Long-term relationships aren’t just between you and your partner. They also encompass both of your families. And getting along with your partner’s family can be a good way to enhance your relationship.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a little difficult to handle the differences between family members. Personality conflicts or opposing views on things like politics or religion can create tension between couples as well as with each others’ family members. These problems can often become worse during the holidays, when people are generally expected to share close quarters with family.
So how can you handle these unfortunate clashes?
-Communicate with your significant other
-Communicate with your significant other’s family
-Take turns with family visits
-Change the subject
Communicate With Your Partner
The first thing you need to do is actively communicate with your partner. It might feel weird to address issues with your partner’s family directly to your partner. But it’s an important part of making sure you’re both comfortable around the holidays. Plus, better communication tends to lead to a better relationship in general.
Remember, of course, that your partner appreciates–and probably loves–these family members because he or she grew up around them. So, you don’t want to badmouth your partner’s family members. Instead, you just want to genuinely express why you feel uncomfortable or awkward around the family members in question.
Have a conversation where the two of you sit down and discuss the issues that you’re having. This can both make you feel more comfortable with the immediate situation, possibly come up with a solution for it, and enhance your overall relationship.
Try to Talk to Your Partner’s Family
Sometimes, the feeling that you don’t like someone comes up because of simple miscommunication and a lack of understanding. That’s why you need to genuinely keep your mind open.
You want to at least try to get along with your partner’s family, after all. You want to be civil. Sometimes that just means taking a deep breath and letting the little things that bother you blow over.
If that doesn’t work, remember: you don’t have to spend lots of time with these people. If you find that your frustration stems mostly from small differences of opinion and little annoyances, consider letting those go for the short periods of time you’re with them.
Split Time With Families
You may enjoy spending time with your family more than you enjoy spending time with your significant other’s family. The same could be true of your partner.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just get along better with your own family because you’ve been part of it longer; you love them and the traditions you share. So, it can be frustrating if you regularly visit your partner’s family and not your own.
To get around this, many people choose to split holiday time between their families. Maybe you choose to have Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your partner’s family, and then next year you reverse the two.
Regardless of the holidays you celebrate and the way you choose to celebrate, splitting time between families is a great way to make things a little better.
Steer the Conversation
It’s definitely a good thing to reach out to your partner’s family and try to find common ground with them. But that doesn’t mean you have to let those family members walk all over you just for the sake of getting along.
You deserve to be able to set boundaries. You can agree to disagree and to not talk about sensitive subjects. And you can find other things to talk about.
Small talk can be challenging with people you don’t know very well. So, before a visit, try to do a little research to come up with safe topics of conversation. You can attempt to learn more about people–from your partner’s family to the friends you met at college–using publicly available information, like that available on social media or public records sites.
You may use information you find about them to try and find things you may have in common, or least find subjects for pleasant small talk. Your partner’s uncle has a fishing license? Talk to him about his favorite places to fish. A cousin who owns a condo in Florida? Use that info to chat about the weather down there. And so on.
The most important thing for you to remember is that your partner probably wants you to get along with his or her family members. After all, it’s an important part of your partner’s life. That’s why it’s such a good thing to make an extra effort. Talk to your partner. And take control over your reactions.
And even try to do a little research about family members ahead of time. You may be surprised to find that you have reason to like them, after all.
For more information about how to deal with family and other relationship matters, be sure to check out the PeopleFinders blog.
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