Tis The Season To Be Jolly, Right?
Christmas is the season to be jolly. Then why is it so difficult sometimes for couples? December can be brutal on relationships if we aren’t careful.
The two of us had no idea what we were in for as our first Christmas approached. (We cannot overemphasize discussing holidays in pre-marital counseling!) We were in desperate need of help. First, we didn’t have an extra dollar to our name. We lived week to week - without the added expense of gifts, decorations, and holiday food. We needed financial counseling. Then there were the traditions. How many times did we exclaim, “But that’s how we’ve always done it!” Honestly, by the end of that first Christmas, we both wished we could afford to head to the mountains the next year to escape all the drama.
Thankfully we’ve come a long way over 37 years of marriage. But it was a rough road that we didn’t have to travel. If someone had invested in our marriage and given us encouragement and helpful strategies, we would have enjoyed the journey much more. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of marriage help back then. But times have changed. Couples are now willing to share their experiences, and absorb helpful advice from others.
Let us be an encouragement and save you some unnecessary headaches through the holidays. It’s time to enjoy this season with your spouse. We want you to make sweet memories celebrating the birth of our Savior. However, before reading the ideas below, don’t forget the plan God has for your marriage.
You’ll see a common thread in all the tips. You and your spouse are a team; you are one flesh. In simple terms, the two of you must approach every area of life together, working as one to discern the best choice for all the demands placed on your family this season.
Here are three tips to keep the Christmas season jolly!
Family Flexibility - Multiple families coming together equals confusion and impossibility! We’ve been there. One side of the family was running late, while the next side was waiting impatiently for us to arrive in a different town. What was the result? A less than pleasant conversation between the two of us. Then there were years both sides wanted us at the same time. Add children to the mix, tossing them in and out of the car...it was a Christmas nightmare waiting to happen!
What’s the answer? After several seasons of anxiety, we knew we needed a plan that worked for us. In our case, we alternated Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families. It was an adjustment, but it calmed the atmosphere tremendously. Every family looks different, but there should be one common thread. It’s up to the husband and wife to decide together what is best for their marriage and family. It’s time to support one another. Remember, regardless of how you feel, your spouse loves his/her family. Both need to compromise in order to make a plan that not only works, but is enjoyable for all.
Now, for the parents who are empty nesters like us - be flexible. Do not put your children in a hard place that causes dissention in their home. There should be no absolutes. Regardless of the day, you can enjoy your children and grandchildren. If you can’t be with them on the actual holiday, then be a blessing to someone else who is alone, or just enjoy the one you're with!
Finance Frenzy - The goal is for you to handle your finances better than we did at first. We thought we had to match everyone’s gifts dollar for dollar. Only by the grace of God did we not go under. Then, even worse, after a few short years, we discovered credit cards. We would pay an entire year on Christmas gifts. Thankfully, God opened our eyes to the dangers of unnecessary credit!
Sit down together and determine a budget for gifts, food, entertaining and decorations. You can do more than you think with little in hand. We made Christmas gifts, we baked goodies, and we didn’t get ourselves anything for many years. But that was okay, because we stayed within our budget.
Please do not be afraid to tell others you are cutting back, concentrating on those in need, or that you just want to enjoy time together and take the emphasis off materialism. It’s a decision for the two of you to make - not extended family and friends. We were the ones paying off Christmas in September, not everyone else. If you need a Christmas Budget, check out our Resources for a printable.
Faith & Family First - It can get pretty crazy honoring every commitment and invitation during the holidays. Protect your time. Don’t wake up at the end of December exhausted and relationally empty. Spend time together as a couple and family. Worship together, remembering Christmas is the celebration of our Lord’s birth. Read the story of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:1-20) together before your family meal, or before opening gifts. It will keep everything in the right perspective.
Enjoy traditions that are unique for your marriage and family. Enjoy your spouse and your many blessings during this Christmas season. Let us never take for granted our salvation or our marriage. We have been blessed beyond measure, so let’s let our light shine in gratitude.
You can be jolly this season! Just remember, you are a team. You and your spouse have the ability together to keep your priorities and focus on Christ. Enjoy!
Check out Resources for our Christmas Budget printable!
Seeking the Word,
Jeff & Debbie
"Strengthen me according to Your Word."