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Two Sense: I Don’t Want to “Share” Holidays

Photo credit: Elena Elisseeva

Photo credit: Elena Elisseeva

At what point am I obligated to attend family holidays with my boyfriend? I want to see my own family at Christmas, since they live a thousand miles away and I only see them twice a year. My boyfriend wants to see his. My solution is for us to each see our respective families and meet up afterward for a romantic New Year’s Eve. But he insists we should "share" holidays: one year my family, one year his. I say sharing is reserved for married couples who have actually committed to be a part of each other's family. Honestly, I'm not all that interested in investing more time, money and energy into my boyfriend's family unless we are at least engaged. Am I being cold?

He Said: Sounds like you have the perfect relationship—assuming you still live in the 1950s. What does marriage have to do with your holiday plans? An agreement to perhaps one day exchange legal documents should not dictate how you spend your family time. Instead, figure out what works best for each of you, and your families, and then compromise if you are not on the same page. While you’re at it, you might want to sit down, pour some wine, light a joint, and discuss your mutual attraction to rules. You both seem to have too many. You refuse to agree to anything until you have a marriage proposal in hand, while he arbitrarily has decided that you need to "alternate" holidays. Maybe you should spend New Year's Eve together—in a very cold climate.
 
She Said: I don’t see your question as a throwback to the 1950s. For most people, marriage (or engagement) is much more than a legal document. It signals a tangible jump in commitment. Commonsense dictates that married couples have more valid obligations to one another and yes, to each other’s families, than do those who are still at the dating stage or, one could even argue, cohabitating. However, even though you’re not married, you are one half of this relationship, and all relationships demand compromise at some point. So if you really do desire marriage, why not start practicing for it?

Two things to remember when negotiating: Look at all the gray areas, and get creative. There are so many gray areas in this one. You could make it a hell-on-wheels adventurous traveling holiday and actually hit one family on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas (such low airfares!), or at the very least the day after. You could split up for Christmas but have a romantic couple’s dinner and gift exchange beforehand. Perhaps the family being left out for Christmas could get both of you on Thanksgiving. Depending on the size of your families, you could try to host them both (or one of them, before dashing off to the other). My new favorite holiday idea is to take the reins myself: rent a big house in a convenient location and invite everyone. I haven’t pulled it off yet but I’m working on it. You get the picture.