How the holidays have changed after getting married.
Just five months ago, my long-term boyfriend and I finally got married. After a big wedding and an extended honeymoon, we’ve been looking forward to a relaxing holiday season.
We spent nine Christmases together as boyfriend and girlfriend, so we thought we knew what to expect of the celebrations. But as Christmas approaches (and with holiday parties getting underway) we’re starting to realize that this year, the season will be a lot different than before we were married.
From starting new festive family traditions, to tackling holiday time-management challenges, there are a lot of changes newly married couples should expect over the season. Here are some of the biggest changes to look out for.
1. Spending time with not two, but three, families
Lots of couples know the difficulties of splitting time between two families over the holidays. You and your honey are either stuck doing your own rendition of The Parent Trap by each spending all your time with your own family (but then missing each other all though the holidays) or you stick together but struggle to drive from your parent’s house to your partner’s, trying to save room in your stomach as you jump from feast to feast.
My husband and I faced this conundrum for years when we were dating, but now that we’re married it’s even more complicated. Not only do we feel pressured to see both sides of our family, but now there’s a third family we want to spend time with: our own.
Now, the two of us are our own family—so we want to spend time together on the holidays and maybe even start our own holiday traditions. This might include making breakfast at home on Christmas morning or watching holiday movies on Christmas Eve, but either way, more time at home will mean less time at our families’ and less time to travel from house to house. And while this might make for a challenge, taking the time to enjoy just being together is important, and will surely make for an extra special Christmas.
2. Expect questions about marriage (and babies) at family gatherings
Remember how you didn’t quite get enough time to talk to your great aunt Sylvia or your crazy cousin Bob at your wedding reception? Well, this holiday get-together is the moment they’ve been waiting for to ask you all kinds of questions about married life…and this time you don’t have a bouquet toss to escape to.
Not only will EVERYONE ask you when you’re going to start having babies (or, if you already have one, when you’ll have another) but they’ll also want to know about your marriage. Don’t be too surprised if questions get personal or if it seems like someone’s digging for gossip and first-year-of-married-life drama.
Most of my holiday party conversations go like this:
My family: “How’s married life?”
Me: “It’s amazing!”
My family: (slyly) “Good answer.”
Me: “But saying anything else would be a lie.”
My family: (slyly) “Another good answer.”
My family: “So, are you pregnant yet?”
People are just curious and want to hear updates on your lives together. Don’t let this bother you. Grab a glass of wine, enjoy time with your spouse, and enjoy telling stories from your first months as a married couple.
3. You’ll give less lavish presents
Before my husband and I got married, we saw gift-giving holidays as a great (albeit expensive) opportunity to impress each other. We’d both try to find the most fabulous gifts for each other and wrap them up in fancy paper.
But now that we’re married, it would be irresponsible to spend much money on things we probably don’t need. We share bills and expenses, and while we still want to find wonderful gifts for each other, cost does matter.
Gone are the days of buying fancy jewelry and tech gear. Instead, we’re getting creative: giving each other $15 or $20 price limits for presents or getting creative and crafting gifts. While it might not be as lavish as opening a pile of fancy presents, tt’s cost-effective and personal, which to me means it’s pretty perfect for a couple of newlyweds.
4. You can send out your own holiday cards
I used to think holiday cards were old-fashioned and unnecessary. I’m sure that in a time before Facebook it would be have been exciting to get a Christmas card from my cousin or old work friend. I could’ve learned what they did that year and gotten a family picture so that I could say “wow their kids have gotten tall.” But this isn’t the 80’s and if I want to see a picture of my extended family next to a Christmas tree, I’ll just open Instagram.
Then one day, my wedding pictures came in. I scrolled through them all on my computer and stopped on one particularly cute one of my husband and I looking at each other. “This would make a perfect Christmas card,” I thought. Before I knew it, I was ordering and addressing fifty cards. Maybe I didn’t think of myself as a big Christmas card sender before, but I love it when friends and family say “hey, I got your card! It’s so cute!”
Remember that a first family Christmas card is a fun way to use those wedding pictures, plus, it’s also a cute way to kick off your first holiday season as your own family.
5. Creating new traditions and ignoring others
Perhaps the most important part of celebrating the holidays after you’re married is creating your own traditions. It’s a time to embrace customs you love and ignore the ones you don’t like so much.
The tradition of decorating gingerbread cookies? Heck yes. The tradition of eating fruit cake? No thank you.
While before, you may have gone along with your family (or your partner’s family) traditions, now that you’re officially making a life together, you and your spouse can start thinking outside the box.
If you’re having trouble making up your own traditions, practice saying, “for christmas, my family does…” and then end the sentence with whatever you want. Do you want to rent bouncy castles every year? Do you want to watch Steve Martin movies and turn all the furniture upside down to make forts on Christmas Day? It’s your family and your chance to make the holidays your own.
After you’re married, the holidays can certainly be different, but they can also be amazing. You’ll have a partner to celebrate with and lots of memories to make. Look out for these changes, but most importantly, appreciate this happy time together.