Tag Archives: Thanksgiving.

Express Thankfulness to Your Spouse Today

“It turned out to be Julia all along. Julia, you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life. I love you, darling.” –from Julie and Julia

In America, today is Thanksgiving, and many of you are busy cooking or traveling today. So, I’ll keep my message brief. Wherever you live, research shows marriages benefit from sharing gratitude. Find at least one thing about your spouse for which you are thankful, and share that with your partner. You can verbalize it, text it, email it, write it in a note, share it as a toast in front of your entire family, or whisper it before bed. Just share it today.

Cheers! And for all those who celebrate it, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Add a Little More Joy to Your Family’s Holiday

“Tidings of comfort and joy.” Yeah, right. So many wives I know view the holidays—starting next week—as a time of overwhelming responsibilities. They feel the weight of creating a magical experience for their husband and children, and sometimes for other family members. Comfort and joy might be the last things on their minds. Husbands and wives have a responsibility to change the tone of the season.

I’m planning to do a few posts on this topic to help minimize stress during the holidays, but if you hope to have any energy and joy to infuse into your holidays, now is the time to do something differently. Put comfort and joy back on your radar this year.  Would you like the enjoy the holidays more, and see your spouse enjoying them more?

Find the Joy
Whether you have positive or negative memories of the holidays growing up, chances are you can think of a few things this time of year that excite you. Brainstorm ideas on your own about things you would like to do during the season, and then ask your spouse for input on what is important to him or her. The key is to get those items on your calendar before the extraneous events begin to crowd out what you find joyful. Do you love food, travel, religious services, or musical performances? Make time for the things you enjoy. Cut down on the obligations you don’t enjoy.

Even small things like scheduling time to make a gingerbread house or drive through the Christmas light displays can put a little jingle in your step and give you a great memory to treasure.  Schedule an evening to watch old Christmas movies while cuddled up with your sweetheart and the kids (or the dogs/cats). Think about annual traditions you would like to begin. They don’t have to be like everyone else’s traditions, but they should incorporate what you value most. If faith is important to you, schedule ample time for religious traditions. Keep some family traditions for the two of you as husband and wife. If you have always spent holidays with extended family, don’t forget to create some of your own unique traditions.

Schedule It In
One you have all your “want tos” and “have tos” on a list, get them onto the family calendar. You may find some things you have done in previous years have to be deleted to make room for new fun. That may mean you may not have time to prepare homemade food baskets for your neighbors or for knitting scarves for all your friends (unless this is what you enjoy most). You might have to skip a few holiday parties, or just stop by for 30 minutes instead of spending the entire evening. Do you really need to write a four-page Christmas letter or develop custom cards? Must you decorate three Christmas trees?

Try to do the things you decide to keep on the calendar with more joy. If your wife needs help putting the lights on the tree, try not to be a grouch. If your husband has done all the shopping and asks you to pick up one item, do it with a smile. If your kids need help writing letters to Santa, give them your full attention, and savor the memory.

Revise the Gifting
Part of the stress of the holidays is the overwhelming gift giving. Talk to your spouse about paring down the list of presents you’ll each need to purchase. Offer to help so one person isn’t expected to do all the planning, shopping, wrapping, cooking and entertaining. If you have young children, let them help you plan creative gift ideas, or give charitable gifts. Last year, my kids and I surprised my husband by secretly practicing and performing a song together. We also had them each select a charity for a family donation. Kids can help write notes to grandparents that are treasured more than an expensive gift.

If you like to give lots of gifts (and you have the funds), schedule time to select and wrap them, so that you’re not stressed at the last minute. Spending more than you budgeted for will just create more stress in January, so buy accordingly.

Avoid unrealistic expectations about gifts from your partner. I know men who try very hard to select a romantic gift, only to be rebuffed by their wives. Either tell him exactly what you want, or treasure what he gives you. Anything less is a form of rejection.

Share With Your Partner
Talk to your spouse about your expectations for the holidays (for yourself and for each other). If you feel responsible to create special memories, explain your feelings. If you feel overwhelmed, share why. By connecting with your spouse during the season and sharing how you are feeling, you can help maintain intimacy. Ask for specific help when you need it rather than complaining that you are doing it all alone. Remember the true reason for each holiday you celebrate, for example to give thanks for what we have on Thanksgiving, not to stress out about our home’s décor or cleanliness.

Step one: Schedule time to create your ultimate holiday to-do list with your spouse. With Thanksgiving next week, there’s no time to lose. Do you feel you could make improvements on the amount of joy and comfort in your holiday season? What tips do you have for increased enjoyment of the season?

Photo credit: ©Michah Jared/PhotoXpress.com  

Give Thanks to Your Spouse this Thanksgiving

How do you feel when someone gives you an unexpected thank-you? Try cultivating that fuzzy feeling in others this week. As we approach Thanksgiving, everyone starts talking about giving thanks as if should be an annual event. Thanksgiving is a great reminder, but we should make showing gratitude a regular habit. Start with those closest to you–your husband or wife and other family members.

This week, tell your spouse three things you are thankful for about them. It’s a great marriage-booster. Give praise/thanks for:

1) A skill (cooking, their skill at work, how organized or handy they are, etc.)

2) A physical trait (Men need to be complimented too, especially since men don’t give each other compliments like women do.)

3) A character trait (resiliency, honesty, being calm in the face of crisis, friendly to everyone, etc.)

If you want BONUS points, praise for your spouse publicly around the Thanksgiving dinner table. After you thank your spouse, do the same for your children and parents. Make a habit of thanking people regularly for all they do for you.  If you make gratitude a regular habit, you may even find yourself thankful for adversity and challenges, as they can bring a family closer together.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. What are you most thankful for about your spouse?

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Are In-Law Troubles Troubling Your Marriage?

The holidays are nearly upon us, which for some couples brings excitement and others dread. At the recent request of some readers, I researched ways to improve the notorious mother-in-law relationship. Stress and strain between spouses and in-laws causes a good deal of division and strife in marriage. If your relationship with in-laws or parents is less-than-perfect, maybe this is the year for change.

After reviewing several resources, I came across an excellent post written by Gretchen Rubin, a best-selling author who writes tips for improving your happiness.  Rubin’s article “Ten tips for getting along with your mother-in-law” contains a gold mine of sound advice on how you can make your interactions much more positive and pleasant. Give it a read. Even the commenters added more good tips, such as, “No matter how much they drive you crazy, remember that they’ve been driving your spouse crazy much longer. Don’t take out your frustrations on your spouse; they’re probably as stressed out as you are.” If your issue is another family member, Rubin also has a good post on “7 tips for getting along with difficult relatives.”

I once heard the suggestion to act as if you have the relationship you want, and start cultivating that ideal relationship. While that may not always work, Gretchen suggests putting yourself in a friendly, calm frame of mind before you get together with in-laws. Instead of avoiding your mother-in-law, seek her out and be friendly. Basically, put yourself in a better mood before you get there, so you are not so easily offended.

One of her insightful tips is to “mindfully articulate, and act in accordance with, your own values.” She explains, “If you know your own values and live according to them, people’s pointed remarks don’t sting nearly as much, and strangely, they often back off.”

If a difficult situation fails to improve, you can still be in charge of your own reactions and behavior. You may need to bite your tongue for the benefit of your spouse. “Sometimes you can behave nicely for someone else’s happiness, even if you’d be very happy to pitch a battle, if left to your own devices,” says Rubin.

Rubin’s blog has other helpful and tested strategies for improving your own happiness, which can be beneficial as long as you are clear on the difference between seeking happiness and seeking joy.

So, are you looking forward to Thanksgiving with extended family, or are you considering flying to Tahiti instead? Do you have any great in-law tips to share?