I have great memories of spending the holidays with extended family as a kid. Sitting around two ping-pong tables in my grandparents basement with a host of Uncles, Aunts, and cousins eating lots of great food. If your family get togethers are enjoyable, relax and revel in it, but be sure to make time to nurture your marriage this weekend. The best way to do this might be to set aside time to spend ONLY with each other. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but make it sacred to just the two of you.
A couple ideas:
- Go for a walk together. Be sure to hold hands as you take an active retreat from the family.
- Reminisce about a couple of your favorite Thanksgiving memories. Pick at least two from before you and your spouse met, and at least two from your time together as a couple.
- Carve out some time to cuddle up on the couch and watch a favorite holiday movie together.
When it’s not good.
Not all family gatherings are positive though. Because getting with family can be stressful, plan ahead. Ask your spouse how you can help. Stay curious and explore how you can help each other. Common requests I hear in my office?
- “Don’t leave me alone with them.”
- “Always talk of me with honor, don’t pick on me in front of your/my family.”
- “Ignore (pick a family member) when they (pick an irritating behavior).”
- “Pretend like you like my family.”
- “Let me handle it when someone in my family….”
Remember, your spouse knows the unspoken rules in their family better than you. Allow them to set the pace. Don’t try to tell them how to treat their own family. Just do the best job you can in being a support for your spouse. Extend grace for how your spouse might revert a bit when around their family.
Most of all, commit to being supportive of each other. Stay on the same team. Don’t let anyone in extended family get between you and your spouse.