‘Tis the season. Bells are ringing. Lights are twinkling. All is merry and bright–or is it? How is your marriage? Are you and your spouse struggling with the effects of holiday stress? For many couples, the holidays are full of extra events, extra commitments, and extra people. All of this “extra” can lead to feelings of overwhelm.
Stop for a moment. Notice your breath–is it shallow and up in your chest? Do your shoulders and neck ache? Is your chest tight? Do you have a dull headache or feel overly anxious?
Instead of enjoying this time of celebration and excitement, are you and your spouse snappy and high strung? It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right perspective, you can take care of your marriage and even grow closer during this holiday season. It all starts with a little marriage soul care.
Here are some simple, yet impactful ways to protect your marriage from holiday stress.
- Choose your priorities! Want to relieve stress and cut it off before it starts? Then focus on what matters most. Spend a few moments in silence and ask God to show you what is necessary to focus on during this time of year for your family. From here, begin to think about your priorities and choose 3 areas of importance for this Christmas season. Perhaps you want to focus on connecting with the Creator, remembering Jesus’ birth, or even just enjoying the season with your family. Whatever your priorities are, write them down and focus your time and energy on them as a couple.
- Release Expectations. This is the hardest right? It’s not saying that we cannot have expectations, but we do need to hold them loosely. Grasping at our expectations too tightly is a surefire way to end up anxious and disappointed. Instead of focusing on all the things people say the “perfect holiday” entails, how about looking around at what is actually happening in the moment. Be present to what you are currently doing and allow yourself to engage with whatever is in front of you. You see, anxiety comes when we are preoccupied with the future. It is our ego’s way of trying to control things that we have no control over. When holiday stress and anxiety rear their ugly heads (and they will) ask yourselves: What is happening now? What beauty is here? How can we fully engage this moment?
- Read God’s Word together. Spend a few minutes each day (you can start with 5) reading the Word. Time spent in God’s word tunes our heart to His and reminds us of what is important. Read a few verses together and have a quick chat on how it can be used to shape your marriage.
- Pray together. We all know we need to pray together, but are we actually doing it. Sure, you may pray for your spouse, but are we praying with them? Praying together helps you to grow in oneness because you are seeking the heart of the Father as a unit. You can share you deep needs, desires, hurts, and joys as one. When you pray together, you, your spouse, and God are all in communion in a way that doesn’t happen when you pray separately. Use this short time to not only speak to God, but to invite a few moments of silence in for listening.
- Keep regular couple time. Make it a regular practice during the holidays to make time for each other. Whether it is a date night at home or a shopping date, spend some time with just two of you. During this season when everyone and everything is vying for your time, make your relationship a priority. Spend quality time together often.
The holidays are often a time of stress and strain. But they don’t have to be. Choosing soul care for our marriage can keep us focus on what and Who matter most. May you walk through this season of Advent hand in hand and eyes toward heaven.
Be One, Beloved!