I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love Christmas! As for the New Year, it’s a time we look forward to hitting the reset button and starting life fresh. If you have children they are through the roof with excitement. Adults, on the other hand, look forward to time off from work, holiday parties, family gatherings and last, but certainly not least, Christmas shopping for our loved ones.
However, while those things tend to put us in a jolly frame of mind, the reality is that for many married couples, this is not the picture perfect holiday. It can be a trying time where spouses argue the most and little things quickly blow up into big things.
We all have different areas of concern that surface each holiday and what causes marriage problems for one marriage might not necessarily trouble another married couple. Below are three of the most common marital problems most couples have a tendency to react to this time of year. I’ve also included potential responses to turn these problems into opportunities and, prayerfully, solutions!
Working with Your In-Laws
The holidays are a time to celebrate all of our relationships, but they can also be tense with anxiety and dread — especially when it comes to spending time with extended family.
Whether you love your spouse’s parents or barely tolerate your in-laws, your rapport with them can have lasting effects on your marriage. According to recent research, it could even predict your odds of staying together long term or not.
If this is an area of concern for you and your spouse, reflect and ask what always causes the arguments?
- Could it be something they always say or allude to?
- Could it be the way they act towards you?
- Could it be that your spouse acts differently around them?
Now that you have a heightened awareness, take a moment and write down ways to be proactive during your visit in an effort to prevent the same issues from resurfacing. Remember the important thing during this time is likely to be your peace of mind and to ensure you and your loved ones are able to enjoy the holiday season as a family. Sometimes, silence is truly golden and often the only way to keep the peace…especially during the holidays.
Respond-VS-React: Make a decision in advance that you will NOT allow anyone to force you to react, rather you will stay as calm as a cucumber and only respond when prompted. Remember it’s sometimes better to say nothing. Deal with issues away from the kids and/or other family members. Agree with your spouse in advance that if it gets to be too much, you will go for a walk, get some coffee or tea, to the mall, or to see a friend.
Money & Gift Spending
Even without the holidays, it is no secret that fighting about money puts a huge strain on a marriage. Money issues are so taxing that spouses who say they’re experiencing stress in their marriages name finances as the number one reason.
So it should come as no surprise that most arguments over the holidays have to do with money. It often starts when both spouses have different views about money. In our marriage, I’m the spouse who, because I received very little for Christmas as a child, now sees Christmas as a time to really spoil our daughter. Because of that, I have a tendency to over-spend.
Now for my husband, giving expensive gifts is not a big deal. Spending quality time with us watching movies together and doing things together is more important. It is worth mentioning I value quality time too just differently for the purpose of this example and season.
When both spouses come together to celebrate the holiday with different ideas about what makes the “perfect” day it can be a recipe for disaster. However, if you knew that your spouse grew up with few presents, would this change how you feel about them when they spend money? Awareness is the key.
Respond VS React: Sit down together (preferably) or alone if your spouse won’t participate and write down the things that would make up the ideal holiday for you. After identifying 5 or more, ask yourself what is the most important. Keep doing that until you’ve put your list in order, one being the most important and five being the least. If you are doing this with your spouse, compare your lists and talk about why your number one is so important and the significance of why it means so much to you. Truly make it a goal to have an in depth value added discussion of specifically what and why these items are so important to you and talk about how you can both meet each other’s needs this holiday and future holidays.
I don’t know about you, but have you not seen alcohol stores with lines down the aisles and out the doors during the holidays? Statistics show that alcohol consumption increases during the holidays. However, ‘drinking’ can mean two very different things to each spouse. One spouse may see the holidays as a chance to splurge on the liquor, or they may deem alcohol as necessary to relax and unwind. The other spouse may just enjoy the occasional glass or two, if any, and be done drinking. As you reflect on last year, did consuming alcohol cause you or your spouse any problems? Did it lead to fighting or if lucky a “love connection”? Did it cause arguments or happiness? It is important to be mindful of alcohol tendencies.
Respond-VS-React: We are all adults; as such, you cannot stop your spouse from doing anything that they don’t want to do. However, you can inspire them to change. Support your spouse by replacing drinking with exciting and fun alternatives (not the activities you find fun and exciting but those that your spouse finds fun and exciting).
Last but certainly not least, my go to is always prayer! Prayer helps me get through any difficult time. I hope that prayer will be your go to as well. My colleague crafted a helpful article that I’d love to share and encourage you to read to equip yourself in prayer during the holidays…3 Special Prayers for Joy and Peace During the Holidays.
BMWK, are you ready to save your marriage from holiday hell?