I LOVE Christmas! I love the idea of “Peace on Earth”, but December can take all the peace out of any home if you let it. The Advent Season is rife with things to fight about. According to my research, the top argument triggers in marriage are:
- Free Time
- Physical Intimacy
- Extended Family
Christmas brings all these triggers together in one beautifully wrapped package. We WANT the Christmas Season to be full of joy, so here are 5 easy ways to diffuse arguments before they can happen.
1. Put away the crystal ball. Don’t expect your spouse to read your mind.
When we were first married, I had expectations about Christmas traditions and expected my husband to love them as much as I did. That led to a lot of frustration. Once we finally sat down and discussed how important it is to me that we decorate the tree together, my husband was happy to make it a big deal. Twenty-eight years later, it’s still a big night we schedule.
2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Talk about the things you do that make Christmas special to you. If a tradition or activity doesn’t bring one of you joy, cut it. There are only so many hours in the month. Sacrifice some “good things” for the BEST things. Don’t strive for perfection. Slice and bake cookie dough will do the job of homemade cookie dough. Cut some corners. (Ladies, you are the only one who notices those little details!!)
3. Make a schedule.
Sit down together and talk about all the things on the calendar and make decisions together. That will include when extended family is included. Make sure you both know what to expect. My husband is an introvert, so we have to make sure we build in some downtime for him. Over planning will stress everyone out. A less busy schedule will ensure that you are able to really enjoy each celebration. Also, make sure you intentionally schedule some time alone together. We try to get peppermint milkshakes and drive around looking at Christmas lights every year.
4. While you are scheduling, talk about gifts and budget.
It isn’t as much fun to watch family open gifts when you are worried about your spouse’s reaction to the cost. Be sure you are in agreement about the purchases. Having financial clarity will help diffuse arguments related to spending. (Disclaimer: My husband knows that I will get a little carried away right before Christmas filling stockings!)
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY, keep your eye on the prize – the birth of our Savior.
Be sure you are intentional about spending time preparing your hearts for the celebration. There are many Advent devotionals available, or you can read a chapter of Luke each evening for the 24 days in December leading up to Christmas. My best friend puts all the Christmas cards they receive on the kitchen table and each night they pray for the family on the top of the pile.
When you think back on past Advent seasons, what do you remember? Focus your time, energy and money on those things. Have a Merry Christmas!