One of my favorite things about getting married, was that I received another awesome family in addition to my own awesome family :) There are so many great things that come with having another set of parents to count on, another set of siblings to have fun with, and of course, don’t forget those nieces and nephews! One of the difficulties, however, in gaining another family, is having to split your time between them for holidays and other events. It can get tricky!
As some of you remember, Trevor and I went to the same junior high and high school together (not high school sweethearts thought haha). So you can probably guess that our parents must live fairly close to each other… Try 4 minutes! Though we have been blessed with this great proximity between us and both of our families, it can be difficult to make plans and keep it balanced :) I mean, every family has their specific holiday traditions, and of course they want you there to enjoy them. And then there are other family events that you might be expected to attend, as well. I am thankful, however, for both of our parents who are very understanding when it comes to sharing our holidays and other family gatherings.
After almost two years of experience in this newlywed “hurdle” I guess you could call it, we have a fairly good idea now of how to balance this. Here are our 6 things to remember when sharing time between your families! (I know it’s hard to apply all of our tips to every family situation, because not all of us have families that live in the same state. However, I hope you find the information helpful in most cases.)
6 tips for sharing time between families
Know what events and traditions are most important to each family.
- This can help in your planning of who’s house to go to, when. It works out great if one family cares more about you being present for Thanksgiving than Christmas, or Christmas Eve over Christmas day. Don’t forget about events that are important to you and your husband. There are definitely events that I feel are a higher priority to attend than Trevor does, and vice versa. I’m glad we take the time to discuss this with each event that comes up. It’s also good to let your parents know if you want to spend a holiday on your own.
Plan, plan, plan.
- We have learned to plan holidays in advance. It’s good for both families to know where you will be for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so they can plan with the other family members! haha, it can tricky when you have multiple siblings married because they have in-laws to celebrate with too! If we are going from one house to the next, we try to give ourselves enough wiggle room so we don’t arrive late (Those goodbyes take longer than you think!). It’s difficult to always arrive on time, but it seems to mostly happen when we have poor planning. Make plans in advance, and double-check them the day before so both families know what to expect.
It’s OK to turn down events.
- When we were first married, we felt bad about turning down events because getting married and moving away can be a difficult transition for parents to get used to. I can see how it could be sad to not have your child present at certain family gatherings when they’ve always attended them in the past. But at the same time, we also have things we need and want to do on the weekends. And when we live an hour away, and have two sides of families to consider, we honestly can’t attend every event, no matter how fun and memorable they are. So when it becomes tiresome, and you need a weekend to yourself, It’s OK to put you and your spouse (and kids) first.
If attending an event is becoming stressful, talk about it.
- For those of you who have family out of state, you probably feel this stress too. It’s not always easy to get work or school off, and we all know plane tickets aren’t cheap these days! And if you have children, I’m sure it can be stressful to travel with them! For us, we like taking advantage of the time we are up north by trying to visit both families each time. We quickly learned this was not always possible, though! Birthday parties are a great example of this. If there is a birthday party going on at my in-laws’ house, there most likely is not time left to go say hi to my parents, so we just let them know, “hey, it was so-and-so’s birthday and it was important for us to stay the whole time. Sorry we couldn’t stop by and see you, but we will see you in a few weeks at Easter!” The same situation will happen with Trevor’s family. Just remember that your parents are usually aware of the predicament you are under, so as long as one family doesn’t feel less favored than the other, parents will generally understand.
Your parents have been there, and done that.
- Both my mom and my mother-in-law have told me they’ve learned how difficult it can be to try attending every family gathering. This helped me feel better about their understanding towards us in these situations. I think your parents are even more understanding if you have more than one sibling married, because your parents have also been through the same experience with them.
Be respectful and kind about it
- If we can’t go to an event, or have already made plans with the other family, we do our best to decline the invitation with respect and kindness. I will typically say, “I’m sorry we couldn’t go to that tonight, but thank you for inviting us! Hope you had fun!” I like that our families think about us, so I try to show appreciation for it. I just never want one family to feel less favored over the other. I believe this can happen when the situation is not communicated well. If you are going to be late going over to someone’s house, consider telling them why. There will also be some events you will absolutely not want to go to. I suggest not telling your family your full lack of desire, haha! What is not important to you might mean the world to them, so politely decline or put on a good face and go, haha.
These suggestions can seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but to some newlyweds getting used to sharing family time, they may not have encountered some of these scenarios yet. And then there’s some couples who aren’t aware that their actions towards a family could be hurtful. There have been a few times where our families have been somewhat hurt by our absences, but we’ve learned from those situations. I think we’ve done a great job balancing out our family time, and I’m grateful to our parents for their understanding when we can’t make it to everything. We love them!
Those are our suggestions. If anyone has more advice they want to share, please do!