Balancing the Holidays with Your Partner
Holidays are such a wonderful time of the year! There are endless gatherings with food and laughs, you get to spend time with friends or family members you may not ordinarily see and you and your partner are making rounds and enjoying the most of the holiday together.
Last part not sounding familiar? Me either! Jermaine and I have been together for almost 3 years and have never gotten to spend one Christmas together! WOW! I know, many people look at us in awe when we tell them this. For us, it's been challenging - I absolutely ADORE Christmas, his family now lives in Atlanta, mine is still in Maryland, we both really value our families and family time, and we both have 2 small nieces and nephews that we melt over seeing open presents every year. It can be a really tough battle to negotiate who's family you should spend time with each year and for which holidays. After talking to a few friends, I realized this was an issue for so many couples across the board.
It becomes the constant battle of not wanting to apply too much pressure, but also wanting to exert your feelings and expectations in the relationship about what is important to you. You also want to spend those special moments together each year, wake up next to one another on Christmas and open presents together and not having your special person there with you can kind of... well, suck!
We do a lot together throughout the year. We work events together, work out together, go on trips, but... do all of these things make up for the special memories we are missing each year by not being together on Christmas? Since we don't have children of our own yet, this has become something we no longer even discuss, as neither one of us are willing to compromise on missing out on these family memories at this point in our lives. But! We've found ways to work through it and traditions of our own to start that help take the place of the missed time together during the holiday season.
Here are some of the things we do to make the holidays run smoothly and to make our time outside of the holidays just as special:
COMMUNICATE ON WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO US: For some people, holidays aren't important at all or one holiday in their family REALLY trumps another (i.e. my mom will never let her children miss Christmas with her but Thanksgiving isn't an issue). So it's über important to have this discussion and communicate on what matters to who. I would never want to step on Jermaine's family's previous traditions by making plans for him during the holiday so I always make sure we communicate our thoughts for the upcoming holidays and if anything has changed from one year to the next, to be sure we're on the same page.
WEEKLY DATE NIGHT: I know it sounds almost impossible to get a weekly date night in, but for us this has become something important and of value to our relationship throughout the year. We literally may just go to taco Tuesday and a cheap movie or make a nice meal together once a week, but we realized that just because we may work together often, host friends and go to friends homes for events, there is still nothing more important than our alone time… just the 2 of us. This quality time becomes really important in bringing us closer together, keeping us connected and helping us make lasting memories in our relationship.
BE FLEXIBLE: If you happen to be lucky enough to have both of your families in one city - be flexible enough to spend time with both! Find out your partner's family traditions, work them into yours and vice versa. Try to make rounds to see both families depending on the schedule for the day. Or, if one of you comes from a large family and the other from a small, perhaps suggest that one year the smaller family goes to the larger family's home. My sister has created a lovely tradition of throwing her own Christmas Eve dinner each year that brings both of her families together, so that everyone can exchange gifts with the kids and no one feels left out from being able to spend the holiday with she and her husband. GENIUS!
PICK ANOTHER HOLIDAY TO HIGHLIGHT: Because we don't have our own children yet, we've decided to table spending Christmas together but instead decided to make New Years a major holiday in our relationship. The past 2 years we have taken a vacation for NYE and my birthday (Jan 2nd) which has now become the highlight of our holiday! Not only does it give us something fun and exciting to look forward to after Christmas, but it also let's us still make amazing holiday memories through this new tradition! I'm sure once kids come into the picture, we will add them into the mix and continue the memories as a family.
DISCUSS THE FUTURE: It's never too early to have discussions about future plans or traditions. Jermaine and I each have our own set of expectations based on how we were raised and how we envision our future together and with children. I would hate to get years down the road and be disappointed at all of these expectations I built in my head without sharing them with him. We make sure to share ideas we would want for our future children and how we want to spend the holidays together and with family. Of course these things may change as kids come into the picture, but it never hurts to have the talk and helps us understand one another better.
TAKE OTHER FAMILY TRIPS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR: Family is really important to both of us and we both enjoy being around one another's families. I lowkey hate that I have to miss Christmas with Jermaine's family more than with him because they have now become my family too! We make sure throughout the year, we take at least one other trip to see one another's family so that we can still feel connected to them, not just via the holiday. As we grow together, we want to also grow with one another's families through moments created with them as well!
SOAK UP THE HOLIDAY PARTIES: Before we each leave to spend Christmas apart, we hit up a few of our friends holiday parties and REALLY make the most of it. We both love to be social and around our friends so we make sure to say "yes" to these events and really just be in the moment with one another. This not only makes our holidays really special with one another, but creates memories surrounding the holidays that make us both really happy and stress free!
I hope that your holiday is stress free and full of love, laughter and fun. Try not to apply too much pressure to your partner about the holidays and let things unfold naturally. It's a really difficult subject for a lot of us, and making some of your own special memories and traditions throughout the year won't take the place of Christmas, but will at least bring you all closer together and more connected! Isn't that what we all want anyway? :)