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Holiday survival guide for couples
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Going home as a couple for the holidays? For most of us, this is tough, no matter how you slice that pecan pie. A little advance planning will increase your enjoyment and protect your mental sanity.

Plan your conversations
Your relatives will have all the best intentions behind their battery of annoying questions. The best way to handle them is to decide in advance with your partner what topics youll discuss. If someone asks, Hows work going? and you dont have anything good to report, consider saying, I enjoyed working on... and discuss a project that you really liked even if its already been finished. Agree on subjects that you and your partner dont want brought up and work as a team to make that happen.

Worst case scenario is that you get a question you dont want to answer. If that does happen, just say something like, Were still talking about that one, and we havent decided. Also, a great response for the When are kids coming along? question is, Weve decided to wait for now.

You can also design a secret code. For example, if you have a relative whos notorious for unending monologues, develop a secret signal like scratching your nose so that you and your man can call for help and rescue each other. This really works.

Profile your family
Depending on whose family youre staying with, either you or your man will be the expert on the situation and the other will likely feel uncomfortable since its a strange house and the emotional expression levels are different. Consult together for how you can foster harmony, both for your family and yourselves.

For instance, in the past my husband and I have taken moments alone to debrief on his familys communication styles which sometimes challenged me. He explained the general habits around his parents' house, and then we involved ourselves in more activities as I got to know his family better: I painted mugs with the nephews and nieces one year. Another time we brought a trivia game on a subject that his parents loved.

We all have our difficult dynamics. See if you can anticipate routine problems together. Is your aunt always bragging? She might be insecure and just need a few kind words of acknowledgment. Is his cousin usually cranky and restless? He might enjoy a new board game for the family to play together.

Take care of yourselves
Staying for an overnight? Bring your music, slippers or whatever makes you both feel safe and relaxed. This is especially important if one or both of you is an introvert who needs to recharge away from others. My husband and I sometimes take our laptop and watch a DVD in bed, in the sanctuary of our bedroom.

Plan time together for just the two of you, even if its a quiet moment in the morning before you join the clan. My husband and I get up the day after Thanksgiving for the Black Friday sales. We get to drink hot chocolate and catch the Christmas sales, and when we return to the house, weve had our time together before the rest of them have finished their breakfast.

Remember: Youre not alone
Take this time to really support your man as you work as a duo. Lean into each other and imagine youre on a trek through a wild jungle. Adventures, especially the potentially awkward family ones, are always better when you have a friend.