One year, Jayne Griffin looked at her calendar and realized she didn’t have a free weekend until after January 1st. She was hosting the family Thanksgiving meal and taking her grandbaby to see Santa. Then there was the staff party at her house, her husband’s office party and the church Christmas gathering. Plus, she planned a trip to see friends and committed to working two of the weekends.
While commitments are great, it’s easy to stress about what to do when you have little downtime. And the most likely person to experience the brunt of that stress? The husband.
“For many years I refused to start planning too far ahead of time for the holidays because I felt like I was giving in to the commercialism of it all,” says Griffin. “So I would end up doing things at the last minute when I was already exhausted. If my husband wasn’t doing what I thought he should be doing to help out, things could escalate pretty quickly between the two of us.”
While everybody’s “to-do list” may look a bit different, most probably have one thing in common - it’s the big fight. It's not the one on television, but the one between you and your spouse as a result of poor planning, running at breakneck speed and communicating in shorthand.
“For too long I put off the secular in order to enjoy the sacred, but I actually ended up squelching the joy of the sacred and the secular celebration, and it definitely took a toll on my marriage,” says Griffin. “Over many years of marriage I think I have finally learned that I can plan ahead without giving into the commercialization of the holiday.”
Now, the Griffins sit down and discuss the schedule for November and December. Together they decide how they want things to go. They highlight the especially crazy times that would require extra finesse to keep the lines of communication open and attack problems instead of each other.
“I am not dreading the holidays,” Griffin says. “In previous years I would wait until the week of a party to plan my menu. I now spend a couple of hours making my plan including menus for various parties, my gift list and other miscellaneous items. I have already purchased some gifts and I don’t get overwhelmed thinking about what’s left on my list. I am amazed at how different I feel. And, most importantly I am not at odds with my husband!”
These tips can help you conquer the holidays. They can also help you enjoy them and keep your marriage healthy at the same time:
- Consider fine-tuning your communication and conflict management skills by taking a marriage enrichment class. That can help prevent you from making mountains out of molehills.
- Keep your attitude in check.
- Plan out the next seven weeks together so the chaotic pace doesn’t blindside you.
- Make decisions based on what is best for your family.
- Remember, you do have control over how you choose to spend your holidays.
Be mindful of the things that hinder your joy and put unnecessary strain on your marriage. They don't make for very happy holidays.