Staying married over the Holidays
When we first got married the holidays were the best times for us. We look forward to meeting each other's families and growing relationships. Then it was the children! Oh boy, what fun it was to share our newborn bundles with everyone. There was plenty of picture taking and sharing stories.
Then, as our family grew, it was a matter of who was hosting during the holiday season. Who has an apartment large enough? Who has a house? How many people can you accommodate? There was always a question about the food. Who is bringing what? So and so is a vegetarian, pescetarian or they're just a super picky eater. "I don't like the way she/he makes this/that". Then there was the matter of the activities. What are we going to do after we eat? Should we watch a movie? Should we have a singalong? Share testimonies? Maybe we should read a Bible verse or two since we are christians and everything.
After a while, holidays can get to be a hassle because it is more of a chore then enjoyment. Some family members might not get along as well as others. People are now divorced. Somebody is having a baby and it's not a good thing. What happened to our joy? As a couple, we began experiencing more stress and anxiety during the holiday time. The season that was supposed to be happy and joyous suddenly got the better of us. It got the better of our marriage too! We had disagreements about who should come and who should not. There issues about the food, the setting, the music. It was all too very complicated. After all the festivities are over, who wants to cuddle up by a fire and be romantic? We were TIRED! No mistletoe or New Years Eve kiss. And you can forget about sex!
What happened to the simplicity of Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's Day? Aren't these supposed to be the happiest times of the year? For many couples, it is not. Some couples are struggling with losses as well during the seasons. For whatever reason, it's not the way it used to be because so-and-so is gone. We miss grandma, grandpa, the kids before they were teens and had "better things to do". We missed seeing familiar faces that made the holidays so much better. This person is gone and so is their famous pie. Gosh! The holidays will never be the same.
Well let me give you three tips to ensure that you can stay married over the holidays. It IS possible to enjoy the holiday season with your spouse, even if you differ on if you should have a table just for the kids or not.
1. Plan a date. You may be thinking with all that I have to do and all of my appointments and all of the programs who has time for a date? Exactly! Make the time. Every November my husband and I get together to celebrate each other. It is a time to reconnect towards the end of the year and reminisce about our marriage. We talked about where we've been and where we're going. We enjoy each other's company and plan for the future. If your marriage is supposed to be your most important relationship, the others can wait.
2. Make your own traditions. I love our family traditions of how we open gifts and singing songs and many other things. However, when I got married I wanted us to have our very own family traditions. It is important to establish what you do at your house between each other. This will make your marriage stronger and will help you to navigate the holidays knowing that the two of you are working together, not against each other.
3. Remember the Reason for the Season. Among all the things that we have to do and all the to-do lists that we make for the holidays, there is nothing that will bring a couple closer together than keeping Jesus at the center. He is the reason that we made it through the year and the reason that we have a new one to look forward to. He is the reason that we celebrate Christmas and we can thank Him all year long, not just at Thanksgiving. All good marriages are held together by that glue.