Kyriel Manzo gives pre-Holiday counseling for couples visiting their families this season. Be prepared for the interview before it begins over cocktails.
Whether it’s your first holiday as a couple or you’ve spent the last decade with your partner, expect to be grilled and examined under the fine toothed comb of familial familiarity.
You’re a couple now so expect all of your most intimate and private conversations and thoughts to be on the table for discussion. Kids? Wedding? Bitter Uncle? Be prepared for anything.
1) When are you getting married?
This is the #1 concern of everyone at the table and gathering, whether or not it’s a concern of you and your partner. You aren’t really in a relationship unless you’re engaged…at least that’s what your grandparents will insinuate.
Whether you’ve been together for six months or six years, the pressure will be on from the day you tell relatives that you’re seeing someone. You could openly tell your Uncle Sal that this isn’t even your boyfriend, it’s a male prostitute that you hired to stave off the loneliness during the holidays, and your family will still say, “so when’s the BIG day?!”
2) When are you having children? How many?
(If you already have children together, but you’re not married… see question number one.)
For some reason it’s socially acceptable to inquire constantly about the contents of a woman’s womb. Expect the conversation to be repeatedly rerouted to you and your partner’s family planning at any opportunity. Examples:
“I’m expecting a lot of great gifts this year. Speaking of expecting…..”
“Jesus was probably a really cute baby. Speaking of babies…..”
If you’re a woman, don’t you dare decline a glass of wine or a nice gin and tonic. The speculations regarding your alcohol consumption and the status of your hormone levels will immediately be open for interpretation.
3) Any form of passive aggressive comments regarding your profession
Not everyone in the world (even our beloved family members) understand why anyone would leave the hustle and bustle of the conventional workforce. Even if you’re a teacher there will always be someone commenting on “how sweet it is that you gave up making real money to teach the children.” They’ll wonder how you’ll affording a wedding and all the children they want you to have on whatever salary they assume you make. Examples:
“Oh, you’re a yoga teacher? That’s adorable. What do you want to do when you get a real job?”
“You’re a snowboard instructor? What do you do during the rest of the year? That’s awfully dangerous. Does snowboarding affect your fertility?”
“A writer? You’re writing now? Well you better write something good, because you’ll never be able to afford an open bar on a freelance salary.”
4) When are you moving back home?
By “home” they mean to your hometown. The answer in your head might be “never ever, ever” in all capital letters, but just smile and let them know you enjoy living somewhere where you can order Thai food and warm cookies to your doorstep at any time of the day. They will remind you that when you have kids you’ll just have to move back home so you kids can experience the wonders of the suburbs. What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to drive or fly to wherever you live to stay in your cramped apartment and visit the offspring they were obsessed with before they were born. You and your partner can live wherever in the world you would like.
Don’t worry about the side eye you receive from Aunt Judy when you mention spending a few months in Spain and investing in a Tiny House on a Colorado range.
5) Bitter Comments from Divorced Relatives
There will always be that one relative that is either recently divorced or has been single for years and years (maybe they should subscribe to MeetMindful and find happiness). The happier you appear as a couple, the more negative this person will be. You’ll be smiling and clinking wine glasses while they glare at you over the mashed potatoes. They will make horrifying comments about how “it’ll never last… trust me.” Don’t take it personally. They are simply making conclusions about your relationship based off their own mistakes and experiences. Examples:
“Well enjoy it while it lasts. Then one morning you’ll wake up and restrain yourself from putting a pillow over his face. That’s when marriage gets really hard.”
“Yeah I used to be happy like you kids. Then I met my ex-wife.”
Bottom line: at the end of the day you can hop in the car and drive back to your cramped apartment where you can snuggle up with your lover and release the pressure of being under the familial microscope.
[image via Brenna on flickr]