Plan for an enjoyable yom tov: being a guest

You want a meaningful and enjoyable yom tov for all – you, your spouse, your children, your guests. As a couple, plan the details of Yom Tov so that all runs as smoothly as possible. Pre-planning will help pre-empt disappointments and dashed expectations.

• Going to your parents’ house for Yom Tov meal? Try to pre-empt surprises. If this is your spouse’s first time coming to your family for Rosh Hashanah, note that what is ‘just the way we do it’ may be different than the way your spouse’s family does it. Describe the details of meal, the expectations of who does what, how long it takes before the meal actually starts, bringing gifts, saying dvar Torah, how long the meal usually is. What topics are sensitive and should be avoided. –>If your spouse hasn’t shared, then you start the conversation.

• Create a secret code with each other to help with navigating uncomfortable situations (for example, awkward conversations, faux paus, “I’m uncomfortable here”)

• If your spouse’s family does something in a way that is different from what you are accustomed, be curious, not judgmental. “That’s interesting; I’d like to hear more.” “I wonder what is the symbolism/ origin of that minhag.” “That’s somewhat in conflict with something I learned, I’d like to learn more about that and also about what I have learned.”
–> Don’t go down the path of “That’s so weird.” “We are so not doing that.”

• Find out what time your shul expects to be finished davening so you can work that out with your meals as a guest. Find out from your host what time they are expecting you. And respect that; do not be late, or early. Or discuss with the host about the difference in starting times (that they can start the meal even if you are not there yet, etc.)

• Have your spouse’s back. If there is a conflict between someone from your family of origin and your spouse, stick up for your spouse and then work to quickly shut down the conversation to be picked up respectfully later in private.

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