They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, it is a sometimes not-so-quiet secret that Christmas and the collective holiday season can heap a ton of stress on an otherwise “good” relationship. Not to mention what it does to relationships that are already under pressure. In fact, instead of marital bliss, many couples experience marital threats. As much as January to April is the “season” for tax accountants, that same time frame is the busy season for marriage counselors and relationship experts.
In this article:
5 Threats to Marital Bliss You Must Avoid This Christmas
So why is it that what is supposed to be the most festive time of the year can also bring strain to so many relationships? Rather than sharing and spreading love, laughter, and joy, you are filled with stress, sadness, and strife. By addressing the following five areas, you might be able to find marital bliss once again.
Now, it’s not as though it has to be a certain time of year for money to be an issue, but financial strains have to be the number one relationship stressor during the holidays. The National Retail Federation estimates that individual consumers will spend on average about $700 each this Christmas. That’s a lot of gift giving!
The result of holiday overspending is an increase of debt that lingers way past the last playing of the Temptation’s, “Silent Night.” So here are two quick thoughts to keep financial burdens at bay and marital bliss intact this Christmas.
- First, budget. Determine how much you can really afford to spend and be determined not to go over it.
- The second really goes hand in hand with the first one. Think about who you really want to give a gift to. I am not saying that you give to get or determine a relationship based on reciprocal gift giving. Rather, this year evaluate your gift giving motive.
Even though many of us have a great relationship with our in-laws, they seem to end up being the punch line of every holiday joke. In-laws often get the credit or the blame for what is right or not working in our relationship. Yet, regardless of the quality of the interaction we have with our spouse’s “folks,” spending time with them can be a great time of observation and learning.
If we can look past the control issues, they are a wealth of insight. That’s right, they have their ways, but our in-laws have endured marital challenges and, to some degree, have influenced the person we are married to. So whether our interactions with them have been positive or negative, watch, listen, and learn from them this Christmas.
Pressure to Please
Whether real or imagined, the pressure of pleasing your family and friends during the holidays can just wear you out. I get tired just thinking of all the parties and loved ones that want you to stop by when you are in town. But this Christmas, vow to protect your marital bliss. You and your spouse should agree on what events to attend or not attend. If you don’t have time to go to a friend’s party, don’t go. If you really intended to bake those cookies but you aren’t feeling up to it, buy them. During this season, commit to each other that you won’t give in to the pressure to please everybody.
Memories of Christmas Past
For many, Christmas is a time of memories of loved ones that have passed. First of all, be honest, both with yourself and with others, about your feelings. If you need some down time or time to reflect then take it. For my family, since my grandmother passed, it has been a little rough not having her “special input” on how everything must be at Christmas.
But during the holidays, families pull together and provide strength for each other to get through what can be a difficult time. Lean on each other.
Every family does Christmas differently. Some gather the night before while others do so first thing Christmas morning. Others start getting festive later in the afternoon. Some gather for never-ending debates, while others are quiet. The point is that there is no right or wrong way to do Christmas. Whatever traditions your family has created, guard them closely. Traditions are what knit families together. Amid all the attention on the more commercial aspects of Christmas, it is really that time with your family that makes Christmas the festive celebration that it is.
So talk about it. What traditions are “sacred” to you and your spouse and how can you make sure that the family guards these traditions for years to come?
The bottom line on Christmas is that you should enjoy it – together. Be careful not to allow everything that is not Christmas steal the joy of what Christmas is – a time to celebrate, relax and enjoy the birth of Christ with family and friends.
BMWK, how do you keep the potential stresses of Christmas in check?
Merry Christmas, To All!
Editor’s Note: BMWK originally published this post on December 14, 2011. We have updated it for quality and relevancy.