There has been an enormous amount of time spent studying what makes people happy in their relationships. Unlike life partners, people cannot choose their family and whilst that makes the holidays and family get-togethers terrifying, they can also be lots of fun. Yes, it’s true that our families know exactly how to push our buttons like no one else can and this means we can quickly turn into our teenage selves around them which is very frustrating when you are an adult.
Negotiating a difficult situation
For people who are close to their families and see them often, they will have a better understanding of what is acceptable in terms of conversation topics. However, if you happen to be at an extended family gathering that takes place only once or twice a year the situation is going to be difficult to negotiate. Here are a few practical and emotional tips on how to prepare
Set realistic expectations
If you are meeting over Christmas the reality may be much more brutal than the idyllic visuals one normally associates with it. This is actually quite normal. People don’t always get on with everyone in the family and the Christmas spirit is unlikely to fix that, so make sure the expectations you set are those that can stay under your control. Do a run down of what your day is likely to be like and what needs to be done in order to be prepared.
Have a back up plan
Make sure you have a contingency plan, like taking a long walk after lunch after lunch. You could bring a board game with you that you know the whole family can enjoy. You could also plan to meet up with a friend in the evening so you have an excuse to leave. Just make sure you have a plan in advance so you can avoid any sticky situations. You may have had a hard year in terms of work or life and not everyone is aware of that and they can ask awkward questions which can cause you to feel uncomfortable. You should avoid doing the same yourself and stick to questions like “how has your year been?”
Get your partner to help
There is very little that can be done about nosy family members but you can always let them know you prefer not to discuss the details at the moment. That sort of response should be enough and you should also have a few topics for diversion mentally stored in the event they become necessary. Also make sure your partner is on the look out for you in case you find yourself stuck in an uncomfortable conversation that they can quickly join. Whatever you do, take the time to reflect and enjoy the day if you can.