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Surviving the In-Laws at Family Reunions & Celebrations

Remember the man or woman at your last family holiday party who sat quietly in the corner, eyes glazed or buried in a book or their phone? Is this person you?

Family gatherings and celebrations are great events. They're an opportunity to reconnect with extended family members, visit with cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.

But for your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other, attending family events may come with its own set of challenges.

If you're the in-law, partner or special friend attending the event, here are some helpful suggestions to make the experience smooth and enjoyable for everyone:

    1. Be Respectful and Polite: Always show respect to all family members. Remember to use polite manners, say "please" and "thank you," and be considerate of everyone's feelings.

    2. Dress Appropriately: Find out the dress code in advance and dress accordingly. Whether it's casual or formal, showing that you've made an effort can create a positive impression.

    3. Offer to Help: Be proactive in offering assistance, whether it's helping to set up, cook, or clean up after the event. This shows that you're willing to be part of the team.

    4. Engage in Conversations: Show interest in family members by engaging in conversations. Ask questions, listen actively, and share appropriate stories about yourself. The bigger the gathering, the more likely you are to find someone with tastes and interests similar to yours.

    5. Avoid Controversial Topics: Steer clear of sensitive subjects like politics, religion, or personal finances. Focus on neutral and positive topics instead.

    6. Bring a Gift: It's a nice gesture to bring a small gift for the host or the family, such as a bottle of wine, an appetizer, dessert, or a flower arrangement.

    7. Be Mindful of Traditions: Every family has its own traditions and customs. Be respectful of these and participate where appropriate.

    8. Know Your Limits with Alcohol: If alcohol is being served, be mindful of your intake. It's important to stay in control and make a good impression.

    9. Support Your Partner: Stay attuned to your partner's needs and provide support. This might mean being by their side during conversations or giving them space if they need it.

    10. Express Gratitude: Before leaving, thank everyone who contributed to the party and express your appreciation for being included in their celebration.

Have a spouse or partner who might benefit from these tips? Pass them along. After all, as the saying goes, "a happy spouse is a happy life."

April 11, 2023.