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What are your tips for not reacting to family members that annoy you?

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I was rude to a relatively new family member and don’t want it to happen again. Apologies for the long explanation to follow. We planned a large family lunch Christmas Eve several weeks ago and everyone had accepted the invitation. Four of the fifteen (an adult child, their fiancé, and two teen grandkids) were traveling over 100 miles and planned to stay with us two nights. Two days before Christmas Eve, the fiancé called to say they wanted to make Christmas night dinner. My spouse politely requested a low-key Christmas day because we would all be tired, the house would be full of food, and, though he didn’t say it, the real reason was that he’d experienced a grand performance by the fiancé last year that he didn’t want to endure again. Our loved one called an hour later to say they would leave Christmas morning then. It felt like blackmail, but we really wanted to see the grandkids and our loved one. So we agreed that they could make the dinner. This made us both somewhat dread the whole thing now, when we had both been happily looking forward to it before that.

All went well during the Christmas Eve feast. Then, hours later, a conversation started that had a political component but was definitely not at the level of Red vs Blue. And here’s where the trouble really started...I blurted out a rude response to the fiancé. This is not an unkind person, and indeed seems to adore the one bringing them into the family. But I, and my spouse, find them very immature for being in their mid-fifties and their constant need to drop names and put on airs gets extremely tiresome. Nonetheless, I was in the wrong.

My spouse continued a ”spirited” debate with the fiancé. But my behavior really hurt our mutual loved one. Yes, it was the holiday but no alcohol was involved. In spite of that, all seemed well and forgotten throughout today. Then, in the afternoon, the fiancé suddenly announced they were leaving to go home. On the porch, as they were departing, we tried to apologize but were assured that it was our loved one that was upset and actually was the one that had asked them to leave.

A very emotional conversation followed in which I apologized to our loved one for my bad behavior, who acknowledges that their fiancé can put people off and is socially awkward, so there’s a huge amount of defensiveness at play.

I most likely won’t ever like this person much, but I do need to find a neutral ground because I really don’t want to hurt our loved one that way again. As it is, I’m afraid something has irreparably changed for the worse. Other family members don’t much care for the fiancé either but see them far less than we do.

TL;DR I blew it and would love to hear your tips for not reacting when a family member consistently triggers you

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