Whether you’re newly married or recently engaged, navigating the holidays with your “in-laws” can be a bit tricky. But the good news is they don’t have to be!
I hope these three simple tips will truly help you enjoy the holidays this year.
Set boundaries and expectations with both of your families.
Even if you have been with each other’s families over the holidays before, there is just something a little bit different once the rings are on your fingers. You’re now a unit, and most likely aren’t spending time with your family alone any more. If you’re feeling pressured from each side of the family, maybe suggest alternating holidays or coming up with a new ‘holiday’. When my sister got married, my mom said “we’d love to see you on Christmas day, but we can celebrate Christmas in January if we need to.” I think this can relieve a lot of pressure on a newlywed couple.
This year we are actually moving Christmas with some of my family to January and forgoing gifts (there’s like 45 of us between the ages of 62 and newborn, if everyone shows up). We just want the focus to be on spending time together (and that’s a lot of gifts!). We’ve decided to celebrate in January to avoid scheduling conflicts with all the in-laws and just to grill out and hopefully go bowling – that’s our longest running family tradition – holiday bowling!
It is important to try to keep your family ‘happy’ because hopefully these people will be in your lives forever; but also everyone needs to understand it is a time of adjustment for all involved and it’s not like you’re trying to not spend time with them. In order to avoid tense situations, talk about setting day and/or time limits with certain family members if you need to.
Create a new holiday tradition for just the two of you.
Traditions have to start somewhere! Think about how your favorite holiday traditions got started, or ask your family members if you need to. Sometimes they just start in the most ordinary ways and sometimes they were pre-planned by someone who wanted them to happen. Either way, start something new for you and your man. Does your town have a tree-lighting or a neighborhood that goes all out in lights? What about going ice-skating or serving at a homeless shelter? Is there a super-fancy favorite restaurant you never really splurge on but maybe you could just this one time of year? I’d love to hear what new traditions you start this year!
Talk about the holidays after the fact.
Once the holidays are over, talk about them! How did they go? Do you like how you spent your time with your family? Did you like the tradition you tried to start this year? If you didn’t, you can adjust next year! Maybe you spent too much time with family and not enough with just the two of you. Or maybe you really didn’t like that restaurant and ended up at Waffle House? Make that your new tradition! The key here is to be open and honest about what did and didn’t work for the two of you this year, and literally make a note about it for next Christmas.
10 New traditions to start with your fiancé / new husband
- Go to a tree farm and cut down your tree!
- Get coffee from a local shop and drive around looking at Christmas lights.
- Bake cookies and deliver them to your family, friends, and neighbors.
- Invite family / friends over for a fancy dinner or make it just for the two of you.
- Go bowling!
- Serve at a homeless shelter.
- Pack a box or two for Operation Christmas Child.
- Buy an ornament for each other each year that celebrates an inside joke!
- Surprise a loved one (or a stranger) with a few gifts on their doorstep.
- Go caroling with a group of friends to a nursing home.
What new traditions will you start this year?