Oh my gosh, the holidays sent utter panic down my spine during my marriage. I always felt I had to plan something amazing, I guess, to make up for the lack in our day-to-day lives. I put so much pressure on myself for things to be perfect and for there to be A TON of activities/parties/whatevers. Nightmare. I’m getting all short of breath just thinking about some of my past holiday “celebrations”.
So, if you are in a difficult marriage and you are already dreading the holiday season for one of the following reasons:
lack of money
the potential of drunkenness at family gatherings
the potential of drugs at family gatherings
the potential reality that gratitude and the birth of Christ won’t even be mentioned
…here are a couple thoughts.
Take a deep, deep breath. Okay, take twelve. It’s going to be okay. It really is. It won’t be perfect and it might not even be what you want it to be, but it will still be okay.
Get alone for a few quiet moments and ask Jesus how he’d like you to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. And then listen.
If there is something that you do every year that you hate – for the love – just stop doing it. Seriously. Living in a hard marriage is a full-time, full-blown crisis and you do not need to be hosting your neighbors for a potluck. (Unless you love it, then do it.)
If there is something that you do every year that you love, keep doing it. Make sure it’s a priority.
Do not – I repeat – do not overbook yourself. Again, you’re in crisis.
Delegate. Ask your kids for help.
Be realistic. Honey, if your marriage is bad every single day, please do not expect it to all of the sudden be amazing – or even normal – on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Create a tradition for you and your kids that is not contingent on your husband’s mood, behavior, or sobriety.
Do something just between you and God on both of those holidays that has nothing to do with anyone else or your circumstances. Some kind of ritual, like an annual thank-you note to God or a birthday present for Jesus where you help someone else in his name.
Make sure you’re resting and taking care of yourself. Stress just magnifies when you’re tired and run down.
Listen, holidays are stressful enough as it is for people in great marriages. Prepare early and hold loosely and give these next couple months up to God. He’ll be blessed by your efforts and intentions, I promise.
Great post Elisabeth-especially the suggestions for continuing to do things you enjoy & stopping those things you don’t.
May I also add these suggestions, from 20+ years of experience: decide ahead of time what you will do if likely scenarios happen. My ex-in-laws were often late. One year we decided to eat at the time we’d set (& they had agreed to) whether they were there or not.
Before one holiday meal I anticipated an ugly scene & told the kids if it happened we were going to go to a restaurant to eat. Thankfully we didn’t have to but we were all ready to go.
I’m sure looking ahead like this will be different for everyone but it gave me a small feeling of peace in anticipation of these meals.
This is so true! Out of our 20 Christmases together, most have been very difficult and stressful between the 2 of us. However I have found over time that by throwing myself into the things that I love about the holidays, it puts some distance between he and I. So I am able to enjoy myself more. I plan activities that involve me with my children or with my extended family or friends. It gets me out of the house and something to look forward to. It’s an “excuse” to enjoy myself. Does anyone else feel that way?
Elizabeth, I love your suggestion to give Jesus a birthday present by helping someone in His name. This will be my first Christmas as a single mother of 2. We will be visiting the elderly at a nursing home for Christmas and spreading cheer and love in His name.