He refuses to support our new Christmas tradition

What you need to know:

Christmas memories with our children through travelling, visiting national parks, hiking mountains, picnics and doing other fun activities together. The problem is, my husband is against this idea. He says if I want to start my own tradition, then I should do it without his children.

Usually, we travel to my husband’s family in the village for Christmas. This has been the tradition since we got married 10 years ago. However, now that we have three children of our own, I want us to create Christmas memories with our children through travelling, visiting national parks, hiking mountains, picnics and doing other fun activities together. The problem is, my husband is against this idea. He says if I want to start my own tradition, then I should do it without his children. I think this is unfair, especially since I have never refused to spend the holidays with his family. How do we solve this without causing a rift in the family?

Anonymous

Dear anonymous,

This sounds stressful on your part. Christmas is that time of the year which many people look forward to. This period can help to unite families or even tear them apart if not handled properly. Your new idea sounds good. The difference is when you started bringing up the topic. If this came up towards Christmas, it will, of course, cause friction between you and your husband. It is true that you and your husband are one but it is important to know that you are different in what you like and how you want family holidays to be spent.

Family traditions usually have a history attached to where one was raised and what they saw their family doing as they were growing up. This means that it may not be easy to turn things around in the shortest time. For the case of Africa and Uganda in particular, the culture, although unwritten, dictates that during the Christmas season, the family goes to celebrate with the man’s parents and on a few occasions decide to visit both or do a nuclear family picnic.

Generally speaking, it would sound nice to celebrate as a nuclear family for bonding purposes and this too would be loved mostly by the female partner. For starters, prepare early in the year to talk to your husband about your wish. Communication is the engine of a family and without it, the family gets into unnecessary conflicts.

It would be wise to bring up this topic in a non-heated debate. You know your partner very well and you can tell the best time to bring up the issue. Wait for the best moment when you are both in your stable moods and not necessarily towards Christmas but earlier in the year. This will help to prepare his mind and put it in perspective.

Lower your expectations and be ready for a formal discussion. Let him know why you wish to have a family Christmas with your children. Be clear with what you want and allow him to process the information. The way you package your message will determine how your husband reacts to it. It can also best to practise how you want to say it such that you are not taken over by emotions.

Since it is already Christmas time, it would be healthy to go to your in-law’s place and wait for next year where you will have more time to talk to your husband.

Reader advice

Do not look for conflict

Martin Ssebyala. I do not understand why you would allow such a small issue to cause any conflict in your marriage. Your husband seems like the kind of person who does not adjust well to change so, please do not push it. Just let it be and carry on with your adventures during other days of the year. Why would you want to create an uncomfortable environment for all?

Keep the tradition

Mary Akol. Go to the village and let your children interact with their relatives. Those other outings can be planned for Easter, Independence Day and the many other holidays we have in the year.

Find a solution together

Kirsten Kevaul Nassuna. Some men are too traditional and when you suggest anything related to change you might bring problems. Although I agree with creating new memories for your children, this is a double edged sword and you should tread carefully. Sit down as a couple and come to a common understanding.

Plan for one day

Immaculate Alinaitwe. This is what we call creating your own problem. If it is a one-time visit done in a year, why is it a problem? For one day during the festive season, plan and go do all other activities and let the norm continue from then on.

Another day is okay

Damalie Nana. I would not also spend my Christmas in the wild in the name of hiking, national parks and the like. The best Christmas memories are the ones made with family; Jajjas, cousins aunties and uncles. Choose other days of the year to go to the wild but not Christmas.

Why change now?

Angel Nyg. Solve it by doing what you have always done, after all you have accepted it for all this time.

Children must relate

Agatha Mutesi. Aren’t there other days for you to make these family memories or must it be Christmas? Let your children embrace the family gatherings and relate with their relatives.

This is stressful

Benard Gerad Ogang. Do that during Easter maybe. You cannot change an old tradition entirely at once. It is also not a good idea to start stressing your husband during a season when one is supposed to rest and have fun. You might end up getting more than you bargained for.

Communication is key

Amani Bryce. Christmas is about getting together with family, friends and catching up. Instead talk to your husband about starting this tradition, say on Boxing Day.

Evelyn is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation

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