Drifting snow, twinkly lights, and a simple nativity scene. Mystery and joy. The beginning of the holidays in our marriage.
We were newlyweds living in those dreadful pink apartments and I was eager to have his family over to celebrate Christmas Eve with us. Everyone was invited over for “light snacks and a festive evening”.
I put together a platter of cheese and crackers, a large bowl of popcorn, and an assortment of Christmas cookies. The doorbell rang and Matthew’s parents, his sisters and their families poured in and soon our tiny apartment was full to overflowing.
Everyone was in good cheer and began nibbling on the goodies.
After an hour or two, however, something seemed wrong.
A slight tension.
Finally, my sister-in-law softly whispered, “Um…..I don’t mean to be rude, but my children are starving! When are you going to serve the dinner?”
Dinner . . . ?
I’m quite certain that I had specified “light snacks” because, of course, that is what you do on Christmas Eve—saving your big, fancy meal for Christmas Day.
Yet apparently, that is not how they did it in his family. Not at all.
I suddenly realized that our small apartment was full of very hungry people who look forward to this special dinner every year. And I had unknowingly offered them a rather meager bowl of popcorn . . . .
And this new bride burst into tears.
Horrified. Embarrassed. Stressed. Upset. Even angry.
This was the first of many lessons I would learn about marriage, family expectations, and holiday traditions.
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7 Ways to Prepare Your Marriage for the Upcoming Holidays
Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned some ways to help prepare our marriage for the coming holidays such as…
1) Communicate your expectations: Often, we assume our spouse knows what we value and expect over the holidays, but it’s usually worth a conversation or two. You might both be surprised at the honest answer. You also might find that these things change over time.
2) Hold your traditions loosely: Traditions can be delightful – but they should never be held above your relationship. God cares more about the love and peace between you two than any long-standing traditions.
3) Protect your marriage: His family is important. Your family is important. But your marriage is your first priority, so make decisions together that are in keeping with that priority.
4) Keep it simple: I know, easier said than done. But if attending every event and upholding every tradition sacrifices the peace in your home? Is it really worth it? Probably not. Be willing to let go of some activities to lessen the stress.
5) Stick with your budget: Sometimes, the holiday stress stems from financial pressure, so determine your budget and then keep to it. Cut back your gift list, decorate simply, and make things at home. Debt is always a damper to the celebration.
6) Be considerate of one another: For instance, my husband is an extrovert and I’m the introvert. Basically he has more “party” in him than me. So we try to accommodate one another – each giving up a little for the sake of the other.
7) Keep Christ at the Center. He is the reason we are celebrating. It’s not about the presents, cards, food, fun, or even family. It’s about rejoicing in the Prince of Peace, amen?
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~ Isa. 9:6
I hope some of these things help you both to enjoy a loving, joy-filled Christmas this year.
And now you know, if I ever invite you over for “light snacks” . . . well, I really mean it. 😉
Blessings on you and yours as we celebrate the birth of the Christ-Child and King!
In His grace,
Simple Ways to Enjoy Your Marriage through the Holidays
We’d love to invite you to the FAITHFUL LIFE podcast this week where Matt and I are talking about those simple ways you and your husband can enjoy the Christmas season together.
Got 13 minutes? Please join us for this short holiday conversation!
Matt and Lisa Jacobson, authors of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, are the hosts of a weekly podcast to talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture. Matt and Lisa offer deep encouragement, along with practical steps and true-life stories, as we grow in walking the faithful life together.
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