You and your partner have been together for quite some time. The two of you have been talking about each other’s holiday experience. You’re looking forward to spending time together during the holiday, but somehow, in the back of your mind, you still have that hesitation: is spending a holiday with your partner’s family a good idea?
Family events used to be a lot more simple and straightforward—invitations are extended to family members and their married spouses only. But with more people being flexible about marriage and relationships, sometimes it can be a lot trickier to determine who to bring to a family holiday event. What about your long term (but unmarried) partner? You want to bring your partner or vice versa, but will your or their family be open about the possibility?
Modern-day relationships vs traditional family values
Have any of you seen the movie Holidate on Netflix? I have, and yes, it was really fun to watch! The concept of bringing someone you casually date to a family holiday is cute and amusing, but in my Asian family, it’s a totally strange concept. I have never found anyone in my family bringing someone else that is not their married partner to a family event. Bringing your boyfriend or girlfriend is definitely frowned upon—if not downright prohibited; unless you’re engaged and about to get married real soon.
My family is definitely more chill about it. I’ve brought one of my exes to a family holiday event in the past, and it was just that. There’s no pressure or anything; my family understands that she was my partner at the time, and the relationship might or might not work. I don’t see the big fuss about bringing a girlfriend/boyfriend to a family event.
Being included as part of the family is a big deal for any relationship. Meeting your partner’s family is a big deal. Spending the holiday season with their family is an even bigger deal. And when you are in a long-term committed relationship, at some point you have to be connected with your partner’s family one way or another. Therefore, there have to be some middle grounds that you and your partner agree on before things get weird or complicated. The bottom line is, you need to support each other no matter what and do things that work for both of you.
Should you spend a family holiday with your partner? Questions to ask yourself
So, your partner asked you to join their family holiday. What to do? Here are some questions to ask yourself before you say yes to that invitation:
1. Have you met their family before? Or at least their parents?
It’s a totally different ball game meeting your partner’s family for the first time during a casual lunch versus meeting them at a Thanksgiving dinner. If you have met them at least once before a big event, at least you have already set a baseline on how to do/behave around them. If not, you need your partner to give you a crash course so you won’t get lost 🙂
2. Have you asked your partner about their family holiday habits/style? Are you comfortable with that?
Perhaps they’re the religious type, and you’re not. Or the other way around. Perhaps they like to go for a long walk after lunch, and you’re the type who prefers to take a nap. How much are you willing to compromise? Otherwise, things might get awkward if you can’t or don’t want to be involved in their holiday routine.
3. Are you comfortable with hanging out with people of their personalities?
If the whole family is loud and you’re the quiet type, will you be okay with it? What if they’re the smug type and you have to deal with their bragging the whole afternoon? Before these happen, ask your partner which one of the family members to avoid (as much as possible)!
4. Will you be okay if their family doesn’t like you?
Having thick skin is a handy quality to have. You might be alright getting one or two snarky comments, but what if you have to deal with a whole day of them comparing you with your partner’s exes? Of course, this is a situation no one wants to be in. When things get really tough, you might consider asking your partner to stand up for you in front of their family, or just simply take off.
5. What if there’s a difference in opinion? Would you be able to handle the situation?
Loud and opinionated people are everywhere, but they are especially louder and more opinionated at a family gathering 😀 The best thing to do is keep your opinion to yourself, but don’t entertain those people with whom you disagree. The best scenario is to leave them and just grab more of the desserts :p
6. Are you ready to do this?
In spite of everything, is the relationship worth it? Is your partner worth it? If yes, then you should go. No matter how bad it goes, it won’t last forever. The most important thing is that you get to spend time with your partner!