When it comes to relationships, the holidays have a way of creating tension. Most couples experience some conflict this time of year. Demands on time, money, and patience, combined with unrealistic expectations about what the holidays should be add to the growing stress. The most important thing a couple can do for their marriage is implement a plan to be in agreement when it comes to friends and family.

Have a pre-holiday planning conversation about your hopes and wishes for the holidays. You might call this your IF plan. Here are a few ideas for discussion and agreement:

IF you travel to Mom and Dad’s for Christmas, you’re only going to stay five days allowing two days at home to enjoy before you go back to work.

IF a family member offers up unsolicited advice, you agree to say, “I love you and appreciate your opinion, but we decided to do something different.”

IF you become the center of an uncomfortable dinner topic—such as politics, religion, or when you’re planning a baby—agree to agree with each other; be united in your discussion. Agree when you will politely leave the table to clean up, make coffee, or serve dessert.

IF the family heaps on guilt about your preference not to drive cross-country with two toddlers, twenty gift boxes, and your new puppy, ask yourselves, “Are we okay inviting family to stay with us instead, while we sleep on air mattresses? Or should we invite family to come to us, but with hotel reservations?” If it’s your family, you need to drop the news—not your spouse.

IF you have to spend time with both sides of the family on Christmas Day, then agree to no more than two hours with each so you can have some “us” time to create your own traditions at home.

IF your family has a long-running argument and fails to deal with unfinished emotional issues, the holidays are not the time to resolve dysfunction. Call a truce if you need to.

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IF you are inviting the entire family to your home for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, share the responsibilities of decorating, food shopping, and food prep between you, or ask family members to contribute. Don’t overdo it; you’re not Martha Stewart.

IF you have not scheduled alone time daily, take time to de-stress. Take care of yourselves and take care of your marriage.

IF you find yourselves in a place where you cannot find time for church to reflect on the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, then decide together what to cut from the schedule.

Creating the IF list together will establish a foundation of unity in your marriage for Christmases to come. Focus on having fun and finding new ways to enjoy each other, as well as family and friends.


Copyright © Sheri Mueller, Growthtrac Ministries

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