With December upon us, there are memories to be made and family members to visit. That being said, Christmas can also reel in some friction within your marriage over the Holiday season. Read along to learn about some super effective ways you can keep frustrations to a minimum and keep your marriage strong!
Christmas is often seen as a magical time of the year, but the reality is that it can be more stress than fun, especially as a parent. Between all of the gift wrapping, dinner cooking and planning to give your children an unforgettable Christmas celebration, there are a lot of responsibilities. As a result, you and your partner may find yourselves frustrated, upset or even arguing with each other for the smallest reasons.
Perhaps you can’t agree on what type of Christmas decorations to get for your home, or maybe you’re disagreeing over where you should spend your Christmas with the kids. Maybe you’re having trouble coping with a limited budget, or perhaps you’re having a tough time meeting holiday work deadlines which is causing too much stress.
Whatever the case may be, the truth is it's normal to face some adversity during the Christmas season. While it's made out to be a wonderful period of time where you don’t need to worry about anything, the Holiday Season comes with a special set of challenges. In this article, we’re going to give you a couple of tips on how to protect your marriage over the holidays and ensure you make it through the holiday season as a couple.
Finances can be a bigger point of contention than one might think. In fact, it's a common pain point in American marriages. Once you factor in the social pressure of giving gifts and budgeting for the vacations that come with the holiday season, it's easy to see how things can get tangled up in a hurry.
The method to steer clear of havoc in this area is a constant when it comes to couples counseling: communication.
If you and your partner are working full-time jobs, then it’s essential that you both plan in advance for your holiday celebrations. For example, if you both want to spend Christmas overseas with the kids, then make sure you both take holidays off work when the kids don’t have school. Make sure you plan give yourself an extra few days to pack and prepare for your trip and also to re-adjust when you come back from holiday.
The goal here isn’t just to plan ahead by booking holiday dates, but also to book enough so that you can be flexible should something occur like a work emergency or being unable to find tickets on a certain date. Plan to be flexible to ensure that you and your partner can spend time with the entire family together throughout the entire holiday season. Check out this article for an emphasis on spending the holidays with a step family unit.
Most experts suggest that couples form an annual budget together - but what about special occasions like Christmas? The same principal holds true. It's important to keep communication going on a monthly, weekly, and even nightly scale - as well as when planning for the future. As with multiple areas of marriage, communication is key.
It's a trope that's been visited then revisited again in Hollywood Blockbusters: Visiting the in-laws. You know what questions they're going to ask or what comments they may make. There's tension in your chest just thinking about it.
Let’s face it, almost nobody likes to visit their in-laws or distant relatives because it can become such a hurdle. This is especially true if you only see each other a couple of days each year. There’s usually a lot to catch up on, but there’s also this looming expectation of you or your partner.
Our suggestion is to only visit your in-laws or distant relatives if you actually want to. Sometimes it’s best to just spend time at home with your partner and the kids to prevent any friction from ruining your holiday. If you can tolerate your in-laws or actually enjoy being around them for the holidays, then it’s perfectly fine to plan in advance to visit them.
Remind your in-laws or relatives of that fact this Christmas by telling a feel-good story about an adventure you had with your spouse. Sometimes the best way to keep things from becoming awkward or sour is by controlling the conversation - make it a positive one!
Self-awareness can also play a big role here. What makes your nervous about seeing your relatives or in-laws? If there's certain questions that you feel would rub you the wrong way, craft some good answers in advance. If your loathing some bitter remarks, think of some compliments to meet them with. Inquire about their children or say how much you admire their attire. "Kill them with kindness" is based on truth!
Finally, if things do start to spiral out of hand, be sure to make a prior agreement with your spouse or family to have a quick evacuation plan. When emotions come to a boiling point, it's best to get out of the setting all together.
Plan to have a buffer. When you set aside an extra quarter of travel time to absorb the unexpected, you (or your spouse)is infinitely less likely to stress out once you both run into traffic or a delayed flight. On the other end, if nothing unexpected happens you suddenly have extra time to enjoy the trip and factor in a pit stop or scenic route.
Also remember that it can take a full day for a person to recover from extended time in an automobile or plane. Keeping this in mind might make that hotel or extra day off from work suddenly seem wise as opposed to superfluous. Plus, renting a room can make for a good head quarters when out for day-long holiday activities with family.
Take control of the budgeting and make sure you’re serious about managing your money. Christmas isn’t a cheap holiday–between all of the gifts you’ll be buying, decorations you’ll invest in and food you’ll be cooking, it’s going to get expensive very quickly. That’s why budgeting for the holiday season is such an important consideration, especially if you’re already quite strapped for cash or experiencing financial difficulties.
Separate your budget into a few different categories. In most cases, you’ll want to separate your savings to budget for different things. You could have a fund for Christmas presents for the kids, you could have a budget for food and you could have some money set aside for a holiday with the family. Whatever you’re thinking of spending money on, make sure you budget well in advance so that there are no money-related arguments in the future.
One of the most important things about budgeting for Christmas is to keep your expectations realistic. The last thing you want is to overestimate how much you have in savings or plan ahead by promising to go to a show with your family that you can’t actually afford.
It’s important to give you and your partner some time away from the kids to be intimate or romantic. With how busy the Christmas period is, it can feel almost impossible to find time to relax with your partner. Whenever possible, try and keep your kids occupied with something like a movie or a nap so that you and your partner have some time to spend alone with each other. Just remember that although your kids are important, the parents should also take priority now and then. If you feel like this is unrealistic beacuse you've been lacking in connection with your partner, marriage counseling is a smart way to bring out the best in your relationship.
Before facing off with this holiday season with your spouse, it's important to remind yourself that you've both undoubtedly survived several holidays before. You're still here, and you'll get through this. If you feel like you could use some extra help, consider contacting REID Counseling today. Dan Johnson humbly offers his help to couples in and around the Katy, Texas area that could use a helping hand and some faith based support in order to ensure decades of happiness to come. For the answers to more general questions about counseling, take a look at our faq page.