You can actually enjoy your marriage this Christmas.
Yep. I know you’re busy, but it’s true! And today Gaye Christmas from Calm. Healthy. Sexy. comes to us to help us do just that (and I thoroughly endorse #4!).
When my children were young, the only two things I wanted for Christmas were more sleep and a clean house.
I was just so, so tired – all the time – and my house was so, so messy. A hundred tasks were calling my name, and I just couldn’t keep up. And my level of energy and enthusiasm for my marriage dropped to alarmingly low levels between December 1 and New Year’s Day.
Do you know that feeling?
Even now that my children are older, I find that the Christmas season can exhaust me. I work a full-time job, run a blog, and still take care of my family and coordinate our holiday gifts, meals, and celebrations. And if I forget to save some time and energy for my marriage, it tends to suffer in December.
Can you relate?
Whatever stage of life you’re in, I have a feeling you can – because the Christmas season tends to be very hard on women. It adds extra tasks to our already-busy schedules and creates extra stresses on our already-weary minds and bodies. Which means that it tends to be hard on our marriages too.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I believe that Christmas can be a season of joy and fun and love for you and your husband. It can be a time when you make memories together and strengthen your marriage, rather than letting it run on auto-pilot and increasing the tension between the two of you. Creating joy in your marriage during the holidays isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t take a lot of time and energy. But it does require a little bit of thought and a tiny bit of effort.
Wherever you are in your Christmas planning and preparations, you still have time to make changes that will allow you and your husband to have fun together and enjoy each other’s company. If you’re ready to create that kind of Christmas season for your marriage, here are the four simple steps you need to take:
1. Talk about it.
Maybe the holidays are going smoothly and you’re feeling happy and relaxed. Maybe it’s incredibly stressful and you’re feeling tense and frustrated. Or maybe it’s somewhere in between. Regardless of what’s happened to this point, sit down with your husband today and talk. Do it at a time when both of you are least like to feel stressed. Talk about what’s happening now and what you want to happen during the rest of the holiday season.
Be honest with him, and encourage him to be honest with you. Make an effort to listen and understand his perspective, and ask him to do the same for you. Share your frustrations, your worries, and your fears, and ask him to share those things too.
Maybe you’re frustrated because so much of the holiday work falls on you. Maybe you’re worried because money is really tight for your family right now. Maybe he’s frustrated because you want one kind of Christmas celebration and he wants something entirely different. Maybe he’s worried because he doesn’t think he can make everyone happy.
Whatever you’re feeling, talk about it. Then talk about ways to reduce the stresses of the holiday season in order to free up time and energy for your marriage. Find points of agreement and figure out ways to focus on them, while letting go of things on which you disagree. Be willing to give and take, in order to reduce stress and strengthen your marriage.
2. Let go and say “no.”
You already know this, but it’s hard to accept (at least it is for me!) – In order to create space to enjoy your marriage, you have to let go of some of the things that suck up your time and energy. Your schedule is already packed and your to-do list is a mile long, so you can’t add anything to either until you let some things go.
And that often means saying “no.” Maybe it means saying “no” to a cookie exchange, a Christmas party, or a day-long shopping trip. Maybe it means saying “no” to elaborate decorations, dozens of homemade cookies, or gift swaps with relatives you barely know.
And sometimes it means letting go – of traditions, events, or activities that you just can’t maintain while also making time to enjoy your marriage. For example, when our children were very young, my husband and I had to “let go” of family travel at Christmas. It was just too difficult, and we didn’t have the energy to make it work. A friend had to let go of planning and coordinating an elaborate Christmas dinner for her entire family.
These kinds of changes tend to be unpopular, so work on making them and implementing them together, so that you can present a united front when people push back against your decisions.
3. Make a plan and make memories.
Now that you’ve freed up some time and energy, make a plan that will allow you to have fun as a couple during the remainder of the Christmas season. Be specific about the things you want to do, decide what days you’re going to do them – and put them on your calendar!
Try to plan at least two fun activities together each week from now through New Year’s Day. Most of them can be simple – taking a walk through a festive town or neighborhood, going out for coffee, watching a football game, or watching a favorite Christmas movie. You can even combine a task on your to-do list with spending time together, like shopping for a couple of gifts and then going out for a glass of wine or a casual dinner.
If you have time (and childcare!) you could plan one or two things that take a bit more time and effort, like a day trip or an outdoor activity such as hiking or skiing.
In general, though, the things you plan don’t have to be complicated or cost a lot of money. They should be things that you both enjoy, that help you relax and unwind, and that allow you to make “deposits” into your “bank” of marriage memories.
4. Make love.
You knew I was going to say this, right? Although making love may not feel like a priority in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s critical to the health and happiness of your marriage. And during times of increased stress, it may be even more critical.
So when you’re making your plan, be sure to plan time and space for making love regularly. And be sure to focus on fun and pleasure for both of you – this isn’t about “have sex regularly because your husband needs it!” He does – but you do too.
Making love helps you connect and bond in a way that nothing else does. It allows you to have fun together and create positive memories. And it helps you reduce stress and sleep well – both of which are critical during the hectic Christmas season.
(If enjoying sex in your marriage is difficult for you – and it is for many women – Sheila has many excellent resources for overcoming those difficulties, including articles here on the blog, books and an online course.)
Christmas is one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year for women, and it can create extra stress on marriages. This year, though, you can reduce that stress and increase the joy and love in your marriage by following these four steps. Give them a try this week – I think that you, your husband, and your marriage will be glad you did.
If you’re looking for more ways to slow down, take care of yourself, and enjoy your marriage during the holidays, check out my holiday planning ebook, Peace. Love. Joy. 75 Ways to Take Care of Your Health, Happiness, and Marriage this Holiday Season. I’ve created a 40% off discount code exclusively for Sheila’s readers. Just enter the code SHEILA40 at checkout to save 40% off the ebook or your entire order from the shop.