Military families don’t always have the option to travel home for the holidays. When they do, it can be a long and expensive trip. When relatives have unrealistic demands or expectations, it leaves military families frustrated. Some vow never to visit “home” for the holidays again!
If this sounds familiar, you may need to set boundaries this year.
What are healthy boundaries for holiday visits?
This answer is different for every person, but you set boundaries to protect your mental health, emotional well-being, or financial investments.
Boundaries mean saying no to some things, so you can say yes to others. During the holidays, you can’t please everyone all the time. It’s OK to draw a line so you aren’t sacrificing yourself to please others.
If you don’t have the time, emotional strength, and financial resources to drive across eight states and visit four different houses during a week of leave, then you need to determine a boundary between what others want and what you and your spouse and/or children actually need.
Holiday boundaries for military families
- Choosing whether to travel or remain home
- Who you carve out time to visit
- Who you invite to your home
- Where you will travel
- Which days you will be away from home
- Who makes holiday decisions for your children
- Spending limits on gifts
- Overall travel budget
Discuss boundaries before your visit
This discussion should begin with your spouse, before either of you has a conversation with the relatives. First, make sure you are on the same page as a couple. Talk about your primary goals and hopes for this visit. Then get into the details mentioned above.
Compromises might be necessary. The important thing is that you and your spouse negotiate until you reach an agreement, so you can be a united team when discussing your boundaries with relatives. Be sure you agree on the non-negotiables, especially any that may be difficult for family members to accept.
Present boundaries to your families
It’s best if you and your spouse each act as the main communicator with your own relatives. Announce you are planning the logistics of your visit and want to go over details in advance.
Then, share the agreed-upon plan. Include all the non-negotiable items. Speak about your decisions in the past, since they are already determined. “We agreed to be in town for five days.” Make it clear to your relatives that you and your spouse have agreed on boundaries together based on what’s best for your family unit.
When you set boundaries, someone is sure to push back. Focus on the priorities you and your spouse have established. Stand your ground, so your holidays can be merry and bright!