Handling Her Family over the Festive Season
It’s the Festive Season. For the lucky ones, this means the office closes, bags get packed and a flight delivers you to a sunny island where the hours of the day are counted only by the number of cocktails that pile up between dips in the azure ocean.
For the rest of us, however, this means something else entirely. It means taking a drive to your in-law’s (or soon to be in-laws) house, where her family awaits you. And while we understand that her family really is very nice, it doesn’t always make this annual get-together any easier. Not only will you once more have to subtly match up to her father’s expectations, without seeming too eager to replace him as the Alpha male, but you’ll also have to grin and bear it as her nieces and nephews use your Crown Jewels as a punching bag.
While we can’t get you out of Christmas with her family (no, we really can’t write realistic prescriptions for a ‘severe’ case of Man Flu), we can give you some tips that will not only help you get through it all, but come out looking like a real catch as well!
We know this can be difficult, but giving your father-in-law a chance to show you how it’s done, not only lets him know that respect him (after all, he did raise your lovely little lady), but also lays the foundations for a better relationship without meaning that you have to do things you aren’t comfortable with (such as trying your hand at his favored pastime of taxidermy). You don’t need to ask for help with huge things either. Simply ask him help you chop some wood or build a fire, and you’ll be well on your way to not only making your father-in-law feel needed (people like to be needed), but you’ll also end up looking like a stand-up guy, too.
There’s no denying it, the gift of the gab is one that can make or break your relations with her family. However, this needn’t be a gift that you’re born with. You can learn the skills that will turn you into a suave conversationalist by taking a few things into account. One of the best ways to keep conversations rolling is to keep asking questions. By getting your in-laws and her other family members talking about themselves, you’re taking the pressure off of yourself and encouraging the view that you’re a good listener. And if you are required to voice your own opinion, steer the conversation towards topics that you’re particularly familiar or knowledgeable with. Not only will you come off as someone who knows what they’re talking about, but you’ll also be able to slip in some of your achievements without seeming to brag about them.
As one of the most potentially powerful weapons in your arsenal, your mother-in-law is an important person when it comes to these kinds of family gatherings. If she likes you, then it’s safe to assume that whatever the rest of the family thinks doesn’t matter too much – especially to your lady. Treat your mother-in-law with respect, offer to help her out around the house, and pay her compliments without flirting with her too much. Even if your father-in-law can’t stand you, your mother-in-law liking you will make you practically bulletproof. However, this is not a relationship to be abused – your mother-in-law’s loyalty will always lie with her daughter, so don’t ever give her any reason to dislike you because it will reach your lady and can be difficult to fix.
Take time out
While it can be difficult to gauge when it’s appropriate for some alone time with your girl, it is important that you still make time for your lady away from the family madness. It’s also important that you keep her updated as to any issues that may arise, or how you’re feeling about things. Ensuring that she understands your problems is an essential step helping her keep supporting you. Remember, that the key here is mutual support. Family gatherings like this may be as difficult for her, as it is for you. Be understanding and enthusiastic of her need to see her loved ones, but also listen should she wish to confide any issues that are on her mind.
Before you get too eager, don’t take that last heading too literally. By beating the kids, we mean beat them to it by giving them attention before they seek it (by using your Crown Jewels as punching bags or climbing on you as if you’re a human jungle gym). Arriving prepared with gifts for the kids can be a smart move – especially if you ensure the gifts will keep them busy. Be it an arts-and-crafts type of thing or a more play-outdoors kind of gift, it’s a smart move that’ll hopefully keeps the kids entertained for hours. You also earn big brownie points with your wife’s sisters and brothers by showing that you’ve taken their children into account. Not only will your manhood be free from frightening little fists, but you’ll also be able to join in with the games and show off your talents with children too – a BIG plus when it comes to impressing both your lady and her family.
While we can’t guarantee that your time with your significant other’s family will be a peaceful one, it helps to remember that without them, you wouldn’t have the wonderful woman that you’ve chosen to share your life with. And if there’s no other reason for which they deserve your efforts and your respect, that’s one that is good enough to inspire you to try your best. And if you need more encouragement, just remember that the rewards you get when you return home with your lady will be well worth the effort you’ve put in. You can trust us on that!
Robyn Porteous is the staff writing for Birando.co.uk, an innovative company that aims to bring its customers the best homeware and barware from around the world. More of her writing can be found on her Google+ profile.