Holidays With In-laws

December 9, 2008, 1:43 pm

The following article was featured in,, and

“Six Tips For Spending the Holidays With Your In-laws”
by Jenna D. Barry

The way I see it, there are two groups of people: those who love the holidays because they love spending time with family, and those who dread the holidays because their family—or spouse’s family—is difficult to be around. I wrote this article for those of you in the second category.

Remember when you promised “for better or for worse”? If your in-laws are suffocating and controlling, then spending time with them is probably part of the “worse.” Because spending time with your spouse’s parents is part of the marriage commitment, you might as well learn how to make the best of it. Here are six tips for having a better holiday experience.

1. Less is more, so plan on a short visit. I don’t know about you, but I like to limit my out-of-town visits to just a couple of days, even if I’m visiting my best friends; otherwise everybody gets on each other’s nerves. The less time you spend with your in-laws, the more likely you will be able to be kind to them while you are with them.

2. Hotels exist for a reason. See if your spouse wants to have a little romantic getaway instead of staying with the parents. There isn’t any rule saying you have to stay with your in-laws throughout the entire visit. (Your in-laws may be offended at first, but in the future they will accept your new behavior because you are re-defining “normal.”)

3. Friends are fun! If you are planning to spend several days with your in-laws, give yourself some breaks from them by visiting friends in the area. Better yet, maybe you and your spouse could spend a night or two with your buddies.

4. The more, the merrier! If you don’t get along with your spouse’s mom and/or dad, then try to spend most of your time with other people there. Hang out with your sister-in-law, your nephew, or even the dog. Suggest that your in-laws invite their friends over, and then spend time talking to them. Ask if you can invite your own friends over too.

5. “One” is not always the loneliest number. You probably get along with yourself, so why not escape the madness and take a long nap or a hot bath? Or you could take yourself on a nice walk, or call a friend to talk.

6. Don’t talk during the movie. Another great way to cope with difficult in-laws is to plan activities that prevent a lot of interaction. Rent a movie or go to a theater with your in-laws. Go to the mall and then suggest splitting up to go to different stores. (If they object, you can always say you are shopping for their Christmas gift.)

During holiday visits, the most important thing you can do is unite with your spouse, especially if your in-laws try to come between you. Treat your spouse’s parents the way you want him/her to treat yours. Rather than telling your wife what jerks her parents are, focus on finding loving compromises. Respectfully tell your husband what your needs are, and let him know specifically what he can say and do to communicate that you are the most important person in his life.

Jenna D. Barry is the author of the book, A Wife’s Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents. For more helpful information about coping with in-laws, please visit her website at

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Buy the book!

You can have a GREAT marriage, even if your in-laws aren't so great!

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You may be quick to blame your in-laws for your marriage problems, but in reality the biggest part of the problem isn't your in-laws, it's your husband's loyalty to them.  When a man marries, he is supposed to transfer his loyalty from his parents to his wife. His behavior plays a key role in how well you get along with his parents.  The goal of this book is to help you gain your husband's loyalty.

If you are in need of hope and encouragement, this book is for you!  Jenna Barry offers hilarious, heartfelt advice about how to have a terrific marriage in spite of difficult in-laws.  As a wife who has personally experienced the despair that comes from having an unsupportive partner, she suggests specific things to say and do to gain your husband's loyalty.  This book won't teach you how to become best friends with your in-laws, but it will teach you how to think and behave in a new way so they no longer have any power over you.  A Wife's Guide to In-laws has over 40 cartoons, two fun chapters written just for your hubby, and worksheets to help the two of you reach loving compromises about common problem issues.

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About Jenna

As a wife of 22 years, Jenna D. Barry (a pen name) has learned how to gain her husband's loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  She has familiarized herself with the needs and frustrations of other wives by participating in on-line in-law support groups and by talking to marriage therapists, friends, family, and co-workers.


Jenna is the author of the book, A Wife's Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents. She has been a radio guest on The Mike Bullard Show and her articles have been published in newspapers, websites, and magazines worldwide.  She writes monthly articles for Hitched Magazine and has been quoted in The Washington Times,, The London Free Press,, etc. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law right here.



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