What a wonderful time of the year, right? Families are celebrating a very eventful year (especially if you just got married), but it can lead to a little bit of stress. No one tells you that the first holiday season after you get married is hard. You have your family’s traditions, his family’s traditions and the traditions that you and your spouse that you are wanting to start. Who do you please? The fact is that you can’t please everyone.
You have to create a new normal. I was so jealous of my sister in law, Jill, after she got married and the way she handled holidays. She didn’t stress about it. In fact, a lot of times, they take an anniversary trip during the holidays and are able to bypass some of the festivities. This is a great idea and a wonderful tradition to start. (A lot of credit should also go to my mother in law for understanding this predicament and taking the pressure off.) And for Jill and Brian, they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They are putting their relationship first. And you should too.
I compare the first holiday together as a married couple to childbirth. No one really ever tells you exactly what it’s like before it happens. So here I am, telling you that it might be challenging, that it might lead to difficult conversations, and it might mean feelings getting hurt. And that is so hard. But you have to choose what is best for you and your spouse. What traditions are important to you? Growing up did your family drive around on Christmas Eve and look at Christmas lights? Your spouse’s family might have gone to an evening church service. This simple activity can create conflict. You both need to talk about what is most important to you and then develop a game plan. A great solution might be to see Christmas lights another night. This doesn’t have to create drama.
It’s almost silly that I’m writing this post as I still struggle with this 18 years later. I’m not proud that most years I’ve dragged my family to 3 different cities on Thanksgiving Day. I saw my mom do it, and I automatically picked that up. My level of stress was not near hers so I figured I was doing good. There were benefits though - Tons of leftovers, getting to see people that you love. It fills your heart. But crisscrossing Alabama every holiday is not healthy.
The new Angela has learned a lot and will be choosing a different route this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, John’s too. But I’ve learned that what I am able to do today is good enough. I’m telling you this because I wish that I had learned it in my 20s.
Maybe you are reading this and thinking I’m certifiably insane. Could be. If this is not even remotely an issue for you, that is so wonderful! But if you are like me and you are trying to do too much, to please too many people, please take this to heart. At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for your marriage.
Sitting parents down and explaining it that way might help them understand your point of view too. They want your marriage to be successful but keep in mind that it’s not just the first holiday for you as a married couple; it’s the first holiday that they have to share you.