How to Navigate the Holidays with your In-Laws

If you’re anxious about spending time with your in-laws, you’re not alone.

Whether your relationship is tense because of past disagreements or you’re nervous about seeing extended family for the first time since the start of the pandemic, it’s important that you and your partner are on the same page about how to navigate the holidays with your in-laws.

Dr. John Gottman explains that “every [relationship] is a cross-cultural experience regardless of whether people are from different or the same cultures. They come from different families and the family they create is a brand new culture that has never existed before.”

The holidays can bring mixed feelings and expectations about your unique family culture, especially when it comes to in-laws. Handle uncomfortable situations together with confidence while maintaining respect and open communication with these tips from the Gottman Relationship Blog:

Making the Holidays Special with Advice from The Gottman Institute

The holidays can be a time to celebrate togetherness with family and friends. However, it’s a busy season that can also include a lot of tasks like shopping and decorating that make quality time as a couple difficult to prioritize.

One way to ensure you and your partner make time for one another is to be intentional about it. Try creating an illustration with each of your individual plans on either side and the plans you both would like to make time for in the center (like a Venn Diagram). Keep it visible in a place that you both pass by often (such as the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, etc.) as a reminder of how you will make space for each other to tackle the things you want to do separately and the special moments of connection you’d like to make possible together.

Make the holidays a time for creating shared meaning together as well as meeting your individual wants and needs. The support you give your joint activities and each other’s listed plans can make all the difference.

Discover more ways to stay connected and fill your holidays with romance on the Gottman Relationship Blog:

Workshops for 2022

We are currently working on our schedule for workshops in 2022. Workshops will be offered in-person and virtually.

Workshops will include:

  • Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work *New*
  • Get a Grip on Worry, Stress, and Anxiety
  • The Power of Music
  • Adjusting to the New Normal *New*
  • Living with Gratitude *New*
  • Life Lessons with Silly Putty
  • Navigating Mental Health System *New*
  • Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count): Creating your Family Story

Visit our Workshops/Webinars page for more information and registration instructions.

Relationship Minute: Feeling Mad? It’s Not Your Partner’s Fault.

Ever said “you’re making me mad!” in an argument?

Take a moment to reflect. Was it your partner who was making you mad, or is being mad actually your feeling that you need to take responsibility for?

According to Dr. Julie Gottman, “being passionate, being intense, expressing anger, and so on is fine depending on how you voice it. So if you’re expressing anger with an ‘I’ statement that describes how you feel, as opposed to pointing a finger at your partner and describing them as flawed or to blame, that’s very different.”

Even if it’s not your proudest moment, owning your anger by saying, “I’m mad!” is ok, rather than saying, “you’re making me mad!”

You may be mad, and that’s fine, but your partner isn’t making you feel that way. It’s okay to feel angry, as long as you acknowledge and own that it’s your feeling.

Related Blog Posts:

The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Create a Safe Haven

A foundationally secure partnership is like a house. It has weight-bearing walls and levels that each person builds upon to create a sturdy bond. With a strong structure, built on the foundations of trust and commitment, you will also find shelter.

Does the house of your relationship feel like a safe haven? Can you rely on each other and look to each other for reassurance, strength, and comfort?

Building a strong relationship is hard work, and it takes dedication, but continually reinforcing the structure by making repairs, turning towards bids, and showing loving kindness creates a shelter from stormier days.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Are You Afraid to Trust?

Trust can be an intimidating thing. You may have experienced betrayal or trauma in the past that has interfered with your willingness to trust, or perhaps you feel like trusting means you will lose your sense of self. However, when you honor your identity, preferences, and goals, you form a solid foundation for trust to grow within your relationship.

Trusting your partner does not mean giving up control. You still have control over your emotions, dreams, choices, and how you communicate them with your partner. And when there is trust, you both feel empowered to express these things.

Think about why you’re afraid to trust. How can you be more open to developing a trusting environment with your partner?

Related Blog Posts:

The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Love Your Partner Better

I wish we spent more time together.
I wish we were more emotionally connected. 


Do any of these resonate with you? Do you have the desire to love and be loved more deeply?

You and your partner can learn how to love each other better. Think about what you need to feel more loved, and ask your partner to consider it as well. Sit down and have an open conversation. How can you meet your partner’s needs? How can they meet yours?

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Build a Better Friendship First

Are you friends with your partner?

Dr. John Gottman says that long-term romantic committed relationships are rooted in deep friendship. Being friends with your partner is the foundation that supports your ability to make good repairs, have great sex, and stay in a positive perspective.

Building a strong friendship requires taking steps towards connecting with each other. Try new activities together, ask open-ended questions, and listen to each other’s stories. 

You and your partner are like your own team. You’ve got each other’s backs, and your friendship has the power to make your love last a lifetime.  Make time to invest in your friendship today.

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.

Relationship Minute: Are You Too Judgemental?

I can’t believe you did that!
You’re such a bad driver. Why can’t you drive more like I do?
You need help.

Have you said something similar to your partner lately?

Contempt is a tricky thing. It may seem like the expression of genuine feeling, but it’s actually an expression of negative judgment that places you in opposition to your partner.

Next time you find yourself taking a contemptuous approach, stop and take a breath. Remember the fondness and admiration you hold for your partner. Try to express yourself with feelings and needs that can unite you, rather than judgments that can divide.

Related Blog Posts:

The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. Visit their website.