12.12.2014

Balancing Family During the Holidays as a Married Couple

Balancing family during the holiday season as a married couple

Around the holidays I always seem to hear other married couples talking about how hard it can be to share time between both families. There always seems to be this desire to be "fair" when it comes to how time is spent during the last few months of the year. Some couples drive 5 hours to be with one side of the family Christmas Eve, then drive 7 hours in the opposite direction to make it to the other side of the family's Christmas dinner. In the end, more time and money is spent traveling than WITH family. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the holiday season? Maybe; for me at least.

M and I decided very early on that it was important for us to have Christmas at home once we have children. We don't want to be dragging them to and fro in order to please everyone else. I think I might also have a slight aversion to this since I come from a divorced home where the holidays were always split. Since that isn't exactly where our life is at right now, we had to decide how the holidays would be split between our families in the meantime. From the VERY beginning of our engagement, this was something we discussed. We didn't want this to become an issue AFTER we were married, because the first year is hard enough in itself.

In the end, we decided that M's family would get Thanksgiving that year, and mine would get Christmas. This is what is realistic for us considering our families are now spread across the country. The following year, my family would get Thanksgiving, and his Christmas. Although it has been somewhat challenging to stick to this arrangement (especially because my family is going to Hawaii this year for Christmas and it's not our year to spend with them), it has been a HUGE help to us. There's no waiting until the last minute to tell one family we won't be seeing them. There's no hurt feelings because it has been established from the outset that this is how things would be. There's no competition over what set of parents is having the "best" holiday celebration and therefore gets our attendance. There's no crazy travel agenda in hopes of "fitting everyone in" so feelings don't get hurt. It relieves SO MUCH of the pressure.

I know some couples struggle with setting boundaries with their families after they get married. But it really only comes down to one thing: your marriage. When you get married you need to understand that you now have two families. However, what matters in the end, above all, is your marriage. As a couple, you need to work to protect your relationship above all things, even if that means not seeing your parents for Christmas or your grandparents for Thanksgiving. Your family is now your husband (or wife), and so as long as they are there, you ARE with family during the holidays. I would encourage you to do what is best for your marriage, even if that means you have to sacrifice time with one side of the family. This might look differently for you, but this is what works for us.

How do you "share" the holiday season between your family and your in-laws?

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36 comments :

  1. My sister and her husband did what you are doing until they had children. They would go up to Boston for Thanksgiving and would be here, in Atlanta, for Christmas and then the next year switch it. Now that H is 2, they will be here for Christmas always, and up in Boston for Thanksgiving...it's easier that way with the gifts. This is the first year they did that.


    Jeremy's sister lives about 45 minutes from us, so we are going to see them on Christmas Eve and then we will be with my family for Christmas Day. We will see my dad in the morning and my mom in the afternoon/dinner. Aren't divorced families fun? Ha!

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  2. We are really experiencing this for the first time... for us, both of our families are here, so that makes it different. We've been able to work out a schedule that works for us. His family has always done Christmas on Christmas Eve, while mine has always done it Christmas day. I do agree about when we have our own family. I definitely think I will want to be in my own home with my own kids.

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  3. We do the same thing, rotate between our families each year. They are spread far apart as well.

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  4. Amen, lady! We are fortunate enough to have both families only 20 minutes away in the same town so our holidays aren't spent running around like crazy people. Now, when my parents got divorced (I was younger) we did a lot of traveling back and forth and I hardly got to enjoy my holidays! My husband and I decided that our family will come first when we do have kids and that Christmas will be spent at home and then we will head to the parents and in-laws!

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  5. I totally agree! Love your arrangement :) Our situation is a little odd because my hubby doesn't have family he wants to be with (remember the story?) so we will pretty much do all holidays with my family. If he ever wants to with his grandpa, I'm 100% in! I also come from a divorced family so yeah, running to a fro from mom's to dad's to the grandparents has always been exhausting!

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  6. Such great insight to this topic! This was one of the key conversations Hubs and I had towards the beginning to our relationship. Family is very important to me, so I wanted to have an understanding as to how holidays and family time would work.

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  7. I think this post was meant for me as I was just crying on my sofa the other night about leaving my family - for the first time EVER - on Christmas. I had to get over myself and apologize to my Mister because I was not too nice over our Christmas arrangement. This is our first Christmas together and it will take some getting used to adding another family into the mix, however, we are in TOTAL agreement that once we have children, there will not be any traveling and the grandparents will have to come to us. Thanks for posting this today!

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  8. This is perfect Cassie. I totally agree that you are now a family with your husband and no matter where you are, that's your family now too. I think setting plans ahead of time like you did so everyone knows the plan.

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  9. This is so great, it's always hard to decide on those kinds of things. I also come from a divorced family so I'm used to kind of splitting up the holidays, now that means we've got my two sides PLUS Caleb's side of the fam! It's a lot to tackle but we've got a system now and everyone knows we aren't going to stretch ourselves too thin. :) glad you all had it figured out.

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  10. Sounds like your family has done a good job figuring this out! And yes, divorced families can be hard. But on the bright side, it means double presents and double food hahaha

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  11. That's really great that you've been able to find something that works for you and your husband! I'm so with you on being at home when kids come.

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  12. It seems like the only logical solution! I know people that spend Christmas day with one family, then fly across the country to spend the day after Christmas with another family. The idea of that makes me nauseous!

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  13. That's really nice that your families are nearby! And yes, splitting holidays is hard and I don't want my kids to have to feel torn in too many directions!

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  14. Yes it is! It's really nice that you can provide the family that he doesn't have; that makes your arrangement perfect for you two :)

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  15. We did too! We set clear boundaries right away to prevent hurt feelings or misunderstandings from happening

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  16. Oh lady, I'm so sad for you. You get to be hurt by it- it's hard! It doesn't come easy at first and it's not supposed to. It will take some getting used to but now you are tied to your husband and as long as you are together you are with your family :)

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  17. YES, YES, YES! Glad I'm not alone in this haha

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  18. We're the saaaaame way! And yes having a system is the best and only way haha

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  19. Man oh man! You hit the nail on the head! This is hard for me and chris mainly around Christmas. This year we decided to be home, together- and to be honest I'm thinking this is how it's going to be from now on. Like said at our wedding (it was a long these lines but I can't remember the exact wording) -we leave our parents to join together as one, cleaving to each other. It's hard to remember but from now on we, as a married couple, come first.

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  20. EXACTLY. Spending Christmas at home last year was the best. We missed our families but it's nice to build memories with each other too

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  21. It is so true that your husband (or wife) becomes your immediate family and that it's so important to spend those holidays with them! Hunter and I kind of do the same thing, swap family holidays each year. Once we start having kids, we'll definitely be doing the holidays at home and the in-laws can come visit, stay, and celebrate in our home. Hunter and I are very lucky that both of our families live so close to each other and love spending time with the other, so we're usually able to combine everybody together into one household and celebrate :)

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  22. That's pretty special to have that and I'm sure you don't take it for granted! Yay for your first holidays as a married couple!

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  23. I literally have listened to a sermon where at one point the pastor talked about how important this was four couples to talk about because it is a BIG deal. a bigger deal than it seems. I mean, it isn't like the BIGGEST deal. LOL it's a first world problem. But you get what i am saying or i hope so bc i am done typing

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  24. It really is a big deal hahahahaha I get you.

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  25. You are so right! there is no sense in dragging everyone around. Thanksgiving- we do my inlaws and my parents get Black Friday or 2nd Thanksgiving. Then we do something similar for Christmas. I think what's important is that we are together in a special day versus cramming in time on the holiday.

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  26. You couldn't be more accurate in your final statement!

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  27. I agree with you 100%. My Fiancé and I have never spent a holiday together because his family lives in Buffalo, NY while mine is 2 streets away from us in Baltimore. Before we got engaged we talked about what would happen when we were married and we decided that Thanksgiving will always be spent with my family because we only get two days off work and traveling would be too much when we always use our vacation days throughout the year. But we will rotate Christmas between our families. Luckily, my family (grandparents, siblings and parents) decided they want to go to Buffalo, NY next year for Christmas to make it easier for us, and to guarantee a white Christmas for them!


    Once we have children we will be doing the same as you and inviting people to our house instead of running all around. That was my least favorite thing growing up, until my parents put their foot down when they had my 4th sibling. It just got to be way to much (thank goodness!)

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  28. So glad you have found something that works well for both of you and allows you to see your families!

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  29. SUCH good perspective that your marriage is what should come first — always. My husband and I also had that conversation early on, and I'm so glad we did. Our families are on opposite sides of the country, and it is really great to have an arrangement in place where you can let both parties know in advance when you will be spending time with them. Love this post :)

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  30. I'm always kind of shocked how people get through their first holiday as a married couple without working some sort of arrangement out! Glad you figured something out!

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  31. Mimosas and cinnamon rolls will definitely still be happening. As long as it doesn't snow Christmas Eve, Dan promised to grill out bacon-wrapped filet mignon! Way better than frozen pizza. ;) Knowing us, we'll still end up with pizza on Christmas Day...

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  32. I am not married, but I appreciate this post. I see a lot of arguments pop up with some of my family that is married about this time because of differing opinions on who they want to spend the holidays with.

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  33. Love this post, Cassie! It helped so much. Your insight is awesome! (:

    -Annie

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  34. Glad to hear it! Setting boundaries as husband and wife is so important.

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  35. Thanks for sharing this! My boyfriend and I aren't married yet, but we've had this discussion and I feel like this is such a good idea. I have a hard time with wanting to see everyone, but you're right, if half your holiday time is spent in a car getting from one family to the other, it is kind of a crummy way to split up your precious time.

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  36. Definitely! I also think we sometimes make too much of holidays and that time might be better shared at a different time of the year when time is less pressed!

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