During the traditional Christian holiday season; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year-there are some honest relationship challenges. Let’s start with the relative from Hell, you know who I talking about. You would rather crawl on your hands and knees over 5 miles of broken glass than to see them yet another holiday. And to make the situation even more excruciating, this relative from Hell is an in-law.
Dealing with the Relative from Hell
In this dynamic you have two competing goals; first you want to respect your sweetie and in turn show respect for his/her relatives. Second, you want to maintain your sanity throughout the holiday season. I believe both are possible by slightly shifting your view of this nasty relative. Big problem folks generally are very small persons inside. You really do already know that this, pain in the rear, relative truly does have huge self-esteem issues so that knowledge should make it just a bit easier for you to exhibit your best “holiday tolerance.”
I realize that sometimes just being in the same room as this person makes you want to puke, however for the sake of your sweetie, your family, and yourself; shift your view. Two tactics that will help you survive the encounter; consume less alcohol and ask plenty of questions. You might be thinking, come on Ed, I need a bottle of “Jack” just to be in the same room with this person. No you do not; what you need is to moderate your alcohol consumption so you can “control” the situation.
You control the evening by either sitting in the corner with an honest and joyous smile-controlling your emotion or you “control” the other person with questions. Keep them talking, show a modicum of interest and internally enjoy the folly of their idiocy; but keep the enjoyment to yourself. Additionally, since you have made reasonable relationship deposits with this relative from Hell, when their idiocy just becomes intolerable, send them on a different course with an intelligent (and appearing honest) question. Pre-plan these questions before the visit and you’ll be ready. Taking this approach will truly help you to exhibit your best “holiday tolerance.”
Spouse Holiday Expectations
Trust me on this one; if you have never asked your honey about his/her holiday traditions and current expectations-you have got a problem. Too frequently each member of a “couple” will think they are doing what the other wants but in reality they are not. This dynamic just breeds contempt.
You will have honest issues such as which relatives do we visit when. This is an area where both have to be flexible and tolerant toward the needs of the other. Talk about your plans sincerely and each partner must be both honest in your expectations and tolerant of the needs of your partner. Do this and there will be a happy middle ground.
Enjoy the Holidays
Why do you run yourself ragged in an effort to create the “Martha Stewart” holiday experience? This kind of holiday experience only focuses on the external. While there is nothing wrong with having a festive holiday environment; it should be more about the relationships than the trimmings.
Give of yourself; this can be even more seductive than the giving of bobbles and brands. Save some money and running around this holiday by giving your special someone a coupon book filled with acts of personal kindness. Be creative and seductive-you will be amazed with the response you receive from your honey.
During holiday gatherings be “mentally and emotionally present” and enjoy the fellowship of your family and friends-even the relative from Hell. Yes, there will be traffic and people driving that must have purchased their driver’s license from the Internet. However, all of that “stuff” is simply the “dust in the conduit” of getting from where you are to where you want to be.
Just in case you are wondering about me-I am blessed with fabulous parents-in-law-I look forward to their visits. And since my wife emigrated with her parents from Austria when she was young, none of her other relatives live here in America. Now, talking about some of my relatives; that’s another story.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.