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Celebrating The Holidays With Your Partner When You Come From Different Faiths

photo of a couple standing outside near trees while holding hands

 The holiday season can bring forward joyful emotions, but for couples who have different religious beliefs, this time of year can produce high levels of stress and anxiety. The thought of combining traditions may be scary or feel difficult, but luckily it is possible to do so.

It’s important to note that things can be unpredictable, especially when others, including family and friends, are involved, but it is possible to coexist during the holiday season. The key will be to be respectful to all involved, and it’s important to approach the situation in a respectful manner and to be cognizant of everyone’s different comfort levels. By doing so, you’ll be setting yourselves up for a successful holiday season.

Show Respect

It’s okay to have different religious beliefs, but it’s critical that you’re not judgmental. 

  • Look for similarities in how you both spend your holidays.
  • Don’t take differences personally. Just because your partner may not agree with you or vice versa. It shouldn’t be seen as an attack on beliefs.
  • Try to avoid thoughts or saying out loud things like, “I’ve always done things this way, so I don’t want to change things now.”
  • Discuss how, when, and where you want to celebrate your holidays. This could mean setting up a rotation or a schedule to make sure that both partners and their families feel included during the holiday season. Splitting time between partners and families should be seen as a positive thing, not a negative one.

Communicate Plans

While traditions may seem normal to you, your partner may feel anxious or uncomfortable in a new setting. Before going to an event, think about how it could help your partner prepare for their possible experience. This includes:

  • Discussing any possible religious services you and your family may attend.
  • Talking about whether or not you pray before meals.
  • Going over any practices that your family participates in, including lighting a menorah, singing, hymns, or songs, or putting baby Jesus in the manger.
photo of a couple standing outside near trees while holding hands

Talk to your family

This will help avoid your partner feeling as if they’re being grilled or questioned in an overwhelming way. When talking to your family, important topics to consider are:

  • Any religious restrictions your partner may have around their food and beverage intake.
  • Their comfort level with physical touch.
  • A brief overview of your partner’s beliefs, and answer whatever questions you feel comfortable doing so.

What You Can Do As A Guest

if you are experiencing certain traditions for the first time, you might feel apprehensive or unsure about what to expect.

  • Observing participating and not judging something they may do that is different from you.
  • Talk to your partner ahead of time about what their traditions are where you feel comfortable and uncomfortable participating.
  • Open minded. It’s important to not lose sight of your own religion but it’s also just as important to be respectful and open to the religion of your partner.
  • Share your traditions with not only your partner but their family. You can do this by sharing traditions from when you were growing up and by asking them what some of their favorite traditions are. You can include the name of the holiday, how you celebrated, and your favorite part of the celebration

Ultimately, your end goal should be to find a happy and healthy way to spend the holidays together. this could even open the door to a new way to spend the holidays together.

If you are interested in learning more about learning to celebrate the holidays together, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about couples therapy.

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Green Heart Therapy provides in-person psychotherapy for adults, teens, and children in Los Angeles and online therapy across California.