Hallmark movies would seem to indicate that romance and presents and the holiday spirit work wonders on relationships. Sometimes that’s true. But sometimes Christmas makes marriage harder. How can you handle things when Christmas affects your marriage?

When the stakes get higher, when emotions get involved, when schedules become overloaded and out-of-routine, there’s greater opportunity for conflict and disappointment and pain. And all of that certainly happens during the holidays.

Perhaps you and your spouse grew up with very different experiences around Christmas, and struggle to agree on what traditions to keep or toss. Or maybe you’re like a friend of mine whose wife hated Christmas while he struggled to make it something special for their two children. Conflicts over spending money, extended or blended family issues, and more during the holiday season may stretch your ability to cope well.

So, a few suggestions on managing your marriage during this time.

  1. It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

It won’t be perfect, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by trying to make it so. Something is likely to happen; someone will get sick, a child will melt down over a gift they didn’t (or did) get, the toilet will back up, some misunderstanding will get blown out of proportion. And your hoped-for intimate romantic Christmas Eve is far from a guarantee.

If you’re overwhelmed, ask for help or say No. You don’t have to attend every event, cook everything expected, buy a gift for everyone, meet all expectations. Especially if there has been conflict between you, “good” may look much more like a small step forward instead of making everything OK.

  1. Give Grace

If there’s ever a time to extend grace, it’s during the holiday season where we celebrate the One who came to offer grace to us all. That doesn’t mean you put up with out-of-control drinking or violent destructive behavior. But it does mean you choose not to be offended.

If Christmas has some difficult emotional baggage for you or your spouse, give grace.

If travel plans get changed at the last minute because of winter weather or other issues, give grace.

If the gifts or the Christmas dinner or the decorations aren’t all to your liking, give grace.

If your spouse or other people don’t respond in the way you would like, give grace. 

And perhaps there is one special gift you can give this year; the gift of forgiveness. Let it go. Keep a short account of wrongs. Be the first one to say “I’m sorry” and “I love you!”

  1. Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

There would be no Christmas if Christ had not come. It’s a cliché, but remember that He is the Reason for the Season.

I encourage you to make Jesus central to your celebration, not just an after-thought. It’s not too late to begin a Christmas Bible reading plan, or choose a special Christmas Eve service to attend.

And let me suggest a three-part prayer for your Christmastime:

  1. Jesus, please come be born anew in me and in us this Christmas.
  2. Jesus, show me who You need me to be to my spouse in this season.
  3. Jesus, overwhelm my spouse with a special gift of Your presence this Christmas.

May God bless you, your spouse, and your marriage in a very special way this year.

Your Turn: How is this Christmas season affecting your marriage? Which of these steps are you going to incorporate as you manage your marriage this year? Leave a comment below. 

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  • Emotional triggers, higher stakes, and out-of-routine schedules are only some of the ways Christmas affects your marriage. Here are some ways to handle this season better.  Tweet that

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