Christmas is right around the corner and we. are. busy. We are busy grocery shopping. We are busy cleaning the house and getting things ready for guests. We are busy with the Elf on the Shelf (not us yet, but I see you out there workin’ your butts off with that thing). We are busy attending corporate parties and celebrations with friends. We’re busy serving at church and serving in our communities. We’re busy waiting for bonuses and vacation time while planning class christmas activities and pinteresty crafts. In all the Holiday hustle and bustle, we can often overlook our marriage.
It’s strange, because you’ll likely never spend more time together than you do in these last two months of the year, and yet intentional time is at an all time low and often bickering and miscommunications are at an all time high. This will be our sixth holiday season as husband and wife and our third as parents. While we still have so much more learning to do, there are some things we’ve implemented since the very beginning that have really made a difference in our joy factor once the last “fa la la la la” is uttered and the final gingerbread cookie is gone.
Create a spending budget for gifting.
It’s no secret that finances can create stress in marriage. We hear all the time about couples facing really hard times come January and creating huge offenses in marriage strictly because budgets weren’t discussed. I’m a gifter. If I know someone I love needs (or wants) something, It takes just about everything in me not to get it for them every time. O is the same way and he is the more naturally generous of the two of us so if a stranger needs something, he will all but give the skin on his bones to help them. Our first few Christmases, O was still playing in the NFL and we had no kids. Fast forward to now- with 7 siblings, 5 spouses and 8 nieces and nephews on his side plus 6 siblings, 2 spouses and 2 nieces and nephews on my side PLUS two babes of our own, there is a whole lot of room to overspend. We sit down every year and discuss exactly what our budget is per person so there are no surprises for either of us once it’s all said and done.
Set aside time to be alone, still.
Because we’re together so much during this time of year, w can be tricked into thinking we actually had quality time when we really didn’t. Often we’re at parties or get-togethers and won’t have a chance to speak the whole time! I lock myself away to wrap presents, I watch more awful Lifetime movies I can’t get enough of, I’m in the kitchen baking or cooking pretty much non-stop and before I know it, it’s been three weeks since we’ve had a date. Let’s not even get into all the toddler sniffles that lead to mommy sniffles. Get sitters on the schedule and commit to your time alone as husband and wife. If you can’t actually get away, you can still be intentional with the time you have as a family! Put the kids to bed early and watch Elf with sugar cookies, stay up a little later than usual talking by the fireplace, go for a walk with mugs of hot chocolate hand in hand. Though these times are busier than ever, there is always one opportunity in a day to steal away just for each other. I promise it will make all the difference.
Do things just for the kids.
That skate rink you’ve been talking about all week will look pretty daunting when it’s time to get up and drive there. That line for Santa is enough to make me avoid the mall for all eternity. But these things are what family memories are made of and we always leave feeling so bonded and giddy over sharing such a special time with our babes.
Ask how you can serve your spouse.
Remember all that busy-ness we were talking about? The to-do list that multiplies like one of those monsters that grows three more heads wherever you cut one off? I’ve found I can totally get lost in all the “stuff” I have to do without realizing I’ve gotten lost in myself. Even taking a single task off our spouses to-do list makes me feel more at peace than tackling 5 tasks off my own. Our marriage always feels sweetest when we both keep an attitude of sacrifice and service with one another. Can he take the kids to the park so you can get some Christmas card addressing done? Can you get the kids out of the house for a few hours so he’s not putting together that present at midnight Christmas Eve? Just do a quick check-in and see how you can bless each other.
Make your family traditions together.
I came to this marriage with no less than one trillion traditions I grew up with and wanted to implement. O came with zero. Deciding what traditions actually mattered for us has made Christmastime so sweet and special, even more so now that we have two babies. Learning not to do traditions just because it’s what I grew up doing and instead seeing what worked for us as a couple made all the difference.