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Spending Time with Your In-Laws

You Do Have Choices

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Photo: Photodisc / Getty Images
Photo: Photodisc / Getty Images
For many couples, spending holidays or other special life-cycle events with in-laws and other extended family members creates hassles and marital stress.

If distance, extended family obligations, finances, work responsibilities, health concerns, unreliable vehicles, scheduling conflicts, religious differences, personality conflicts, control issues, etc., make it difficult for you to visit your in-laws or parents, you are not alone.

Changing situations often require new solutions.

Alternatives to Consider

  • Plan long-distance family visits on days other than holidays.
  • Take a trip or a cruise during the holidays. It's okay to spend this time alone together, or just with your own children.
  • Make reservations to stay at a nearby hotel when visiting relatives. It gives you all "time out" when needed, gives you more quality time with family members, and lessens stress on everybody.

  • Having your own accommodations is also beneficial if you are traveling with a pet, have allergies, desire your own bathroom, want more privacy, or just want a break from your relatives now and then during the visit.
  • Create a family savings account for family reunions or holiday get-togethers that enables any member of the family to contribute to the fund. Agree that any member of the family who needs financial help to travel to the family gathering can use some of the funds in the account.
  • Consider choosing a locale (not your home) once a year where your extended family can visit you. Make sure the time you choose doesn't interfere with any of the holidays.
  • When spending time with extended family, whether it be at their home or in your own home, make sure you communicate expectations and understand any boundaries that either they or you have set.
  • Work out a password with your spouse that means "it is time to leave!"

Readers Respond: Do You Have Tips on Spending Time with In-laws?

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