How to Strengthen Your Marriage Through the Holidays

The holiday season is always stressful. In spite of the joy, for many people the holiday blues are very real. And this year our turbulent world has significantly disrupted our ability to celebrate in the “usual” ways. Your marriage feels that stress. But you can actually strengthen your marriage through the holidays even this year.

Hallmark Christmas movies and Norman Rockwell paintings still have emotional pull because the holiday season stimulates something in us that looks for hope, for peace, for joy. In the middle of a pandemic, and on the heels of an unusually contentious political season, we long for those things. A magical kiss and loving hug in front of the fire on Christmas Eve. Fresh snow that erases everything ugly and dark.

If only your marriage could experience that kind of love, hope, peace, and joy.

God never promised your marriage would look like a Christmas movie. But your marriage, or your life, will never get better without deep desire. That’s more than a wish; it’s a hunger that stimulates you to action. Perhaps the longing this holiday season invites you to embrace is the very door into your heart that God needs to do some great work.

Regardless of how long you’ve been married, or the level of connection (or lack thereof) you currently experience with your spouse, these suggestions will help you leverage the desire in your heart and in your spouse’s heart for what could be.

  1. Embrace the Difference

Christmas is going to look somewhat different this year. Instead of pining over what cannot be, choose to focus on what can be. Travel, large gatherings, or other “usual” celebrations aren’t likely to happen. Your financial circumstances may significantly alter the money you have to spend on the holidays this year. So what can happen?

You can use this opportunity to focus on things that are likely to matter more. And that’s especially true in the area of your marriage. How might the challenges of this unique Christmas season spur you to deeper connection? Or a willingness and determination to face issues you’ve tried to ignore? Or showing unusual grace to your spouse?

  1. Focus on Experiences

If you’re reading this and this matters to you, you be the one to imagine and plan for some meaningful experiences with your spouse. You go first. Taking into account your spouse’s personality, think of how you can create some special moments together over the next few weeks.

  • If you’re doing online shopping instead of in stores this year, that might look like planning an hour or two where you together shop online for a few gifts for the people you care about.
  • You know your spouse’s favorite holiday drink, right? Hot chocolate. Apple cider. Mint chocolate coffee. Surprise him/her with a Saturday morning or late evening drink together. Be prepared to tell them something special you appreciate about being together.
  • Grab your spouse for a drive to look at the snow, or the Christmas lights.
  • Find an Advent Calendar to read together each day or each week. This Our Present Hope 2020 Advent Bible reading plan from YouVersion is a great option.

Be creative. You can do this!

  1. Look for your Spouse’s Heart

Your spouse has desires too. Get over yourself enough to thoughtfully see what they are hoping for. You may or may not get it 100% right, but look for it.

And then move toward that hope in some way. If your spouse hopes for conversation and emotional connection, can you stretch yourself to both listen and be vulnerable? If it’s for physical intimacy, are you at a point where you can let your body be a gift to your spouse? Maybe it’s for a partner to work through problems with; can you stay engaged when things are difficult? Or perhaps it’s for a spiritual leader; will you step into that even if it feels awkward?

  1. Invite Jesus to Join You

This holiday season is, at its root, a celebration of Jesus coming into our world, the greatest Gift ever. Make sure He is right in the middle of your Christmas. Inviting Him to join you doesn’t depend on the economy, who’s president, or what constraints a virus may have placed on the “usual” trappings of the season.

In every way your spouse might be open, make Jesus the center of your marriage. Pray for your spouse – out loud, in their hearing, without trying to one-up them. Read the Christmas story together. Invite Him to be born in your hearts, and in your marriage, anew this year.

May your marriage become even stronger in this season.

Your Turn: What will you do to intentionally strengthen your marriage during the holidays? Leave a comment below.

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