The holidays bring us together—and that can be a mixed bag, especially if your in-laws have narcissistic traits. We asked professionals for their best advice for navigating these choppy relationship waters while staying afloat. Read on for their tips on holiday interactions and beyond.

Michelle Devani

Michelle Devani

Michelle Devani, Relationship expert and the founder of lovedevani.com.

Set healthy boundaries

A good relationship with your in-laws is necessary for keeping your marriage happy. But, creating a good relationship with your in-laws will certainly be tough if you have to deal with a narcissistic in-law. If you [aren’t] able to deal with a narcissistic in-law, it may seriously affect your marriage or even destroy your marriage. Being a relationship expert for years, I have encountered a lot of individuals who have this dilemma.

Some ways to deal with narcissistic in-laws are:

Be less available to him/her.

It is almost impossible to change and win over a narcissist. So, instead of continuously trying to argue with them, set healthy boundaries and be less available.

Seek support.

Dealing with a narcissist can affect a person mentally and emotionally. That is why looking for someone who will listen to you and who you can talk to is really important, it can be a family member, a friend, or even a professional.

Protect yourself

With the holidays fast approaching plans to meet up with family and friends fill up your schedule. While some of your spouse’s family members are a delight, some, are not. As a relationship expert, I have given a lot of advice on how not to stress yourself out through the holidays, even if it means spending time with narcissistic in-laws.

Here’s how:
You’ve identified them as narcissists, but doing so is only the first step. Speak up for yourself and create boundaries. Narcissists are self-involved so make sure that you protect yourself by making it clear that their behavior is not going to be tolerated. When it’s all too much, remove yourself from the situation and get some time for yourself.

Samantha Moss

Samantha Moss

Samantha Moss, Editor & Content Ambassador at Romantific.
Dr. Giuseppe Aragona

Dr. Giuseppe Aragona

Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, General Practitioner & Family Doctor at Prescription Doctor.

Ignore and have a good time

If you have narcissistic in-laws, the best way to have a great holiday and assure they do not win is to just be happy during the time with them. Narcissists [may] hate the holidays as they cannot be just about them, so make sure to be giving and kind during this time, and it will make sure they mellow out enough for you to enjoy the season with your family. If you can ignore them enough to have a good time, this will make a huge difference in the atmosphere of your time together.

Handle them with respect

As a relationship expert, I have encountered so many issues with regards to dealing with family members. It was a bit frustrating at first because almost all my clients deal with these kinds of problems, [even though] family should be our strong emotional and mental support. But along the way, I have come to understand that being together under one roof with different attitudes and outlooks in life can bring great challenges for everyone.

In dealing with in-laws, not all are blessed to have a good relationship with their in-laws, especially those narcissistic ones, so here are few ways to handle them with care and respect:

Always be humble

Whatever happens, they will still be older than you so lower your guard and treat them with kindness and great respect, no matter what they do or say to you.

Communicate regularly

Make sure that you are openly communicating with them so you can understand each other deeply. Everyone with a bad attitude or negative outlook in life is going through some personal issues. If you understand them, you will know how to approach them properly and act accordingly to avoid fights or misunderstanding.

Have a talk with your spouse

Never forget to openly talk about your frustrations to your spouse even if it will hurt them. It is your right as well to be treated fairly and kindly, so tell your spouse what you feel so they can talk to their parents and make some adjustments that will be beneficial for everyone.

Sonya Schwartz

Sonya Schwartz

Sonya Schwartz, Founder of Her Norm.
Lewis Keegan

Lewis Keegan

Lewis Keegan, Owner/ operator of SkillScouter.com which aims to help potential students find their learning paths via online learning platforms.

Deal with diplomacy

In dealing with narcissistic in-laws, you have to remember that they are related to your better half and that it would be better if you do not start a “war” with them. If their being narcissistic is annoying for you, but they aren’t actually doing anything to you, then just let it go. If you can tolerate it, tolerate it, for the sake of forming a good relationship with your partner’s family.

However, if they do something intolerable then deal with it with diplomacy and do not pick a fight with them. Tell your partner this problem and help them understand how this certain behavior is not acceptable. Let your partner settle this dispute first because they are the ones who know their family best.

Boundaries for yourself, not them

The boundaries you set with narcissists are not for them but for you. Just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean that in-laws can come to take over. Know ahead of time what triggers you. Is it the tone of voice? The ideology? The intrusiveness? Whatever it may be, that’s where you need to set boundaries – for yourself, not for them. Why? Because you can’t change them, you can only manage how you respond in given scenarios.

Have an out. Set time limits. Communicate ahead of time about what you need to do to remain sane. After all, this year has been tough on all of us. You need to protect your space.

Justin Baksh

Justin Baksh

Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP, Chief Clinical Officer, Foundations Wellness Center.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.

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