My out-of-town in-laws are coming to stay for the holidays, and my wife offered up our bedroom for the three-night stay. Her father and I have never gotten along, and argue quite a bit - mostly about politics, especially the Middle East - so I offered to put them up in a hotel. Now I'm in the doghouse. Any advice?
I've never really understood why people argue past the point of being charming, engaging and interesting.
(Cough, cough - alcohol - cough, cough.)
I mean, why is it so vital that your opinions prevail? Are generals and cabinet ministers waiting breathlessly in various war rooms for you to settle urgent matters
of national security and public policy?
If they are, by all means stick to your guns and heave your father-in-law into a hotel. Then, when he's asleep, get on the hotline: "General X, I think I've found the solutions to the global crises you asked me to solve. Sorry I didn't call earlier, but I was arguing about it with my father-in-law."
But if not, why not loosen your corset-stays a little, relax, let your father-in-law win a few points? I'm not saying compromise your principles or beliefs, but if it gets past a certain point why not just laugh and say "Let's agree to disagree" and change the subject?
The main thing is, by being cool and unflappable, you will unruffle the feathers of two people who should be more important to you than winning arguments: your wife and her father.
After all, peace, like charity, begins in the home. And if you and your father-in-law can't sort out a way to co-exist without strife under the same roof for three days, why should anyone listen to what either of you has to say about peace in the Middle East?
David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.