When you first get married, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to meet everyone’s holiday expectations. You want to make your new mother-in-law happy so you easily agree to Thanksgiving dinner at her house. Your Mom asks you to come for the traditional Christmas Eve service? Of course! You agree, even though you live 5 hours away. How do you cope with family expectations at the holidays?
Communicate with Family
Most family members will have the best intentions when they invite you to their seasonal celebrations. Maybe your sister has 3 kids and is determined that they have Christmas under their own tree. That leads to the expectation that you and your new spouse will join them in their traditional celebrations. If you have younger siblings, your parents may expect you to continue coming home for all the holidays just like you have for the previous years while you were in college.
When you are ready to do something different it may be hard for the family to understand at first. If possible, have a sit-down conversation several months ahead of the holidays and explain how you feel about starting new traditions as a new unit.
Be Willing to Compromise
It may not be wise to make a complete break in all extended family traditional celebrations the first year. Take it slow. If you are able to still participate in some parts of the typical seasonal events, it may make it easier for your family to accept your absence at some dinners or reunions. Maybe you could set aside Christmas Eve for you and your spouse but then still get together with the family on Christmas Day. Find a way to be with your family while you are beginning to establish some new celebrations as well.
Remember what is Important!
It’s not always easy to find the balance between family member’s expectations and establishing your own holiday traditions, but you must be true to yourself. You and your spouse are now a new family unit. It is very important to create a solid relationship that will last your entire life. Don’t forget that family has always been there to help you as you grow. Most of the time they will understand that you need your own traditions to celebrate together as a couple.
There’s still time to have some conversations about the coming holiday season. Talk to your spouse and then sit down with your family and make some plans!
How do you plan to navigate the seasonal celebrations?