9 Tips on How to Avoid Family Holiday Drama

Health Writer
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It’s the holiday season and many couples face the dilemma of deciding where to spend the day. At your parents’ house? At your in-laws? Do you divide things up, spending a little time at each house. Or do you just stay at home. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding how to spend the holidays.

Put your spouse first

When you agreed to marry your spouse, you agreed that he or she was the most important person in your life. The saying “happy spouse = happy house” is true. That doesn’t mean you should automatically do what your spouse wants to do, but his or her needs should be just as important as yours.

Stick to your decision

Talk with your spouse about all of the options on how to spend the holiday. Decide what you both want to do, including when, where and why. Discuss the possible conflicts that may arise and how you will handle them, together. Once you make the decision, stick to it, no matter how your parents or in-laws feel about it. Delaying the decision is not going to make it any easier.

Be a united front with your spouse

You and your spouse have made a decision. That means when your parents want to know if you aren’t coming home because “John made the decision,” your answer should be, “No, we made this decision together because it is what is best for us this year.” Always let your family know that you and your spouse are a team and your decisions are made based on both your needs.

Find time for everyone

The holiday season lasts for more than a day and you don’t necessarily have to celebrate the holiday on the particular day. Make sure to find time for each set of parents. If you can’t spend the actual holiday together, plan a special celebration together on another day. For example, you might want to plan a dinner on the weekend before Christmas or attend a Christmas Eve service with the family that is feeling left out of your Christmas day.

Announce your holiday plans early

No matter where you decide to go for the holidays, let all of your family know as soon as you have made a decision. While it may not be a conversation you are looking forward to having, it is more respectful to give everyone fair warning of your plans.

Discuss, discuss, discuss

Don’t assume you know what your spouse wants to do. When you are invited to something, or you're asked “are you coming for Christmas,” always check with your spouse before answering. It is easier to turn down an invitation than to take it back once you have agreed.

Be sensitive to the disappointment of others

Someone is bound to be disappointed, whether it is you, your spouse, or one of your families. Be sensitive to their feelings and try to do something special to let them know you care.

Find a compromise

Marriage is all about compromise, and this is a good time to work on finding common ground and finding a solution that everyone is happy with. Work around both your needs and wants to come up with a plan you both can live with and won’t leave the other person feeling resentful.

Create your own holiday traditions

Even if you end up deciding where to spend the holidays, arguments can still erupt because you feel the holiday should be celebrated in a certain way and your spouse wants it done a different way. Instead of arguing, come up with a plan that you both like and begin a new holiday tradition that includes both points of view and be sure to include your parents and in-laws in your new holiday traditions.