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How to choose where to spend the holidays when you’re newlyweds

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Deciding where to spend Christmas can be tough, but here’s some advice for how to figure it out!

Deciding where to spend the holidays is a big decision in the lives of newly married couples. It can be a bear of a problem to tackle in those first few years, often fraught with frustration, and you will probably face the following difficulties.

You may always feel like someone is shortchanged, and it will never be completely fair. Compromise is the king of the day. When you mix what you want, what your spouse wants, what your relatives want, and what time and money and work schedules allow, no one is going to end up completely satisfied. 

The holidays bring up many emotions regarding expectations and traditions and family. Part of marriage for the rest of your life will include being on the same team as your spouse. And understanding what brings him or her peace and happiness during the holidays will help your relationship for years to come. But, like so many other things in life and marriage, it may be that you each have expectations that are the opposites of the other’s. 

You often can’t realize what your spouses’ expectations are about holidays until you go through them. And you often don’t even realize what your own expectations were until you come away from Christmas disappointed. 

In the midst of all of the emotional difficulties, at the end of the day, you have the logistical obstacles, too … finances, travel time, work schedules, and more.

When it comes to where and with whom will you spend Christmas, there are four basic options to choose from. You should focus on which one works best for you this year, as every year will bring different challenges or situations to address. So here are your options:

1
Picking sides

If you both have family you would like to spend Christmas with, you’ll have to choose. Discuss with each other which would be better for you as a couple. If there’s an in-law or relative who brings a lot of tension to your relationship, it might be better to spend your first Christmas together elsewhere. The cost or logistics of travel may make your decision for you. But whatever you decide, keep in mind what’s best for you as a couple first. 

2
The family compromise

Spend Christmas Eve with your parents, and spend Christmas Day with his. (This only works if you live close to both of your families.)

3
Invite family to your place

This may be the option that requires the most guts, as hosting can be more stressful when you’re first married and navigating the holidays for the first time. But if you and your spouse are on board, it may be a fruitful venture.

4
Start your own tradition

This is a great option for couples who live far away from family and are constrained by work schedules or finances. Don’t invite anyone over, and don’t go anywhere. Just spend Christmas with each other. This would be a great way to discover what the other person loves about Christmas as you’re on your own time and schedule.  

Regardless of what you choose, make sure to give each other space and grace as you navigate the holidays together. As with everything in marriage, communicate. Discuss expectations you have about Christmas now. And then have a discussion after the holidays are over. What were unexpected highs and lows for each of you? What do you want to try next year? 

If you’re bringing your spouse to the your family’s home, prepare him or her for what that might look like. If you choose not to visit family this year, be loving and intentional in how you let them know. It might be helpful to have a plan in place when you talk to them, so that they know when you hope to see them again, even though it’s not at Christmas. 

And finally, remember that this is a learning experience for both you and your spouse. It’s just the beginning and, God willing, you’ll have many more holidays to figure this out!

Read more: After 10 years of marriage, here’s 5 things I want newlyweds to know

Read more: The art of keeping the right distance with your in-laws

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