I dread family holidays - I do all the work.
“I dread family holidays – I do all the work.”
Kimberly says: It’s almost Easter again. And again, I’m dreading Easter dinner. Tim’s huge family will be here, just like every holiday, and I’ll be stuck in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, just like every holiday. I love Tim’s family, but holidays with them are wearing me out.
“I set the table – isn’t that enough?”
Tim says: Kimberly always said she loved the energy and fun of my large family. It’s important to me that we see them at the holidays, and we have the biggest house, so we’re the logical place. I do help – I set the table and keep the drinks filled.
Isn’t this what family is all about – spending time together and extending hospitality?
What do they do?: Isn’t this the way it usually goes? Last year, when the Easter get-together was scheduled for this year, the enthusiasm was there. Now that we’re mid-Lent, the weight of the responsibility is getting heavier, life is getting busier, and there are more demands on your time than previously experienced. The idea doesn’t look as attractive as it once did. We believe there is a relatively simple solution to this issue, if Kimberly and Tim put each other as their first priority – and their marriage relationship a priority before extended family relationships.
Jo and I can relate as we, too, have extended family in the local area. However, each family offers to assist in various ways, and it lightens the burden on all – especially on the host family. Holiday gatherings can strain a marriage relationship unless both spouses are committed to sharing the load. We have some friends who divide household chores into “pink jobs” and “blue jobs”; pink jobs assigned to the wife, and blue jobs are assigned to the husband. Of course, this means there is an effort, long before the event, when jobs are discussed and each spouse agrees to handle the specific tasks. That way, when the event begins, each spouse knows what is expected and the stress and strain on the marriage relationship are minimized.
It is not a fair distribution of the jobs if the only things on Tim’s list are to set the table and keep the drinks filled; particularly if none of the extended family is helping. It would only be fair if Tim would help in the kitchen and with the cleaning (before, during and after the gathering). A plus is that his actions might be just the incentive and model needed for other family members to assist.
Tim might want to consider how much more Kimberly would enjoy the gatherings if she was not so worn out by doing all the work. A positive measure for Kimberly and Tim would be to give consideration to what is just and what brings about peace; peace within your marriage relationship that comes from putting your spouse’s welfare in front of other family members and justice in the equitable assignment of pink and blue jobs. We are reminded of Proverbs 21:3: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Helping each other out is not a sacrifice if Tim and Kimberly remember that, in a sacramental marriage, a prime goal of each spouse is to get the other one into heaven by lifting them up – being a servant to them – before thinking about their own salvation. Tim might also wish to show a little more compassion and consideration for the effort Kimberly is expending to serve the needs of his family. We suggest, as part of their preparation for the Easter gathering, they to set aside time to communicate about this special occasion and what expectations they desire from each other. Kimberly should share with Tim the feelings she experiences when her hospitality is taken advantage of by some family members.