Monday, July 4, 2011

Real Relationships: Splitting family holidays

Real Relationships: Splitting family holidays

by Janna Haynes

Instead of answering a reader question this week, I am venturing into a topic that I am fairly sure everyone faces, whether you are in a semi-serious relationship or you have been married for several decades: family holidays.
Whose family do you spend them with? Do you split time? Do you rotate holidays? Do you party hop? Do you and your significant other fight about this issue? Do you and your family fight about this issue?
I know it is a real problem that everyone faces today, and, unless you have just opted to blow off one or both sides of the family for the rest of your lives, you'll likely always have this issue. So let’s figure out how to make it as painless as possible for everyone, shall we?
First of all, have an open and frank discussion with your partner about their expectations for family holidays and what they would do if they had their choice. This is not the time to get offended that he doesn't like spending Easter with your parents or that she hates spending every Thanksgiving sitting around your mom's table. Allow this to be a sage, honest discussion so that you can start to make some decisions.
Once you figure out where you two would prefer to spend each holiday, have that same open and honest discussion with your families. Maybe you sit down and do it together, or maybe you each go back to your family and talk separately. Only you know what is going to be right in your situation.
Everyone is going to be forced to compromise, regardless of what decisions are made. It is likely that someone might be unhappy with the final decisions. The important thing is for each family member to know what is going to happen ahead of time so that they can plan accordingly, emotionally and logistically.
The holidays are intended to be fun, filled with laughter, good cheer and, God willing, relaxation and kindness. Make an effort to bring these traits with you to each gathering along with your side dish. Leave the guilt and harsh words at home. Understanding, compassion and a "go with the flow" attitude go a long way when it comes to family dynamics.
Happy Fourth of July and stay safe! 

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