Holidays, In-Laws and Boundaries

Holidays, In-Laws and Boundaries

Holidays, In-Laws and Boundaries

The first holiday season for newlyweds can be really tricky if the in-laws expect the celebration to stay the same. While this may seem like no big deal to some couples, deciding where to spend the holidays can create marital and family conflict.

Early on in their marriage, Ryan and Meghann committed to waking up Christmas morning in their own home. “We both felt strongly about our decision for Christmas morning, so that was the easy part,” Ryan says. “It got a little more interesting as we tried to figure out Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.”

After some discussion, Ryan and Meghann decided to alternate where they spend Thanksgiving, so this year they will be in Chattanooga. When Meghann’s parents moved to Chattanooga, it made things a bit easier leading up to Christmas. Ryan’s parents live in Kingsport, so they will travel Christmas afternoon to spend a few days there.

“We definitely felt the pressure of everybody wanting us to be with them for the holidays,” Ryan says. “But we realized that for the sake of our own marriage we had to say no to somebody. We have joked that it would have been easier if one of our families opened presents on Christmas Eve. I actually think things have worked out well so far.”

Don’t wait until December 23 to discuss your first holidays as a newly-married couple. These suggestions can help you navigate this discussion:

  • Set a specific time to talk about how you want to spend the holidays. Remember that you are on the same team and your spouse is your first priority.

  • Keep in mind that you may not please everybody. As negotiations proceed, realize that your decisions might disappoint one family or the other. That’s OK - people will adjust.

  • Before you make any decisions, make sure all options are on the table.

  • Once you decide, each of you should call your family to pass along the information. Be sure to say, “We have decided that,” instead of, “We can’t be with you Christmas day because he/she wants to be with his/her family." That will do nothing but create problems for you.

  • Avoid committing to any invitations before checking with your spouse, even if you are certain he/she will want to go.

  • Be respectful of each other as you navigate this new territory.

Think about starting your own traditions and consider including the in-laws.

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