He Said/She Said: Relationships & The Holidays

In Dating, For the Guys, For the Ladies, Marriage, Relationships by Debra Fileta

I’m excited to share the first He Said/She Said post by me and my husband!  It’s also John’s very first appearance on the blog! I’m honored to share my space with him.  If you’re new to the He Said/She Said post, it’s a series of posts answering questions about love, sex, singleness, marriage, and relationships that come to you from the perspective of a man and a woman.  You can catch up on the entire He Said/She Said series here:

Today we’re talking Relationships & The Holidays!

Please remember, as with all He Said/She Said posts, these are two real people with real perspectives.  Please be respectful in your thoughts and comments.  Also, remember that as the author of this blog, I may or may not agree with the following perspectives (except mine…haha)

He: John, 32-year-old male; Hershey, PA

Married to

She: Deb, 30-year-old female; Hershey, PA

How many Christmas’s have you celebrated together?

He Said: This will be our 9th Christmas together…and every year gets even better. I’m also hoping this is the year I get to actually keep my Christmas gifts, as Deb has somehow managed to claim them for herself in previous years;)

She Said: 9 years and counting, it’s crazy how time flies! Ps. As the editor of this blog…not sure about the accuracy of the statement above, but I’ll let it fly 🙂

How have the holidays changed throughout the stages of your relationship?

He Said: In a lot of ways, the holidays haven’t changed at all since the first Christmas we spent together, and in other ways they look drastically different.  The holidays always have a special meaning for me, because it’s when Deb and I first started dating, and I’m reminded of how God perfectly brought us together and continues to deepen our relationship.  But, in others ways, a lot has changed.  This year a lot of our Christmas is going to be focused on the joy and wonder of our two kids opening their gifts, playing with new toys, and in some cases- keeping them from eating the wrapping paper.  But ultimately, I think the greatest demonstration of love is at Christmas. And no matter where we’re at in life, it’s always a challenge for us to imitate that sacrificial, unconditional love that Christ offers us.

She Said:  It’s interesting how each season of life brings with it new things to focus on and be excited about.  When we were dating it was all about getting to know each other, being immersed in one another’s families for the first time.  When we got married it was about becoming one and doing our own thing, starting new traditions, and it represented our unity in a way.  Now, it’s so fun to watch our kids enjoy this season, teach them about Jesus, and feel connected by the love that we share as a family.  Each stage is different, but has something new to experience and enjoy.

What are some inexpensive winter date ideas?

He Said: No matter how old you get– it’s still fun to go ice skating and sledding.  Winter is also a great time to grab a hot drink and relax at a bookstore or a coffee shop, check out a museum, or concert/symphony.  Personally I’ve never been a huge fan of a movie date.  You don’t really get to interact and you end up paying 10 bucks just to sit next to someone.  Instead of having passive dates, try to put yourself in situations where you can interact and learn about each other.  You’d be surprised, but a lot of these most significant things don’t really cost very much money.

She Said: I just love cozying up by the fireplace, playing games, chatting, and having some hot cocoa.  Nothing beats hot cocoa.  Especially with marshmallows.  And maybe some cookies…But truthfully, it’s just so fun to go for a walk in the snow, a drive to look at Christmas lights, window shopping, or sit at a bookstore, anywhere to spend time together. A really meaningful date has far less to do with what you spend, and far more to do with how you use your time.

What’s your advice on inviting someone you’ve been dating to join you for the holidays?

He Said: For me, the holidays are always a very special and sacred time to spend with my family and closest friends.  The invitation should be proportional to your relationship.  If it’s someone you just started dating, it might not be the best time to integrate them into your family.  If it’s a more serious relationship, than maybe a visit during the holidays is a good time for you and your significant other to really get to know your family as you look ahead at marriage.  I think this also depends a lot on your family.  For some people, their homes are always open and it’s not a big deal to have someone visit.  For others, meeting the family is a much bigger deal.  So I think you also have to view it through the lens of how your family does the holidays.

She Said: I would say this is relative- but some things I think about are how substantial the relationship is during the holidays. To me, meeting the family on an average day wasn’t a huge deal- as my family  has an open door policy at all times- but bringing a date to the holidays held a little more weight.  It was something I didn’t really take lightly.  Not only that, but bringing someone to the holidays can speak a lot to that person- so always make sure you’re on the same page as far as commitment before you take these steps that integrate your worlds together so as to avoid potential confusion and hurt.

What’s an acceptable gift to get for someone who you just started dating?

0-3 months:

He Said: I think this is the perfect time to show that you’ve been paying attention and get creative.  Gifts at this stage shouldn’t be expensive, but more thoughtful.  Is there something they collect? Favorite book or movie?  Childhood memory?  Those are the things that show you care and put thought into it.

She Said: Something homemade and thoughtful, but not costly.  Show them that you’re learning about them, and that you care.

3-6 months?

He Said: Still at this stage, gifts shouldn’t be really expensive.  Thoughtful gifts go along way, but at this stage you’ve been in a relationship for a long time and it’s okay to invest a little more.  This is a good time to help someone get toward a big gift they’ve been looking at or plan a fun date you might not otherwise go on because of cost.

She Said: I think the perfect gift for this stage of dating is a date!  So simple it’s profound, right? I have always loved when my husband got a special date planned with dinner and an activity somewhere.  Its meaningful, and gives me something to look forward to…but also focuses on the relationship.

6+ months?

He Said: It’s getting serious…This is when I think it’s nearing the time to get more lavish gifts for someone.  The relationship is well passed the seasons of Spring & Summer (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read my wife’s book!).  Consider jewelry, electronics, or that tiny, sparkly, ring if you feel led 😉 But no matter how long you’ve been dating, I really think a thoughtful, personal, well-thought-out gift is always the most meaningful during the holidays.  And eggnog.

She Said: I think this is a good time to show commitment…and sometimes, commitment is displayed in how we use our money.  I don’t think that this gift has to be insanely expensive or anything, but I do remember this stage of our dating relationship- and how meaningful it was for me for my poor, broke, med-student husband went out of his way to save up and buy me some of the things I’d really wanted but maybe couldn’t afford at the time (as a broke grad student). It just meant so much that he would sacrifice in that way for me.  If all else fails, something really thoughtful is just as meaningful.

How do you decide on traditions for your family when you’ve been raised with different traditions?

He Said: I think it’s really important to have a good, honest discussion about this.  Some family traditions have deep seated meanings, while some happen more randomly and haphazardly.  I think it’s important to carry some of your own personal traditions, as well as create new ones within your family.  For example, my family tended to spend Christmas with just my brothers and parents- whereas Deb’s family, 50 people showing up for Christmas would not be unusual.  In our family now, we’ve tried to incorporate taking time for extended family, but also being deliberate about making time for our immediate family.  We’ve blended the two, and created our own traditions.  I also believe more premarital counseling time should be spent on arbitrating the debate of having a real, or artificial Christmas tree!  Because some of us are dreaming of a plastic Christmas…

She Said:  One thing that’s been helpful for us is taking the middle ground when it comes to holidays and traditions.  We’ve really tried to integrate our own traditions from our family of origins, because that’s a special part of who we are and we’ve respected that.  But it’s also been awesome to start our own family, and make our own traditions that define us as a couple, and are things we want to pass down to our children.  I really think you can do all of the above, you just have to be deliberate about it, pick and choose, and communicate about these things.

What is your favorite thing about the holidays?

He Said: My absolute favorite thing about the holidays- is the tangible, real, reminder that Jesus Christ was a real man who experienced the highs and lows of humanity.  No matter what I’m going through, He has perspective on it.  My second favorite thing…is eggnog.

She Said: There are so many fun things about this time of year.  But honestly, I’m just continually enamored by the fact that God came down. He’s with us, and He’ll always be.  I think it’s easy to forget that reality.  I mean, we say we believe it…but Christmas reminds us of it’s reality and brings it to the forefront.  It’s a reality that’s changed my life.  No matter what stage my life and relationships bring me, that’s really where I want my heart to be at Christmas.

*For more on creating a healthy and meaningful relationship, and to hear more about our story, pick up a copy of my new book True Love Dates!