8 Quick Tips to Keep Joy in the Holidays with Your Spouse (Including navigating family drama)

Holidays are supposed to be happy family times, full of laughter and love. Yet, for many people, the holidays mean long, hard, unpleasant, stressful work. The more stress you pile up, the more you become grouchy with your partner and with your children.

How much of it has to do with outside and family expectations and how much we bring upon ourselves is not the issue I want to discuss – although it might be something worth thinking about. What I want to share with you are ways in which you can be less frazzled and more joyful in the midst of it all. After all, holidays are supposed to be joyful, right?

If you can keep your positive spirit, it will be contagious. After all, holidays should be a time of rejoicing and goodwill.  The specific ways to less stress and more fun have to be individualized. Therefore, I’m going to give you eight simple and short suggestions,  some general principles you can apply. 

1. Evaluate expectations, values and meanings 

Take time to find out what makes you and those around you happy – what everyone really wants to do. Remember that true joy has to do with celebration, meaning and connection to others. Will your employees really prefer a formal party, or a more informal one? Do you need to give a gift to everyone, or are there alternatives?  Would it be more meaningful if all your family volunteer time to feed the hungry, or to wrap up gifts for needy children, than making it all about selfish wants? Use your imagination! 

2. Divide and conquer 

Who says you have to do it all? Let others help and jobs will get done faster (most of the time) and be more fun for everyone. At home, even 3-year-old children can stick on stamps, close envelopes or distribute candles around the house. Or you can divide up tasks assembly-line fashion: While one calls for ingredients, another finds them, someone else measures, and another mixes. Then all help with the cleaning! You spend time together and finish sooner. At work, you might have to hire more help or redistribute responsibilities to meet needs.

3. Organize

Whether your style is to make lists, write in a notebook, leave sticky notes to yourself, make notes on your phone, or think through your options, you need to take time to organize (Even Santa has his list. . .!). It will save you much time and will mean less hassle. It will also let you see in a concrete way if you are trying to do too much.

4. Be realistic

Evaluate what is feasible and stick to it. Some things to take into account are: health, money, family situation, time, emotional issues, and personal skills. For example, I was never good at making deserts. Therefore, that is one thing I’m always ready to delegate to others or to buy from a specialty store.

5. Learn to identify and deal with stress

The trick is to do something about stress before it gets out of hand. Breathe deeply and slowly, smile, take a break, daydream, look for humor, abandon what you are doing and do something else, or do nothing. Don’t push yourself to the breaking point. If you don’t take time out to do something about the stress, you will end up angry, frustrated, tense, fatigued, sick, joyless – and you will make everybody around you miserable too. 

6. Keep up your health

Adequate sleep, water intake, exercise, healthful food, positive thinking, humor, time for relaxation, play, and nurturing relationships (partner, friends, coworkers, family) will help reduce stress. 

7. Check your emotions

Take responsibility for your emotions. Emotions are signals which you need to heed. Bad or sad experiences in the past tend to color our holiday memories. Do not allow them to take over your life. Identify past losses and wounds and then let them go. Look for help if necessary. And then, enjoy the holidays. Remember that we tend to get what we expect. If you plan for and expect days of joy and cherished moments with others, you will probably find them.

Coworkers, children, family and friends will not long remember your perfectly clean office or house, perfect decorations, perfect party, perfectly wrapped presents or perfect meal; they will remember the fun and love you shared. Don’t let stress steal and spoil it! Enjoy the Holidays! Let us know in the comments what works best for you.

8. Learn to deal with family drama

People like to think of the holidays as great family gatherings where everybody gets along, food is plentiful and perfectly done, and all have a great time.

That's the fairytale version. . . The real version? Often everything that can go wrong, goes wrong.

You can learn how to keep family drama to a minimum! Ask for and read my free article: How to deal with FAMILY DRAMA over the holidays and you will learn how to keep family drama to a minimum.

Best gift for your relationship

Many times relationships deteriorate, bickering becomes too common, intimacy goes away, and communication is very superficial. Don't wait for things to get to the point of separation! As the Holidays turn into a New Year, Rekindle your love. That's the best gift for yourself, your relationship, and your children (if you have any). Listen to my free Webinar:  Reclaim Intimacy!     5 Incredible Secrets for Reigniting your Love Life.