Some of you may have read the title of this piece and said to yourself, “Holidays?! It’s only September! We have plenty of time before we start having to deal with the holidays!” On the one hand, yes, you’re right! Thanksgiving is a few months away, however we’ve learned that now is just about the right time to start having some conversations to have the best holiday season your family can have. (Case in point: Melissa’s father and Jake’s mom have both asked about our Thanksgiving and Christmas plans already!)
Here are some important holiday expectations to start talking about now:
1) What does your church expect?
Working for a church and getting through the holidays can often be a bit of a challenge. When everyone else has time off to spend with their families, it seems like it’s busy season for many pastors. To tend to the needs and desires of your family, we recommend that couples have some purposeful conversations with church leadership well in advance of the holiday season. What are the church’s expectations during a specific holiday? Are you allowed to take time away with your family? And does that time off count as vacation time? Couples will probably have to find creative ways to meet both job requirements and the needs of family.
2) What does your spouse and kids expect?
It’s really important every year to not just assume that everyone wants to do the same thing as last year. A number of things could have changed for your family in the past year, so make sure you prioritize sitting down and checking in on everyone’s expectations. As a family, talk about how each person would like to celebrate the time and what emotions the holiday season might evoke. If couples are not on the same page concerning plans, it will cause tension, fights, and hurt feelings all around. So take the time to talk about things beforehand and make the holidays an enjoyable time for both spouses and extended family.
3) What do your extended families expect?
Extended families are where things can really start to get messy when it comes to the holidays, especially if you or your spouse has parents who are divorced. Everyone will want time from you yet there won’t always be enough time to make everyone happy. Take the time to find out what your other family members are thinking and then make a decision as a couple what you are going to do and stick to it! When it comes to communicating your decision to your extended family, we’ve found that the best way to avoid hurt feelings and protect the holiday plans that couples have already made together is for husbands and wives to each deal with their own family. For some reason, relatives hear and understand things better from their own kin and are much more willing to accept a change in tradition when it’s explained by a family member.
4) What is your budget expectation?
Oh, the joys of money and the holidays. Sometimes, there isn’t a quicker way to ruin the holiday season that dealing with differences of opinions about how much to spend. The best way to handle spending is to create a holiday budget together ahead of time. And stick to it! Both partners can discuss where they’d like to spend extra money and how much they feel is appropriate. At the end of the discussion, couples should have a budget that is agreed upon by both parties. That way, spending becomes fun and not another holiday squabble.
Jake and Melissa Kircher / @marriageismessy
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