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Family traditions have profound impact on couples

Decide now how you'll celebrate pet occasions

Dating and engaged couples have much to think about as they make serious long-term decisions about their future. So let me add one more to the list: Traditions.

Family traditions are so important in establishing unity and identity in families. The failure to discuss ahead of time which traditions a couple will keep can create problems later in the relationship.

Consider my folly: Our first Thanksgiving Day spent alone was meant to be blissful and perfect, but instead, nearly turned disastrous.

My expectations of watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, listening to Christmas music and enjoying my favorite foods collided with my husband's interest in watching football games, football games and more football games.

In his family, the boys spent the entire morning watching football, whereas in my family, we religiously watched every float in the Macy's parade. Although we quickly came to a compromise, it was evident that our family traditions had a profound impact on us.

So, to you dating or engaged lovebirds, take a few minutes to look over the brief list below and discuss the traditions the two of you want to celebrate in your new family life.

Birthdays: Will you go out to dinner or have your favorite meal cooked at home? Which birthdays will be more significant (16th — driver's license, etc.)?

Thanksgiving and Christmas: What foods will you eat? When will you put up the Christmas tree? What special activities will you do (Sub-for-Santa, caroling, etc.)?

Family events: When will you take family vacations or visit extended family?

Everyday events: Will you eat together as a family for dinner? Will you attend church and how frequently? Will you have certain days set aside for special activities (date nights, family nights, etc.)?

Research has shown that families with the strongest ties have the most traditions or rituals. So decide now on the positive traditions you want for your special future family.

Abby Viveiros is the executive director of RELATE at Brigham Young University. (RELATE is an online, premarital assessment based on more than 20 years of research. The Web site is located at