One-Sided Argument What do you do when you can only spend the holidays with one side of the family? Two couples share their solutions. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
It's important to find a compromise when you can only visit one family during the holidays.
At this late point in the season, you have probably already chosen where you’re going to spend your holiday. But are you happy about it? Picking one family’s place for the holidays can be a tough decision to make. How do you decide whose place to go to without causing static in your relationship?
Take Lizz Stendera, for example. Even before she was married, she agreed with her mother to travel back and forth between families on Christmas each year.
Problem number one was not consulting her husband Matt, as his idea of Christmas didn’t involve driving a minimum of 5 hours. Even before their wedding, they had a disagreement so fierce they almost postponed the ceremony. "It took some time and explaining and tears," says Lizz, "but eventually I agreed to rotating it every other year on a preset cycle—no changing—that way there’s no talk of 'unfair.' "
Sometimes, though, the holidays are a good time to be a bit selfish—as long as you both agree. Pam Gilchrist and her husband chose to spend their first Christmas together alone. "We felt that we needed to create our own traditions as a couple and establish our own life together," she says. From that point, they developed a three-year rotation plan—one year together, one year with his family and one year with hers. Though they’ve been married a while now, her favorite Christmas was one where just the two of them went on a cruise. And now that they have a new home with plenty of guest space, they’re hoping to have the family come to them a bit more often and shake up the cycle.
It can be tough to decide what to do for the holidays—especially if you both have deep-rooted traditions with your own families, and if one of you has a much stronger tie to Christmas with the family, you might want to always spend the holidays with them and reserve another time of year for the other side.
Another thing to consider is what everyone else will be doing. When Lizz and Matt had to choose whose family got the first Christmas, she wanted to make sure the years they’d spend with her family would coincide with her uncles’ who are also on rotating schedules. "There was a lot of planning that went into how we spend the holidays," says Lizz.
Whatever you end up doing, remember that you need to strike a balance you both feel is fair and that your families can at least respect. It’s the thought that counts.