Holiday Traditions and Your Relationship:

Answering Your Questions about Holidays, Traditions, and Family Relationships

You had questions about holiday traditions and your relationship, and I’m here with answers!

How do you create traditions when your significant other’s family is dealing with a loss? (1:10)

  • Remember that grief can be complex and challenging. Your significant other may need to keep some of their family traditions to honor their loved one and to process their grief.
  • Remember that grief also may not go away. It changes and becomes more manageable, but they might always have some hurt. As their grief changes over time, it gets easier to further build your own traditions together.
  • First, have open communication with your significant other. Ask them what they need, and what they would like to do. Are there traditions they had with that person that they would like to hold on to? Allow space for some of those. You can also tell your significant other how important it is for you to help them grieve and honor that loss, while still creating your own traditions.
  • Set aside one day for you and your partner to do something new to begin creating your own traditions. Think of what each of you would like to do, and what will be special for your relationship. Make this an established time for the two of you together to create new memories.
  • Help them find small things to continue honoring the loss of the loved one, while still moving forward to create new memories. This might be a special ornament or pictures on display to help them remember this loved one.

How do you decide which family to spend time with and blend traditions? (7:48)

  • There’s no universal tie-breaker. Your families might be flexible, but it’s often challenging to get everyone together.
  • You and your partner can talk through what events and traditions are important for each of you. If there are some family events that are always scheduled on the same day and time every year, these might be harder to move. If there are traditions that are important, but they don’t have to be on a certain day, maybe these can be moved around. First, just be willing to have open communication about it without getting defensive.
  • Early on, you and your partner might agree to spend the same amount of time with each family. Doing this can help to divide the holidays more, but this still takes compromise. If your families are in the habit of celebrating on the same day, you either need to see one earlier in the day, and another later, or ask a family to move their celebrations to another day.
  • It’s also important to remember that as you and your partner continue to build your own life together, you may not do everything you each used to do with your individual families. You may say no to more extended family events, or shorten the amount of time you spend at each one. You can set some boundaries and create your own traditions and blend ideas each of you like.

How to mesh family traditions and time when you have two very involved families? How do you make sure one family does not feel slighted and not make your spouse feel like you want to spend more time in one place and not the other? (10:30)

  • This does require compromise. Once you know what your plans are, remember that it is ok to set boundaries. Some family members may be upset, but they can be upset, and you can still set the boundary that you won’t be at everything.
  • If you both have very involved families, open communication is incredibly important here. Talk with each of your families to let them know how much you care and how much you want to be involved, and that you and your spouse are working on respecting each other’s traditions and creating your own.
  • Sacrifice is important, too. You may have to sacrifice some time with your family. Your spouse might have to do the same. You can try taking turns, and see one family one year, and one family the next year. Or you can choose different holidays over the course of the year to spend with each family, and take turns that way by switching holidays throughout the year instead of switching the same holiday every year.
  • Being willing to communicate with your spouse about holiday traditions and splitting time between families is the most important thing. If you’re getting defensive or easily upset thinking about your side of the family and wanting to spend more time with them, that’s going to hurt your spouse’s feelings. Remember to put your spouse first and establish traditions and time with your spouse first.

Happy Holidays!

Special thanks to:

Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.

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