It's the first Monday in December and the Christmas holidays are here. If you are anything like me you are excited about all the cheer AND can already feel the impending chaos coming your way. Soon, you’ll be running to the store every day after work to track down the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. If you are like my husband you will be avoiding your credit cards bills entirely. Also don't forget your phone will be filled with invitations to dinners and events with loved ones. You’ll be wondering about how to deal with your spouse's family drama not to mention your own family’s issues. Your to-do list will get longer by the day. And with all this going on, it’s easy to forget that the holiday season should also be a time to celebrate with the one you love the most: your spouse.
HERE ARE 7 TIPS TO KEEP THE "MERRY" IN YOUR MARRIAGE
1. Create your own traditions.
You are your own family now. You don’t have to do everything exactly like your parents or in-laws did, even if you’re with them! It’s important to create traditions unique to your family that you can do on your own. Especially consider having a special tradition just for you and your spouse.
2. Set a realistic budget.
Set a realistic budget to keep from feeling financial stress that puts more pressure on your marriage. There are thousands of possibilities for homemade or inexpensive gifts that don’t have to cost anything so get creative! And don’t wait until the last minute, or else the stress will hit you anyway. Money is often a topic of contention in relationships, but it doesn’t have to be.
3. Talk about expectations ahead of time.
Get started early with conversations about expectations. Expectations like how much you will spend on gifts, how much time you will spend with each family member. How you will handle certain conversations when everyone gets together and etc. Make sure you are both on the same page.
4. Focus on your family.
Make sure you are taking time each day to do something just with your spouse and/or your children. Take a walk or take an after meal “nap” to get away from constant togetherness. This is a great way to introduce some of your traditions and give you a break at the same time.
5. Practice empathy.
Holidays are supposed to be festive, but for many people, cheer is replaced by stress as they deal with family drama, financial concerns, and fatigue. “You and your spouse might get stressed and become grumpy, anxious, and argumentative. Look at your spouse with empathy and resist the urge to assume the worst if he or she acts a little like Scrooge. There’s no need for “Bah, Humbug!” in your marriage! Be a little more empathetic than feels natural or “normal” during this unique time of the year. Also be sensitive if your spouse is not able to see their family at all during the holiday season. We see my family every year but my husband's family lives out of state and we don't see them every holiday season so I try to always be sensitive to that.
6. Don't be afraid to say NO
It's so easy to overcommit during this time of year. That can you leaving you feeling more tired and burned out at the end of everything. Make sure you are leaving room on calendar for downtime. Prioritize what you can do but don't try to do it all.
7. Schedule sex.
You read that right! In the busyness of the holidays, sex usually takes a back seat. Mark it on your calendar and schedule some time to be naughty... or nice!