When it comes to celebrating Christmas, in addition to the changes that take place in your own family over the years as discussed on this week’s podcast, there are some interesting dynamics when bringing someone home with you. And by “someone,” I mean that “special someone.” Whether he/she is your boyfriend, girlfriend or fiancé, this poses a significant change in family dynamics that can be difficult to navigate both for your family and your relationship.
I was fortunate to have a great relationship with Krista’s parents from the beginning. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I pursued Krista for a long time before she finally saw the light. I don’t know what you’ve seen or experienced, but if someone just wants you in the “friend zone” while everyone else, including her parents, thinks you need to be together, it can really keep her running in the other direction. Krista was already looking for reasons to run, and her parents pushing her toward me didn’t help! However, once we did get together and eventually married, it made my transition into the family a pretty smooth one as I already had a good relationship with her parents; they knew me, I knew them, and we were all comfortable with each other and with Krista and me being together.
Even with the great relationship I had with Krista’s parents, it was still a little awkward the first time we were a “couple” around them, and it happened to be over Christmas break. I can remember walking into the house, seeing a different kind of smile and fielding a different set of questions. I also remember trying to figure out what PDA should look like. How close do I sit? Do I hold her hand in front of them? No way can I be caught giving her a little peck — or is that okay because we’re together now?
Then there was the time issue. Do we go off on our own during the week or should we just be with everyone all of the time? Should I have some guy time with her dad and make sure he knows his daughter’s in good hands? How serious will we get when talking about our relationship? Should I also have some time with her brother since I’m dating his sister? I wonder how he feels about all of this? Should we become good friends? I wonder if everyone likes me and thinks I’m good for Krista? The questions went on and on.
There’s a lot going on when you bring someone home for the holidays, and if you’re like me, you can freak yourself out worrying about everything. Here are few things for both of you to keep in mind as you approach this potential scenario this Christmas:
- I know it sounds cliché, but it really is important to just be yourself. Don’t try too hard or try to be someone that you’re not. If you’re the special someone, this perspective will help you be a little more relaxed, natural and better able to actually carry on meaningful conversations and have fun with everyone. If you’re the one bringing the special someone home, it will allow you to see this person as they truly are and how things might look with everyone in the future.
- As you plan your time at home, be intentional about spending time with the parents, siblings and other family members, but don’t make everything too serious and all about your future plans. When you have the opportunity, talk about the serious stuff, and if you’re the special someone, talk about your relationship, what you think about their son or daughter and why this is a good thing. But make sure to have some fun, too, and let them see you as a normal person.
- Depending on how long you’ve been together and how much you’ve been around each other’s parents, cool it on the PDA. I have seen that this can make things more difficult or at least more awkward than they need to be. There are other times and places to display your affection!
As was discussed on the podcast and now here, you want your time with family to be as enjoyable, encouraging and refreshing as it can be. I think it’s important to be intentional and aware of the changing relational dynamics as you bring your special someone home, but don’t forget that it’s your family; they love you, and Christmas is about Jesus, anyway!