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I have been dating my girlfriend for 4 years officially (but we've been dating for 6 years). I'm upset that she prefers to spend Christmas with her own family rather than with me and my family.

It bothers me that she prefers her family rather than me. I don't care about Christmas, but about the value people give to Christmas.

My girlfriend lives with her family and is going to travel to Grandma's house that reunites her whole family, her family is very big.

In previous years she has spent the holiday with her family. She invited me, but I do not know if it was education.

She said: "I think it's important to spend that date with the family." "You can go with me, if you want" "But your mother was going to be sad."

How can I explain that I'm upset that my girlfriend prefers to stay with her family at Christmas rather than with me and my family?

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    It would be helpful to add a tag identifying which country you guys are in. – TheTinyMan Dec 5 '17 at 20:29
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    Hi, welcome to IPS! I edited a bit for clarity, but I wasn't sure what you meant "I do not know if it was education"? Is there a reason you do not want to go to her family's Christmas? Have you gone to her family's Christmas in the past? – Em C Dec 5 '17 at 20:41
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    Are you asking for actual ways to approach this conversation or ways to deal with it? – anongoodnurse Dec 5 '17 at 23:03
  • I do not know exactly what I want. Thanks for the answers. (i'm from brazil) – user2925795 Dec 6 '17 at 16:01
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    This question is being discussed on meta. – Monica Cellio Dec 6 '17 at 16:05
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She has told you that she thinks it's important to spend this holiday with family. She spends it with hers, and according to what you wrote, you spend it with yours. You're both "covered", according to her stated principle, and it's balanced.

From her perspective, you're suggesting that she give up spending time with her extended family, which is important to her, when you are not giving up time with your family, which she thinks should be important. She likely sees your request as moving the needle from "neutral" to your preference and away from hers. Especially since her family is gathering from (apparently) diverse locations; this isn't just going to the parents' house.

Being in a relationship means that sometimes the needle will be moved toward the other person, and sometimes not. So the fact that your request moves the needle isn't the problem by itself. The problem is that you apparently haven't provided offsetting motivation or taken into account the special circumstances (that larger gathering). In fact, you've told us (and maybe told her?) that you don't think it's important, and yet -- from her perspective -- you want to disrupt her family's holiday. If, on the other hand, you were suggesting that the two of you spend the holiday together (with neither family), or if you proposed hosting both families, that would be neutral in a way that "skip one family, go to the other" isn't.

If you want to persuade her, you need to take all this into account and show her that you're thinking about both of your needs, not just your own. Maybe having her join you with your family is important to you (or your family) as a way of integrating her into your clan; if so, that would be important to say. (You should, of course, then be receptive if that's why she wants you to join her on family visits.) Or maybe this holiday in particular is important to you for some reason that you will explain, but you'd be happy to join her and her family for some other major holiday that seems to matter to her. (It has to actually matter to her; don't try to make up a new tradition that her family doesn't value.)

Given that her family seems to have a big gathering planned already, you will probably have more long-term harmony if you don't try to change this one but instead talk with her about how to balance your conflicting holiday desires in the future.

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I used to struggle with this issue quite a bit when I was married. We usually ended up going to 3 or 4 Christmas functions every year to appease the various branches of our families. It was exhausting to put it lightly...

I would recommend trying to find some sort of compromise, like spending Christmas Eve with your family and Christmas day with her's or alternating between families each year. Some couples here in the US, spend Thanksgiving with one family and Christmas with the other when travel time is a factor... Simply explaining that you're upset about the situation doesn't really solve the problem, but proposing an actual solution might.

Relationships are about compromise, where you two spend the holidays is going to be one of those compromises if you want to spend them together. Be prepared to lose this one and get the next one, relationships are like that too.

  • For her not to be with the family is not an option, by what she told me. Thanks for the answers. – user2925795 Dec 6 '17 at 16:01
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This scenario has already played out several times. If she doesn't understand that this upsets you, perhaps you do not share your feelings sufficiently to reliably sustain a long-term relationship.

If you "don't care about Christmas" itself, it remains unclear what has stopped you from spending one or more of them with her family. (At least since she first invited you - which surely shows that you are important enough to her that she will share this otherwise-exclusive part of her life with you.)

She shows concern for your mother's happiness, at least with regard to Christmas; is she correct that your mother would be sad under those circumstances? How do you think her mother (or other family members) would feel about her spending Christmas away from them?

If you cannot (or will not) let Christmas continue to be about your original families ... well, you haven't provided any excuses for not telling her exactly what you've already told us. If you feel that you can't tell her any of this without more of an explanation, then you should either provide us with more of an explanation, or talk this over with someone who already understands your feelings better than we do (perhaps your mother?) ... the real difficulty here is that, ideally (and perhaps, as indicated in comments, dependent on where exactly you are), your partner is generally the one person with whom it is expected you could have this sort of conversation.

  • Thx for the answer. – user2925795 Dec 6 '17 at 16:00
  • You're welcome; it was my first time here and I was trying not to be harsh or pessimistic, but sometimes I am a bit of a curmudgeon. Good luck to you both! – N. Presley Dec 6 '17 at 23:37
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I have been the girlfriend in this situation before. I think the best solution is to be open with her, especially if this is something that is really important to you. If I'm ever in this situation again, I would want my significant other to say something along the lines of, "I know that family is very important to you, but spending quality time together is very important for our relationship. You have been such an important part of my life for the past x years, and I want to honor that time by celebrating Christmas together - just you and me. The day would feel empty without you."

That said, if there's any way to compromise in this situation, I think that would be best. Perhaps she could spend the morning with her family and join you for the afternoon and evening?

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