Family rituals, particularly during Christmas, create identity and belonging in relationships. They evolve with growing children and vary with individual couples’ expectations. This blog post suggests choosing which childhood traditions to continue; highlights the importance of shared dreams in couple happiness; and advocates for open communication to deepen emotional connections.
Embracing Family Rituals During The Festive Season
For families who celebrate, Christmas is a very special time for young children and their parents. As the season approaches, many parents look forwards to sharing the joy of family rituals. From visiting Santa to baking Christmas cookies, these traditions are not just about celebration – they’re about creating a sense of identity and belonging. Particularly for couples raising young children, these rituals can stir up strong emotions and fond memories, but they can also lead to conflicts due to differing expectations.
Understanding the Impact of Family Rituals
For most families who celebrate Christmas, the season includes lots of family rituals. Perhaps you’ll open advent calendars, watch festive films, choose and decorate a tree. Maybe you’ll wrap and exchange presents, and enjoy lots of festive food and drink.
These family rituals provide us with a sense of identity and belonging, which helps to bond us together. They can stir up strong emotions, and most of us love to reminisce about our childhood rituals – especially any strange or unusual ones!
These traditions can also be a source of conflict for couples who are raising children together. We all have our own expectations about how special occasions will be celebrated. And sadly it’s easy for us to miss the deeper meaning behind our partners’ suggestions and preferences.
Family Rituals During Christmas And Beyond
Family rituals are not just for Christmas – they include any customs or traditions that families engage in regularly, often passed down through generations. We might not pay our family rituals much attention throughout the rest of the year. However, they are are central to our lives together. They help in strengthening family bonds and creating a sense of belonging and identity.
We create routines for our children which then become rituals: from bedtime stories and family dinners to how we celebrate birthdays and other occasions. This is one way we pass down our family history, values, and cultural heritage.
However, it’s important to recognise that as children grow, and especially during the teenage years, these rituals might feel restrictive and need to evolve. The key is to stay invested in these traditions, adapting them to ensure they remain sources of comfort and continuity: this is how we do things here.
As Susan Lieberman says,
“Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.”
A Sense Of Purpose, Meaning, And Connection
We all need a sense of purpose and meaning, and family rituals are a great way to develop a shared meaning for our lives, which keeps couples and families close. This is not just about the kids; Christmas is a romantic time for many couples and keeping your own traditions up can help you to stay connected outside your roles as Mum and Dad.
Whether it’s for Christmas or beyond, a great place to start is to think about which rituals you would like to continue from your own childhood, and which you would like to leave behind. Asking your partner the same questions can be a lovely way to bond, and you might hear something you didn’t know, even after many years. Then you can tell your children about these memories, and see whether any of you have any other ideas for things you would like to start from now.
Habits you build together will become part of your family story, and eventually its identity.
Creating Shared Meaning In Your Relationship:The Power of Shared Dreams in Couple Happiness
One of the keys to happiness as a couple is to recognise your individual and shared dreams, and use them to create meaning for your life together as a family.
A shared sense of purpose and meaning can be even more satisfying than an individual one. And relationships which are built around these kinds of hopes and dreams tend to be more stable.
Not all of our values will be shared, of course. But when we have this kind of family identity, it helps us to settle conflicts, pursue goals, and support one other’s dreams, which will all strengthen your bond.
Navigating Differences with Understanding and Curiosity
When you have a disagreement, it can help to broaden your discussions to cover the values and dreams that underlie each of your positions.
Even on relatively minor issues, if we can be bothered to argue about it, there’s usually a value, hope, or dream feeling threatened. So get curious about that.
By asking thoughtful questions about your partner’s perspectives and aspirations, you’ll develop a more collaborative and understanding relationship.
You could try asking your partner questions like,
- “What does it mean to you for us to do what you’re suggesting?”
- “What’s the bigger picture or dream behind your idea?”
- “Do you feel like we’re missing out on something that’s important to you if we do this my way?”
- “What are you hoping to achieve in the long run with this?”
- “What’s the main goal or value you’re trying to reach with your suggestion?”
This approach will not only help you to resolve conflicts, but deepen your connection over time.
If you ever get stuck feeling like you’re just trying to convince each other of your own point of view, this kind of curiosity can really shift the tone of your conversations, so you’re working to understand each other better.
When we do this, we tend to be more creative, and often new solutions present themselves. Plus we achieve our ultimate goal in relationships: to feel closer and understand each other better with every year that passes.
Common ground can be hard to find sometimes. But it’s usually there in the place where our visions merge. And when we think like this, it becomes a virtuous cycle. As Kerry Patterson says,
“The pool of shared meaning is the birthplace of synergy.”
Open Communication: Revealing Your Inner World By Opening Up About Your Own Values, Hopes And Dreams
This kind of conversation needs to be a two-way street. So if you want your partner to understand and support you better, you’ll need to open up to them about your own values and aspirations.
This isn’t always easy – in fact it can make us feel quite vulnerable. Tell your partner when you’re trusting them with your inner thoughts and dreams, and that you need them to listen carefully and kindly.
When you trust each other enough to be vulnerable like this, you’ll deepen your emotional connection.
Cherishing Each Other This Festive Season And Beyond
As you celebrate Christmas, remember the significance of these moments for your relationship. It can be a time of high pressure for couples, so don’t forget to get out in nature and move your body as often as you can too.
Expectations can be high around this time of year, and feeling disconnected from your partner can feel particularly painful. If you find yourself struggling, please know there is lots you can do to make improvements. Through relationship coaching and/or therapy, we can work together to strengthen your relationship. Click here to get in touch and find out more.
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