Holidays are supposed to bring happiness, joy, and peace, right? If anything can test a relationship with your spouse, it’s decorating the Christmas tree. Growing up, my dad didn’t have much input with holiday décor or plans. Many times, we did the same thing every year. Go to midnight mass, open presents, go to bed, wake up, get dressed, then dinner hop around to what seemed like 24 different houses. BORING! Constantly having to hug people and eat more food at every location. Sheesh, I am overwhelmed and annoyed just writing that. My mom and dad seemed to have a great balance and Mom was in control. Their idea of balance is far from my adult idea of balance. They survived though. Nope, that balance doesn’t live in my household.
My wife and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to planning and decorating for the holidays. The ultimate test of our relationship came in the form of a 9-foot-tall, heavy, pre-lit Christmas tree. Questions that needed answers: how would we decorate, when would we decorate, and how long would this process take? Because in my planner, I’d scheduled one day for decorating the tree and the house. Not in her mind. That tree took two days; two days which gave me intense anxiety that went through the chimney and sat on Santa’s lap. I survived though.
Here are my tips to surviving the holiday season with your spouse:
- Communicate – Typical tip, but really COMMUNICATE. Discuss each other’s idea of what the holidays look like to one another. Will you all travel? Will you house hop? What does Christmas day look like from start to finish? What traditions would do you all want to continue, change, or introduce?
- Budget – Money, money, money … it is so easy to overspend during the holidays with how easy it is to purchase with the click of one PayPal or Cash App button. The gift giving lists can become extremely long and out of control. Talk to your partner about how much money you will spend on each other, children, grandparents, and others. In my family, we only purchase gifts for our children and parents. Everyone else receives a holiday card.
- Set boundaries – The holidays can trigger some memories from the past that aren’t pleasant. It may be a family member’s death, memories from childhood, loss of a job, stress, depression, anxiety, and/or financial difficulties. Talk to each beforehand and create a plan of attack in that moment when triggered.
- Create a family calendar of events – Print out a calendar and list events or activities you would like and include your spouse in the planning of activities. Activities can include baking, singing, movie night, giving back, lights tour, ice skating, and game night.
- Say ok – Sometimes, just throw in the towel and say “ok.” If your spouse wants to take two days to finish decorating the tree, let them decorate their little heart out while you sit back, listen to Pentatonix Christmas CD and drink egg nog.