Whose Family do we Spend Christmas With?

Dear Aaron & Rachel,

Christmas is right around the corner and I am dreading it. My partner of five years and I have never been able to agree on whose family we should spend Christmas with. I think we should go to my parents’ house because it’s closer. Plus, we don’t get to see my side of the family very much because all my siblings (except me) live in a different state. 

Anyway, his family is very close. They call each other a lot and talk to each other a lot, too. They always get together for nieces/nephews birthdays, random weekend get togethers, etc. And if ever someone doesn’t show up, the rest of the siblings talk about them behind their back like it’s some big betrayal to the family to not show up for a little event. So I always feel pressured to go even if I don’t really want to. Because of this, his family has always been a point of contention in our relationship.

In the past, we have shared Christmas Day with each others’ family but this year is different. I want to spend all day with my family at my parents’ house. My partners’ family all got together just three weeks ago for a baptism so I don’t see the point of getting together again especially since it takes time away from my family who I haven’t seen since last Christmas. How do I bring this up with my husband and how do I handle the backlash that will come from him and his family? 

She Said 

The holidays can be a source of stress and conflict for many couples. So don’t worry, you’re in good company! As you probably know, successful relationships are all about compromise.  You should be honest and genuine when you bring this up to your husband and come up with a solution that works for you both. Tell him how you feel and do not say anything negative about him or his family. Even if you follow my advice perfectly, he probably won’t be happy with the way you’d like to handle this holiday. 

Unfortunately, spending all day with your family will not seem like compromise to your husband. His family-which is now your family-clearly value spending holidays together. Ditching Christmas just because a baptism took place a few weeks ago is not going to fly with these people! Would you consider splitting up the time? Perhaps, seeing one family on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas day would be a way to keep the peace. If you don’t, there will definitely be backlash and your relationship may suffer. Is it worth the risk?

He Said

I can see why you don’t think it’s fair to go to his families’ house. And I can also see why he wouldn’t think it’s fair to stay all day at your families’ house, either. I wish there was a concrete right or wrong decision here but there really isn’t. So just as Rachel said, I think it’s best to negotiate some kind of compromise between the two of you. Everyone has strong feelings about their family and can have a hard time talking calmly when they believe their family is being attacked.So make sure to bring it up gently and talk about it in a way that’s respectful and courteous to the feelings he has for his family. 

Perhaps one other thing to think about is instead of battling between each others’ family for Christmas, why not come up with some  Christmas traditions of your own? What I mean by this is that instead of feeling like you have to divide loyalties between your family or his this Christmas, create loyalties to each other through traditions for the two of you. That way it’s not about who gets to spend more time with their family and it makes the holiday more about you two and your loyalties to each other (not each others’ family). 

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