Navigating Holidays as Newlyweds
As newlyweds, navigating holidays can be challenging the first few years. You each come with your own family and family history. Both sets of parents have certain expectations and may have a difficult time accepting that their child has grown up, gotten married, and created their own family (you do not have to have children to consider your spouse/ life partner as your new family). Or maybe you are the one having a difficult time wrapping your head around your new status as a committed adult whose main responsibility is to take care of the new family you have chosen to start.
This is tricky stuff. It’s emotional for everyone. You want to please your parents and your partner. I’m here to help you to acknowledge that as an adult who chose to commit to another person and start a life together, that your priorities have to shift from family of origin (parents) to family of creation (spouse/ life partner). Depending on what the dynamics are like, this can be extremely challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m giving you permission to set boundaries and take charge of your new role as a partner. You have an obligation to your partner to make sure that you put your marriage before your parent’s wishes (or maybe even demands).
Ideally, you will work together to compromise on how you will split your holidays with each other’s families while also ensuring you are making space for your new family to grow and thrive. Some ways to nurture your new partnership are establishing holiday traditions of your own. You can pick and choose which traditions from each of your childhoods you want to bring into your new family. You can also decide to start any new traditions that feel right for your relationship.
For example, a tradition from my childhood that I wanted to bring into my marriage was to get a new ornament for us each year. This isn’t just any old ornament though, it has to be one that sums up the year together. A tradition from my husband’s childhood is to hang a silly, stuffed Rudolph on a doorknob each Christmas season. One tradition that was shared from each of our childhoods was to get a live Scots pine tree. But this year we decided to morph that into our own by getting a Fraser fir tree. It’s quite nice not being stabbed by your Christmas tree! So long Scots pine. Other traditions we have created include drinking bourbon hot chocolate while decorating the tree, hanging stocking for each other and the pets, and going to the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights every year with our niece and nephew.
Tell me in the comments, have you had trouble navigating holidays as a newlyweds? How did you handle it? What traditions do you and your partner have?