Relationship experts seven tips to deal with difficult in-laws this Christmas

Christmas is the perfect time for families to come together and enjoy each other's company.

It's also a time when relationships can be strained, especially if you're stuck with parents-in-law who just don't get along.

The stress of worrying about difficult relationships, or how people will get along, always runs a little higher over the festive season – and it's important to know what to do before Christmas Day arrives.

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To help people get through the big day Pippa Murphy, relationship expert at, shared her top tips as to how to get through the next few days.

Pippa said: "With the right approach, you can still enjoy the holiday season without having to deal with any awkward situations or family feuds.

"Try carrying out my top tips on handling difficult in-laws at Christmas."

If you're worried about how you'll handle the in-laws this festive season, here are seven tips on the best things to do to get through.

Lower your expectations

You might think that spending time with your loved ones at Christmas would make everyone happy and bring them closer together, but Christmas isn’t always like a Hallmark movie.

Instead, you shouldn’t expect too much from them.

For example, if you're expecting a warm welcome from your husband's parents, you may be disappointed.

They may not see themselves as being responsible for making sure you are happy at Christmas time – they're probably just trying to do their best too.

Focus on your in-laws’ positive traits before you go

If you have to see your in-laws in person, focus on the positive traits of them before you go.

For example, your mother-in-law may make rude comments about your life but perhaps she shows her love in other ways, such as cooking a three course Christmas dinner.

Or your father-in-law may never speak to you but perhaps he is thoughtful by pouring you a glass of wine.

Focusing on the positives will make it easier for you to get through the day.

Don’t let a comment ruin your Christmas

The holidays are often a time for family members to get together and reminisce about the good old days – or argue about them.

Don't take it personally if someone says something that upsets you.

They may just be having a bad day, have had too much alcohol or they may not realise how their words might make you feel.

Smile and nod

If they offer advice or compare their way of life to yours, just smile and nod quietly while they speak.

Then try to change the subject back to something positive as soon as possible afterwards so it doesn't drag things down any further than necessary.

Give them space

If there's a conflict between your spouse and their parents, try giving them space away from each other so that they don't have to interact directly.

For example, if there's tension between your husband and his father about politics or finances, then try to spend some time outside of the house.

You could go for a walk or even to the pub.

Never confront your in-laws

It seems obvious, but this is a big no no on the big day.

When you do this, it puts the focus on them rather than on your own needs and feelings.

And it can cause more problems than it solves because people may feel attacked when they're criticised – even if it's justified criticism.

A better approach is to ignore the bad behaviour and focus on what you want from your relationship with them – such as spending time together or talking about something important to you (like an upcoming wedding).

This way, you can stay focused on what matters most to you instead of getting caught up in petty squabbles that don't matter at all.

Spend your time with other people

If you or your partner think it’s best you don’t see their parents, try and make plans that don’t involve your in-laws.

For example, you could volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter during Christmas week, or you could speak Christmas Eve or Boxing Day with your friends.

This will allow everyone involved time and space to repair relationships without pressure from others hoping things will improve as quickly as possible.


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