The holidays can be a stressful time for any marriage. For those living in the United States, the time between mid-November and the first week of January is a headache: long shopping lines, empty grocery shelves, family in and out of town, large gatherings, parties to plan and host, traffic, etc. Those six to seven weeks can be a pain and put a strain even on the healthiest of marriages. What is unique about the holidays, though, is the spirit that surrounds them.
Coming together rather than being apart
Rather than spending time apart, as many families do throughout the year, the holidays provide an opportunity to visit the family for extended periods. Vacation hours have been saved specifically for this time, and many people have high expectations for their time away from work. However, the stress of having family in town and extra people to tend to in the house can cause pressure. Rather than avoiding spending time with your spouse, think of the busy parties and family gatherings as excuses for being attached to one another as a couple! Whether you are a guest or host/hostess, use the busy time to be delighted in the company of loved ones. You and your partner are a unit, and it is okay to want to spend that time in each other’s company. Try not to let the hustle and bustle prevent you from being near each other for special moments.
Being grateful and appreciative
One of the most common activities for families during the holidays is to individually and publicly express gratefulness. You can carry over this tradition into your marriage, as well! Rather than having the conversation publically, pick a special time for the two of you to spend five or ten minutes to just talk. Think about what you are grateful for and vocally appreciate one another.
The holidays are common times to be generous with money, time, etc. A giving and generous attitude during the holidays can make it a bit easier to plan creative ways of showing how much you value and appreciate your spouse. These acts of generosity do not have to be elaborate, expensive, or over-the-top (though it likely won’t be a problem if they are!). Even if you should choose to keep these actions simple and private, your marriage will benefit from the selflessness of giving to one another.
Many of us learn just how transparent families can be during the holidays. At first, your family might be on “best behavior” protocol, but as everyone becomes comfortable and familiar with their surroundings, thoughts and opinions become more apparent. While this can be uncomfortable, it can give you and your spouse the unique opportunity to embrace transparency in your own marriage. Understanding, and often seeing firsthand, the flaws in other relationships can help normalize what otherwise might look like an overwhelming problem. Embracing the honesty and authenticity you share in your relationship can help refresh your partnership to face the challenges of the coming year.
New year = new beginning.
And speaking of the coming year, the holidays can be a good time to give your marriage a much needed fresh start. A new year can mean a new beginning for a couple who has struggled. Whether the challenges you have been facing were relational, financial, emotional, or situational, seeing a new year on the calendar can offer a fresh perspective and the ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It is important to think of the holidays as a joyous occasion rather than a burden. The time spent with family can be overwhelming, but remember to build memories instead of letting the stress steal your joy! Give your attention to entire family, but do not lose sight of the one who stands by your side. Your spouse should always be the recipient of your best and brightest moments. In the midst of all the chaos, remember to set aside time to refresh your relationship and reflect on the blessings you have as a couple.