Remember to be patient and kind as both your families come to grips with this new, somewhat complicated reality.
Published on: 12-05-2018
About six months ago I married the love of my life. We are happy despite the adjustments newlyweds go through in the process of managing their new realities. The challenge we now face is where to spend the Christmas holiday. We spent Thansgiving with my family who live in the same town we live in, and they seem to expect us to spend Christmas with them as well, since that has been a family tradition all my life. Of course, my husband’s family has the same tradition, and he’s looking forward to going “home” for Christmas. My in-laws live about 500 miles away, which means we can’t be at their home and at my parent’s home on the same day. How do I break it to my mom that I won’t be able to make it home for Christmas this year, and that we will need to negotiate where to spend holidays going forward, since there are now two of us with two sets of parents?
Your question is an excellent one. We often hear from newlyweds who find themselves navigating this new reality about where to spend the holidays. This is actually a good problem to have, since it conveys that you feel connected to your family, and to your husband’s family as well. This implies you both have a strong foundation of family traditions that will serve you well as you begin to create your own rituals as a married couple.
First, regardless of how reasonable you and your husband try to be as you negotiate this reality, it won’t be as easy for your respective families. So pray for wisdom, and for the right words and attitude, as you share with your families your desire to spend time with them during the holidays, and the need to divide your time between the two families.
Second, expect some understandable groans from your families, who, despite trying to accept this new normal, have to deal with the loss of your presence at every family holiday gathering. And while they are probably very happy with your newly acquired status as a married couple, it will take some time before they are fully comfortable with the new arrangement.
Third, if you decide to have children, you will find yourselves revisiting your holiday schedule. You may even decide you want to start celebrating some of these special days at your own home with your children, and transition to hosting your respective families on a rotating basis.
What’s most important is for you and your husband to have thoughtful conversations about what you would like to do for the holidays, and where you would like to spend them. Once there is agreement between you two, it will be much easier to speak with your respective families on the topic and arrive at a mutually agreeable understanding.
Remember to be patient and kind as both your families come to grips with this new, somewhat complicated reality. While you might be a little anxious to begin this process, trust in the Bible promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given” (James 1:5).
Trust God to successfully manage this mini crisis. You will continue in our prayers.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE,an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, LGPC, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.