Peace on Earth—and at Your House, Too

How to beat the stress of the season

It's supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year," but the strain of the four-week Advent season can test even the strongest of marriages.

You'll go to extreme lengths to make meaningful memories for your kids. You'll try to blend three family traditions (hers, his, and ours). Possibly you'll travel hundreds of miles to visit loved ones. You'll write, rewrite, and distribute a Christmas letter (bonus point if you include hand-written notes); spend hours shopping for presents (bonus point for time-consuming homemade gifts); and attend the obligatory office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, church socials, and school programs (triple bonus points if you host a party).

No wonder your idea of peace on earth has shrunk to 30 minutes of quiet—so you can wrap presents.

'Tis the season to make some changes.This Christmas, you and your mate can exchange these patterns for a saner Christmas. Here's how to beat the stresses of the holiday season.

  1. Say what you expect. As holiday tensions increase, so do conflicts. As you get more tired, the more you expect your spouse to pick up the slack. When these unfair expectations don't get met, you both feel resentful. So expectations should be stated, collaborated, and related. "Stating" means discussing roles and responsibilities for each person. "Collaborating" is working together to resolve differences. "Relating" is honoring your relationship in all your actions. Get down to the nitty gritty! Tell your mate why it's important that you stay up 'til the wee hours baking cookies and writing personal notes on Christmas cards. Make specific plans for decorations—big tree vs. little tree, who will put up outdoor lights, which rooms you'll decorate indoors.
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May 25

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