The holiday season brings with it not only joy and excitement but anxiety and frustrations. As adults, we not only have to deal with the daily pressures of managing our family life but when the holiday season approaches, we deal with the stress of being prepared to spend more time with our extended family. When you are adding the holiday stress on top of everyday “life” stressors this is a formula that can put extra pressure on the strength of a marriage.
I spent 20 years juggling holiday stress and the stress of managing the expectations of the extended family and I’m here to tell you that you and your marriage will and can survive the added stress that the holiday season brings with it. Here are 5 tips on how to survive the holiday season and still want to be married to your spouse:
1. Plan ahead to eliminate stress
I know that I am not the only one that wakes up one day in November and have a panic attack because we finally realize that we are a couple of weeks from the start of the busy holiday season.
Oh, just me huh?
Well, before we allow panic to set in (which causes stress), take the time to have a chat with your spouse and you guys decide if and which family members you guys are visiting this season. It’s also important that you decide how long you will visit with family. Listen, don’t you assume that your spouse will know and understand why you don’t want to spend all day at their mother’s house. Talk about the particulars surrounding the day of the holiday.
Now, let’s talk about planning ahead for those intrusive questions that are asked of you each family holiday gathering. Decide how you guys will answer the questions asked about private marital situations. Create some canned responses that you can easily repeat to everyone that asks you guys: When are you having a baby? How long have you been out of work? Why are y’all still living in that house?
We all have that one aunt or grandma that will ask you personal questions in front of the whole family and you don’t want to seem disrespectful so you answer…but this year, be prepared with the canned responses and shut them all the way down from continuing to ask you awkward and intrusive questions.
2. Share Household Chores
Let’s just keep it real, it’s hard any other day/week/month to keep the house in order and getting the house in order to entertain family and friends during the holiday seasons brings about another level of stress that you can’t even describe.
If your family is anything like my family, we are busy and we have specific household chores that we enjoy managing; however, when our schedules begin to overlap, the household chores are the one thing that is pushed to the bottom of the todo list.
When time is not kind to us, we start tackling the household chores a little bit everyday. Get your family involved more in managing the cleanliness of the home. Delegate to them, based on their level of comprehension and ability, daily chores.
Set a designated time each day for 15 minutes to tackle the “hot spots” of the house. Once you do this daily, the house will be holiday entertaining ready and your stress level will be null and void.
Remember teamwork makes the dream work.
3. Stay Connected as a Unit
I know you are reading #3 and saying, “of course we are unit and we are connected” but reality is, when the extended family gets thrown into the day’s mixture, the connection some husbands and wives have is challenged.
Our family loves us and we love our family but some family dynamics have some strong personalities that sometimes clash with your marital personality. Protect your spouse and marriage from any disrespect from others. Set the expectations and hold others accountable in how they interact and communicate with you and your spouse.
4. Date Your Spouse
Listen, you know there is never a reason not to date your spouse. I know you will be focused on making sure everything is perfect for entertaining family and friends during the holiday season, make sure you put the same or more energy into spending quality time with your spouse.
You and your spouse will spend a lot of time with friends and family and taking care of their needs, that you must invest in the time to connect, talk, and unwind together. Therefore, use this time to shed the responsibility of thinking about gifts, holiday cooking, holiday decor, and anything holiday related. Take time to just breath and relax together. Laugh. Relax. Laugh together. Trust me, you will be grateful for this downtime with someone that isn’t expecting you to be 100% perfect at that exact moment.
The holidays should be enjoyable time for you and your family. Do what you can and know that it’s ok to schedule some quiet time/downtime for yourself.
To fully take a day or hours to relax, do these things:
- Set your email out of office message.
- Place your phone on DND (do not disturb).
- Everyday commit to an hour of quiet time. No social media, no emails, no phone calls, etc.
- Go outside and get some fresh air.
- Get up and move about every hour.
In other words, enjoy your family and don’t commit to being busy everyday of the holiday season. This post was written to remind you that your first priority is to your immediate family. It’s ok to set boundaries with outsiders if they bring undue stress to you and your family.
Certainly don’t feel bad if you decide that this holiday season, you are limiting your interactions to just your spouse and children. Whatever you decide, it’s your life, marriage, and holiday. Spend it how you choose.
Happy holidays from my family to yours!
What tips do you have for couples to manage their stress level during the holidays? Share in the comments below.