It wasn’t that long ago that I shared with you all one of the lessons I am learning and re-learning this season: Sometimes you have to say “no” to good things so you can say “yes” to great things. That lesson has involved not only saying “no” but also asking for help and truly allowing other people to help me. Is that as hard for any of you as it is for me?
Difficult as it may be, I am working on it. One thing that makes it a bit easier to actually ask is when you are met with an enthusiastic, “Anything you need!” In this case it came from my new friend Maggie Reyes of Modern Married. Maggie is a life coach, blogger, and hopeless romantic. Though we have never met face-to-face, I adore this woman and consider her a great partner in spreading the hope and joy found in making marriage work.
Today she shares some insight on enjoying the holidays as we navigate that separation from the traditions we grew up with and the new traditions we can create within our own marriage. Here she is…
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Dear #staymarried Readers,
Michelle asked me to write something about the importance of creating traditions in your marriage. When she did, she had no idea that The Hubs and I had actually created our own Holiday… sort of.
Here is my story. It has a happy ending, I promise…
I grew up with a single mom. We usually spent holidays at somebody else’s house. Over the years we developed our own holiday traditions and by the time I was in my thirties, one of my favorite holiday traditions was a huge Thanksgiving dinner we would celebrate at my BFF’s parents’ house.
I was in charge of the décor and general “ambiance.” My friends tell me I have a gift for taking a space and making it feel welcoming or festive or, when we used to host a book club at our church, making it a “sacred space.”
I LOVED putting together that night with my BFF and her mom and assorted family members. It was a mix of a pot luck, party, and family reunion rolled into one.
I was so excited when I met The Hubs because I couldn’t wait for him to experience it. Except he always spent Thanksgiving with his cousins. Family tradition.
One of the first and biggest disagreements we ever had was about where and how to spend Thanksgiving.
We came to an impasse. Suddenly my excitement just wasn’t the same. I had a long talk with my BFF and she said, “Your family is expanding, embrace it. Traditions evolve. Go to his cousins.”
I love his cousins. They are the dearest, most loving people. But, I was really sad. Although an exciting part of my life was beginning, I had a very hard time saying goodbye to that chapter of my life and those Thanksgiving memories.
Growing up with a single mom, over the years I learned to assemble my family of friends. It felt so comforting to have that Thanksgiving celebration that I was a part of, which I helped create. Suddenly, with the arrival of the love of my life, I wasn’t just saying goodbye to that one night a year, I was saying goodbye to a part of myself.
This happened years before I had any life coach training. I did not handle it elegantly at first. I wanted to “force” my future hubby to “want” to do something. Ever try that? It never works.
During that time, the hubby came up with names for us. He declared me “the unstoppable force.” He said the only thing that could match an unstoppable force was “the immovable wall.” AKA: him. He wasn’t mad that I wanted to keep my self-created tradition. He was mad that I was trying to force him to like something just because I liked it.
I learned one of the greatest lessons of my marriage during that that first Thanksgiving. I learned I could share from my heart whatever I was going through and my hubby would listen, but never could I ever force him to do something just because. (Ssshhh, please don’t tell my mother-in-law! She thinks I have a little sway, but truly, I have accepted that the hubby only does things he wants to do. And sometimes he wants to do things because they make me smile or happy or excited. But not always. And that’s ok.)
After some emotional wrangling, I realized I would have to start fresh. I am a very creative person. I believe in re-defining marriage at every opportunity– making it work for me and for my hubby. I believe in healing and choices and making new decisions when the old ones don’t feel good anymore.
I called my best friend and said, “We need a new holiday.” Now my best friend has known me since 2nd grade and I have called her with all kinds of crazy ideas my whole life, so when I called her and said we needed to make up a new holiday, let’s just say: she wasn’t shocked.
We needed something that would honor her parents (who have also known me since 2nd grade) and yet be manageable for everyone’s completely crazy yet totally lovable holiday schedules.
We also needed a new tradition. Something the hubby and I created together (with a little help from the BFF of course). I didn’t realize it at the time, because I was so sad that I felt like a part of me was dying, but a new and beautiful part of me was also being born. The Wife part. And this new woman needed new traditions. I realize now that a family is created one day at a time.
We choose to put each other first. We choose to make our relationship a priority. We choose each other every day. Over and over again. Now I have come to believe it’s so important to create new traditions and new memories with your spouse because those traditions are a symbol of the promise, “I will be there for you. I will create new memories with you. I will leave behind old ways of doing things to find new ways of doing things together.”
Traditions may look like turkey and football, but they are really trust and love in disguise.
Which brings me back to how we made our own holiday. After some brainstorming, we figured out that Thanksgiving and Christmas were just too complicated. New Year’s Day, however, was completely virgin territory. No one did anything on New Year’s Day, which meant everyone was available.
The next step was figuring out what to do. Everyone is tired of cooking (and cleaning!) by the time we get to New Year’s so it had to be out. Somewhere nice. (But not too nice, because we all just bought Christmas presents, right?) So my beautiful BFF started calling restaurants to find out who is open on New Year’s Day. As it turns out, Outback Steakhouse is both open and delicious on January 1st.
Every year since my wedding, a big group of us gets together and goes to Outback Steakhouse. We exchange Christmas presents and laugh and the kids play and we tell each other all our holiday stories and make new memories.
I know the holiday season can put extra stress on relationships for so many reasons – family, presents, parties – all the things we love can also cause us stress if we don’t learn to manage them and make them work for our individual and specific situation.
So you may not need to make a new holiday (though if you do, I totally want to know! Come visit me on Facebook and tell me all about it!) but take a moment and take a deep breath, maybe even put a hand on your heart and ask yourself, what is worrying me the most about the holiday season? And see if you can call your honey or your BFF and do something about it.
How have your traditions changed since you got married? Any tips to share to make the holidays more peaceful? Please share in the comments.
Maggie Reyes is a Life Coach, Writer + the Founder of ModernMarried.com. Her romantic-yet-practical approach to wedded bliss has been featured on Project Happily Ever After, Daybreak USA, Cristina XMRadio, The Happy Wives Club and now the #StayMarried Blog. Woo-hoo! When she’s not writing, working or creating pins for her fabulous Facebook Community, you can find her cuddling with her hubby, reading a romance novel or embracing how the words “over-achiever” and “TV Junkie” can still go in the same sentence, to describe the same person. Learn how to love like a newlywed no matter how long you have been married at www.ModernMarried.com.
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