Sing along with me, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Thanksgiving has ended, which means we get a short reprieve from the thousands of extra calories we would usually never allow in our diet. That macaroni and cheese, oh my, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without that.
Did you get an extra helping of cornbread dressing (that’s our soul food cooking…you may have enjoyed stuffing)? What about the pies, cakes and puddings? Keith’s mom made so many we could have all taken one home (and I don’t mean just one piece)!
Dinner ended and it was time for the Christmas lights to go up. You did put up Christmas lights, didn’t you? (Shhhh…don’t tell anyone…we didn’t even think about it.)
Nearly as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over, you were already writing your Christmas to-do list, weren’t you?
You may even be one of those super-planners who was already checking Christmas items off your list by the end of the weekend. Go you (you fabulous overachiever, you)!
In all the hurry that seems to define this time of year, it’s probably good that we put a plan in place now to keep our happiness high (and our stress levels low) during the upcoming holiday season.
1. Make Your Marriage a Refuge. During busy times, we have a decision to make. We can either allow the stress of the world to weigh in on our happiness or we can keep the world at bay and make our marriage a safe haven. Take a few extra minutes in the morning to enjoy a cup of tea together or stay up in bed a little longer just to chat about your day and melt into each other’s arms. Your very own still point in a turning world, that is what your marriage is meant to be.
2. K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple). I love a beautiful Christmas tree and erecting one during this time of year is one of my husband’s greatest joys. All-white Christmas lights are one of my favorite things to look at during the holiday season. But I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not because they are always on our house. Figure out what you have the time and resources to get done this year and create your best holiday ever (minus the stress of trying to keep up with what you’ve done in year’s past). I’m not 100-percent sure but if I were to guess, this year will be a tree-free Christmas for the Weavers.
3. Divide & Conquer. A couple weeks ago, I got a new license plate that reads TEAM WVR. Oftentimes when we RSVP for events, instead of sending in a reply as “Keith and Fawn Weaver,” we’ll RSVP under Team Weaver. This is our normal way of life but it’s even more important during the holidays. Don’t try to take everything on yourself. Write a list of what needs to get done and then ask your husband to partner with you in tackling every item on that list. Two are so much better than one. And if you’ve got kids…even more hands to get everything done.
4. Manage Expectations. Look at your bank account now. If you can’t afford to do what it is you want to do or what it is you’ve done in the past, it’s okay. Just say it. Telling someone you love that you just can’t afford to get what it is you’d like to get them or to do what it is you’d like to do may be humbling, but when it’s all over, you will feel like the weight of the world has rolled off your shoulders. If from the offset, everyone knows what to expect, the pressure is decreased tremendously and you and your husband can feel great knowing that you’ve done what you can and what you can is more than enough.
5. Exercise Together. Okay, so this may seem out of place given the first five tips listed but there is truly no better time throughout the year to exercise for two reasons: 1) We usually eat way more than we should, pack on extra poundage and then stress about getting it off; and 2) Endorphins, baby! One of the best natural stress fighters is released into your body the moment you begin to exercise…and…when you have sex. That’s precisely why sexercise was invented!
6. Don’t Skimp on the Sex. Let’s keep those endorphins flowing! Two of the best ways to get them going are exercise and sex. It’s during stressful times that we tend to forget about basic things like making love regularly. But this is the time when we need it most. Not only to release stress and tension but to be joined together as one (in the most literal sense possible ). And if you need a little more convincing on this one, here are 4 benefits of making love…for you!
7. Consider Giving to Those In Need. ”It is better to give than to receive,” is no cliché. There are few greater truths in life than this and if you ever want to put your life in perspective, go to your local homeless shelter and serve. Just for one day. Take the entire family and see if you don’t walk out of there wanting nothing more than to take every present you planned to put under the Christmas tree and give it to someone you had the privilege of meeting that day.
The first seven tips listed were from a post I wrote last year around this exact same time, 7 Ways to Create a Stress-Less Marriage During the Holidays. I’ve added the following three because your personal happiness is one of the keys to your marital happiness.
8. For Your Own Sake, Forsake Tradition. If following tradition is going to stress you out, create a new tradition. It’s your family, your life and your happiness, do what works for you!
9. Wake Up Every Morning and Choose You. When I say, “choose you,” if the first thing that comes to mind is how selfish that sounds, then this is the perfect tip for you. You are the nucleus of all that happens around you. If you’re not happy, if you don’t feel encouraged or excited about life, neither will those around you. When you wake up in the morning and focus on doing what makes you come alive, what you feel as though you were born to do and be, that has a positive impact on everyone around you. For me, meditation, spending time with God and a wonderful cup of tea or coffee with Keith is what I need to begin my day off right. What does that for you? Whatever allows you to begin your day feeling your best, choose that. Do that. Don’t forsake yourself any time of the year, but especially, during what has become the most stressful time of the year for most.
10. Choose Love First. During the holidays, we can lose the best part of who we are and become the worst versions of ourselves if we are not careful. In your desire to show others how much you love them by what you buy, cook, how you prepare your house, and all the other things we do during the holidays, don’t forget to love yourself. That means taking some time to rest and doing only what you can do, without overextending yourself, because that is when you will truly be at your best. When you take the time to love yourself, you are able to love others better and when you think about the true meaning behind this holiday season, it is all about love. In all your doing over the next month -Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years- don’t forget to do that (love) the most.
Want to enjoy a happy and stress-free holiday? Well, it’s not going to happen unless you make the decision to choose it and put a plan in place now that will carry you through the holidays.
Until tomorrow…make it a great day!
THE NEW YORK TIMES® BEST-SELLING BOOK: It’s been described as, “Like Eat, Pray, Love but not down on marriage.” Make sure to check out the Happy Wives Club book. I had the great honor of traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, interviewing couples happily married 25 years or more, with 1 mission only: to find out what makes marriages happy…and keeps them that way. It’s a marriage book like none other. Guaranteed.
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