Q: My spouse doesn’t get along with my parents and siblings. This has led to serious conflict in our marriage. My mum and dad have always enjoyed hosting big family get-togethers, especially during the holidays, but things have gotten so bad that my spouse is no longer willing to participate in these gatherings. I’m tired of dealing with the tension. Can you suggest a solution?
A: The problem you’re describing is extremely common, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t solve it. We suggest you sit down together and discuss it in a rational manner. Find a time — maybe over coffee or after dinner at a nice restaurant — when you can lay your concerns on the table. It’s vital that the two of you come to a meeting of the minds over this issue. Relationships with extended family are an important part of every marriage. This is something you’re going to have to face together if you want to build a marital relationship that will go the distance.
You may be able to work out a compromise. Why not skip certain holidays or plan alternatives to the family gatherings every other year? You could tell your parents that you and your spouse have decided to spend a quiet New Year with your own immediate family this year. This could remove some of the stress and make it easier to face the next big get-together.
A second choice would be to attend the gathering, but stay at a local hotel rather than in your parents’ home. Explain that while you’re looking forward to seeing them, you’d also like to have some time and space to yourselves. Then, if the family get-together becomes unbearable for you or your spouse, you can always escape to your hotel room.
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