Tried and True Tips for a
Fabulous Holiday with Your Spouse!

by | Dec 20, 2023

We learn as much from failures in life as we do from successes. Probably more. So this is not a “my spouse and I do everything perfectly and always have the grandest holidays ever,” post. This is based on real-life experiences in a marriage and home that has ups and downs, as in any other household.

Communicate expectations

Without a doubt, this is probably the number one thing that has caused Larry and me to have a great holiday season or a terrible one. Unexpressed expectations always lead to frustration!

“But I thought we were going to…”

“But I thought this was how much we were going to spend…”

“But I thought we weren’t doing this, since it was so stressful last year…”

If it was never actually expressed and just assumed, it’s probably going to lead to an argument and some hurt feelings. Which brings me to…

Have a planning date

Make it an occasion! It doesn’t have to be fancy but set a time, date, and place to sit down and talk over expectations and what is important to both of you. Listen and work to find ways to accommodate both of your desires, to some degree.

Be willing to create new traditions

We are starting to do this now that our kids are all grown. We had all the same traditions for decades until our sons got married. Now, they are building traditions all their own and this necessitates Larry and I coming up with some new traditions as a couple. This went very smoothly this year, and we didn’t even have one bit of hurt or argument over it. We both seemed to be excited about new opportunities to create memories as a couple and with our children and grandchildren.

Share the responsibilities

My husband and I are an odd couple of sorts. I hate Christmas shopping, and wrapping gifts. I also wouldn’t care if I didn’t receive a gift for Christmas, and I asked him to forego buying each other gifts one year but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. So we exchanged a few gifts. Larry handles 90% of our Christmas shopping and gifts. I do a lot more cooking and entertaining at the holidays. He helps with that also, but I do the lion’s share of the menu planning and creating the dishes and organizing events that we host. It helps to remind yourself and your partner that you are both on the same team, working toward the same goal.

Get to know your spouse and their gift likes/dislikes

This issue has led to some hurt feelings in our home. I want my husband to just tell me exactly what he wants and I’ll go get it for him. I don’t want any guesswork involved in the purchase of a gift. He thinks that is boring as it completely lacks the element of surprise. I’d rather him actually be happy with his gift than be surprised. There have been a few years he never got me anything on my list. (He doesn’t like Christmas lists — again it’s the element of surprise) and his “surprise” gifts were things that were TOTALLY not “me.” My hurt feelings were not because I felt the gifts were cheap (they weren’t) or because they were terrible gifts in general, (they weren’t), but the overwhelming feeling that I had was, “he doesn’t even know me.” I got rather emotional over this and may have over-reacted a little bit as well. Since then, I think we have arrived at a healthy medium with this issues of Christmas lists, surprises and likes/dislikes.

Practice gratitude

Even if the turkey overcooks or you forgot to pick up enough butter, keep your gratitude hat on. Remind yourself of what you love about your spouse, and count all the other blessings you have this season. Try to keep things in perspective.

Take advantage of downtime

My husband and I are both blessed to have time off at the holidays. Although I don’t do what I refer to as “work-work” (tasks for my full time job — PF Women) during my vacation days or holidays, I do other things I enjoy such as working on my book, or other content creation that I do for pleasure. Just as I take advantage of the opportunity to do that, he might take advantage of the time to go see a movie with one of the kids, or we or pursue something else we don’t normally get as much time to do when we aren’t working our jobs. We prioritize couple-time during these days. We move slower without any urgency. There’s not a day that goes by during the holiday vacation time when we don’t spend quality hours together. It’s so refreshing to move at a slower pace and not have the usual pressures of work.

Be flexible

A guaranteed way to have a horrible holiday (or any day) is to have everything go exactly your way. There’s an old saying, “Those who are not flexible shall be broken.” When I refuse to be flexible I find myself in a perpetual state of frustration. It’s important to be flexible during the holidays especially when you are hosting holiday events and company and such. Being rigid in your ways is a recipe for disaster.

Here’s to a great season with your significant other, or whoever you will be with this Christmas!

1 Comment

  1. Jan

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing.


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