Managing your families expectations: You’re in this together

We know that family of origin has a huge effect on how we spend our holidays. For couples, it is a time often filled with obligations and assumptions based on the traditions that we grew up with. 

It is assumed we will spend time with our respective families and that we will follow the traditions followed over the years. There is also a sense of obligation to make sure that we are spending adequate amounts of time with each side.

It can get overwhelming sometimes. If you have children, there are added complications, where the dynamics multiply. Couples with kids or those who are remarried, things can get quite complicated.
couple sit on meadow back to back

While there is not a universal set of rules to help you navigate complicated family dynamics and holiday-induced stress, here are three tips to help you and your partner remember that you’re in this together.

  1. Communicate about what’s important to you. Talk to each other about what traditions are most special to you and why, and discuss how you’d like to see these manifested in your couple relationship and with your children as they grow up. You might even learn something new about your partner!
  2. Compromise. Be realistic, and be courteous to your partner. Know that it is unlikely that either of you will be able to do everything “your way.” Whether it means alternating each year or combining your traditions in a new creative way, be willing to meet your partner halfway, and appreciate each other for doing so. Which leads us into the next tip…
  3. Create new traditions together. Just as important as carrying on family of origin traditions is creating new ones within your own family. Whether it’s just the two of you and the dog or you’ve got a house full of kids, it will bring you closer and create lifelong memories.

These three familiar concepts are highly applicable to relationships in general, but may also be particularly helpful during the hectic holidays when stress and family obligations can sometimes cause us to lose sight of the big picture.

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The Couple Checkup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The Couple Checkup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy. 

The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

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