Making decisions as a newly married couple is a learning curve. There will be times where couples will disagree with each other.
My husband and I are still learning how to agree with each other, especially when it comes to making decisions around the holidays. Although we feel like we’ve established a plan, we continue to talk over alternate possibilities over and over. If it’s that difficult for us to make holiday decisions, I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for those who recently got married.
Every couple wishes they could somehow divide their time evenly between both sides of the family, but that’s rarely possible — even if both families live in the same town. Newlyweds are often sad about missing their family traditions. They’ve always dreamed about sharing their family festivities with each other. With Thanksgiving this month, it’s time to decide where to go for the holidays. Here are some tips to help you and your spouse finally reach a consensus.
Here’s the thing: my family doesn’t really have traditions anymore. After I invested my time in tennis, our family traditions sort of faded away. I traveled during the holidays for tennis tournaments and would celebrate Thanksgiving at Marie Calendars with my family and tennis friends. Therefore, I don’t really see the big deal about skipping family traditions.
However, my husband’s family is big on traditions. They don’t ever stray away from their holiday traditions. On Thanksgiving Day, his family shoots a turkey (well, a cardboard turkey cut-out) before dinner. The day after, the entire family drives up the mountains to find and cut down a Christmas tree.
We started talking about the holidays in September. We’ve discussed our holiday priorities and concerns. Last year, we were able to spend the holidays together for the first time last. Unfortunately, we had some awkward and uncomfortable encounters with family members.
Last Christmas Eve, within five minutes of meeting my cousin’s uncle, he asked my husband, “Are you going to have more than one wife?” That occurrence makes us worry about going back to California for the holidays. We’re tired of hearing negative remarks about us being members of the LDS Church. It’s ruins the holidays for us.
On that note, we encourage any married couple, especially newlyweds, to set aside time to discuss priorities and concerns. If one partner can’t fathom the idea of missing family traditions, they shouldn’t be afraid to express that to their spouse.
Newlyweds might also consider sharing their concerns about their in-laws or family members. For example, if the situation of potentially being criticized terrifies them, they should express that concern with their spouse and come up with a conclusion. Do they avoid the situation or do they put the past behind them.
My husband and I need to work on putting the past on the back burner. My mom always tells me to let what happened in the past go.
Easier said than done.
But she’s right. If negative comments have been shared about the couple or the spouse previously, they should consider leaving that behind instead of “running away.” Being with family during the holidays is what matters most.
Our plan for the holidays is to spend Thanksgiving and New Years with one family and Christmas with the other family. We split Christmas and New Years because our families are somewhat close enough to drive between. Last year was our first holiday together ever as a married couple. We went to his family for Thanksgiving and New Years and my family for Christmas.
I understand that splitting the holidays into sections can be difficult. Our suggestion for newlyweds is try alternating families every holiday. It doesn’t necessarily mean doing what we’re doing. Newlyweds can spend Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas and New Years with the other family. Alternatively, they might spend all the holidays with one family and switch families the following year.
Start New Traditions
Although we planned to travel to California for Thanksgiving this year, we aren’t 100% sure if we’ll be able to make the trip. We’re both still in school and only have about 4-5 days for Thanksgiving break. We are concerned that we won’t have enough time for traveling and spending time with my family.
With the limited time, I’ve suggested celebrating Thanksgiving in Utah. It’s not ideal, since my family lives in California and his family lives in Nevada, but it would be convenient for us. I also think it’d be fun to start our own family traditions before we have kids.
Once partners in a couple begin establishing their careers, it may be difficult to request time off from work. My parents planned on traveling to Utah for Thanksgiving until my dad found out he couldn’t get work off. They’ve traveled to Utah before for Thanksgiving when my sister attended BYU as well.
If a couple decides to stay home for the holidays, they can invite both immediate families to join. If they’re afraid about having both families during the holidays, they can just invite one for one holiday and switch the next.
There’s been times when I wanted to go on a holiday vacation with my husband and escape the stress and drama of deciding between families. No matter what we plan to do, stress always seems to follow us. Our families are bound to get upset when we aren’t coming home for the holidays. Even though we’ll be spending time with one family, the other family hopes that we’ll be at their house for Thanksgiving. Honestly, I just want to avoid the whole situation sometimes. It makes the idea of going on a holiday vacation more and more attractive. If only we had the money…
If couples wish to avoid family drama, they might forego the usual family festivities and consider a holiday trip instead. It’s probably the best way to escape, especially from demanding family members and uncomfortable encounters.
Couples with Kids
Everything changes when couples decide to start a family. Not only do they have to worry about pleasing their families, but they also have to worry about what’s best for their baby. When the first child is between 0-9 months old, couples can continue traveling to their families for the holidays. However, they need to be well-prepared.
Will they be able to travel with all of their baby’s necessities like a stroller and a carseat? Will they have a place to stay? If they stay with their parents, will the house be baby proof? If the baby cries in the middle of the night, will it wake up their parents? Will it be an inconvenience or hassle for anyone? These are all questions couples should think about when they want to spend the holidays at their family’s house.
However, when there’s a family with several kids, it’s not expected to travel to visit extended family for the holidays unless they want to. Their family is big enough to stay home and start their own family traditions. It makes more sense for them to stay home than trying to juggle kids and their necessities when traveling.
Once the decision has been made, don’t look back. Instead of trying to make everyone happy, focus on making you and your spouse happy and (mostly) stress free. We recommend working together to make things fair.
Lastly, remember to be flexible. Just because one year you did something, doesn’t mean the next year you’re going to do the same thing. One year, you’ll be able to visit both families but the next year you might not have that opportunity. If you go on vacation one year, it doesn’t meant that you have to do that forever. You don’t need to fully establish your own family traditions immediately. It may take time; things happen.
Comment below if you have any tips for balancing time with family during the holidays!