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A Newlyweds Guide to Surviving Passover with the In-Laws

03-17-2013 / By: Easy Life

You’ve been married for a couple of months and Passover is almost here. Most families get together and spend the holidays with one another. Naturally, you prefer to be in a more familiar environment as you are still adjusting to being married and dealing with your spouse’s family. They may feel awkward around you too, especially if it’s their first time encountering their children in-law. While you would feel more comfortable being around your parents and siblings, you can’t neglect your spouse’s family either. If you are spending the holidays with your in-laws for the first time, this is what you need to do.

Don’t try to impress anyone

It’s one thing to offer a compliment or to help your in-laws. It’s another thing to be obsequious. Being obsequious won’t earn you any favors from your in-laws.  In fact, one of the easiest mistakes anyone can make, especially when among family, is to try to impress them. Wanting the in-laws to know how great a wife you are, hoping they are amazed by your “Super Mom” capabilities, expecting them to be “wowed” by your promotion at work, or your culinary skills–whatever the accomplishment, when we want family to recognize and praise us, and they don’t, we end up resentment and disappointed. Instead of thinking about how to get their attention and approval, concentrate instead on just being yourself. Look for ways you can get your mind off of their lack of interest in your world by asking them questions about theirs. That’s what people really want to talk about, anyway, so let them be the star. Mark Twain said it best: “When you strive to make an impression, that is the impression you make”.

Don’t disclose too much information about yourself

One of the biggest apprehensions about being with in-laws for a newlywed is the fear of being judged. You may sometimes feel like they ask you questions just so they can cast judgment on you–your parenting skills, how you pass your time, how you spend your money. These judgments can be painful and leave you feeling invaded and betrayed. But often you offer too much information in the attempt to gain approval for your decisions. There is no need to be vulnerable in places that aren’t safe. Be polite, but don’t prostrate yourself. Notice your tendency to want to explain and justify yourself and sidestep these conversations, when possible. If pressed, it’s ok to say, “I don’t want to discuss that right now”, or, “That’s a personal issue that I don’t feel comfortable sharing here.”

Communicate directly

Whenever possible, avoid communicating through a third party. Don't ask your spouse to talk to his sister about something she did that hurt your feelings. Talk to your sister-in-law directly. If something bothers you, address it as soon as possible.

Lower your expectations

Your parents have to love you; it's in the contract. But your in-laws don't. Accept the fact that your in-laws aren't your parents and won't follow the same rules. They may eventually warm up to you but give them time. Remember, they are new to this just as much as you are. Try to think "different" -- not "better" or "worse." To make this work, give in on small points and negotiate the key issues. Learn to see the situation from your in-law's point of view. And even if you don't agree, act like an adult.

Play by the rules

You grew up with certain traditions and now you have to assume your husband’s family holiday customs. Do not criticize and ridicule their customs; especially in their presence.  Be respectful of their traditions; even if you don’t like them. Don’t try to impose your family’s customs and traditions upon them. Likewise, your wife may now follow your family traditions but if you are spending the holidays with her family, be just as considerate and keep your thoughts to yourself. They are kind enough to open their doors for you so it would behoove you to be gracious and thankful.

Establish ground rules in advance

Before arriving at your in-law's house, you and your spouse should have decided how long to stay. Then leave at the predetermined time. If your spouse wants to stay longer, take two cars. Let the family know when you arrive that you will need to leave at that certain time. If you live out of town and can't leave to go back to your home, you and your husband might need to decide to stay in a hotel. Again, you can decide in advance when you want to go back to the hotel or to the place you are staying and then leave at the designated time. By staying at a hotel or with another family member you'll always have a "haven" to return to.

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