Ask Wendy

How Do I Handle Holiday Drama with My Husband & Family

Friday, December 14, 2018
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Hey Wendy,

My husband and my father don’t get along, and after their last argument at Thanksgiving, my husband doesn’t want to go back to my family’s house for Christmas. How do I handle this?

Cherry T. Des Moines, IA

Hey Cherry,

You have a ton of options here. Want to know what is not in my plans-for-a-happy-holidays list of options for you? Suck it up and show up. And this is unfortunately exactly what many of us do all over the world this time of year.

“Suck it up” is terrible advice.

With mere days to go before Christmas, you probably won’t be able to do the high-level repairs to egos and feelings for all involved so that they’ll all be happy, authentic, and gracious over the Christmas crackers. So, for this holiday season, here are my top three recommendations for you and your husband (and children, if there are any):

Option #1: Create your own holiday celebration and rituals.

Ever wished you had time to stroll arm-in-arm past the festive lights on that beloved lane, holding a warm apple cider or cocoa, and whispering to each other about which houses are your favorites?

Are you feeling like you didn’t have enough time for that crafty ornament-decorating project you wanted to try? Christmas day is the time!

You’re not really into Christmas itself, you say? How about a new holiday ritual of grabbing Chinese food and hitting your local multi-plex theater to catch that new blockbuster. Nothing says holiday like cushy, reclining seats and some smuggled-in grocery store candy (Not that anyone does that…nope.)

Option #2: Create a Christmas haven at your place with chosen family.

Do you have friends and colleagues you adore who don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays? Make your house an inviting refuge. You can put something simple together to snack on, or you can ask everyone to bring food and drink potluck-style. All you need is a warm and welcoming attitude—no tree or decorative lights needed.

Option #3: Create a year-end wrap-up with your husband.

If you’re not feeling like celebrating Christmas at all, use this holiday time to clear out what happened in 2018 and set intentions on what you two are going to accomplish together (and separately) in 2019. It’s important to look at individual goals, too, so you each know how you can best support each other in the year ahead. Use my Full Moon Ritual as part of your year-end ceremony to do some light housekeeping in your relationship and create even more connection between the two of you.

Those are my top three, and after reading this, you might be deliberating and pondering. You might think, “but what about my mom, and the rest of my family?” Are you considering throwing my suggestions to the wind and just compromising? Maybe telling yourself, “I could spend 20 minutes at their house instead of the entire day. Eat the humble pie, take one for the team, and just go.”

I don’t recommend you do this. Why?

I advocate for you to only go places that will make you happy where you both are welcomed and well received. Don’t suck it up, and don’t split up and leave your partner to jet over there for an hour or so—stick together. Absence from family events could be the very motivator to prompt your people to fix this crappy situation and start acting right.

This piece of advice may sound like I’m saying, “Just be selfish and fuck everyone else!” but I don’t think that what I’ve offered is selfish at all. You have people in your life who depend on you to be at your best. When you’re performing at peak levels, you are amazing! And your workmates, your husband, your friends, and your family all deserve the best of you. We are never at our best when we’re triggered, compromised, biting our tongue, and acquiescing to others on their terms when their terms aren’t fair to everyone. So, consider that being “selfish” might be the most generous thing you do all year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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