Marriage Monday: Surviving the Holidays

It's HERE!! The week of Christmas is HERE! (Does that make anyone else's blood pressure spike? Yeah... more on that later...).

The holidays are stressful and can bring out all kinds of crazies in each of us. Women, especially, tend to set high expectations for ourselves about how the holiday should go: the decorations, the baking the school pageants and programs, the pictures, the gifts... can all weigh us down until we feel burdened by what should be a peaceful and joyful time of remembering and celebrating.
'GORGEOUS COUPLES IN SECOND LIFE' photo (c) 2008, rafeejewell - license:
You'll totally look like this on Christmas morning if you follow this blog post.

Even on the best holidays -- when all the loved ones are healthy and accounted for, when you can locate all of your Christmas decorations, etc. -- Christmas can be stressful if we let it. Here are some ways to let Christmas be more merry than madness in your marriage:

1) Clearly communicate your expectations: If a real tree, the brightest lights on the block, and a huge holiday open house are all important to you, let your spouse know, and clearly communicate his/ her role in all of that (understanding s/he may have an entirely different vision -- now is the time for early and clear communication). Discuss gifts ahead of time. If you think "he should just know" but past history tells you that he isn't going to, either change your expectations, help him out by giving him a list, or buy for yourself and wrap it yourself.  Sheila had a great article about gifts, Christmas, and marriage.

2) Decide what is a 'must' and let most of the rest go: Maybe spouse says, "No can do on the Griswold style Christmas lights. I'll help with the tree and Open house." You have to decide. What is that important to you. Also, of course, there will be band concerts to attend, office parties, church events, and on and on. Step back and see which is a must and which may have to be a casualty of the season.

3)Make time for yourself: Don't let your health be a casualty of the season. Get plenty of sleep when possible. Don't overindulge at the parties, and when you do drink plenty of water to clear out your system as soon as possible. Wash hands often. Exercise -- if even a brief stroll to clear your head -- when you can. Read. Do something for you, even if it is for as little as 20-30 minutes a day.

4) Make time for memories: Remember that the prettiest decorated cookies at the class party or the best decorated tree isn't the goal. Relax and let things go that don't really matter -- buy the cookies if you have to, and spend your time looking at Christmas lights as a family.

5) Expect the unexpected: Things will go wrong. It's bound to happen. Spouse forgot about the 40 gifts he needed for the office, or the party that is tonight. The kids need a costume for the musical that is tonight. Take deep breaths, find your flexibility, problem solve, and most importantly:

6) Laugh: The cookies caught on fire? Quick! Take a picture! You dropped a can of pumpkin on the floor that shot up to the ceiling and into your face? Take a picture AND laugh! (we have photographic evidence of me doing this -- and our house in Abilene probably still has orange stain on the ceiling). The lights only stay lit when someone holds the plug in? That is hilarious! Even in the stores, packed to the gills with shoppers, most of them completely devoid of holiday spirit, there are good times to be had. Find your laughter.

7) Remember why you're doing all of this: Christmas is to celebrate Christ's birth. I love the 1 Corinthians 13, Christmas Version -- if we aren't decorating, shopping, and cooking with love, all is meaningless. This holiday, that commemorates the birth of Christ, is a time for families to stop and enjoy each other.  With expectations too high and needs not communicated, disaster can befall.

I know this was more of personal surviving the holidays guide, but when you keep calm and clearly communicate with your spouse, your marriage will better absorb the stress of the season.

Buy some extra candy canes, spend a night by the fire, and enjoy the season!


Brian said...

you forgot about avoiding all living beings for a week or so, than can help, too

Sarah S. said...

As an introvert, I think that's a given. It falls in the "do something for yourself" category.

Stephanie said...

Good List! Over the years I've let many things "go" and I'm finally to a point where Christmas is Just Right. However, as a working mom, TIME is never on my side. Thankfully there are weekends :)

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