My wife fretted and worried about making the call for days, maybe even weeks. Breaking family tradition was not going to be easy and she did not want to hurt or upset her mother. We would usually spend Christmas Eve at my mom’s house with family and then travel to Kristen’s moms on Christmas day to be with her family. But as our four children began to grow older, it became harder and harder to pull them away from their toys and gifts, pack up the car and drive to Nanny’s house an hour away. Kristen’s anxiety quickly faded as her mother totally understood and supported our decision to do what was best for our growing young family. We have since made a new tradition by spending the day after Christmas with Kristen’s family – so the kids now get to enjoy three whole days of gifts and festivities.
Family situations can be tough – especially for younger couples. They say that you don’t just marry your spouse, but their entire family as well, which includes their long-held traditions, dysfunctions, quirks and ‘Cousin Eddies’. My sisters-in-law (on my wife’s side) and I kiddingly call ourselves ‘The Out-Laws’ because we married into the family and sometimes see things differently than my wife and her brothers do. We joke that the difference between in-laws and outlaws is that outlaws are wanted! All kidding aside, I have wonderful in-laws. They are caring, loving, giving and supportive people. I don’t want to speak for my wife, but I believe she would say the same thing about her in-laws.
Our wedding vows include ‘For Better or Worse’ and sometimes family can bring out the worst in our own marriage as the dynamics can cause frustration and conflict. As our circumstances changed, our Christmas tradition became a source of tension in our marriage because I wanted to put my family first and Kristen did not want to disappoint her mom. Family situations, even though unintentionally, can disrupt relational unity if you do not set boundaries as a couple. Don’t be afraid to have these conversations about family with your spouse in a loving and respectful way. Keep in mind, the needs of your spouse must be prioritized above the wants of the extended family. This may mean breaking some old traditions and making some new ones. Even though Kristen feared the worst, having a simple conversation turned out for the best in our family and hopefully yours will too.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 ~ Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.
Together Time: What’s one new tradition you’d like to start in your family? Are there any boundaries you need to establish?