Saving Your Sanity While Visiting Family

We have great intentions going into the holidays. We romanticize time with family and truly believe those things that bother us at other times during the year aren’t going to bother us as much because it is Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. For many of us, we are surprised every single year that our family visit wasn’t as fulfilling as we thought it would be.

Holidays used to be really hard on our marriage. Some of our biggest arguments would come on our way to or on our way home from Thanksgiving or Christmas with family.

Unmet expectations. Unspoken expectations. Little patience. Harsh tones of voices. Short fuses. Those are some phrases that described us as we spent holidays with extended family.

When our marriage imploded and we began to address some of our own dysfunction we came up with a few things that have helped us not just survive time with extended family, but truly enjoy it.

As you prepare to spend some time with people that you love but may be EGR (extra grace required) people, consider these sanity saving suggestions:

1. Give up your need to fix your (or your spouse’s) family.

I think all of us have this unspoken belief that we are the only normal ones in our family. Everyone else in our family is broken and we can fix them. We can fix how they parent their kids. We can fix how they spend their money. We can fix their marriage problems. We can fix their singleness and dating problems. We can fix them.

The truth is you can’t and it isn’t your job to fix your family. It’s your job to love your family. Everyone will have a better holiday season and you will keep your sanity  if you love your family and don’t try to fix them.

2. Give your spouse grace as they spend time with their respective families. 

Both Trish and I had such high expectations of one another as we’d visit family. We expected each other to react perfectly; to parent perfectly; to always say the right thing; to have it all together all the time. The reality is that the family we both go home to now is different than the family we grew up with. So giving each other grace to navigate some of those differences communicates that we are a team and not enemies. Your holiday gatherings will be so much better laced with grace.

3. Cherish the time you get to spend with family. 

We have two Thanksgivings and Christmases together before our oldest son graduates high school. That sucks. I allowed too many holidays to go by without savoring the time. I want to take in every moment.

We aren’t guaranteed time; it is on loan to us. I want to cherish the time I spend with family. When we treat the time we spend with our spouse’s family as valuable, it shows that them we value them.

These are 3 things that won’t give you a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas visit. But I’m pretty sure they will save your sanity as you spend extended time with people you love.

We are so thankful for you and hope you have a great week.

How do you survive family dynamics during the holidays? 


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