M: Merging Traditions
A lot of the struggle that comes with married life is the transition from being an individual to being in a family setting where traditions are foundational. Growing up is chock full of traditions, and these traditions shape you as a person. Since no two families have the same traditions, clashing can happen when your foundational traditions don’t line up with your spouse’s.
Here are some things to consider when merging your traditions:
- Explain to each other those traditions that have been most influential in your lives and why you would like to continue practicing them. Think about the effect your family’s traditions had on your life and rate them on a scale from neutral to highly beneficial. Talking about this with your spouse will solidify feelings you have about these traditions, and indicate to your partner how you feel toward them. This discussion will help you to ease the merging of your traditions without having a potentially destructive argument when things don’t pan out as you expected.
- Make new traditions. If you and your spouse don’t agree on a certain tradition, your best course of action might be to create a new one for just your family. And who knows? Maybe you’ll like this tradition better than the one you grew up with. It’s always good to take a minute to re-evaluate your traditions and tweak them to better suit your needs. Also, I’ve found that compromise is always a good way to go in your marriage; not everything can be just the way you are used to. Now that you are a ‘we’, you have to look out for your spouse and make sure you are accommodating their wants and needs as well.
- Remember that no amount of traditions is too many. Just because you’ve established the amount of traditions your family had doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You can have as many traditions as you want, as long as you can handle them. For example, my husband grew up memorizing hymns to sing as a family as they drove to church each Sunday, whereas my family didn’t do anything like that. Even though there was no compromise that needed to be made because there weren’t any conflicting traditions there, we can still add it to our tradition list. Small traditions like that can benefit your family greatly, so don’t leave them out just because your family never did anything like them.
There are many ways to merge traditions in your new family. Just be sure that however you go about doing it, you’re not being insensitive or stubborn. Go into your new family with the mindset that a lot of things will be different, and that’s okay— keep your mind open to new possibilities that will enrich and enhance your life. But with all this change, don’t forget the experiences you had with your family traditions that made you who you are today. Those memories will always be priceless to you, and no amount of change or compromise should take those away.
By Caroline Averett