November 20, 2013

The holidays are a wonderful time full of excitement, traditions, friends and family.  We greatly enjoy the decorations, the food and the cold weather pleasures.  However, in the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy for our marriages to take a backseat to all the shopping, wrapping and baking.

As wonderful as the holidays can be, they also bring a lot of stress and tension for most families.  Each of us has additional demands on our time and finances. With all the stress we tend to become irritated with our spouses.  We start to resent how much or how little they contribute to the madness.  It is stressful enough to feel forced to participate in office Christmas parties and gatherings you would rather avoid, but many couples are also faced with family traditions that are imposed upon them.

I worked with a client recently who hated every November and December.  She felt every holiday was a tug of war between her parents and her in-laws.  Every year she tried to plan and stretch so that each family was happy, but someone always got upset or felt they were being cheated somehow.  I’m curious to hear how this year goes. She got tired of the holiday drama and plans to be gone on a cruise (with her kids and spouse) for the entire week of Christmas.  I applaud her solution!  And her courage to buck tradition!

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The holidays can really take their toll on family relationships. If you need some help putting a little jolly back into your holidays, try some of these tips:

  •  Set realistic expectations.  Talk to your spouse and decide what is most important to your family this season.  Whether it is spending time with friends and family, celebrating the birth of Christ or spending time alone cuddling in front of a fire while watching your favorite holiday movies… just make sure whatever you decide, you make it a priority.  Anything else is just holly! 🙂
  •  Plan for down time.  Put it on your to-do list.  I promise you won’t regret it.
  •  Set a budget for your holiday spending and stick to it.  No matter what.
  • Consider gift cards.  They are quick to buy, don’t need wrapping and everyone gets what they like!  This is what everyone on my list is getting this year.
  • Take care of yourself.  Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep every night.  Exercise even though you are eating more junk.  Brush your teeth.  Wash your face.  Eat your veggies.  You know what I mean.
  • Put more focus on your kids and spouse than you do your extended family.  It is easy to get in the mode of trying to please everyone and striving to meet their expectations, but that won’t be the best for you and your family.  Remember:  it is OK to say “NO”.  Reading a book to your kids might not be on your list, but those are the memories they will keep with them forever.
  • At least once this season…reach out to someone who isn’t expecting a gift and give them something.  Your time, a hug, a cup of coffee…can mean more than an expensive gift. You will truly be spreading holiday cheer and you will feel better.  Really!  I know this stuff!

All of us here at The Marriage Place wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!

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