I remember my first Thanksgiving, married to ‘PG’ as if it was yesterday. We crammed about 15 people in our cramped one-bedroom apartment. We rented tables and chairs so we could serve our guests and even played a fierce gave of Taboo. Oh, the memories, but it was also a source of anxiety. So much so, that we haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving since.
If you just got married in 2013, this is the first time you will be celebrating the holidays as a married couple. The holidays are a great time to re-unite with your respective families, but it can also be a time where you feel anxious, fearful and tense depending on the expectations each family puts upon you.
Acknowledging some of your feelings to your partner can help alleviate the tension the two of you may develop over the long holiday weekend. I just worked with a couple and one of their goals was to begin to create memories as a family as opposed to relying strictly on their extended families to create a wonderful event.
Here are three tips to keep in mind when you embark on your first holiday season as a married couple.
- Make an effort to maintain transparency. – Since this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving, or going to your respective in-laws as a married couple, the holidays are a time to catch up and to take stock in you year. You may hear such things as, “Are you thinking about buying a house?” “When are you going to start thinking about having a baby?” According to Suzanne Lachmann, Psy D. in NYC The holidays can create a feeling of transparency in front of your seemingly judgmental tribe of family and friends. All the troubles you wanted to keep concealed seem to become exposed, or feel like they will. It’s as if you’re suddenly forced to share parts of yourself that make you feel shame. If you convey your transparency as part of your journey it will help you to alleviate the parts of your life were you haven’t reached your milestones as of yet.
- The anticipation of being sentimental. – Good, as well as bad memories are usually made during the holidays. There’s a pressure to expect the holiday season to be fantastic, especially as the first year as a married couple. Memories aren’t something you conjure up in advance. You have to live in the moment. So in order to calm, yourself during this time, think how you can just enjoy the weekend. Apply some of what you would normally do in your day if no family is around. That might include things like: going for your afternoon jog, or visiting your favorite coffee shop.
- Maintain expectations. – In your first year of, there’s another less-explored pressured experience that comes with the expectations of being the child or guest. The expectation is to demonstrate that you’re marriage is “going well” or to show your love and affection toward one another, despite what may be going on in your marriage. Most couples don’t realize how challenging the first year of marriage can be and your friends won’t either. You play your part in order to impress, appease, or decrease others’ anxiety. Discuss with your spouse how you will approach a sensitive topic that may provide anxiety hope for keep you from feeling transparent.
Once you acknowledge and then work towards accepting that the holidays set an unrealistic standard for transparency, sentimentalism and expectations and created strategies on how to deal with them as a couple, you may find yourself able to let go and live in the moment. Ironically, by releasing your view on the holiday spirit should be, you may find the memories that you desire.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.