7 Tips For Happy Holidays With Your Mother-In-Law

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The holidays plus your mother-in-law can be a tricky combination. Advice on how to deal.

5. Handle change with care. "If you and your spouse are changing a tradition that has been in place for years, it works best when 'blood speaks to blood'. This means that your spouse needs to own your joint decision and break the news to [his or her mom]. Also, do it as soon as possible and don't wait till the last minute after she's shopped, cleaned, decorated and started cooking," says Tucker. 5 Things Your Mother-In-Law Won't Admit

"If you decide to travel during the holidays or otherwise be unavailable, make sure to set aside a special day to celebrate with her and her family beforehand. You can also consider whether it would be feasible or desirable to include her in your new plans," Tucker says.

6. Set boundaries when you need to. "If your mom-in-law is possessive or controlling, take a different tact. Set boundaries with matter-of-fact, non-emotionally charged statements like, 'Our private time is _____ and we're looking forward to being with you on ____,'" says Helge.

7. Keep your cool. Try not to let your emotions get the better of you if things aren't going your way. "Protect your heart. Be tolerant and gracious—that's the best defense against getting hurt feelings," says Orbuch. "If things get too pressurized in the house, go out to volunteer for the day. How can she be upset if you all go to the community center and serve dinner to those in need?"

And above all, keep in mind that, as Tucker puts it, "mothers-in-law just want to be honored and part of the holiday action with those she loves."

How do you deal with your mother-in-law?