These are the rules I established for my own survival four years ago, (see post below in Dec 2011).
1. Cut everything you eat by 50%
2. Cut everything you say by 50%
3. Remember that everything can be mended. (But this was subject to doubt).
A new rule has emerged over the last year:
4. AVOID ALL ALCOHOL
I have found that even a few sips of champagne loosen my tongue to such an extent that I become the party bore (and that's if I avoid indiscreet remarks).
A couple of weeks before Christmas, we opened a bottle of cheap fizz, and two hours later I was attacking my husband over an argument about coats hanging up in the hall. I tried to hit him, but fortunately we both burst out laughing and got over it.
Yesterday I studiously kept off the wine at lunch, and was amused to see that even hub's sister, (never known her to lose her patience while on our premises, in over thirty years) was a trifle testy with hub during the following exchange:
General conflab: "You can't serve pannacotta to vegetarians because of the gelatine".
Hub: "But there is such a thing as vegetarian gelatine."
Hub's sister: "What's that?"
Hub: "Vegetarian gelatine".
Sister: testily "I KNOW. But what IS it?"
A bit later on, the same wine provoked my mother-in-law, who usually knows better than to offer advice on how we should run our home, to declare that we should put some pictures up in the dining room.
Me (to hub): "Can we discuss this at another time, please."
(Code for, this is going to be a big one, as you well know.)
Hub: Rolls eyes and sighs, acknowledging the above code.
Mother-in-law: (Speaking of her best friend, who's 95) - "Well, B******' second husband wouldn't have pictures and as soon as he died, B****** put up pictures."
Me: (heroically biting back words to the effect that if waiting for me to die is too long, I'm quite happy to get divorced and we can have pictures or no pictures in our individual houses). Managing to say nothing. "Mmmmm".
Mother-in-law: (casting eyes to the ceiling as if to say, - what my son has had to put up with all these years!) "Well no pictures is no good. It looks like you've just moved in."
Me: (Still silent, thinking, thank god I didn't have any alcohol,) "Mmmmm."
Today I had to go and hide in a locked bathroom for several minutes to calm down after I was overruled by my husband, who had that manic glint in his eye which appears after a beer followed by champagne. He insisted on opening a second bottle of the fizz, and downed both his own glasses, plus my mother-in-law's, while pouring a third for my daughter's partner who would be driving 125 miles later in the afternoon (and had also had a beer). I had to take deep breaths and put my head between my knees, and keep telling myself, "It's not about you" until I was sufficiently calm to go and hide in the kitchen while doing the washing up.
Second rule is also subject to revision. It is now "Cut everything you say by 80%.