Advice for the holidays?

I have had a difficult relationship with some family members, and with the holidays coming up I’ll be in a situation where I encounter them. I’m wondering if anyone has any success stories I could take an example from?

My relationships with my wife’s parents and with her brother have gradually deteriorated to the point of just being unmanageable in social situations.

I don’t enjoy it, but I think it really bothers my wife who’d love to have a big happy family.

In an effort to take some steps in the right direction, we scheduled two holiday events with them in the next few days. This has made my wife intensely happy, but I am really dreading it.

I’m well aware it’s childish, but I have years of slights and grievances with them, accumulated over a decade, and the idea of just tossing all that aside feels impossible

I wouldn’t say it was childish. No one should have to take years of abuse.

Is your wife around when these slights happen? Does she understand why you are upset? Your wife being aware will go a long way to her understanding the situation.

I had a similar problem with my in-laws, and my husband just didn’t understand. So, during one visit, I made it clear, to him, whenever these slights occurred. He was shocked how often his mother was, well, mean to me.

After that visit it was much easier for him to understand why I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with his parents. Now, many years have passed and his parents no longer even speak to us, but we went many years being cautious during our visits. But being a united front helped me a lot.

You’ve already scheduled the events, so you apparently must go through with them. Which is very kind of you, to make your wife happy.
To continue to contribute to her happiness, of course, you’ll want to try to get through these occasions without major catastrophes.
If I were you, I would be very laid back, smile a lot, and ignore any insults or rudeness. Try to wander away to another area and talk to someone else.
Think of the sufferings of Jesus, who was insulted, spat on, slapped, scourged, mocked and so on, and took it all with meekness and silence. Try to imitate Him, and ask for His help. He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to Him.

This definitely describes my strategy to date. :slight_smile: It’s definitely a test for my ego though. It’s not really what I want for my family either – years of going to family events and waiting until it’s time to leave sounds terrible.

My wife is definitely the peacemaker in our family. She sticks with me when they’re in the wrong, and talks me down when the problem is me. I don’t know that there’s any more she could do.

We’re having dinner with her parents at her brother’s house on Christmas eve, and she explained it to me as “we only have to stay for a couple hours.” That broke my heart: I don’t want her to see her family less than she’d like, just because I don’t get along with them.

Keep the conversation light, and ignore any slights or insults as if you didn’t even hear them. Avoid any known hot button topics. You can only be responsible for your own behavior, so the best thing to do is to act “fat, dumb, and happy.” Then, any drama generated will be entirely their own one-act play.

It’s just several hours. Most of us can survive a few hours with unpleasant people, even if it’s not the most enjoyable thing to do. And it will earn you a lot of points in your wife’s eyes that at least you showed up and made an effort to be pleasant and sociable.

If the two events are at your home, try and have some things planned. Helps if there are kids involved. You can get some games going and participate with them. Go for a walk and see the Chritmas decorations etc.

Are there any buffer people coming too? Some neutral friends or her relatives who you do get along with? They’d have less of a tendancy to act out if there are other people with you…or at least I hope so. :thumbsup:

God bless you and thank you for coming here for prayerful help! I assure you that you will be in the prayers of many people.

You have already received some excellent advice about how to handle the situation, and my guess is you probably already know the best way to handle it when you are around them because you have tried it in the past.

I am more curious about this problem long-term. Once the Holidays have passed you still have your marriage and your wife that has an unhappy extended family situation. This is going to keep coming up in your life as you know. How are you handling this as a couple? Do you complain to your wife often about her family? To what degree are her family difficult to be around? Are they rude to you occassionally or do they insult you incessantly? Do they even attempt to be kind to you or do they have almost no regard for your feelings? Was there a big arguement or event that started all of this or is it little things here and there?

I could not tell from your original post if your wife’s family was just irritating and occassionally rude or if they were completely abusive to you. I am also wondering how they treat her and your children if you have any. God bless you and please be assured of my prayers.

Can you go in separate cars? My husband gets tired after a few hours of my family, (we all get along, he just doesn’t like big family gatherings) makes his polite, social excuses and goes home early. I can stay as long as I like and chat with my Mom and sisters until the wee hours.

Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement. We had our first event (a dinner at our house) last night.

It went pretty well. We started a Trivial Pursuit game after dinner and everyone was laughing late into the night.

I appreciate everyones help.

I am absolutely dreading this afternoon. :frowning:
I really clash with my wife’s family & she wants to drive & hour away to go see them.
It is always an absolute fiasco with these folks. Their family gatherings always turn into arguments, stupidity and hurt feelings. :slapfight:
I don’t know why my wife continues dragging me & my kids into that. :shrug:
I can’t wait for this to be over with.
God, help me. :byzsoc:

It sounds like your situation is similar to mine!

I think its probably a situation where we need to appreciate small victories. I’d be happy enough to have a functional relationship with them, so having a few positive memories together would go a long way.

Isn’t it awful to have to spend what is supposed to be happy loving times with people you have grown to dislike over the years? I right there with you on this one.

This is the one part of married life I wish I could just opt out of, but as you already know, your wife just doesn’t see this issue from your perspective or if she does, she doesn’t see how bad it is. UGH!

This falls into the category of loving the unlovable, in this case your in-laws. -hard work. -lots in the Bible about this. Read up on it. Pray for strength and know that God will give you all that is needed to bear this cross
There are lots of us who have difficult in-laws so know that you have plenty of company.

I was going to advise you to drink quite a bit of wine and leave early. :slight_smile:

Sounds like, so far, so good.


One down and a couple more events to go. I pray the good feelings that everyone had last night carry over for the next couple of days.

Glad to hear it went well. Perhaps it will carry over to the next “event.” Since everyone enjoyed Trivial Pursuit, maybe you would like to bring a new Pictionary game or something like that as a gift to the host family, or if it is at your home, have it availble for use. :slight_smile:

I am sure you made your wife very happy.

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