Does the thought of gathering around the table with all of your family around the holidays or swapping gifts by the tree bring about heart palpitations? Do you find yourself rehashing last year’s drama and hoping that this year won’t be as bad?

Often, the holidays are a double-edged sword for people: You can see all of your family, and you can see all of your family. And even if that drama isn’t directly caused by your spouse, it can often spill over into causing relationship problems, particularly if the issues are caused by your in-laws. And suddenly, this time of year that is supposed to bring you together is pulling you apart.

If you’re looking for relationship help in regards to dealing with your family, here’s a short list that can help you make the holidays a little less dramatic.

Present and Past

Just because something happened last year doesn’t mean it will happen again this year. Respect that issues arise, people react, and things get a little out of control. That doesn’t mean that it will always happen.

It also doesn’t mean that everything will either be really bad or really great – there is some gray area. There may bits of your time with family that you’d rather not remember, but there are also golden nuggets as well. Give this holiday season a chance to be great, rather than expecting it to be exactly like the years before.

New Year, New You

One thing that tends to get overlooked when considering how much relationship help you need with your family is: you control you. You can’t control how much Grandpa talks about the good old days, or how much your crazy mother-in-law drinks, but you can control how you react to it.

Take a deep breath, consider how you want to react, and let your actions be your own, rather than a buildup from everyone else’s influence.

Attitude of Gratitude

The holiday season starts off with Thanksgiving for most people. This is a time to reflect on what you’re most grateful for. Let that feeling carry over into the rest of the season, even as you may deal with occasional drama and dissension in the ranks.

This is especially true when it comes to your spouse. When things get tough, remember to reflect on what you appreciate about your partner and express it.

Remind Yourself What Really Matters

It’s too easy to get caught up in the “small stuff” this time of year. Did you complete every item on your to-do list? Take part in every holiday tradition? Buy every gift you needed to? This stress can impact your interactions with your spouse as well as immediate and extended family members.

Remember: some people don’t have a spouse or family to drive them crazy, and are not blessed with all of the gifts you have been given. Share this new and improved attitude with your family, and you could start a new holiday tradition – one without the drama!