Staying Married through the Holidays: Mission...Possible?
3) Don't catastrophize.
We know. You have a conflicted relationship with your parents. We get it.
Oh, and you aren't crazy about your in-laws. Check.
Still, not every offense is worth dying on the hill over. If you respond to every comment, fight back against every offense, and harbor resentment for every boundary violation, you'll only be hurting yourself and undermining your credibility when it comes time to address something that actually matters.
Before you open your mouth to complain or fight back, ask yourself these questions. "Does the offense I'm about to respond to potentially harm me in some real and lasting way or is this just a petty, momentary irritation?" If it is more of an irritation, then take a deep breath and let it go. It may feel like it's killing you, but let it go. You'll only wear yourself out.
Second, ask this question. "Does saying anything do any good?" If the offense won't change if you complain about it, it probably doesn't make much sense to bring it up again. That said, if the offense is serious you have to address it. You do this not by complaining, but by making a plan to solve the problem and addressing the issue yourself (as in the examples in #2 above.) Notice we didn't ask Greg's parents' permission to put the car seat in their car. We just did it. We told them about it once, and when they ignored us, we handled the problem ourselves by setting and enforcing a boundary. Same with the example with Lisa's mom. Sometimes the best way to address an offense is not to say anything, but to do something to diffuse or neutralize the offense in the first place.
4) Create your own traditions.
Finally, don't forget to carve out your own traditions as a couple. Too many newlyweds object to this saying, "With all our family obligations, we just don't have time." Make time. Remember, you are your family now. It is worth showing up a little late or leaving a little early from a celebrations with your families-of-origin so that you and your spouse can begin taking at least a little time to start your own traditions.
For more conversation on how to survive and thrive in your marriage—during the holidays or otherwise—visit the Patheos Book Club on the Popcaks' new book, Just Married.
Gregory K. Popcak is executive director of Pastoral Solutions Institute and the author of over a dozen popular books integrating Catholic theology and counseling psychology. Popcak's books include For Better . . . Forever!, Holy Sex!, and Parenting with Grace. Popcak is a regular contributor to Catholic Digest, Family Foundations, and others.
Since 2001, he and his wife and coauthor, Lisa Popcak, have hosted several nationally syndicated radio advice programs, including Heart, Mind and Strength, Fully Alive!, and, most recently, More2Life. They have also hosted two television series for EWTN: For Better . . . FOREVER and God Help Me!
Visit the Popcak's website here: http://www.exceptionalmarriages.com/