(NEW YORK) — The holidays are here, and with it comes turkey, pie, festive music and presents. Also, the in-laws.
What could be one of the best times of the year is often fraught with anxiety and tension. Even those who have generally good in-law relations feel it.
In-law relationships are some of the most complicated in our lives, said Dr. Deanna Brann, author of the book Reluctantly Related: Secrets To Getting Along With Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law. “It’s an artificial relationship,” she said. “[Mother-and-daughter in laws] only come together because of their husband or son. It’s an immediate family situation and really hard to do.”
Brann says it’s not the holidays themselves that cause in-law stress. “There’s typically tension already there,” she said. “The holidays just exaggerates it.”
Dr. Brann’s top five in-law survival tips:
1. Be a team player: Regardless of who is hosting, remember to ask questions, compliment your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, offer help and let her know you’re interested in her thoughts.
2. Don’t take things personally: Everyone is stressed during the holidays, so as long as you know you’re on your best behavior, you can be certain “it’s not all about you.”
3. Find the humor: No matter what happens, look at the humor in it and tuck it away for a story about what she did “this” time.
4. Find some down-time for yourself: Just a few minutes to reflect and re-energize can be just what you need to get your energy back.
5. Establish ground rules in advance: Talk to your spouse and agree on how long you’ll be staying. If necessary, take two cars and don’t forget to let your family know what time you plan to leave.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio