Breaking away from family traditions after marriage


#1

This is a tough one. We just got married September 30th. We want to start our own traditions with respect to the holidays. Not all of them, just Thanksgiving for now. My DH and I will be hosting Thanksgiving at a friend’s house for about 6 people. We are very excited about this, and had a great time shopping for all the cooking supplies last night.

Well - for the last 5 years I’ve been spending this holiday with my Dad at his brother-in-law’s house. He is re-married (27 years now). At the Thanksgiving meal there are about 30 people, from the in-law side as well as the sister-in-law’s family. The only person in the room that I’m related to is my Dad.

He’s not happy that we aren’t spending the holiday with them. But frankly, I never have truly enjoyed myself, which is perhaps a horrible thing to say. I only went to be with my Dad. Well, this year my husband and I want to do what makes us happy, and that is to have dinner with friends. We will visit my Dad over the long holiday weekend, so it’s not like we won’t see him at all. But he’s still not happy that we won’t be there on Thursday.

----sigh----

So - how did any of you deal with the whole breaking from tradition thing when you got married? Was it difficult, or did family understand that you are now your own family and will start your own traditions? It’s certainly not easy, that’s for sure.

~Liza


#2

You expect it to be easy for a Dad to hear that it makes you happy to spend what has been a traditional family weekend with friends? It would break my heart to hear my daughter say that to me.

But don’t worry about it. You never really enjoyed yourself anyway.

Frankly, it wouldn’t be a tough one for me.


#3

Could you not host your friends on Friday? Since it sounds like a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal, having it on a non-traditional day should not be a problem.

Idea two, could you invite your dad to YOUR house?

You have a dad, who loves you and wants to spend this holiday with you (while Christmas and Easter do have bigger meanings than family, Thanksgiving really IS about family). Many of us have more than one family and have to divide up the day - We drag all over creation to spend Thanksgiving with my family and my husband’s family… Since it is just your dad and you, well, I’d think the kind thing is to find a way to include dad. He won’t be around forever.

There is no law that says the day you get married you should toss out your family traditions and start brand new. Then it is just habits - it takes generations to make a real tradtion.


#4

When breaking away, someone’s feelings are always hurt - almost guarunteed. My husband and I are celebrating every other holiday with each side of the family. Not the same situation, but it was difficult with other things - like we decided to live in IL - less than an hour from my family - instead of OH near his or halfway in between in IN. His parents were not too happy and actually up til the day he got a job (we both graduated from college this past May) were pushing him to apply in OH, esp. in his hometown where he was pretty much guarunteed a job. Also, we’ve taken more traditions and other things (like cooking and handling situations - we also don’t plan ahead too much which is a known trait of my family but his plans WAY in advance) and it’s not always been happy times. I’ve learned to just roll with the punches and let them simmer in their minds until they remember we are adults and making our own decisions and they can’t change it.

If you’re direct, I’ve found they accept it easier knowing you won’t change your minds. Also, it’s probably going to take a little while - it is a slow process of letting go and adapting to changes :).


#5

Small point you are missing - his is the ONLY family member at that meal. And he would never leave his wife and her family to attend something I was hosting. It just wouldn’t happen, she would put her foot down loud and hard over that one.

The meal we are hosting with friends is very much indeed a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Not sure where the idea that it’s not came from.

My in-laws all live in Europe, and my mother and her family are in another state, so we won’t see them for any of the holidays anyway.

Easter and Christmas, as well as every single other secular holiday, are always spent with my Dad.

I am sorry if I sound a bit offended, but I am. I did not ask anyone about how to handle my current situation, I’m perfectly fine with managing that, thank you very much. I was asking about other’s experiences after marriage.

If we can’t discuss this without passing judgements on how I am handling this one specific holiday, then let it go. That wasn’t my intent.

~Liza


#6

I agree.

Yes, start your own traditions. But do you really want to start something like hosting Thanksgiving at a friends house? Do you plan on doing this every year? Will those friends always be around? Or will you find a new thing to do every year? If it is a new thing every year, there is no tradition there.

So, don’t go over to your Father’s in-laws house. Have your Dad over to your house. Have your friends over to your house, include your Dad.

There are many ways to make your own traditions. But just because you are married, doesn’t mean that you are no longer part of your pre-married family.


#7

So - how did any of you deal with the whole breaking from tradition thing when you got married? Was it difficult, or did family understand that you are now your own family and will start your own traditions? It’s certainly not easy, that’s for sure.

I didn’t cut off my family. I started traditions that included them. They were still part of my family, I didn’t lose my parents, I gained a husband.


#8

From Original Post: **He’s not happy **that we aren’t spending the holiday with them. But frankly, I never have truly enjoyed myself, which is perhaps a horrible thing to say. I only went to be with my Dad. Well, this year my husband and I want to do what makes us happy, and that is to have dinner with friends. We will visit my Dad over the long holiday weekend, so it’s not like we won’t see him at all. But he’s still not happy that we won’t be there on Thursday.

Liza, if my comments offended you, it may be that it touched your conscience. Your offense notwithstanding, your OP sure makes it appear that you prefer your friends to your Dad. All I did was respond to what you said in the original post. Note what I bolded.


#9

I have requested that this discussion is closed and removed. It is clear that it is not possible for anyone to discuss my original intent, but only to judge my actions.

I deeply apologize for asking, as a new wife, how others have handled the changes that married life brings to an extended family.

Thank you,
~Liza


#10

For someone who has been in the same exact situation where I have been at Thanksgiving where the only relative is my dad, it’s a little awkward. And she has every right to start her own traditions. They told my fiance and I that in pre-Cana. Different situation…every year my cousin comes up to her mom’s house and brings her husband and kids. This year they are staying home, did it break my aunt’s heart? Sure, it did. But it was nothing personal, my cousin has her own family now and they need to have their own traditions. Not to mention she had to ship presents for her kids from her house to her moms, then she had to lug them all back to South Carolina.

You act like they don’t have a right to be happy during this holiday. If I was a parent and knew my kid was unhappy with me at Thanksgiving then I would encourage him/her to do what they want. It has nothing to do with conscience. It has to do with her enjoying the holidays with her new husband how they see fit. And I can see why her dad is disappointed. There’s no reason why dad and his wife can’t come over the day before or after and visit them. This is why I don’t really enjoy the holidays as much as I used to…it’s all crammed in one day.


#11

Thank you StratusRose - I do appreciate that.

~Liza


#12

I see where you are coming from. My fiance and I will have to face this dilemma next year because we are both very close with our families.


#13

My dad is the only one on his side of my family that I really spend any time with, the rest are distant or too busy with their own families to be bothered. As I said, my in-laws are thousands of miles away so they are not an issue.

The friends we are spending our holiday with have no family to go to. They are either single with no family near enough to travel to, or their parents have passed away, and have no close siblings. We thought it would be nice to host a dinner for them so no one is sitting home alone on the holiday. This is what I am thankful for - the ability to show love to those who would otherwise be alone. I think it will be a lovely day for all of us.

I wish you the best with your own transitions, it’s wonderful being married, but it does have its sacrafices. And I’m perfectly ok with that actually.

~Liza


#14

Lizanne,

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (I have yet to make a turkey…someday) It sounds like you and your friends will enjoy themselves. Being away at school for the past four years, I spent most of my Thanksgivings away with friends instead of at home (b/c the trip would have been too much in so little time).

I hope that your dad will be okay and this doesn’t cause a rift. It’s not easy having family all over…I grew up with pretty much no relatives around and the ones that are (2 hrs away) we celebrate days before instead on the holidays themselves. Now with my own husband’s family being away, we’re travelling before the baby, but after this year, I’m hoping the in-laws will come visit us, since I don’t really like travelling when everyone and their mother are on the road as well. Anyway, God bless! :slight_smile:


#15

Thanks lotusblossom - I think we will have a wonderful time. And my Dad will be fine, he just doesn’t like to feel he’s “loosing” his “little girl” (I’m 41 for cryin’ out loud! :slight_smile: ) - but he knows, and I know, that he has seen more of me in the past five years than he has since he and my mom divorced 31years ago.

~Liza


#16

Traditional Thanksgiving = spent with ones family and friends.

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving = one spent with friends ofther than family. This could include those who chose to spend Thanksgiving serving at a homeless shelter - that would be another kind of non-traditional Thanksgiving.

Non-traditional did not mean you are having hot dogs and potato salad, just that this group of people will not be traveling to or hosting family dinners.

I also thought you had no relatives other than dad. I misread, did not realize there is a step-mother and her family there. I still think it is kindest to weave the new family in.

Pray about it, God gives great familial advice!


#17

:confused:

Thank you, for your comments. We pray for God’s grace in our marriage every day.

~Liza


#18

:slight_smile: What we have done in the past is had a 1pm meal with one family and then had a 5pm meal with the other. The turkey got unstuffed that day and stuffed us till we were ready to burst. Come really early to the 1pm. Then they will know you have spent time with them. good luck!:thumbsup:
“Lord Jesus, grant peace to all who are anxious or troubled this day.” Word among us publ.
return from the desert


#19

**My family understands that my husband and i are our own family now, but we have been married for almost 3 years. Yet we also always spend thanksgiving with his family. We had not been going to mine because of distance and my parents live with my grandmother who i don’t really like.

Saying all that though my father passed away suddenly in january and i wish now we had made the effort to at least every other year and that i hadn’t let my dislike for my grandmother taint the fact that i would get to spend time with my dad and being able to celebrate a very special day together.

Its hard when you first get married and both sides are used to having you somewhere, but i defintely suggest switching off holidays with family.

Good luck;)**


#20

Something that worked for us was to have Thanksgiving at our place and invite both families (we’re fortunate that both of our families live close by). My brother and his fiance flipped a coin–her family won this year, next year they’ll spend it with our family.

I think there can’t help but be a little discomfort when a new couple starts charting their own way and can’t completely conform to all those old traditions. But, for DH and I, we really wanted to keep close to our families and found a way that we could accomodate that.

Liza, I don’t think age makes a difference, you could be 60 and you’ll still be your dad’s little girl! Good luck; it’s interesting blending the families together. Could you invite your dad and step mom to your place for Thanksgiving? Then, your friends could be there and your family.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.