How the Holidays can Wreak Havoc on a Marriage

wreak  havocHoliday times can wreak havoc

One would think since holidays are about family times, they ought not wreak havoc on marriages, but sometimes they do.

It doesn’t matter which holiday, there is often tension in a marriage when it comes time to celebrate. This is because we are imperfect and selfish  people who are creatures of habit.

The way his family celebrates is not the way her family celebrates – and vice versa. What is demanded of couples from their own families often creates tension between the inlaws.

What’s a couple to do when they want to develop their own traditions, but have little opportunity to do so because of the expectations of others? This is what you do: you take a stand for your marriage and for your family. There are many ways to head off the inevitable conflict that will result from such a stand, but these three will help you get started.

(1) Establish your own family identity

Blend the best of both of your worlds and make it your own. Combine the culture and climate of family that best identifies who you are as a couple. Your family must now be your priority because you are your own unit. This does not mean you cannot spend time with the other sides of your families. It just means that “we always go home to mother’s” is no longer the rule. To establish this identity, you must talk together about how you can do this. If what you do one year doesn’t work as well as you hoped, then tweak it the following year; however, you must always honor the interests of your own family first.

(2). Take turns

It is totally unfair to always spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with his or her mother because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or because “she will be so hurt.” There is a way to take turns and if you truly want to, you can figure that out. For starters, the “taking turns” must be conveyed to both sides of the family, and it must be fair. It should be addressed months ahead so the inlaw(s) who will be upset can work through the new way of doing things before the arrival of the holiday. This is a good way to help your kids understand the importance of both sides of the family, even if there’s a side you’d rather be with. They are learning from you and someday, the way you treat others might come back to bite you.

(3). Go for the Gold (Acknowledge your differences and concentrate on the good) 

There is no reason to try to change your spouse’s family. They are who they are. Certainly, you can encourage better choices and you can explain why you might not participate in an event. Yet, holidays are not times to force our opinions (gifts or no gifts, desserts or no desserts) on others. Holidays should not be a time to create divisions and wreak havoc in families or in your marriage. Even if his family drives you crazy, concentrate on the good. Even when you can’t wait to get away from her family, focus on what it means to be family. Your kids are watching and learning. One day, you will reap what you sow. Don’t allow conflict to wreak havoc in your extended families because that will also wreak havoc in your marriage.

Holidays do not need to wreak havoc on your marriage

The bottom line is, we choose what happens during the holiday season. We need to decide what matters most in this holiday season and what values we hope our kids will absorb (because believe me, they will absorb those attitudes). What is the purpose of this holiday, anyhow? Keep your focus on the true purpose.

We cannot force responses of others, but we can take care of our own attitudes. As a couple, we can consolidate forces and be united. No matter what comes during the holiday season, we can stand the blast if we stand together. 

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