Hi Evie, I’m in quite a dilemma. My wife, and I, alongside our two children, spend every year with my wife’s parents at Christmas time. Then we see my family for New Year’s Eve celebrations. This year, I wanted to swap things around so we could see my family over Christmas instead. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but my wife and her parents have accused me of disrupting their Christmas tradition. I don’t think I’m in the wrong. How can I convince my wife to see things from my point of view? I’ve always had a good relationship with my in-laws, so I’m quite hurt that they’ve reacted this way. I’m even more hurt that my wife won’t compromise when I’ve been understanding all these years. Any advice? – Dave, NY.
Thanks for reaching out, and let me say, you’ve got yourself quite a situation here.
What it boils down to is two factors:
Compromise and tradition.
Let’s start with the latter. When it comes to tradition, people tend to get a bit weird. The custom becomes so ingrained, that any threat to it is seen as an attack. And by the sounds of it, you’re the aggressor in the eyes of your in-laws right now.
But I want to make one thing clear:
You are absolutely valid in requesting to spend time with your family for a change.
Going off what you’ve said, you’ve allowed this tradition to go on for quite some years, so it’s natural that you’d want your side of the family to spend time with their grandkids and create memories with you and your wife.
It’d be a shame to see something like this divide the family. I think this is a good opportunity to have some serious conversations (with your wife and her family) about finding the middle ground and keeping things fair.
One thing to keep in mind:
Frame your argument wisely.
I know it’ll be tempting to call them unreasonable or selfish, but ultimately, this won’t help the situation. They’re guarding their tradition, which clearly means a lot to them. And that’s probably why they’re overlooking the injustice of it all.
Instead, you could frame it as an opportunity to create an entirely new tradition. One where each year, you switch between families. And that way, your children get the best of both worlds, as do their grandparents. Be firm about your wishes, and approach the discussion calmly but firmly.
Now, onto the subject of your wife.
I can completely understand why you’d feel hurt that she’s unwilling to compromise. But compromise she must.
Because let’s be clear – this isn’t just about Christmas. It’s about how you treat each other within the marriage.
Sit down and have an honest conversation with your wife. Preferably before you tackle her parents. Explain how you feel and what effect her reluctance to compromise has on you (and the marriage in general).
But here’s one area of communication you can’t overlook:
Listening. Listen to your wife’s perspective too. Dig deeper – is there an underlying reason as to why she’s so adamant about spending Christmas with her family? Is it something you can support her through (i,e, she feels pressured by her parents)?
By you listening to her, I’m hoping that she doesn’t go on the defensive, but instead, engages in a mature, healthy conversation where you both feel supported and safe.
The holidays are a tense time for many, but if you communicate and address these problems before the family get-togethers begin, you may be able to reach an agreement that suits everyone.
Ultimately, Dave, you deserve to have your voice heard, and your wishes considered.
All the best,