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The No-Games Guide to Love ~ 10 Ways to Survive Your Partner’s Family and Vice Versa

Words by Laurel House

Photograph by David Young-Wolff

The holidays are often stressful, particularly when you are spending them with your partner’s family. Personalities can flare up, idiosyncrasies can be misunderstood, buried issues and insecurities can suddenly become unearthed… and you often arrive on the scene without a clear map of the landscape. Being prepared and planning ahead can quickly take the edge off and make the family, friends, food, and festivities easy, and even fun, for everyone.


1. Consider staying at a hotel.

You are creating a space for privacy and to reconnect with each other.  Being in the family whirlwind can be exhausting. Having a place to retreat to where you don’t have to be social is essential to sustaining your energy and good nature.

2. Talk about the expectation of privacy with the family.

Private couple time isn’t about being selfish, it’s about being conscious of your significant other and staying connected to each other. If you set the expectation before you go, you minimize the risk of confusion and awkwardness.

3. Bring a gift.

Gifting is a nice gesture no matter who you are visiting over the holidays. It shows respect for your host and acknowledges their hospitality. It’s also another way to make a good first impression if you are meeting the family for the first time. Help each other decide what to give. Don’t go overboard: The gift should be simple and inexpensive, but thoughtful.

4. Share family stories.

Let each other in on inside family anecdotes, stories, background, and jokes. Providing context can help your significant other to not feel like an outsider. If there is a particular family member who your partner might have a lot in common with, let them in on that too. Suggest some talking points.


5. Ease in.

No reason to jump right in. Take time to “land” before you deposit yourselves into the family frenzy. Shake off the travel (even if it’s merely a one-hour drive) by taking a walk, taking a bath, even having a cocktail- just the two of you. Is it a new town for one of you? Take a walk before you make the introductions. Show off your city. Establish a feeling of comfort first.

 6. Take a “nap”!

Shed your stress along with your clothes! This is about feeling connected before entering the unfamiliar family unit. No matter what you are inspired to do between the sheets, the physical intimacy will strengthen your bond before you are pulled in many directions.

 7. Meet the most important person first.

If your significant is meeting your entire extended family at the big holiday dinner, first try to set aside some time for meeting the most important few people first at coffee or lunch. Being in a large group can be less overwhelming if there are a few existing connections to lean into

 8. Be a team.

Why? You want to present a united front, showing your family how happy you are, and what a great connection you have. The family wants to see it too. If any conflicts arise between the two of you, save it for later.

 9. Take a break.

Why? Stepping away periodically to check in with each other can go a long way to sustain your energy and keep your connection to each other clean. Some suggestions if you can pull away for a couple of hours:

-Book a couples massage.

-Be adventurous in the great outdoors. Go for a hike or have a snowball fight.

-Take a yoga class and sweat together.


10. Email and mail a thank-you note.

Why? In the spirit of the holidays, a note expressing gratitude is an appropriate way to complete the visit.All’s well that ends well. Email a note ASAP, then mail it the old-fashioned way.

 Laurel House is a four-time published author and go-to lifestyle expert on E! News. Her last book QuickieChick’s Cheat Sheet is based on her YouTube videos that have received over 12 million views. She is currently working in her fifth book Screwing the (dating) Rules: quickiechick.com



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