In-laws Article: Holidays Marriage

November 10, 2009, 1:27 pm

The following article is exclusive to Hitched Magazine.

Holidays with the In-laws:  Tips for Resolving Marital Conflict
By Jenna D. Barry

Do you and your spouse always agree about where and with whom to spend the holidays?  If not, then you certainly aren’t alone; this is a major source of tension for many couples.  What should you do if you want to spend Christmas at your parents’ house, but your spouse wants to spend it with his/her family?  The answer to that is a tricky one, but here are a few tips to help you achieve a win-win situation.

Make your spouse a priority over your parents. It’s a simple concept, and yet a very difficult one for many people to grasp.  On your wedding day, you were supposed to transfer your loyalty from your parents to your spouse.  That doesn’t mean you were supposed to start being mean to your folks or stop loving them.  It just means that your spouse’s wants, needs, and opinions should now be your first priority even if it upsets your parents.  For example, if your wife wants to start a new tradition by staying home for the holidays (instead of spending a fortune on travel expenses, packing up the kids, finding a pet-sitter, etc.), don’t tell her she is selfish for not following your mother’s traditions.  Your behavior plays a key role in how well your spouse gets along with your parents; it is crucial that you become a loyal husband or wife, even if it makes your mom and dad feel angry, lonely, or disappointed.

All you need is love. Spending time with each other’s families– even if you don’t get along with them– is part of the marriage commitment.  It’s a way of showing your spouse that you care about what makes him/her happy.  Try to see things from your partner’s perspective.  If you wouldn’t want your husband to refuse to spend time with your family, then don’t refuse to spend time with his.  If your wife knows you don’t enjoy spending time with her parents, but then you suggest spending Thanksgiving with them, she will feel very loved, and she’ll probably do something to make you feel loved too.

Think outside the box. There are usually more options available than you might think.  If you want to spend Christmas with your family, but your wife wants to go on a cruise, perhaps a compromise would be to invite your folks on the cruise.  Or if you can’t decide which set of parents to visit, suggest that both families rent cabins in the mountains.  Another option is to stay at a hotel or with friends when visiting each other’s relatives.

Barter and negotiate. Try to reach a loving compromise so that both of you feel happy with the result.  For example, spend Christmas Eve with your own family, and Christmas Day with your in-laws.  Or spend Thanksgiving with your parents, and Christmas with your wife’s folks.  Or celebrate this year the way you choose, and next year the way your spouse chooses.  You could even lovingly “bribe” your husband with a new video game, or buy your wife that new dress she has been wanting.

It can be extremely difficult to settle arguments about family, especially if your parents try to control you with guilt whenever you try to be a loyal spouse.  As with any marital conflict, it’s important to unite as a couple and work together toward the goal of having a strong, loving marriage.


Jenna D. Barry is the author of “A Wife’s Guide to In-laws:  How to Gain Your Husband’s Loyalty Without Killing His Parents.”  Married 15 years, Jenna learned how to gain her husband’s loyalty through communication, persistence, and a whole lot of love.  She leads a support group for daughters-in-law and has a website at www.WifeGuide.org.

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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, CNN.com, The London Free Press, TheBump.com, etc. She leads a support group for daughters-in-law right here.


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