How to Have a Happy, Thriving Holiday, Even if Your Marriage is Struggling…

Most of us like to think that the Holidays are a happy time for everyone.  Even under the best of times though, the Holidays can be stressful! There are presents, parties, pressure and lots of expectations.  It is easy to find ourselves worn out and stressed from everything that is going on around these big days.  When there are additional relationship issues that stress can get out of control.  This is why I wanted to give some thoughts on how to have a Thriving holiday season, whether your marriage is smooth as silk or on the rocks. 

First I would like to start off with a question:


What do the holidays mean to you?

Don’t just give the question a moment’s thought.  Really think about it. Is it about family?  Is it about happiness? Comfort? Indulgences?  What matters most to you, and what makes these times special?
Chances are there isn’t a single all encompassing meaning of even one particular holiday.  There are likely many that play into what makes that day special to you.  With each of these meanings, I would like you to think about what factors play a part in each of them.  Is it the time that you spend together? Is it the special meals? Or perhaps a certain tradition?

The reason I ask this is because by far, the most likely cause of holiday stress or frustration is when these meanings and the little pieces that contribute to those meanings aren’t present.  Essentially it boils down to expectations.

Now if everything is going well for you and your love then by far the best way to have an amazing holiday together is simply to talk about the meaning of the holiday.  Take some time to discuss what you each enjoy, what you would like to see happen, and how you might manage that.  Then discuss what can be safely dropped so as to make time for what is important.  Having these expectations clearly communicated can help everything go much smoother.

If however, you are here because things have been rough between you and your love, there are still things that can be done to help you make the most out of these special times.  My advice is to make a note about what you have control over this holiday season.  Do you have control over your children and their reactions? Your husband or wife and their mood?  Perhaps you are not speaking to each other, have lost connection or are currently separated.  There are certain things over which you do not have any immediate power.  You can choose to be sad about this, sad over what you don’t have, what you are lacking or what you’ve lost.  Or you can acknowledge it for what it is: a rough patch.  It won’t do any good, to yourself or others if you desperately try to control what isn’t within your power to control.  Instead, what you CAN do is make an inventory covering what you can affect and change.  Most of which is inside of you.

Even if one meaning of the holiday is not available to you, others are.  And usually the most important meanings to the Holiday are those inner meanings.  Take Christmas for example, we can talk about how it is about spending time with family, relationships, buying presents, etc.  But, under certain circumstances those meanings can be taken away.  Inner meanings however are always under your control.  Christmas can also be about showing others you care, connecting with God or performing acts of charity.  None of which can be taken from you without your consent.

While many external meanings help contribute to the holidays, ultimately it all boils down to those inner meanings.  Spending time with family helps demonstrate we care, but if there is animosity present, and we don’t have access to our family like we would like there are other ways of showing love.  Buying presents is nice, but if financial circumstances don’t permit it, or tension means others won’t receive them, then focus in on what CAN be done to contribute to that same meaning.

 This is all about the higher meaning, so the question is: What is your higher meaning?

 ake your family, your kids, your spouse, your significant other out of the equation.  These are things you cannot control.  How do you contribute to meaning on holidays regardless of what others do?  How do you add higher meaning?  

How can you move forward in your internal life? How can you make the day special and meaningful? If you can’t celebrate because of pain, go internal.

If circumstances prevent you from having all the meaning you would like I suggest three things:

-Recharge:  Eliminate those parts of your life that are draining your energy
-Reimagine: Imagine how circumstances could be different, and identify steps to help get you there
-Refocus: Identify what is really important, and focus on that. Cut out anything that is getting in your way.

If nothing else is working, focusing on these three things can help you make adjustments and get you to where you want to be.

Having a thriving holiday season may at times be more challenging.  But how you react and how you give meaning to those days is completely in your power.

 -Marc Johnston

 Freebie: Grab our free Marriage Holiday Checklist to create the happy, thriving Holiday you want this year! Click here for your copy: