The Holiday Season: Marriage Tips (Part 1 of 7)

Greetings. It is the holiday season. Walmart, Target and Home Depot are ready. These retail stores and television commercials are reminding you, it is the holiday season, so get shopping as soon as possible. So without control over time, this holiday season soon will be here. Sure, you could be a Grinch and avoid this season at all possible. But unless you fly off to some remote spot in the world, this holiday season is upon us.

In the next 7 weeks, I want to write to spouses and to your marriage about how the two of you are going to experience this holiday season. I will use the word holiday by writing about each letter to give your marriage some tips about how to view this season. I hope you find these tips helpful.

The first letter is H for Happy. Yes, the emotion called happy. As you know, this season has many words to describe this feeling: Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Joyful, Celebration, and Happy New Year. The message is this is the most wonderful time of the year so be happy and merry.

But did you know that this holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year for spouses and marriage? Did you know that many spouses put on a happy face just to get through this holiday season with the goal that in January, they are going to pursue a marriage separation and possibly a divorce? Did you know that many spouses and marriages view this season as a time to just survive and get through it for the sake of the family and the marriage? Did you know the suicide rate unfortunately goes up and more people are depressed due to this emphasis on being merry, happy or joyful?

Yes, the pressure to celebrate and be merry can be quite a challenge. On the outside, spouses may project this image that they are happy, but on the inside, they are not happy. There is this attitude of fake it until you make it and just tolerating this season by going into survival mode.

So let me challenge you as a spouse and the two of you as a married couple. The first thing is for each spouse to write down how you want this holiday season to go that will bring happiness for you? What do you personally want, what do you not want? Think about holiday pasts and consider what do you want to do differently and what do you want to repeat? Each spouse make a list of 3-5 things you want for this holiday season, that you would consider to be happy experiences.

Then make a list for your marriage, of how you two together desire happiness for the marriage. Again write down 3-5 things or activities you both want to participate in that brings happiness for the marriage. Think of holiday seasons past and maybe what did work and how this holiday season could be different. When these lists are done, sit down with your spouse and each share their list so the two of you are both participating in being happy.

Remember, don’t pursue happiness just for sake of chasing a feeling. Happiness is a byproduct of making choices now and taking charge of your holiday schedule. Sure, there are going to be obligations and duties that you will need to participate in. But for the most part, don’t let anyone steal your joy or happiness this holiday season. Take charge of your happiness and the marriage happiness. Don’t just assume you should be happy, merry, or joyful. Instead focus on what both of you want that will bring happiness to your marriage. It may be an item, but my advice is to consider shared experiences or events you both want to do. Plan now and be proactive and not reactive.

Thanks for reading.

Phillip Kiehl, LMFT #42351

Author of “Creating the Healthy Marriage You Want: Stop Accusing & Start Accepting One Another.”