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On Dividing Holidays When You’re Married

Nov 6, 2019

Dividing Holidays When You're Married

For the past couple of years, around this time, I start getting a lot of questions on how we divide the holidays up as a married couple. I think for a lot of people (especially those who are newly engaged or married) this can be one of the biggest stressors when it comes to tying the knot. There is a LOT of pressure associated with this topic.

Does that mean you have to give up Christmas with your family!? Is there a way to do it to where someone isn’t constantly feeling like they got the short end of the stick? 

The answer: There is no right or wrong answer!

Here’s what I feel like a lot of people need to hear: If you both decide that the #1 priority is not missing out on time with your own families––for whatever reason––it is completely fine to split the holidays and spend a few days apart! 

This seems to be an uncommon school of thought–so I figured it was a topic that very much deserved its own blog post. So, here we are! A little more detail on how we decide what is best for us when it comes to our own families and the holidays! 

niece on Christmas morning

My niece, Ashlynn, on Christmas morning last year! (She had just turned two–it was her first Christmas actually knowing what was going on–I couldn’t miss it! SO cute!) 

How we split our holidays: 

Because Neal’s family is all in Chicago, we spend pretty much every holiday with the Loftus (Neal’s dad’s side) and/or Foley crew (Neal’s mom’s side)–that is, aside from Christmas, which is always a toss-up. ?I’m really fortunate to have REALLY amazing in-laws––they are just as much “my” family as the family who raised me, so I’ve never felt that sad missing out/longing feeling that others feel who are not fortunate to have wonderful family on both sides! I feel lucky with whoever I get to spend time with! 

Some people balk when I say this, the idea of spending so many holidays away from my family, but I have always lived far away since college––I haven’t been home for a holiday other than Christmas since I was 18! Of course, it would be SO much better if I were within driving distance from my famil. But I’m not, and that’s not something that we can change! 

My family lives in Oregon–Bend, to be exact–so it’s about a day’s worth of travel and tickets typically cost about $500 (outside of the holidays) to $900+ per person during busy travel seasons–so sadly, we don’t really get out there as much as we’d like.

Not to mention, the holidays are my busiest time of the year.

So I can’t really take a lot of time off right before Christmas to spend time with family. On one hand, I miss my 9-5 ad agency job where my office was literally *closed* from Christmas through New Years––and I was easily able to take off 4+ days of vacation on top of that to spend a lot of time at home. Now, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so that’s not so easy to do! I’m not complaining, I love my job––but it is what it is! Yet another complicated layer surrounding the holidays! ?

nativity play - Dividing Holidays When You're Married

Christmas Eve on the Loftus side in 2017 at Uncle Phil and Aunt Lorrie’s. The cousins used to always act out the nativity play when they were little (all 27 of them ?) and they decided to bring it out of retirement. (I’m probably going to get killed for posting this. SORRY GUYS!) There was also a homemade ice luge. Definitely one of the best Christmases on record. 

For the past couple of years, we’ve spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day apart, with our own respective families, and we’re planning to do the same this year. I’ll head out to Oregon a few days early and Neal will fly out to meet us and spend some time with my family the day after Christmas, and we’ll get to celebrate New Years together! 

Do we wish we could be in two places at once? Of course. (See the photo above? My in-laws know how to throw a party! Hello FOMO!) But we both agree that:

It isn’t fair to ask the other to miss out on that precious time with our families, just for the sake of being together on a holiday! 

The best piece of marriage advice we’ve ever received is from Neal’s parents: “remember that you’re on the same team” (I wrote a whole post on that here!) and sometimes, being part of being a team is acknowledging that it’s okay to divide and conquer when it comes to family! 

I know–some people might think this is weird–because when you’re married, you’re not *supposed* to spend holidays apart. (GASP–someone might think your marriage is on the rocks! ?) But guess what? It’s almost 2020–and you make the rules! 

Dividing Holidays When You're Married - matching holiday pajamas

The one time I made us all wear matching holiday pajamas on Christmas morning. ?Not pictured: Otto’s matching bandana. 

Nieces and nephews grow up fast. Health can be fleeting. Grandparents won’t be around forever. But we know there will be so many holidays in the future that we’ll spend together! Right now, we don’t mind separating for part of the holidays! It’s what works for us. We’re fortunate enough to have families that support whatever decision we make! 

If you’ve been stressing over this part of the holidays, don’t overthink it! Sometimes, one of you “taking one for the team” isn’t the best answer for the team as a whole. There’s no one-size fits all. You do you! 

Would love to know, if you’re in a relationship––how do you divide the holidays? What does that look like for you? (Remember, there’s no wrong answer!) 

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