Spending time with family is a central theme of the holiday season. Movies and songs alike highlight the joy of celebrating with loved ones, while also poking fun at the drama that often comes with it. But for many couples—especially newlyweds—conflicts often arise about where to spend the holidays. If this sounds like you, here are a few things to consider when navigating the holidays as a couple.
- What’s feasible? Start with the basics, such as budget and schedule. If extended families aren’t close by, do you have the finances and the vacation time to travel during the holidays? If both families are local, do you have time for two celebrations? Talk with your partner about what’s realistic. Together you can explore some creative solutions.
- What’s important? If you and your spouse are conflicted about whose family will get your attention during the holidays, the conversation needs to be about more than just getting what you want. Consider whether this may be the last chance to spend the holidays with a specific grandparent or other relative, or whether certain family members are traveling from long distances to spend time with you. Maybe you spend more time with your family throughout the year, and this is an opportunity to make up for that with your in-laws. Take the time to reflect on what’s important, and then arrive at a fair agreement, without any resentment.
- What’s best for your relationship? It can be difficult to transition from spending the holidays as a single adult to splitting up time between families. To help ensure a happy holiday season for you and your partner, be open to compromise and work together to arrive at a decision. Communicate openly and honestly, and avoid making any commitments unless you’re both in agreement.
If you’re divorced or separated
These same considerations come into play for divorced or separated parents, although compromise is even more challenging when it could mean time away from your kids. Still, it’s important to remember what’s best for them, and then let that guide your decision-making. Make sure they understand that you want them to enjoy the holidays even when you can’t be together.
Expectations are high during the holidays, so try to keep things in perspective. Be grateful that you have so many loved ones who want to spend time with you. And remember that you aren’t limited to the holidays when it comes to seeing family. If you miss a gathering, it may open the door to new traditions and an opportunity to make up for lost time.
Photo credit: Image by Agata from Pixabay
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.