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Should You Spend the Holidays Apart?

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The holidays are a time for being with family. After you're married, determining which spouse's family will share the holidays with you becomes more difficult. Will it be his, hers, neither, or both? Because this question can be a hairy one, some newlyweds opt to celebrate the holidays separately with their respective families of origin. While spending the holidays apart does not have to mean the end of your marriage, it could cause trouble. Before you go your separate ways for the holidays, consider the following:

 

One of you may harbor resentment.

 

If one of you would rather spend the holidays together and reluctantly goes along with this plan, he or she could grow angry and disappointed. That spouse could feel slighted, rejected, or even shut out of the marriage. He or she could even feel unloved by the other spouse, who was quick to return to his or her original nest. Failing to resolve this issue could bring on a bout of resentment that could swell to a breaking point. Something like this certainly could put your marriage in danger.

 

Separate holidays could cause rifts with the in-laws.

 

Maybe both of you are keen on spending the holidays apart. But what do your families of origin think of the idea? Part of your job as newlyweds is to meld your families together to create one new family. That means each of you has to become part of the other's family of origin. Holidays are a great place to start and improve relationships with the in-laws. Your in-laws might feel slighted if you don't join your spouse at their holiday gathering. (The same might be true of your folks with your spouse.) No offense, but you both already know your own families well. It might behoove you to take turns visiting your families for the holidays, so that everyone feels included and well liked. Everyone knows it's hard to pass up mom's pumpkin pie for MIL's bread pudding, but compromise is part of marriage. If you take turns, everyone will be included eventually. You could also - depending on where you all live and everyone's situation - invite both sides of the family to celebrate together. Then, you can all get better acquainted.

 

People will talk.

 

Although you and your spouse should always do what works for the two of you as a couple, you have to realize that people will talk about and judge your marriage always. If you spend the holidays apart, you will have even more talk and judgment aimed at you. This should not guide your decisions. But you have to be prepared for the eyes on your relationship. Sometimes, hearing the judgments and criticisms force couples to look long and hard in the mirror. You might not love everything about yourselves as a couple. You might use these other perspectives as motivation to make change. Or you might have to learn to grow from this knowledge without doing anything about it. Either way is fine. Just be ready to be judged should you spend the holidays apart.

 

Separate holidays could get in the way of your top priority.

 

Becoming your own family should be the top of every newlywed's to-do list. That means choosing your spouse over your family of origin. That means creating holiday traditions of your own. Spending the holidays apart if you don't have to can put you behind on accomplishing this goal of becoming one family. Of course, this is not the case for every couple. The two of you have to decide together what's right for you. If you do decide to spend the holidays apart, make sure that you're both happy about the decision and that you do something together on another day to make up for missing the holiday together.

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