Culture & Entertainment

5 ways to make it through the holidays with your marriage intact

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

5 ways to make it through the holidays with your marriage intact

It might just be me (feel free to say so in the comments) but this time of year is when my introvert husband and extrovert I experience more clashes than usual. Our schedules are full of concerts/parties/end-of-year activities, and our family-of-origin approaches to holidays are really different. Here's how we've learned to handle it over the last 20 Christmases together: (This picture is from our free holiday downloads page: Get mason jar labels, gift tags and more!) 1. Play to each other's strengths For many years I had this image of Carl and I spending winter evenings writing cards together, or shopping as a couple. We had a lot of arguments before I realized it just wasn't going to happen that way. Now he generally speaking handles things like school concerts, home decorating and outdoor fun. I do cards and gifts...except toys for all ages. We extend this to family dilemmas as well. One of my relations is never happy with the gift I select, so Carl selects it because even if s/he doesn't like it, it doesn't bother Carl as much. I love to chat, so I handle most of the phone calls. 2. Set a budget and stick to it This time of year things can get a bit crazy...and respect for the budget is really important. Our second year of marriage we set a budget for each other of $50, and then Carl spent three times that and I felt bad about the gift I'd gotten for him, but I also had thought I knew what he was spending on my present so I overspent on someone else's. That's not helpful. Set limits. Respect them. 3. Put everything on the calendar We block out time for baking, shopping, wrapping and work commitments as well as all the parties, concerts, plays, volunteer days and food drive deadlines. We split up all the child-related parties and truth be told, Carl needs extra downtime when he's having to go to all kinds of events, so I often take the kids to things like the neighbourhood open house without him. 4. Schedule downtime...and other While you're scheduling, block off some family-only relaxation time. And by that I mean time to read a bit for a morning (mine) or play a new video game in the afternoon (his). We try to make sure each adult gets a break to be adult while the other parent occupies the children at some wholesome activity. Or bribes them. We also keep Christmas Eve commitment-free most years, and if not, then Boxing Day becomes our commitment-free time. Oh and...sorry for the TMI but we schedule sexy fun time too. 5. Be each other's magic The year I was pregnant with my daughter my husband  and I were planning to spend Christmas Day in Ottawa. But I got sick with a really bad cold and we stayed home. I woke up Christmas morning thinking if I were lucky I'd have a gift or two and wondering about takeout...and I went downstairs and Santa had visited. Carl had gone out on Christmas Eve to a drugstore that was open and bought decorations, stockings and stocking gifts, and a bunch of treat food. What's the nicest thing your partner's done for you over the holidays?
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5 ways to make it through the holidays with your marriage intact

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