Wednesday, November 17, 2010

3 Ways to Manage Holiday-in-law Pressure

So Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged. Think about the challenges of negotiating your holidays when one family is "royal" and one is "common." Suddenly the holiday pressures we face look rather ... common. ;) The need to navigate holidays with extended family is no respecter of persons; marriage in every culture and setting faces the obstacle of sharing family time. 

It can help to know you aren't alone in holiday family challenges, and we learn so much from each other. One young bride relayed the story of her first holiday season as a wife. She and her hubby thought they were wisely planning their visits as the new husband called home to say they'd like to come "home" for Thanksgiving. His mother relayed through his father that the new couple was not welcome in their home, suggesting that they should know why. The young couple was confused, devastated and shocked. It was a moment of decision .... would they honor their parents? would they fight? would they cut off communication? would they gossip? would they pray?  It was one of those turning points in their marriage, and what they did paved the way for long term marital health. They did 3 things that we do well to imitate:

  • Seek good counsel - The couple wisely went to an older, godly couple for insight and help. They learned they weren't alone in such challenges, and they gained understanding about themselves and their parents. The older couple stood with the younger in prayer. It's a great pattern to follow.
  • Set patterns you can live with -The husband was the one to communicate with his parents; he protected his wife and the new relationships she was building, while keeping doors open for them with his parents. The husband's leadership was a good foundation to lay for years ahead.
  • Let it bring you closer - Challenges with extended family have the power to divide; don't let them. Once you "leave and cleave," the primary goal is to nurture closeness with your family = husband + wife. Relationships with parents will change and grow and, hopefully, take on new sweetness.  Don't fight the change. Let the holidays bring YOU TWO closer.

Matthew 19:6

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

"Let no one separate."  That goes for holidays and extended family. ;) I hope Kate Middleton will keep this truth in mind. The young couple in today's example spent their first Thanksgiving with the older couple who mentored and counseled them through their first married holiday pressures. The good holiday habits they set helped them go on to many happy times around the seasonal table with both extended families. Blending lives does not happen without some pain and compromise. Sounds like "humility." So much of marriage is about laying aside our own selves ... even in holiday planning. It's never too late to start responding to holiday pressures with godly habits. 

Have you ever experienced holiday hurt? What do you find helpful in nurturing peace in your home?

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