Survive holiday season with your significant other

By Serina Taluja, Assistant Special Sections Editor

Whether you’ve been together for years or days, live close together or far apart, every couple endures the ultimate test of strength of their relationship around this time of year. Winter holidays present its participants with lots of joy, love, family time and significant other’s family time.

This time with your partner’s family tends to be that test of strength and can even make or break relationships. To save everyone anxiety, worry and potential tension that can arise from the promise of spending time with your partner’s family, here are some ways to keep your cool this holiday season.

Small talk, big smiles

Generally, keeping conversational subjects close to those of “small talk” is your best bet when you’re dealing with your partner’s family. While your partner’s parents or siblings might know a little bit more about you, it’s better to keep things on a more surface level with extended family members, especially if you’re making a first impression.

Good topics of conversation that fall under this realm of small talk include places you’ve traveled to, the unruly weather or stories about your partner’s childhood. When in doubt, fall back on what you and the family members have in common: your partner.

This isn’t to say your conversations have to be trivial or unintelligent by any means. You can still have really interesting conversations about your partner’s childhood with their relatives without, for example, having to get into the political state of our country or religious affiliations.

Don’t forget: If something heavier does come up (like religion or politics), just smile and nod. Feigning a distant interest in the subject should move you past the controversial topic and away from any potential sources of tension.

Safety in siblings

Getting caught suddenly alone at a family function can be scary, especially if you’re not surrounded by your own family. Should your partner get pulled away to help move something, make something or simply to talk with a family member privately, find refuge in chatting with their siblings.

Siblings are perfect because they’re probably closer to your age and they know at least a little bit about you. It’s also easy to talk to them about school, work or anything else you might have learned about them from your partner.

Plus, it makes a fantastic impression on your partner’s parents to take interest in their siblings. That means not only are you interested in your partner but in their immediate family as well.

It’s nothing personal

Always remember when you’re dealing with a family that is not your own, do not take anything they say to you too personally. Each family, big or small, lives in their own sort of microcosm; they have their own cultures and traditions that might be different from those of your own family.

It’s important to respect these differences and not to be put off by any family members pointing out those differences.

On a similar note, don’t take anecdotes about the past too personally either. Family members will share stories with you to teach you more about your partner or to include you and make you feel like a part of their family. So even if stories include an ex, or multiple exes, know they are just tales meant to teach you a little more about the person you’re with.

Family is one of the biggest sources of celebration during the holidays. So whether you’re hanging out with your own family or someone else’s, just try to relax and enjoy their company.

Serina is a senior in LAS.

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