We asked some of our therapists for tips about how to not only survive the holidays but how to thrive when visiting with family and loved ones. Here's what they said:
"When visiting with family members over the holidays, try to have patience, don't forget to pray, take deep breaths, and when all else fails give family members the benefit of the doubt."
For couples visiting others for the holidays
"BEFORE the trip come up with a strategy to deal with the person/people that one of the couple gets "triggered" by. Maybe a signal or statement that is code for "help me get out of this situation". Before arriving at the destination each partner can share 2-3 activities or conversations that each would like to have - so when they get back home and reflect there aren't any regrets about how "I really wanted to_____ while we were there!" (Ex: going for walk with special relative who enjoys seeing fall colors or Christmas lights. Going to church with a special relative who would relish that time, etc.) If this is a longer visit with one set of relatives SCHEDULE a date to spend 1:1 time with partner to reconnect & have a break from the nonstop facetime with in-laws."
About Managing Visits with Difficult Family Members
"Sometimes it helps to create the necessary distance so that the family visits can go as well as possible.
This means setting clear boundaries on how much time you actually want to spend with them. For couples who are visiting with in-laws with whom there has been friction, I often advise them to be intentional in staying in a hotel so that they have the freedom to take leave when necessary.
A tip for Attending Company Parties as a couple:
This can be challenging for the partner who feels like an outsider. It is wise to plan in advance for what the latter partner needs in terms of checking in with each other and to honor the agreed upon time of departure from the event."