Someone once said that the only family you get to pick is your dog. Often, our families are not people we would normally choose to hang out with.
During the holidays, not only do we get to spend a lot of time with our families, as an added bonus, we get to spend more time with our in-laws. The dog thing generally holds for in-laws as well, but I have worked with clients who question whether to marry because of difficult in-laws-to-be.
I say it's hard enough to find the person you want to spend your life with, don't let potential in-laws ruin it. Here's how:
1. Don't expect it to be like your family. The fact that your in-laws aren't the same as your family is a good thing for lots of us, but not for some. Just because you do things a certain way in your family, don't expect the same from your in-laws. In some families, gifts are huge. In others, they're barely noticeable. Some have turkey; others have ham. And really, was it so great in your family? Be open to differences and learn to go with the flow.
2. Tread carefully with your partner when it comes to his/her family. What seems strange to you might seem normal to your partner. Kissing grown adults on the lips comes to mind. Remember, when you grow up in a country where everyone eats live fish, it seems perfectly normal to you.
3. Notice the nature of communication among family members and consider matching it. I'm not saying you can't be yourself, but consider it more like being at work than spending the holidays with your family. If you're in a room of stiffs, you don't want to come off as a hysterical, loud comic, even if that works for you most of the time. If the in-laws are outgoing and you're too much of a wallflower, they'll think you don't like them.
4. Remember that affection and emotion are expressed — or not expressed — differently in different families. What's happening in this family? You'll make people uncomfortable if you ask about their feelings and touch people if that's not their family's way. You'll also make people uncomfortable if you shrink away from the big hug from Uncle Bob because that's not your family's way. Find a happy medium. Continue reading ...
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