It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it? Let’s be honest. Sometimes the holidays bring out the crazy in all of us. That crazy shows up most often in your relationships with your family. No one wants to spend the holidays fighting with, or barely seeing your spouse. It can make you feel a little less jolly. I’ve been there. Navigating the holiday season with your spouse can feel like a landmine. He thinks you spend too much on gifts. She wants to spend more time with her parents on Christmas. Your family has been invited to half a dozen parties. You’d both like things to be meaningful for the kids. But, unless you and your spouse are in synch, it’s hard for anyone to feel the magic. Finding ways to reconnect with your spouse is difficult, but not impossible this busy holiday season. These are some ways that I’ve found work for me and my husband.
Set a holiday budget together
I can’t tell you the number of times I have overspent on gifts during the holidays. I’m usually good at grounding myself with a budget, but the holidays bring out the over-spender in me. I always wonder if I should get just “one more thing”. My husband doesn’t have that problem.He knows that more isn’t always better. Deciding a budget with him in advance is crucial. If we budget together, neither one of us gets an unpleasant surprise when we check the credit card statement come January.
Finances are one of the hardest things to navigate with your spouse. They are also one of the things that couples fight about most. Talk about your money. Set aside a special “Holiday Budget” date night where you can discuss what you can afford, and how much you’d like to spend. Being on the same page means less fights about money during the holidays and beyond. You’ll find that a budget meeting can be one of the best ways to reconnect with your spouse this holiday season.
Establish traditions together
Every family has distinct holiday traditions. Just because you grew up doing something on Christmas eve, doesn’t mean your spouse did. Funny enough, holiday traditions hold a huge place in our hearts. If you aren’t celebrating the holidays the way you think your family should, it can cause resentment. Instead of adopting the traditions of only your family or only your spouses’ family, find a compromise. Discuss together which traditions are most meaningful for each of you. See if there are ways to combine your childhood traditions. Better yet, make your own! Establishing traditions together is an important part of forming your family identity. Celebrate together intentionally, even if it means leaving behind less beloved traditions from your own childhood.
Schedule time together
There is never enough time during the holidays. It’s easy to be sucked into concerts, holiday parties, events, shopping, and more. When you don’t have enough time, it’s critical to schedule it intentionally. If you want time to connect with your spouse, you’ll have to schedule it into your calendar. Write down time every week when you will be spending time with your spouse. Protect that time, even if it means turning down an invitation to an ugly sweater party. Plan romantic or fun dates for yourself and your spouse regularly during the holidays. It’ll help you feel connected.
I’m just going to throw this out there. Sex is a critical part of any marriage. Of course, intimacy changes from day to day, and even year to year. But regular intimacy in your marriage helps you feel interconnected and close. If you want ways to reconnect with your spouse, sometimes the answer is sex. The holidays are stressful, and I know that when I’m stressed, I don’t always feel like maintaining that intimacy with my spouse. Find ways to reduce stress so that you’ll feel like having sex. Talk about sex and intimacy together. Are both of your needs being met? As boring as it might sound, scheduling sex might be just the thing to keep it happening during the holidays.
Give up perfection
Who doesn’t want their holiday season to go perfectly? I sure do. In fact, I can be so guilty of this, that it clouds my joy; keeping me from seeing the amazing things happening around me. When things aren’t going how I think they should in my head, I tend to be short or demanding with my husband and kids. I forget that perfection doesn’t come with an expertly decorated home or perfect gifts. Perfection comes from spending time with my family in loving ways. Take that image of a “perfect” holiday season that lives in your head and toss it in the trash. Instead, focus on what really matters. When in doubt, put down the holiday decorations (or other distractions) and cuddle with your spouse and kids.
Give them the gift of focus
Even with the best scheduling you may not be able to spend as much time as you want with your spouse. Which means you need to make the time you do have count. Put down the remote. Leave your phone in the other room. Ask your husband about his day. Be present when you are with your wife. Gift your spouse with your physical and emotional presence. It’s one of the easiest ways to reconnect with your spouse. You just have to put down that phone.
The Hallmark channel knows what we crave during the holidays. Love stories. And hunky men in plaid. Those sweet movies probably look different than your everyday life. After all, we don’t all live in the country with a cabin perfectly decorated for the holidays. But just because you can’t live in a Hallmark movie doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. Give them the best of yourself this holiday season. Take time out to focus on them. Give up your idea of the perfect holiday and recognize that a happy holiday means time with those you love.