The 7 Ways To Holiday Stress Proof Your Marriage

#1 Sleep, or else.

(0:00) Number one, get some sleep! (Because no one likes being around a Grinch.) No, but seriously, think about what you’re like when you don’t get any sleep. You are more emotional. You get angry easier. You eat way more food, which we’ll get to in a bit. But, everything gets off-kilter when you don’t sleep. I could go on for an hour about how much sleep matters, but I’d rather you use that time to sleep. So, just trust me. Number one, get some sleep.

#2 It’s cold, dark, and cozy..but Stay Active!

(0:35) Number two, stay active. During the holidays, it’s cold outside. There’s so much stuff to do. It’s dark all the time. There are all these excuses of why you don’t want to stay active, why you’d rather stay in bed, cuddle on the couch by the fire, and drink hot chocolate. But, it’s not going to help you manage your stress during the holiday season.

Yes, there’s time to relax, spend with family, and cuddle up by the fire with a good book and some hot chocolate. But, you also need to get this “energy” out of you. Stay active. Go for a walk. Join a gym. Go to some yoga classes. Do crossfit. I don’t care what you do. But, do something to stay active.

#3 Mindful Eating: Get Your Nutrients

(1:23) Number three, eat right. I know what you’re thinking…“How am I supposed to eat right during the holidays when there’s my mom’s favorite cake, and my cousin’s famous whatever-it-might-be-chocolate-covered-sausage-balls..?!!”

I don’t know what it might be for you. But, here’s what you need to know. If you just focus on eating your greens, eating your protein, getting a good salad, and getting some good vegetables in during the meal, then you can reward yourself with a dessert at the end. You don’t have to eat a dessert every day. You don’t have to eat the heavy casseroles every day. But, focus on getting good nutrients in. Focus on not eating when you’re bored or just because it’s there, but only when you’re hungry. And, you’ll find that you can actually get through the holidays without gaining some weight. I’m not asking you to start a new diet. I’m just saying be mindful of what you’re eating.

#4 Think About What You’re Thinking About

(2:24) Number four, think about what you’re thinking about. Here’s what that means. Especially during the holiday season, we’re bombarded with messages from society, Hollywood, and social media saying that what we have isn’t enough. We need to get the brand new TV, the brand new Apple product, the brand new whatever-it-might-be.

Or, we’re seeing all of these pictures of our friends who are having these amazing holiday get togethers and how happy they are with their husbands and their wives, and we can feel like we are “less-than.”

Like, our marriages aren’t good enough. Like our stuff isn’t good enough. Like our kids are little punks, and they’re not good enough. Deep breaths. Think about what you’re thinking about. If you’re constantly in that negative state of emotion, thinking about the negative, or thinking about how what you have isn’t enough, it’s going to translate into how you act. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is, (is the way that the saying goes). So, make sure that what you’re thinking about is positive, is exciting, or happy. Yes, we have to deal with negative things too, but overall we can choose to be optimistic and to have a positive mindset.

#5 Treat Others as You Would Like to be Treated

(3:42) Number five, give grace. I don’t know about you, but I tend to judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions. Here’s what I mean by that. I might fully intend to take my trash outside to the trash can by the road on my way to work…but, I get in a rush. I don’t have time. I have to get out the door quickly, because I’m late for a meeting, and I’m able to give myself grace. Because I said, “You know? I wanted to. I intended to. But, I just didn’t get to. I’ll do it later.”

But, if my husband were to do the same thing, if he were to run out the door because he was late, but he didn’t do the trash…it’s easier for me to look at that and say, “I can’t believe he didn’t do that.” I’m judging him by his actions. But, I would’ve judged me by my intentions.

When things like that happen, what I want you to focus on is to try and see it from the other person’s point of view. It’s not always going to be the trash. Maybe it has to do with finances, parenting, kids, a work party, or whatever it might be. Be gracious. Don’t just start accusing them for not doing something, or whatever it might be. Be gracious in your response. Be gracious in your perception of the people around you.

Choose to believe that they’re good people and that they want to do good things.

Choose to have that mindset, and watch your mouth. It’s very easy when we’re angry to just start attacking people. It’s easy in that situation- when my husband comes home from work after not taking the trash out for me to say, ”Do you expect me to do everything around here? All you had to do was take the trash out. Seriously, it’s not that hard.” I could’ve said that.

But, is that going to lead us towards having a good evening, a productive conversation? Is it going to make our relationship better?

The answer is: no. I can have that same conversation in a completely different light where I say, “Hey babe. Let’s work on being a team. Let’s work on doing things together. What’s a better way that we can do that?” That’s a better way to have that conversation.

#6 Put Your Family at the Top of the List

(6:00) Number six, prioritize family time. During the holidays, you are going to be stretched and pulled and pushed 1,801 different ways. There’s work. There’s school parties. There’s deadlines. There’s finance stuff going on. There’s your own things that you’re trying to get done: Christmas shopping, cooking, and cleaning; all of it can be so overwhelming. And, it can be so easy to push your family to the bottom of the list.

“Oh, I’ll spend time and watch Christmas movies with my kids when I get everything else done.” I want to encourage you to flip that upside down. What if everything else became second, and time with your family became first?

“I’m going to spend time with my family. And, I’ll figure out a way to get everything else done when I’m done with that.” Prioritize your family.

#7 An Example of Giving- not “Getting”

(6:56) And, finally, number seven, focus on giving rather than “getting.” A few years ago my family (my immediate family, my parents, my husband, all of us) said, “We really don’t need anything else. Yeah. There’s fun stuff that comes out. But, if there’s anything we need, I mean, honestly we could get it. We don’t have to get presents for Christmas.”

So instead, we decided that we would take that same energy and money that we would’ve used to buy all these presents, run around town, this/that or the other, and give it to the people who need it instead. And, not just around the holidays, but spending time throughout the year to do that.

Then, on Christmas Day we celebrate that. We celebrate the things that we’ve been able to give back, the missions we’ve been able to support. I can’t tell you how amazing and NOT at ALL stressful it is when your focus for the season is: “How much can I give?”  And, not worried about what I’m going to get, especially when I’m thinking about my relationship, my marriage. When I change that focus to “What’s my husband gonna get me? What is my wife gonna get me? Is it gonna be enough? Are they gonna get me the right thing?” Which, can lead to a lot of other frustrations when that doesn’t go well..

But, when I shift my focus to, “What can I give?” Everything is put into perspective, and it makes the holiday season so much better.

So, that’s it, the seven tips to holiday stress proof your marriage. Do them. I can’t tell you how important it is to protect your marriage, to protect your family during the holiday season, because the stress is going to come on strong. Follow our channel [on YouTube] for more tips for your marriage and give us a call at Marriage Helper at (866) 903-0990. Whatever we can do for your marriage, we’re here for you. Happy Holidays! See you soon.