Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but at my house, the holiday season often feels very different from the one Andy Williams sang about in his popular Christmas song. We go from activity to activity, party to party, and then spend countless hours shopping and wrapping gifts. The season may be wonderful, but it often leaves us feeling a little ragged.
Unfortunately, the busyness of the season, along with differing expectations and financial pressures, can lead to stress, which breeds conflict and leads to a disconnect in marriage. So how do we maintain a strong connection with the man in our life amid the Christmas chaos? I've decided the key to peace begins with teamwork.
Teamwork is best described by the apostle Paul in Philippians 2:4, where he exhorts believers with these words: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." To make this verse come alive in marriage, you must start with a unity mindset. This means that as a married couple, you and your husband recognize you're on the same team and you're working together for one common goal: unity.
Next, you need to uncover each other's expectations. During holiday chaos, couples often encounter disagreements over finances, schedules or relatives. But at the heart of these conflicts lies a common denominator: differing or unclear expectations. It's essential to make your unspoken expectations clear — by speaking them. Ask each other questions such as:
- "How much money would you prefer to spend on Christmas gifts?"
- "Which parties do we need to attend and which ones can we skip?"
- "How do you want to divvy up shopping responsibilities?"
- "What is the plan for visiting extended family?"
This Christmas, take time to clarify your expectations and then make decisions as teammates. This will help you remain connected to your husband and unified as a team. Ecclesiastes 4:9 offers encouragement by reminding us: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil." When a husband and wife find unity, even surviving the Christmas season together becomes a possibility.Erin Smalley serves with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, in the Marriage and Family Formation department at Focus on the Family. She is the author of The Wholehearted Wife.