It’s often said that when you marry a person, you also marry the person’s family. And that statement is going to be especially true this holiday season when you typically spend time with family.
In an ideal world, since the two of you found so much connection that you decided to make a long-term commitment to each other, you would like to believe your families would also enjoy being together. However, that is often not the case. Additionally, most of the time, there are siblings involved and they, too, have extended families to be considered. It may just be too difficult for everyone to get together. And in today’s world, many families are separated by long geographic distances.
The resolution for most couples is to switch the family they spend the holidays with by alternating. The fact that your family lives locally and your wife’s family is far away only complicates the matter further.
Traveling during a holiday period is certainly difficult and costly. If your family is close by, I imagine you have a more consistent involvement with them. Therefore, not spending the holidays with them won’t feel right to you. On the other hand, the very fact that you do get to see your family so often may be the very basis of why your wife feels she wants to be with her family on the holidays.
Certainly when it comes to one’s feelings, there is never a right or wrong answer. However, it is very important that the two of you maintain respect for the other’s feelings and needs.
Finding A Solution
A good technique to deal with situations like this is to brainstorm. Come up with as many ideas as possible. As you think up the various ideas, there is to be no judgment—no idea is too ridiculous. Write them all down. After you think you have come up with as many possible solutions as you can, work on it for a few more minutes. It’s been found that the best solution often comes out in these last few moments.
The next part of the process is to review your list. Go through the ideas allowing either one of you to veto a suggestion without giving an explanation. Usually, you will be left with one or two ideas that you both agree upon. Work on the details of these ideas as to how you will put them into action. This is called a compromise!
Here is a sample to help get you started:
1. You fly your wife’s parents in for the holiday.
2. You alternate years so that one year you go there and the next they come to you.
3. You alternate holidays as far as which family you go to.
4. You don’t spend the holidays with either family and use it as time to go away together.
5. You host the holiday and both families come to you.
Remember, holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness and a chance to reconnect. Though it can be a little tough, with a bit of creativity and a willingness to make it work, the true spirit of the holiday can be yours!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.