Not sure how to approach this (the holidays) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all, I really want to keep the peace. It has been peaceful between my X and I ever since I got married, and X really likes DH. The problem is that DH doesn't feel comfortable about being around X.

So, FF to the holidays. We celebrate Xmas, and up to this year we did Santa and in all of the years since X and I have been separated, he has come over on Xmas morning to see the kiddos open their presents. Last year DH wasn't my DH yet and we didn't meet up until lunchtime, X was over in the morning and it was no big deal. DH made sure he waited to come over when X was gone.

I understand DH's feelings.

This Xmas is our first Xmas as a family. X wants to come over like usual, I thought about inviting him AND his gf over later in the morning just to see the kids (I have them every Xmas morning) I though inviting his gf might make DH more comfortable. That is just a thought.

I think I am a wimp who is afraid to disturb the peace in telling X that he can't come over. Things have been so uncomfortable in the past, I don't want that ever again.

I don't know if this makes sense, I am kind of posting in a hurry. Is anyone else in a situation such as this? I am finding myself wishing that we could all get along, and otoh I totally want DH to feel happy and comfortable for his first Xmas as a family, that is a given.

I think I know the answer, but do you think I should tell X that he can't see the kids on Xmas morning? I wonder what I could say to keep it peaceful between us.

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#2 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 03:30 PM
 
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"We celebrate Xmas, and up to this year we did Santa and in all of the years since X and I have been separated, he has come over on Xmas morning to see the kiddos open their presents."

Then that's what you do this year. Because Christmas is about the kids. If you and your X have a functional co-parent arrangement that doesn't leave the kids missing one parent on Christmas morning, your dh needs to suck it up and deal.

You might want to phrase it a little more nicely when you tell him, though Maybe focus on how your kids, with whom he seeks to live in harmony, would rightly assume that he was the one who screwed up their Christmas morning and might resent that a great deal...
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#3 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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Yeah.

In that situation, I would tell my husband (nicely) to just suck it up for a couple of hours, for the kids.

My answer would be different if there was some aggravating factor--your husband and your ex hated each other, your husband took your ex's job, your ex's girlfriend is your husband's ex-wife who left him for your ex, etc. But it just seems like awkwardness is the issue.

I do like the idea of inviting the girlfriend.

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#4 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 05:57 PM
 
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Make it about your kids. They are used to seeing their dad Christmas morning. They shouldn't have that taken away from them because you remarried.

We all know seeing kids Christmas afternoon is just not the same as seeing them Christmas morning. I don't care how anybody wants to rationalize it. Every parent who celebrates Christmas wants to see their kids' faces the second they stumble out of their bedrooms at 6am.

Additionally, if you start keeping your ex at bay until the afternoon, it would be perfectly reasonable for him to start demanding to have them at HIS house every other Christmas Eve/morning - and there's a good chance a court would let him. That's standard. If necessary, explain to your husband that him putting up with your ex for a few hours in the morning helps avoid the expense and stress of possibly going back to court - and the complete heartache he would have to watch YOU suffer if you started being separated from your babies every other Christmas...

It's not like this is a tradition you started AFTER you got married. He knew what you do for your children. You are right to continue it, but you must be woman enough to speak your mind and be firm.

BTW, my ex and his wife (and mother and sometimes houseguests...) spend Christmas morning at my house every year - and it's always been FINE, even in the beginning when some people didn't get along. It's about the kids.

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#5 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 06:10 PM
 
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I don't know that I agree that it's as cut and dried as the previous posters have been saying. Christmas is fun for kids, no doubt. But just as the OP's DH should recognize that this is the way it has been...the OP and her XH should recognize that marrying the new guy brings in some new stuff. I'd say Christmas is about families, not just about the kids. And I think it is kind of rough to tell her husband, who is uncomfortable around her XH, to suck it up. So Christmas isn't about him feeling comfortable in his own house?

In my family growing up, we had Christmas morning at one house, then switched to the other at noon. And it was fine. I never lamented not seeing my Dad at my Mom's house.

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#6 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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I agree with the PP-although it may be uncomfortable, I think you should invite your ex -and definitely invite his gf if it is a serious thing- as usual for this year if that is what your kids are used to/expect. Perhaps you can have a conversation with your ex about what you could change in the future-either alternating years for christmas eve/morning and christmas afternoon, or each taking a year or whatever. If he remarries and/or has more kids, he may want to have the kids at his house at some point too. I think if you bring it up for this year, it might turn into a fight before Christmas-but I guess it can't hurt to ask, maybe he would like a change as well, you never know. However, if you are going to try to change him coming over in the morning, I would be prepared to switch off on Christmas morning with him. For that matter, if you have more kids with your dh, it might be even more akward for your ex to come and celebrate just with your older kid/s?

FWIW, I can totally see where your dh is coming from, I wouldn't really be excited for dp's ex-wife to be here on Christmas morning either and would have a tough time "sucking it up", so I don't think he is being unreasonable to ask. How do you think the kids would react if their dad didn't come over in the morning? Would they see it as your dh pushing him out of the picture?

Sounds like some changes need to be made for the future-good luck in figuring out what works for everyone!

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#7 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 07:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by plunky View Post
In my family growing up, we had Christmas morning at one house, then switched to the other at noon. And it was fine. I never lamented not seeing my Dad at my Mom's house.
And plenty of kids do adjust to that. But these kids, despite divorce, have been accustomed to being able to see both parents on Christmas morning - which I do think is the more ideal arrangement, if parents can swing it. I imagine the kids would resent step-dad if the first year he's part of the family, their daddy can't come over on Christmas morning.

Also, I see a difference between Mom springing this on her new husband after they're married (which would imply that his desires don't "count" as much as hers) and a guy marrying Mom knowing that this is her tradition, then expecting her (and her children) to dump it after he marries her.

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#8 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 09:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post

Also, I see a difference between Mom springing this on her new husband after they're married (which would imply that his desires don't "count" as much as hers) and a guy marrying Mom knowing that this is her tradition, then expecting her (and her children) to dump it after he marries her.
This carries the large assumption that Mom told now-DH that this tradition, that makes sense for an unmarried woman, would remain intact after marriage. From the tone of the OP, I don't think it's the case.

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#9 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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This carries the large assumption that Mom told now-DH that this tradition, that makes sense for an unmarried woman, would remain intact after marriage. From the tone of the OP, I don't think it's the case.
For what it's worth, before DH and I got married, his ex-wife came over on Christmas morning (sometimes even spent the night on Christmas Eve) so that she could see the kids open their gifts on Christmas morning.

Once we married, that ended. We alternate years with the Christmas Eve/Christmas Mrning and Switch At Noon/Christmas Dinner arragement.

The kids are fine. They've always been fine. They've never resented me. They actually LOVE that they get to have TWO CHRISTMASES every single year. TWO chances to get to do the Tree/Stocking thing.

I think sometimes the adults in blended families are afraid to make changes "for the sake of the children," when what they're really doing is projecting their own baggage on the kids. And the kids are fine. Give the kids some credit. They're probably capable of understanding and coping with a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.

That said, my way is not THE way. So, I digress...

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#10 of 22 Old 10-26-2009, 09:59 PM
 
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For what it's worth, before DH and I got married, his ex-wife came over on Christmas morning (sometimes even spent the night on Christmas Eve) so that she could see the kids open their gifts on Christmas morning.

Once we married, that ended. We alternate years with the Christmas Eve/Christmas Mrning and Switch At Noon/Christmas Dinner arragement.

The kids are fine. They've always been fine. They've never resented me. They actually LOVE that they get to have TWO CHRISTMASES every single year. TWO chances to get to do the Tree/Stocking thing.

I think sometimes the adults in blended families are afraid to make changes "for the sake of the children," when what they're really doing is projecting their own baggage on the kids. And the kids are fine. Give the kids some credit. They're probably capable of understanding and coping with a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.

That said, my way is not THE way. So, I digress...
Oh, and one more thing. Holidays are not about the children, in my opinion... Holidays are about family. And if I had to spend Christmas with an ex-wife who is not only NOT my family, but despises me, I would be very cranky indeed.

The kids can spend part of the day with their Mom (and my kids with their Dad) and have their own family time without me or my darling hubby having to spend the holidays with our spouse's ex.

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#11 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for the well thought out responses

DH did know about this tradition before we got married, but I don't think either of us thought about how it would affect Xmas morning for our family post marriage. I think I will talk to my X and see if he would be ok with coming over a bit later, and with his gf (if she wants to) that might make both of them happy (?)

However, we may be traveling to DH's hometown (2 hrs away) and might have to do so without the kids and then pick up the kids after we get home to do dinner at my parents. (X usually takes the kids to lunch with his family and I usually have them in the evening for my extended family, and that has been ok. )

I thin k I will have to open a communication with both X, and DH (separately) about this and go from there.

I will also mention that my kids are older (14 and DD will be 10 in December) so it might be a good time to make changes.

Wouldn't you think it would be ok seeing that X and the kids basically spend the whole day together??

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#12 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 09:27 AM
 
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I have to agree with mild_adventure here.

I'm all about traditions... but I think it sets a really bad example or even undermines the new family to keep old family traditions.

I understand that your DH knew of the tradition pre-marriage... but in my own opinion... once a marriage happens, it does change some things. He obviously isn't going anywhere... he is your family now. And he has every right to feel comfortable in his own home with his family on one of the biggest family holidays of the year.

If I were him, I'd feel very hurt and wondering what my true place was in the family if I was just brushed aside as a third wheel while you and your ex celebrated Christmas morning like always.

I am not saying that you wouldn't do your best to inlcude your DH... but as the non-bio parent, it can be pretty easy to feel like the third wheel around the two bio parents who share the whole lives of their children together.

I think a new marriage definitely is grounds for re-visiting/tweaking traditions... one that should uphold the new family and the importance of the new family member.

Most blended families switch Christmas morning every other year so both families get to experience it.

I also think children definitely pick up on any awkward-ness or underlying tension... so how fun of a Christmas morning could it be with that going on?

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#13 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have to agree with mild_adventure here.

I'm all about traditions... but I think it sets a really bad example or even undermines the new family to keep old family traditions.

I understand that your DH knew of the tradition pre-marriage... but in my own opinion... once a marriage happens, it does change some things. He obviously isn't going anywhere... he is your family now. And he has every right to feel comfortable in his own home with his family on one of the biggest family holidays of the year.

If I were him, I'd feel very hurt and wondering what my true place was in the family if I was just brushed aside as a third wheel while you and your ex celebrated Christmas morning like always.

I am not saying that you wouldn't do your best to inlcude your DH... but as the non-bio parent, it can be pretty easy to feel like the third wheel around the two bio parents who share the whole lives of their children together.

I think a new marriage definitely is grounds for re-visiting/tweaking traditions... one that should uphold the new family and the importance of the new family member.

Most blended families switch Christmas morning every other year so both families get to experience it.

I also think children definitely pick up on any awkward-ness or underlying tension... so how fun of a Christmas morning could it be with that going on?
This rings true , or feels right to me. My kids are a bit older and they would understand if things were to change. It is not like we do Santa or anything. They will see their dad later in the day, and I would not be opposed to switching years, except that X doesn't even decorate or get festive in any way, and the kids don't like or want to be there for the holiday (I think X MIGHT understand that)
(edited to say that I would be opposed to the kids going against their will )
Good news update:

I talked to DH and he is ok with inviting X and his gf over....Now to see if X will agree to the change (It will not be first thing in the morning)

Wish me luck, X can be a bit unpredictable.

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#14 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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Good Luck! DH and I always get the butterflies when we are asking for a tweak to the current system.

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#15 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 01:10 PM
 
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Good luck.

I didn't realize your kids were older--in that case, I think some variation from the tradition is OK. I was thinking these were little kids.

I'm also coming at this as someone who didn't celebrate Christmas as a child (Jewish), so I tend to gloss over the emotional side of the holidays.

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#16 of 22 Old 10-27-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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I think one of the best things we can do for our kids (if we are married) is to model a stable, successful marriage. And part of that is showing that the marital union is sacred and respected, and comes with clear boundaries. So, in my opinion, having exes over on a special family holiday would be disrespecting the marriage, and I wouldn't do it, regardless of the age of the children. I do think sometimes we make things harder than they have to be and express our own guilt by pretending the old union exists when that is no longer the case. This applies as well to the previous thread about taking photos of a family that no longer exists, even when that disrespects and denies the current marital union and family. The kids can have two Christmases, one with each of their two families, and they will be fine.

If you guys all want to hang out on Christmas, of course, that's fine -- I just don't think anyone should feel guilted into having a disruption like that on what should be a family event.

Just my opinon. Hope it all goes well, whatever you all decide!

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#17 of 22 Old 10-28-2009, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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X was nice and gracious, DH was agreeable. I think all will be fine. I extended an invitation to X to bring his gf over, and it probablt won't work out but maybe. I think X is only going to come over to pick up the kids, he will probably come early so they can show him their presents. I am so relieved, thanks everyone

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#18 of 22 Old 10-28-2009, 08:00 PM
 
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I'm so glad it worked out! I was also thinking that you had younger children. It does seem likely that they will be able to handle a change in the routine without too much angst, especially if it's presented as their parents' idea, not you DH's preference. Congratulations for all those years you let them share the Santa magic with Dad!
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#19 of 22 Old 10-28-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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I think one of the best things we can do for our kids (if we are married) is to model a stable, successful marriage. And part of that is showing that the marital union is sacred and respected, and comes with clear boundaries.
See, I guess I'm really non-traditional but I just don't have this approach. I much prefer the idea of a more extendable concept of family. In fact, I think it's the desire/need to define the nuclear family as an exclusive unit that leads to so much grief. I.e., the concept of something "undermining" the integrity of the nuclear unit. Of course, if the ex-es can't get along then that's no fun for anyone but if they can then it seems to me that everyone benefits. I like that my family benefits from so many outside influences and so much involvement: my ex, my ex's family, my partner and his family, my family, all of our friends who love my children and have their own relationships with them, etc. I want to welcome and open my family to that not set boundaries on it.

If people feel differently, that's fair enough but I wouldn't say that parents are only helping children if they model that kind of marital/familial relationship. I think children can benefit from all sorts of set ups as long as there is love, support and respect involved.
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#20 of 22 Old 10-28-2009, 09:18 PM
 
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Glad it worked out so well for you! Sounds like this might be a nice change for your family. I just assumed the kids were younger, but I'm sure the older ones will have an easier time adjusting and Christmas morning isn't quite as exciting at those ages as for the younger set. I'm glad that you were able to communicate so well with your ex and make the adjustments you needed to for your family

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#21 of 22 Old 10-30-2009, 01:01 PM
 
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i'm glad it worked out so well

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#22 of 22 Old 11-02-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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See, I guess I'm really non-traditional but I just don't have this approach. I much prefer the idea of a more extendable concept of family. In fact, I think it's the desire/need to define the nuclear family as an exclusive unit that leads to so much grief. I.e., the concept of something "undermining" the integrity of the nuclear unit. Of course, if the ex-es can't get along then that's no fun for anyone but if they can then it seems to me that everyone benefits. I like that my family benefits from so many outside influences and so much involvement: my ex, my ex's family, my partner and his family, my family, all of our friends who love my children and have their own relationships with them, etc. I want to welcome and open my family to that not set boundaries on it.

If people feel differently, that's fair enough but I wouldn't say that parents are only helping children if they model that kind of marital/familial relationship. I think children can benefit from all sorts of set ups as long as there is love, support and respect involved.
Gosh, you make me sound so old-school!

Actually, I agree with most of what you said. I think if you're comfortable with that arrangement, then those *are* the boundary conditions of your marriage, and that's great. I don't mean we all have to follow pre-written codes for our family lives, just that whatever we do decide should be honored.

I am a big believer in extended family, however I never agreed to have my husband's ex in my family, and she never did either. So we are not. And that's ok and the children respect that just fine.

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