By Evan Fischer
While Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries may no longer have to worry about dealing with the in-laws, there are plenty of newlyweds out there facing the first real test of their matrimonial commitment this holiday season: meeting their new family members. For Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn, who recently renewed their vows, this will be old hat. But celebrity couples like Wills and Kate and Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert will find themselves in the same boat as every other newly joined couple in the world; facing the uncertainty of several days trapped with their in-laws. The good news is that there’s no need for stress. By following just a few simple guidelines, newlyweds everywhere can have an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, even if the in-laws are a little bit crazy. Here’s how:
Related: Ways To Impress Your In-Laws
1. Offer to help: The best way to get in good with the in-laws is to offer assistance here and there. Your mother-in-law may not want you in the kitchen while she’s cooking, but perhaps she’ll let you watch her make her special recipe (no doubt she’ll be flattered by your interest). And you can always offer to set the table, wash some dishes or otherwise make yourself useful. Don’t be pushy, but offer frequently.
2. Clean up after yourself: Even if you’re treated more like a guest than a member of the family, you need to be a responsible adult and try not to make more work for your hosts than necessary. This means picking up after yourself, doing your own laundry (towels included), washing dishes (or at least putting them in the dishwasher) and generally making an effort to leave a room just as neat as you found it.
3. Set aside “me” time: There’s nothing wrong with taking a little time out for yourself, especially if it saves you from a meltdown. No matter what you do, there’s going to be some pressure to perform for your new partner’s family. So give yourself breaks here and there to decompress; take a bath, a nap or a walk to get away. And any time you can manage it, drag your new spouse along for some alone time.
Related: Dealing With Difficult In-Laws
4. Participate: You’ve joined a new group, but you’ll always be an outsider unless you integrate yourself. Even if you don’t want to play board games, sing carols or look at family photo albums, be a sport. It will help you become a family member a lot faster than opting out.
5. Delegate “handling” responsibilities: This is a biggie, and it could just save your holiday. Each spouse needs to handle their own family, including making arrangements and dealing with any issues that arise. The person that approaches in-laws in an aggressive manner is going to be seen as an interloper, so don’t try to be dominant. You handle your family, and let your spouse handle the in-laws. Less stress over the holidays will greatly reduce your chance of winding up in relationship counseling in the New Year.
Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.