Happy Holidays, Indeed: How To Avoid Fights With In-Laws


happy family holidays in-laws
4 tips for avoiding conflict with your extended family during the holidays.

Many people experience difficulties with their in-laws when the holidays roll around. Why are the in-law relationships so difficult? While some would suggest it's pure jealousy, I think it's more complex.

Generally, we meet our in-laws when we are already adults, so we are accustomed to adult-adult communication which includes acceptance of differences. However, to in-laws, we are on the same social level as their child. Tied to a spouse, we are put back in the position of being a "kid." In-laws might believe they can control, persuade, evaluate, judge and "educate" us as if we were their children.

If they use manipulative tactics to control their own children—and very few don't—we easily enter a holiday minefield. One nasty comment here, one guilt trip there and the celebration of blessings turns into an avoidance of explosion. Our biological impulse is to react with either flight or fight when we feel attacked.

Fortunately, there is another option available to us: assertive communication, meaning that you stand up for your rights in a way that doesn't violate others. Characteristically, it is a calm, peaceful, determined attitude, confirmed by unambiguous body language.

Keeping that all in mind, here are four steps useful for handling tense, in-law situations:

1. Consider what's going on behind the scenes. When your in-laws drive you crazy, try to understand what is going on behind the scenes. Is the put-down supposed to put you on the defensive and provoke an action from you? Is the labeling motivating you to prove the opposite? Does the discrepancy come from a completely different priority system?

More marriage advice from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Zita Fekete



I am more than happy to help figuring out the causes of relationship problems. I am especially devoted to support you to gain clarity and teach practical-behavioral tools if you are struggling with manipulative partner.

Click here to get a FREE VIDEO SERIES about Emotional Manipulation.

Sign up for Short Affordable Online Training to Reveal and Override Emotional Manipulation.

Connect with me through my Newsletter.

Please feel free to send me an Email if you have question about my services!




Location: Mukilteo, WA

Credentials: MA Psychologist, Budapest, ABD PhD. Ethologist, Budapest, Licensed Mental Health Counselor WA

Specialty: Emotional Manipulation, Relationship Issues



Sound Soul Counseling Website

Sound Soul Counseling Blog

From Strings To Wings - Training, Video, Q&A about Emotional Manipulation

Location: Mukilteo, WA
Credentials: LMHC, MA
Other Articles/News by Zita Fekete:

Three Reasons We Receive Mixed Signals and One Way To Handle Them


For a brief moment, I felt petrified.  From there, it turned to deep embarrassment. What? Am I crazy? Am I stupid? Did I totally misread the signs? Up to this point, we seemed to getting closer and closer and now you declare you have a fiancée? Is this a familiar scenario? No, you are not stupid or crazy! You were most likely exposed to mixed ... Read more

6 Common Forms Of Manipulation


What people consider manipulation might be defined differently case by case. The common outcome is making the target feel seriously uncomfortable if they don't perform the will of the "operator." The different ingredients include guilt, shame or anxiety. Manipulation has a hidden agenda against straightforward communication. It has to be ... Read more

Your Relationship's New Year's Resolution Checklist


Closing the old year and starting a new one based on our achievements, career, physical or financial well being, we might also tinker about the current state of our relationship. Some people know exactly what would be desirable to change; unfortunately, some only have a hazy feeling of dissatisfaction. In my opinion, the relationship is better if there is ... Read more

See More


Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.