The holidays represent a great challenge to marriages and family life. We all enjoy getting together with family and friends and spending time with them. Balancing new marriages, the holidays, and the extended family can be difficult. What happens when the extended family on both sides expect you to spend Christmas or New Years with them?
Where do you go? Who do you spend which holiday with? Do you spend them with his family? Her family? Or do you want to start your own new traditions as a new family?
All of these are perfectly valid questions that most newlywed couples must answer at some point. The most important thing to know is that there is no perfect answer! As in many other situations, when it comes to deciding how and where to spend the holidays, what is most important is the dialogue between you and your spouse. Here are some aspects to consider when the two of you decide to have this conversation.
Family of Origin
Remember your marriage preparation segment on Family of Origin and remember that both of you come from different families with different traditions. One is not better than the other, they are different and there is value in both of them. Take time to share your own traditions about the holidays when you were growing up.
Old Traditions vs. New Traditions
After talking and sharing your own experiences and the traditions of your own families of origin, have open and honest dialogue about your own present family, the family that you and your spouse have formed: do you want to start new traditions together or do you want to be a part of your family of origin’s traditions? Remember, there are no right or wrong answers here, only honest answers!
Negotiating, Meeting in the Middle, Finding the Common Ground
What if you both want to spend Christmas with your parents and siblings? What if you receive invitations from both sides of the family to spend New Years with them? What do you? Where do you go? This is the time to negotiate, time to meet in the middle, time to give something to gain something. Remember that segment of marriage preparation that talks about “Conflict Resolution?” Well, now it is the time to put it into practice. Utilize your tools to express what you want, listen to what your spouse wants, and then together find a common ground. What’s most important here is not the outcome, it is the process, the dialogue and the love and understanding that you put into it. Find your own solution, the alternative that will work for your marriage. First, think about what makes your spouse happy, then think of the extended family and friends.
New Marriages, The Holidays, and The Extended Family • Together, as One
Attending a holiday celebration with the extended family is fun, but attending any celebration “Together-As-One” is what God really wants from the two of you. Will the holidays be the same as they were when you were growing up? NO! They will be even better now that you have formed your own family. Enjoy the holidays, have a Blessed Christmas, and a New Year filled with God’s grace.