throwing a negative slant over the day before it has even begun. Realize that you can choose to have a good day regardless of how others may choose to behave.
Step 2: Be Prepared
If this is your first Thanksgiving together, you may not quite know what to expect, but chances are you’ve been through this before. So do yourself a favour and be prepared. Take an inventory of what are the factors that stress you the most, discuss them honestly and respectfully with your husband and perhaps he may have some suggestions to help you. Maybe your father in law always manages to corner you for hours and hours to listen to all his war stories, while everyone else seems to “melt away”. Or maybe your mom-in-law is always asking you a million difficult questions. If your husband knows how you feel he may be able to step in and dilute the conversation for you. And if you know what’s expected of you in terms of what to cook or what to bring, this can put you a good step ahead already.
Step 3: Know Your Limits
After you’ve got your attitude right and prepared yourself both mentally and practically, it’s important to be realistic about your own limitations and this may mean setting some firm boundaries. If you know that five or six hours with your in-laws is all you can take in one dose, then make that clear from the outset and don’t be pressured into sleeping over. If they are coming over to your place then have some “breathers” planned such as a quick trip to the shops or a walk around the block at strategic intervals to clear your head.
Step 4: Avoid Topics that are Taboo
Keep the banter light-hearted. Try your best to avoid topics you already know can lead to heated arguments or hurt anyone. Avoid gossiping about other family members and don’t divulge in too many details about your own personal life. Try discussing things like politics, general things that everyone could enjoy or relive old thanksgiving memories. Keep the conversation friendly; go with the flow and have a good time.
Step 5: Help with the Cooking or Clean-up Post the Dinner
Remember, it’s always nice to offer your help to cook or clean up the mess after the dinner. Appreciate the time and effort that has been put in to prepare the elaborate meals and making Thanksgiving special.
Surviving or coping with Thanksgiving isn’t tough. You need to remember that it’s one day, once a year. Just focus on the real spirit of Thanksgiving; you are sure to make it through this way, even if it is with your husband’s annoying family. At the end of the day, remember to pick your battles and stick together as a team. Being a couple and a team together can be a challenge for everyone but it’s never impossible.