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How Couples Can Beat Holiday Stress

Roy Milam

6 Tips On How Couples Can Beat Holiday Stress

Beat Holiday StressChristmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the strain of the four-week long Christmas season can test even the strongest of marriages.

There’s so much to do, and so little time in which to do it-  from putting up the Christmas decorations, to countless hours of gift shopping and wrapping, letters and cards to get in the mail, cookies to bake, neighborhood get-togethers, church socials, school programs and office parties to attend.

No wonder our idea of “peace on earth” can so quickly dwindle to four weeks of stress on earth.
How about you at Christmastime, do you find yourself feeling stressed out and spent?

This Christmas we’re trying to simplify and de-stress things as much as possible so that we can more fully enjoy the season.  So, in the pursuit of peaceful moments this Christmas season, we’d like to share with you a few tips that we hope will help you beat the stresses of the holiday season:

Beat Holiday Stress By Setting Expectations

1. Talk about expectations. As the holiday pace and tensions increase, so do conflicts. When you’re constantly on the go, you get more tired, and the more you tend to expect your spouse to pick up the slack. When these unfair expectations don’t get met, it’s easy for both of you to feel resentful. So expectations should be stated, and negotiated. “Stating” means discussing roles and responsibilities of each partner. “Negotiating” is working together to find solutions and resolve differences. It’s about honoring your relationship in all your actions.

Tell your mate why it’s important that you stay up ’til the wee hours baking cookies and writing personal notes on Christmas cards. Listen to your mate. Make decisions and discuss specific plans together, such as for Christmas activities, parties, decorations and gifts- Who’ll do what and when? How much should we spend? Which parties will we attend, etc?

Beat Holiday Stress By Setting Priorities

2. Put your marriage and family first. It’s hard to take care of each other when you’re worried about disappointing others. But if both sets of grandparents plan simultaneous celebrations, someone’s got to be disappointed. Don’t sacrifice your spouse’s needs. Decide together what you want to happen for Christmas. You don’t have to go to a party just because you were invited to it.

Pace yourself and find the balance. Maybe you need to say no to your friend’s annual party so you can attend your child’s holiday program. Sue tells me that what she really wants for Christmas is some quiet family evenings. So we set aside the nights for family Christmas fun.

Beat Holiday Stress By Celebrating Accomplishments

3. Enjoy the fun of joint accomplishment.  When holiday preparations fall on one person’s shoulders, it isn’t good for either spouse. The one with the heavy workload feels resentful; the other partner feels useless and disconnected. Seek a balance of duties and agree on priorities before the rush begins. To create a balance, let some duties go, and mix up other chores. At Thanksgiving, when Sue was getting the house ready for company, I fixed the turkey stuffing. We’re still laughing over the turkey grease I poured into it!

Beat Holiday Stress By Adhering To Budgets

4. Discuss your budget and respect it. If Sue splurges on a gift for her sister, then it’s easy for me to I feel “justified” to splurge on a gift for my brother. It’s always easy to find ourselves extended beyond our budget. Especially when money is tight, it’s not fair to overspend and then expect your spouse to support your purchases.  Be conscientious and control your spending.

Beat Holiday Stress with December Date Nights

5. Set a date night in December. Too many “must-do” events leave no time for you as a couple. So plan a night out-or “in” after the kids are asleep. If you can’t schedule one, then maybe you’re over-committed.

Beat Holiday Stress With Love

6. Keep in mind the best gift you can give.  Love expressed through caring actions to meet your mate’s needs is the best gift you can give. So nurture your marriage and see love reduce tension.  As we celebrate Christmas, let’s not forget during this season of “busy”-ness what really matters.   Don’t confuse giving love with giving gifts. Although gifts can be an expression of your love, so are your time, your affection, your words of affirmation, and your willingness to forgive an offense.

Think about the way that Jesus Christ would want His birthday to be celebrated? Would He want us to rush past living out the principles of being peace-makers as we hurry through the season to celebrate and honor His birth?

In closing let me leave you with these words from the book of Hebrews:”Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Our love and prayers are with you as we work together to build strong marriages so they will be a living testimony of the love of Christ. Until next week, be blessed and less stressed, and enjoy the
holiday season!

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