It is like tradition that we always travel to my husband’s village for Christmas. I have been very patient with this but I also miss spending the holidays with my family. So, this time around, I suggested that we instead spend the holidays with my family, a suggestion he did not appreciate at all. He has accused me of being insubordinate and disrespecting him. He has even given me an ultimatum that if I do not want to spend the holidays with his family, then he will go alone with the children. I think this is unfair. What should I do? Anonymous
I am sure a good number of couples have lots of different decisions on how to spend the end of year Christmas holiday. This is an exciting period in which we want to engage with our loved ones. The difference now is that you are now married and this changes the way you each desire to spend it as individuals. How do you strike the balance?
Under normal circumstances, it would be prudent to speak about this before the holiday time and decide which family to go to. Of course, depending on the culture and belief systems of the family, the husband might take a predominant decision of where to spend the holiday due to the privilege he has over the wife as head of the family.
However, the other way would be to do this in turns or spend different holidays in different homes if you have exhaustively discussed it and agreed to it.
I do not know how long you have been married but it may seem that your husband believes he has the right of choosing where you can spend the season. Think about how you pass the information.
In case you brought it up in a way that shows that you are complaining, your spouse might have taken it to mean you are trying to compete.
Choose your battles wisely. If you realise that the environment or mood is not favourable, try not to bring a controversial discussion. Remember this season comes once around the year yet there are many other days that can be used to visit our loved ones.
Compromise is key in a marriage where you accept and go for the sake of peace since you might have been doing this for a while. Start early in the coming festive season to suggest a change in where you go for Christmas.
It is ideal to do this alternatively where you plan and agree on how you can balance between the two families.
Remember this too might have a lot to do with culture and traditions of a particular family where for some it is a taboo to spend time at the in-laws yet for some it is fine. The bottom line here is to always understand your spouse and learn their dynamics then be clear with communication. In case he is not cooperative, then you can suggest a different date to visit your parents such that you still feel connected to them.
Some of these arguments can be a sign that the relationship is having glitches and so, get to learn what the real issue is as the festive season might only be the catalyser. It might be important to find a relationship counsellor to try and get to the cause than dealing with only the effect.
The goal is for you to be on the same team with your husband than be adversaries of each other due to limited skills in negotiation.
Evelyn Kharono Lufafa, Counselling psychologist
Celebrate as a family
Harriet Ayebare. It is not written anywhere that a woman must go to the in-laws for Christmas every year. Have a conversation with your man and tell him you would love to spend Christmas at your parents’ home. But also, as a couple, normalise having Christmas getaways besides going to the parents or grannies. I am aware this comes at a cost but if well planned, this would be a great opportunity for you as a couple to strengthen your bond.
Talk to your husband
Nampa Patience Natie. Try talking to him, giving reasons why you would like to spend the holidays with your family. On the other hand, as some families do, you could spend part of them with his family and the other part with yours such that none feels left out.
It is a taboo
Joyce Muhindo. Most Ugandan cultures do not allow a man to sleep at his in-laws home. Your parents will even find it ridiculous. If you feel like spending the holidays at your parents’ home, talk to your spouse about it- but you will go alone. Normalise visiting your parents any other time of the year. You do not have to wait till Christmas to spend time with your parents.
You can go alone
Noelyn Princella. When you left your family and married him, you became one. In fact, it is a taboo for a man to sleep at his in-laws house. So, if you want to go, then you must separate the family because I doubt he will allow to go with you.
Discuss the matter
Wisely Woodz White. You need to slate a moment, sit and sort those issues out. Clarify to him properly why you would like to spend Christmas with your family. If he still refuses, then maintain your dignity as a wife and agree to his suggestion.
Guilt trip him
Lorna Kal. Let him go alone. Be like that young girl in a boarding school and ask your father to call him in advance and tell him that he wants you home for a family gathering on Christmas day without fail.
Make it comfortable
Es Lyn. That is exactly how it is supposed to be. But if you want him to spend a holiday there, make sure there is a boys quarter far away from inconvenience for him so that he is able to have his privacy and enjoy the festivities.
Visit your parents first
Hadja Nayiga. The season is just beginning. Get one Sunday and visit your parents, all of you, then on Christmas day, go to your husband’s home. There are so many other issues to make this a thorn in your marriage. Find common ground.
You are married
Juliet Eligant. You now belong to your husband’s family. Even with empowerment, this will not change.