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Seven Tips for the Best Holiday Ever

We have all seen it, the grandest of holiday plans come crashing down with the reality of the situation. You work your tail off cooking a delicious dinner only to be left with a pile of dirty dishes while everyone else retires to the den to watch football. If anyone said thank you, it was certainly done quietly under their breath.

If the truth be known, you honestly wished your in-laws, or your own relatives for that matter, were somewhere other than your house for the holidays. You never really liked them in the first place and now you have to wine and dine them without their appreciation for what you are going to have to do to make it all look easy. In fact, you can count on at least one of them telling you all the things you are doing wrong – food preparation, decorating house, raising the kids, your choice of clothing, etc. Then there is Uncle Fred, who sits on the couch and wants you to turn up the television so he can watch the football game at full volume while Aunt Ethel complains about everyone else in the house.

Stress, stress, stress!!! Holidays are among the most stressful times in a relationship - make no mistake about it.

Since we do not recommend that you shoot Aunt Ethel or Uncle Fred, you will have to discover other more appropriate ways of dealing with holiday stress.

Here are a few tips to help you and your spouse lower your stress level and have the best holiday season ever:

1. Appreciate the traditions within your family and your spouse’s family. Blend them together in a way that both you and your spouse will cherish and make new memories together. Don’t feel compelled to follow the exact same traditions of one family over the other without a full discussion of what you both want to create your own “traditions” together.

2. Money is not the solution to a great holiday season – especially in these tough economic times. Rather, it is the simple things that matter – simple acts of kindness, homemade gifts and cards, simple expressions of love.

3. Talk about what you are going to do for the season - what are you and your spouse’s highest priorities? Have this conversation as soon as possible so you both can feel good about your plans. Then, let all the other holiday “stuff” go by the wayside.

4. Take a moment in the midst of the chaos and pressure of the holidays to focus on what really matters. Give your spouse your respect, your understanding, your embrace, your kiss and your time. Don’t let the relatives and friends put a wedge between you and the one you love because of the stress and circumstances surrounding the holidays.

5. When holiday problems arise – as they always do – an open discussion with your spouse needs to happen as soon as possible. Discussions about serious matters must always begin with agreement about what the issues really are. Work to identify the issue, establish the parameters of the discussion, with agreement to solve the problem together.

6. As the stress rises, so does the opportunity for argument and disagreement. When the holiday tension is so thick that you could cut it with a knife, it is easy to let nasty statements and sharp words roll off your tongue, making judgmental statements about your spouse, their actions, and their relatives. Think twice before exploding with vitriolic words that cannot be taken back.

7. The holiday doesn’t have to be perfect! It is more important to build memories together for the holidays. Invite the family and friends to share in the dinner preparation and holiday decorating. The relationships built are more important than holiday perfection.

Our final thought for the holidays is this – no love has blossomed or been sustained without doing the simple things. Simple things do matter!  

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love That Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book, and Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships.

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