Avoiding Family Holiday Heartbreak

How to avert disputes about where and with whom you’ll spend the holidays

Question: My partner and I have families in different parts of the country. It’s tough to get them together and it’s always hard deciding where we’re going to spend the holidays. Any suggestions?

Getting Together?

In an ideal world, when a couple has found so much connection that they decide to make a long-term commitment to each other, it’s understandable to believe their families would also enjoy being together. However, that is often not the case. Additionally, most of the time, there are siblings involved and they, too, have extended families to be considered. It may just be too difficult for everyone to get together. And in today’s world, many families are separated by long geographic distances.

The resolution for most couples is to switch the family they spend the holidays with by alternating. The fact that one partner’s family lives locally and the other’s family may be far away will only complicates the matter further.

Traveling during a holiday period is certainly difficult and costly. If family is close by, I imagine you might have a more consistent involvement with them. Therefore, not spending the holidays with them won’t feel right to you. On the other hand, the very fact that you do get to see your family so often may be the very basis of why your partner feels she wants to be with her family on the holidays.

Certainly when it comes to one’s feelings, there is never a right or wrong answer. However, it is very important that a couple maintain respect for the other’s feelings and needs.

Finding A Solution

A good technique to deal with situations like this is to brainstorm. Come up with as many ideas as possible. As you think up the various ideas, there is to be no judgment-no idea is too ridiculous. Write them all down. After you think you have come up with as many possible solutions as you can, work on it for a few more minutes.

It’s been found that the best solution often comes out in these last few moments. The next part of the process is to review your list. Go through the ideas allowing either one of you to veto a suggestion without giving an explanation. Usually, you will be left with one or two ideas that you both agree upon. Work on the details of these ideas of how you will put them into action. This is called a compromise!

Here is a sample to help get you started:

  1. You fly your partner’s parents in for the holiday.
  2. You alternate years so that one year you go there and the next they come to you.
  3. You alternate holidays as far as which family you go to.
  4. You don’t spend the holidays with either family and use it as time to go away together.
  5. You host the holiday and both families come to you.

Remember, holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness and a chance to reconnect. Though it can be a little tough, with a bit of creativity and a willingness to make it work, the true spirit of the holiday season can be yours!