Bring joy to your marriage and family this holiday season

As much as we like to think the holidays are a time of peace and relaxation, they are stressful more often than not. The hustle and bustle can especially create tension in our marriages and families. If this has been the case for your family year after year, it’s time to break the cycle of madness. You might be surprised how just a little planning and forethought can bring enjoyment to the next several months.

First, I recommend having a conversation with your spouse and children about how the holidays went last year. What sort of activities and parties were enjoyable? Which ones were dreadful? Did you travel at all? How much money did you spend on presents? Addressing these questions together will be helpful as you look toward the weeks ahead.

Next, make a plan. After gathering feedback from your family members, sit down with your spouse to complete this step. Together you will need to decide the following: What parties are you going to go to? How long are you going to stay at the parties? What food dishes or gifts will you have to bring? How much money will you allocate towards the holiday budget? During this step, it’s important to cut out what is not necessary. We often feel obligated to attend every festivity and spend lots of money on gifts for others. Be realistic about the amount of time and cash you have! Depending on how much you and your spouse agree (or disagree), this plan might take a few conversations before it comes together.

Finally, stick to the plan! This is the most important step, as you can imagine. There will be many excuses that will arise tempting you to break the plan. Your boss might try to rope you into one more drink at the company Christmas party. Your children may beg for huge toys you can’t afford. The list goes on and on. It’s better to politely decline another drink or stay within your gift budget than feel uptight because you maxed out your time and money.

If these steps are overwhelming to you, don’t be alarmed! The key to having a better holiday season isn’t in following every step but being more intentional with your time and money. Start small, reflect, and implement changes year after year. By doing so, your holidays can become as joyful as you imagine.

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