This time of year is supposed to be the most joyous, but it’s often the most stressful.
A big reason for that is the amount of expectation we pour into the holidays.
Think about it.
We put expectations on ourselves and our family members, and they have expectations for how they want things to go as well. It’s a special time of year, and we want the house to be perfect, the gifts to be perfect, the meals to be perfect. Things have to go off without a hitch.
The trouble is holidays rarely work out as well as we’d like because there are too many variables that can go wrong. And the moment our expectations get dashed, stress, disappointment, and conflict aren’t far behind.
What’s a couple to do?
The most obvious solution is to lower your expectations if they’re unreasonable. Of course, that can be tricky because we often don’t realize just how high our standards really are until it’s too late.
The best way to resolve that problem is to talk to your spouse ahead of time about how you hope things will go. It may not seem like much, but conversations like that can make a big difference. They’ll help you put things in their proper perspective. And those lowered expectations can create just enough wiggle room for you to stay calm when things go differently than you anticipate.
First and foremost, couples have to realize that their marriage should be the top priority. Come up with a game plan for how you’ll maneuver through family get-togethers, Christmas shopping, parties with friend and co-workers, and all the other pressures you face at Christmas. Work together as a team and conquer the holidays together.
We’ll discuss all of those ideas and more in a conversation today with our very own Greg and Erin Smalley. They’ll give us some practical ideas for talking through expectations and managing such things as deciding where to spend the holidays, the stress of getting the house ready for company, and the pressure of feeling like having to make the house perfect.
Greg is the vice president of Family Ministries here at Focus and, together, he and Erin do a great job in helping lead our marriage outreach.