Negotiating Holiday Traditions with Your Spouse

Holidays seem to bring out the best and worst in families. With Easter a few days away, many families are busy planning dinners, coloring eggs, or stewing about having to visit the in-laws. Because we were all raised in different environments, a perfect holiday vision for one person is often not in the same ballpark as another. If conflict or disappointment makes a regular appearance in your marriage during holidays, it may be time to reevaluate your plans.

For instance, when I grew up, holidays meant time for extended family to gather for large, formal meals and church services. My husband’s family celebrated with only immediate family and plenty of lounging. Not surprisingly, early in our marriage during holidays, he often wanted to relax at home with our immediate family, while I wanted to travel to be with extended family. We’ve learned to compromise.

Once children enter the picture, couples often create a “perfect vision” for their child’s holidays. Sometimes one spouse thinks that means showering the children with extravagant gifts, covering your home in pastel colors, and cooking an elaborate feast. The other spouse may prefer to spend the day on the golf course and eat out. Maybe for one of you religious observations are very important, but not for the other.

The key to finding any harmony is to communicate your preferences to one another, along with why you would like to see a change. Once each person has the opportunity to put all their ideas on the table, consider how you might incorporate some of the most important elements of each of your perfect holidays. You may even decide to trade off on which holiday person’s ideal traditions will take precedence each year.

Whether or not you have children, you are a family, and should create traditions of your own. You may be surprised about how much fun you have when you allow yourselves to be open to new possibilities.

How do you spend your holidays as a family? Do you feel conflicted with your traditions, or have you found a happy compromise?

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