064:  Tips for Managing In-laws and Family Gatherings

Featuring: Dr. Dave & Dr. Liz
064: Tips for managing in-laws and family gatherings

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In this Episode

Rex joins Dave and Liz today to discuss tips for managing In-laws and family gatherings.

Relationships with extended family can be tricky or sometimes difficult and anxiety inducing. Dr. John Gottman says, "Every marriage is a cross-cultural experience." Whether we come from similar cultures or not, together we create a brand new culture within our new families. 

0:00 - Introduction

01:30 - Topic of In-laws

02:56 - Insights with In-laws

04:16 - In-law experiences

05:20 - Tips for Managing In-laws & family gatherings

05:46 - Speak kindly to your partner about their family

06:33 - Keep the issues between you

08:08 - Get Curious

09:42 - Early Christmas Decorating

12:05 - Leaning In

16:17 - Have an exit plan

19:42 - Take two cars?

21:19 - Learn to deflect

24:22 - Beware of criticism

29:00 - Key to a stronger marriage

29:52 -Take aways from today

32:32 - People are more important than problems

Insights and Invites


The holidays bring opportunities to spend time with our extended family. Though these gatherings can bring many emotions to the service, here are six tips to help settle in and make the best of the time for you and them.

Speak Kindly: Speak kindly to your partner about their family and friends. Share concerns or issues with a compassion mindfulness and heart.

Get Curious: When you bring an open curiosity to your family gatherings, you can learn things about your extended family, your spouse, and yourself. Being curious also creates the opportunity for bids for connection and leads to relationship building. People love to share stories, likes, and things about themselves. So take a moment to get curious about your extended family and treasure the experience.

Lean In: Leaning in creates situations where everyone can be included and participate in a comfortable way. It's a good idea to prepare at least one activity, topic, or item to bring to the gathering that will get everyone wanting to contribute or participate. This could be a simple game, social activity, food or recipe or possibly even a toy of some sort. When the moment arrives, rise to the occasion and lean in.

Plan Your Exit: Sometimes we can only contain so much joy at family gathering before problems may arise. Have an exit plan or strategy in place so that you and your spouse can discretely signal each other that you have reached your quota or are ready to go. This can be a fun and relationship building exercise for you and your spouse. Rex shares a strategy and code for "I am ready to go" that he and his wife have developed over their marriage.

Avoid Contentious Conversation Topics: It's usually best to avoid discussing religion and politics at social gatherings. And if you have a family member that enjoys sharing advice, listen with a curious mind, but be ready to respond politely. Some examples might be, "That is interesting, I will have to think about that." or "That's a good idea, but we're going to do it this way." or "Thanks, but this seems to be working for us right now."

Beware of Criticism: We may be able to tease our own family, but when someone else mentions a criticism it can be triggering. So be respectful and compassionate, and it is probably best to keep critiques to ourselves.

Keys To A Stronger Marriage Connection:

Rex - "Never complain, criticize, or mention problems between you and your spouse to family or friends. Keep it between you and your spouse or seek professional counsel"


Liz - "Allow your spouse to have and handle their relationships with others. Don't force them to forgive or just move on. Let them work on the relationships or issues at their pace and in their way."

Rex - "Get curious. Get curious with people and learn about them. People love to talk about themselves or share things they are interested in. And, have an exit plan so you and your spouse can respect each others comfort zones and so they feel safe."

Dave - "Practice Compassion and Understanding. Give people the benefit of the doubt and be able to slow down and don't get caught up in the thick of thin things. People are more important than problems."

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