Over the next few months, most of us will dedicate a good amount of energy to various holiday celebrations (and preparations). We’ve got meals to make, gifts to find, family trips to plan, relatives to visit, decorations to contend with – the list goes on and on.
This can be rewarding and bring you closer to your family, but it can also be very, very stressful – and depending on where you are in your marriage, it can be a catalyst for major changes in the relationship, either positive or negative.
If you’re already on tense ground with your spouse, the stress of the holidays causes even more trouble. You’ll likely have some time commitments to keep, some financial pressures, and plenty of other thoughts tugging at your attention – and this can make you impatient, short, and temperamental.
But the opposite is also true. You can use the holidays as a time to connect with your spouse, to embrace family and enjoy the spirit of the season. Even if it is stressful, it’s a chance to develop a sense of teamwork with your husband or wife, working together to solve the challenges that will inevitably arise.
It all depends on the way you approach it. Remember, you are ultimately in control of your own mood. If you let the holidays be a source of stress or anger, and in turn direct those emotions at your spouse, don’t be surprised when they respond with frustration and anger of their own.
But, on the other hand, if you both try to make the most of it, roll with the punches, and make a point to spend some time enjoying the holidays together, it can have the totally opposite effect – it can bring you closer together and build the strength of your marriage.
While these situations can happen year round, the holidays that happen through November and December seem to be particularly volatile for many couples. The month of January is notorious for seeing the highest rates of divorce filing, and it’s likely that marital trouble during the holiday season contributes to these numbers.
Instead of letting it stress you out, try to make the holidays a time for closeness. Celebrate family traditions, take advantage of time away from work to go on dates and participate in events, and above all, strive to maintain a positive outlook (and share it with your spouse).
It may only be October now, but the holidays will be here before you know it. Keeping these things in mind as we get closer can help reduce stress (and more importantly, how you let that stress affect your marriage), and keep you focused on a happy, healthy marriage as you get into potentially chaotic holiday preparations.
It’s easy to put off working on your marriage during this time of the year, when it feels like there’s so much going on and you’re spending a lot of time with extended family, but these are some of the best chances to build (or rebuild) the bond you have with your spouse.
Don’t let the stress get to you, and don’t take it out on each other – this is a prime opportunity to create great new memories, spend quality time together, and enjoy the holidays making your marriage the best it can be!