He’s Jewish, I’m Catholic, It’s December. Now What?
Whether you choose to decorate the Christmas tree, light the menorah, or creatively compromise and buy a Hanukkah bush, the holiday season can be an extremely stressful time for couples in inter-faith relationships. If not handled properly, deciding which holidays and traditions to celebrate can strain your relationship and lead to conflict with your partner and your extended families.
Depending on your religious backgrounds and level of dedication to your faith, what you are willing to compromise can vary greatly. If you havechildren, deciding which holidays they celebrate may be very important to you or your spouse and your extended families. While each situation isdifferent, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists recommends the following guidelines to help ease the tension when it comestime to negotiate what to do for the holidays:
– Set ground rules to help negotiations run as smoothly as possible
– Remain respectful and nonjudgmental while examining your options
– Identify the main conflict — you should each be able to state your partner’s position accurately
– Brainstorm solutions first without evaluating their practicality
– Choose a solution that will satisfy you both — Agree upon how you will support one another with regard to your partners and siblings
If you decide to take a multi-faith approach to your relationship and family, you may find that the holidays become more meaningful. You have theopportunity to celebrate multiple holidays and start new traditions without having to “choose.” However, if religion is the focal point of your lifeand you are unwilling to participate in another religion’s celebrations, here are some tips on how to approach the situation gently:
– Avoid the “my way or the highway” mentality — accept that your partner may have just as much conviction in his or her tradition
– Consider educating your children in both religions until they are old enough to determine which faith, if either, they want to follow — If you must attend different services, try to balance it by spending more time together before and after the holidays
However you and your partner choose to celebrate the holidays, you may find the required compromises difficult to fully or graciously accept.Consider consulting a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who can help you both understand and integrate your options.
For more information about Marriage and Family Therapists, or to locate a therapist in your area, please visit http://www.TherapistFinder.com.
The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, with 27 chapters throughout the state, is an independent professional organization,representing the interests of licensed marriage and family therapists. CAMFT provides TherapistFinder.com as a resource to the public looking formarriage and family therapists located in California. For more information about CAMFT, please call (858) 292-2638 or visit http://www.camft.org.