The holidays are a time of joy, peace and spending time with friends and family, but they can also be stressful and exhausting. Any period of busyness and stress can cause trouble in your marriage and the holidays even more so, as we have such high expectations for the holidays that are often hard to meet.
Stress takes a huge toll on even the strongest relationships if it goes unchecked. During all of the hurry and busyness of the holiday season, it’s too easy to allow stress to go unnoticed or unaddressed and this can spell real trouble in a marriage. There’s a new article called “How Can You Manage Marriage Stress in Troubling Times?” on GoodNewsMagazine.com and while it covers a lot of different types of stress, Becky Sweat has put together some great information on how and why stress can be trouble for your marriage. The sections on financial and schedule stress can be especially helpful during the holidays, when extra spending and extra commitments are an issue.
Financial Stress Is Even More Troubling in Today’s Economy
While the holidays aren’t just about gifts and giving, they are typically a time when we spend more than usual or even more than we can. If a couple isn’t in complete agreement on holiday spending, this can cause some serious conflict in a marriage.
Often one spouse is a saver and the other likes to overspend, and that can create a lot of conflict, especially during lean financial times when couples may have a smaller monetary cushion to fall back on,” notes Bradford Wilcox, Ph.D., director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.”
Dr. Wilcox stresses that differing views on how to spend money are even more detrimental in today’s rough economy.
It can rob a couple of a sense of their future together, because they don’t have any money to put into savings for long-term goals like a trip or a house down payment. Instead, they’re worrying about cash flow and paying off debt, which looms over their marriage like a storm cloud.”
To combat this, be sure to sit down with your spouse and agree together on a budget for the holidays, including not only gifts, but travel expenses, entertaining and special holiday events like concerts and attractions. Then stick to that budget at all costs. This will give you a sense of unity and teamwork that will go a long way toward keeping things peaceful during the season.
Tis the Season to Be Too Busy
The holidays can be filled with lots of visiting, parties and family get-togethers that enhance the season and bring out your festive spirit. However, all of the activities, shopping and preparation is on top of what are usually already full schedules. This can be a real problem for couples who often don’t spend enough quality time together already.
Dr. Ann Shorb is a counselor in Hanover, PA, who says that she sees this chronic busyness in a lot of the couples she works with.
With so many of them, they just can’t fit ‘couple time’ into their busy schedules,” she says. “Just about every couple I talk with lives under unending pressures and demands that cause them to be overcommitted and overextended.”
When you add a ton of extra commitments and errands to an already full calendar, couple time can easily fall by the wayside. Be sure to spend at least twenty or thirty minutes a day reconnecting with your spouse and checking in on how they’re doing. You should also sit down with a calendar and take a close look at which activities will really add something to your holidays and which ones may just drag you down. Agree on what’s important and delegate or ditch the rest.
The holidays should be a time to celebrate love and family, not something that you need to “get through.” A little careful planning and constructive discussion can go a long way toward making this a wonderful time in your marriage.