In our house, when it comes to Christmas, we have one rule: no holiday music or decorations or even a hint of eggnog until after Remembrance Day. But come November 12, bring it on.
Along with the fun holiday traditions and the warm fuzzy feelings, the Christmas season also brings with it something else: pandemonium. There are so many church and school events to go to and craft markets to attend and fundraisers to contribute to. Plus, there is so much pressure to give The Perfect Gift to each of your loved ones, not to mention the accompanying financial expense.
It can get overwhelming very quickly. The season that’s supposed to bring joy and peace and hope can end up bringing tension, stress, and anxiety.
And unfortunately, sometimes I have found myself taking out my frustration on my spouse, or getting so wrapped up in the holiday chaos that I lose sight of him all together.
Here are three ways we’ve helped our marriage to thrive during the Christmas season.
1. Communicate Our Expectations
It may not sound like the most romantic thing in the world, but when my husband and I communicate about the mundane details of life, we better understand each other’s expectations and desires. Which in turn leads to less frustration!
This is especially true during the Christmas season. It’s important to talk about what kinds of events we want to attend, who is on our Christmas list, and whether we should buy that 20-foot inflatable snowman to put on our front lawn. We have had to take an honest look at our calendar and bank account, and discuss whether we should pare down our gift list and prioritize some events and gatherings over others.
By staying on the same page with each other and communicating our financial and social expectations, we have alleviated misunderstandings and unrealistic hopes. We’ve been able to take some of the pressure off ourselves — so we can fully cherish the season with each other and our family.
2. Keep Dating Each Other
Yes, Christmas is busy. But that doesn’t mean our marriage should be relegated to the bottom of the priority pile. My husband and I make a point of setting aside at least one evening in our week that is sacred to the two of us — that means no meetings, no emails, no shopping — to simply spend time with each other.
Date night for us doesn’t need to be fancy; it is as simple as watching television together after the kids go to bed, or indulging in a bowl of ice cream. The point is to carve out space in our schedule to spend time together and make new memories, just the two of us.
These moments of connection during the holiday season allow us to re-focus and remember why we love each other. It creates the time and space to fully enjoy and appreciate one another, even amidst the busyness.
3. Remember What It’s All About
The lights, the music, the parties, the food, the presents, yes, even the Hallmark movies — these things are wonderful. But what is more wonderful? The event in history we are celebrating: the moment in time when God’s Son came to earth as a baby and grew into a man who would bring hope and healing and life to everyone who believes in him.
My husband and I make a point of honouring traditions that centre around being still, of remembering the significance of the season. We light our advent wreath each week. We read about the birth of Jesus with our children every night in December. We pray to ask God to be present before starting our date night each week.
Because when we love Jesus first and put him above all the extra-curricular stuff that Christmas brings, he allows us to love each other more fully. Only then can Christmas truly be a season of joy and peace and hope and love.