You’ve been dating your boyfriend for only two months, but it feels more like two years. His snoring practically shakes the bed, and omigosh, if he leaves dirty socks on the kitchen table one more time, you’re gonna scream.
But then there are the times he makes you breakfast in bed; albeit, he leaves shells in the eggs, but aside from burnt toast, it’s not too bad. You love him for trying, but no matter what he does, he irritates you.
And now your first Thanksgiving together is coming up, and you’ve had the same nightmare for the past week:
- You get up at six in the morning and spend eight hours preparing a Thanksgiving feast.
- He invites his buddies over.
- They spend four hours smoking cigars and drinking beer while loudly cheering on the Giants.
- It takes them eleven minutes to devour your carefully prepped meal.
- An hour later, they head out to the bar for a second meal and leave you to clean up.
And that’s when you wake up in a cold sweat.
Don’t ditch your Thanksgiving plans just yet. You can still have your dream first Thanksgiving together with your boyfriend, and here’s how:
1). Have the “Holiday Talk”
Have an advanced conversation with your boyfriend to ensure nothing remotely close to the previous scenario happens.
Discuss what the holidays mean for each of you. Sometimes, holidays are more important to one person than the other, so ask questions like:
- How were the holidays for you as a kid growing up?
- What’s a perfect Thanksgiving scenario for you?
- What was the worst/best Thanksgiving you ever had?
Doing so will help you get an idea of what he prefers, so you are not taking him out of his comfort zone. He’ll also know what you expect and try harder to keep to those standards.
Tips for Having a Grown-Up, Calm Talk about Holiday Plans
Never assume that your partner is going to follow along with your holiday plans. You may want to spend the holidays in one place, and your partner prefers another. Before you make definite plans, talk to your partner.
Choose a Good Time to Talk
Choose a time to talk when you won’t be interrupted. Start the conversation with questions that he can’t answer with one word.
- Where were you thinking about spending the holidays?
- How do you feel about traveling out of state this year?
- Do you want to visit your parents for Thanksgiving this year?
- Do you prefer to stay home for the holidays?
Finds Ways to Respect Each Other’s Choices
If your partner needs to spend the holidays with their family and you cannot go, suggest they go alone, but you’ll connect again for the next holiday. If you spend the holidays apart, devise a strategy to keep in touch. Do things like send along a care package, or schedule a time to call each day. Send flowers or a meal. Whatever you decide, they’ll know you are still together in your hearts, even apart.
You know all too much about not compromising because last year you spent the holidays at your parent’s house, sitting at the kiddie table because they ran out of chairs at the grown-up table. You were the only single, so it was an easy fit. Unfortunately, your mom wasn’t budging with her plans because it would have been too chaotic for her to adjust.
Don’t be like your mom. It’s doubtful that you and your boyfriend have the exact same idea for Thanksgiving, and that’s OK. However, after discussing what type of Thanksgiving you’d prefer, figure out where you both need to compromise.
For instance, does he want a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but you prefer a more low-key meal because it’s too much work to cook and clean up? Three options are:
- He could help prepare the meal with you
- You could prepare the meal if he agrees to do all the cleanup
- You could go out to eat. Therefore there’s no cooking or dishes for you to do
But what if the location is the issue? He wanted to have Thanksgiving at home this year, and you wanted to go back to your parent’s house. Options for this scenario include:
- Having dinner at home and dessert at mom’s (or vice versa)
- Thanksgiving at mom’s and Christmas at home
- Agreeing to go to mom’s Friday for a leftover dinner
The idea is to compromise so no one feels slighted regarding their preferences. Can you imagine how much fun it wouldn’t be if you forced your boyfriend to your mother’s house when he never wanted to go in the first place?
By the way, if mom attempts to sit you at the kiddie table this year, proclaim, “I am an adult, dammit, and I will not sit at the kiddie table!” And if that doesn’t work, flash your boyfriend around. She won’t be able to make room for TWO people.
3). No Surprises
If you’re planning on bringing your boyfriend to your parent’s house, make sure of two things; that he knows and that your parents know. What could be worse than, “Surprise, mom and dad, here’s my new boyfriend”?
In the same vein, don’t wake up on Thanksgiving morning and tell your boyfriend to pack a bag because you’re going to spend the weekend with your parents, whom he’s never met.
Also, make sure your boyfriend tells you if he plans to bring you to his family’s festivities, especially if this is your first meeting.
4). Set Boundaries
If you decide to stay home, make sure you and your boyfriend agree to this plan. Make your intentions clear in advance to avoid miscommunication. For example, if you invite family and friends to dinner, clear it with your partner. You’re not asking for permission. You’re simply giving him the respect that you would want.
Remember the opening nightmare scenario? To keep this from happening, be sure your boyfriend tells you if he plans to invite anyone.
For example, he tells you he’s inviting Scott, his best friend. However, you can’t stand Scott and his tasteless jokes. This is where compromise comes in. If you say no to good ol’ Scotty, can he invite a replacement?
The same goes for him. If you plan to invite someone he doesn’t like, will he be able to veto it? Again, it would help if you gave him the respect you asked of him.
5). Keep Him Updated on the Family Dynamics
After giving him the rundown of events, explain the personality traits of each attending family member, so he has a general idea of what he’s getting into.
For instance, what quirks or eccentricities does the family have? Is your aunt a little too affectionate after two glasses of wine? If this is the case, he should know before Aunt Helene plants a big, wet, juicy one on his cheek. Telling him what he can expect will eliminate your boyfriend from saying or doing something embarrassing.
6). Respect Beliefs
If you’re Christian and he’s Jewish, please watch the jokes. You should always be respectful of one’s beliefs. However, if your boyfriend’s buddy with no filter is coming to dinner, have your boyfriend pull him aside and tell him to chill out for the evening. His jokes are usually harmless, but someone else may find them offensive.
With different backgrounds, teach each other what’s allowed and what isn’t. People may not know, so telling them beforehand will eradicate awkward or embarrassing moments.
7 Tips on How to Respect Your Partner’s Beliefs
- Learn about their faith
- Discuss the differences in each other’s spiritual beliefs
- Discuss why your belief is important to you
- Keep an open mind
- Don’t attempt to convert them to your belief
- Offer support to your partner
- Never compromise your beliefs for someone else’s
7). Talk to Him
If your boyfriend is usually the offending one at social gatherings, before the festivities, pull him aside and convey how important the dinner is to you. If you need to, bribe him to behave.
For example, if he doesn’t dance with a turkey on his head this year (shout out to Joey Tribbiani!), he can have his guy’s weekend in Vegas next month. (You’ll tell him after dessert that you’re coming, too.)
How to Tell Your Boyfriend He’s Embarrassing You
Conflict comes up in every relationship, and sometimes the friction is brought on by one person being embarrassed by the other. Often when we get embarrassed by our partners, it feels like it’s a reflection on us, especially since we picked this person.
So when you feel embarrassed by your boyfriend, how should you respond?
- Decide if the behavior was really that bad: we all do embarrassing things Sometimes. It seems more noticeable because they’re our partners.
- If the behavior isn’t frequent, let it go: Ask yourself if this is a one-time thing. If so, it’s not a big deal.
- If it’s a pattern, bring it up privately: When it’s convenient, pull him aside and find out why he does this. Is it something he can stop, or does he do this when he feels triggered (social anxiety, attention seeker)?
8). Limit the Use of Substances
Because of chaos, stress, and other issues associated with family functions, the holidays are the perfect time to indulge. After all, if your boyfriend tells that same story about how you met at the strip club, you will beat yourself with the turkey leg.
While the holidays are a time to party and celebrate, alcohol may worsen the event. Unfortunately, many people use drugs and alcohol to celebrate or cope. For others, Thanksgiving is no different from any other day.
So, if you know your boyfriend is a sloppy or mean drunk, beforehand, have a discussion. Let him know what you expect. Find out his plans. If he knows he will be partaking in the drinking, you should drive or make arrangements for alternate transportation. Uber/Lyft is always an option.
If he agrees only to drink two glasses of wine, make sure he sticks to that arrangement. On the other hand, if he has carte blanche, don’t get upset watching him guzzle his third beer. Everyone wants to have a good time. However, no one wants to babysit a drunk.
The days leading up to Thanksgiving can be stressful because you have so many things on your plate you need to do. You don’t want to waste your energy on those little irritating things your boyfriend does, so this is the time you should take a deep breath and indulge in a little self-care. You can do relaxing stuff as a couple, or you can go it alone.
If your boyfriend is the reason you’re stressing so much, it’s best to get some space from each other. Take the day off and go to the spa. Get a massage to work out all the kinks. Create a spa day at home if funds are a little low from holiday grocery shopping. If you live together, kick your boyfriend out for a day and invite your friends for a relaxing Mani/Pedi.
Self-care also refers to getting a little space during the Thanksgiving feast. Suppose the dinner conversations become too challenging. Opt out with an early dismissal. I don’t mean hopping in your car and driving to Mexico. Instead, after dinner, retreat to your room for twenty minutes to get yourself together before dessert.
If the dinner becomes chaotic and you aren’t home, take a nice long walk if the weather permits. Go for a stroll through the neighborhood for a half hour to chill out. Holiday activities can be overwhelming, so taking a few minutes to yourself is a must.
Your boyfriend may drive you crazy in everyday life, so why should the holidays be any different? You love him and want to make it work, so this season, make a conscious effort not to fret over the small things. As long as you’re on the same page, you will have an excellent holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!