From Christmas union to family fights: how to avoid arguing with relatives during the holidays

The AssocitoTed Press

The holidays are a time when families and friends come together to talk and laugh. But also to argue loudly.

There are many reasons why a bond can become strained: Maybe that cousin you love so much has an opinion on politics or world events that you can’t stand, or maybe that nosy grandparent keeps asking you about your food choices. life. Maybe someone at the table is struggling with a substance abuse problem or a mental health issue. And don’t forget that person who is mean and only looking to fight.

It can be enough to make you want to lose your mind. But psychology and mental health experts say it doesn’t have to be that way, so they offer suggestions to help manage gatherings that may be less joyful.

Know your “why”

It’s important for people to know why they go into situations that they know can be tense or much worse, says Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist who talks about the harms of narcissistic relationships.

Whether it’s because there are other family members they want to see, or for some other reason that’s worth the potential drama, you need to “be clear about why,” he says. “Because otherwise it feels like it’s going straight to the bonfire.”

Don’t get carried away by holiday expectations

If you watch enough Christmas movies, you may come to think that it’s a time of year when messages of hope and redemption are everywhere, so you may believe that your relationship with that conflict-prone person you’ve been with fought in most moments of your life, will also magically turn into all sunshine and roses.

“There is this kind of healing fantasy of relationships,” says Dr. Tracy Hutchinson, a professor in the graduate clinical mental health program at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. The specialist adds that people want to believe that “maybe this time it will be different, instead of radically accepting that it probably won’t be. But what it can be is the way to approach the relationship and address the situation.”

Some topics are better avoided

With everything going on in the world right now, it probably wouldn’t be difficult to have an opinion – on some political issue or event – ​​that is diametrically opposed to that of another person with whom you usually get along well. Well, you don’t have to talk about it, says Dr. Jeanne Safer, psychotherapist and author of I love you, but I hate your politics.

“I think it’s really hard for people to realize that you can care about someone and have a lot in common and not be able to talk about politics,” he adds. “There is no need to talk about everything.”

The goal is to communicate, not punish

“Don’t try to convince them that you’re right and they’re wrong,” says Dr. Tania Israel, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The best thing is to try to understand them and communicate that you care.”

If someone says something you don’t agree with, you can say, “Tell me how you came to form that opinion, tell me a little about the connection you have with that topic, what makes it so important to you. “Ask him questions.”

Take care

If you know that your family situation during the holidays is going to be difficult, look for ways to give yourself moments of peace or distraction, Durvasula says, such as going for a walk or taking time to read a book or meditate. And don’t overlook that we are in vacation time.

“Find a way to commemorate or celebrate them with healthy people, whoever they are,” he says. “They may be a subset of your family. They can be friends, they can be co-workers, whoever they are, do it. “This way, at least, you will feel that something meaningful has happened to you during those holidays.”