Marriage Minute: Happy Holidays

Note: Welcome to Marriage Minute, a new feature of the Chelsea Q. White Photography blog. Once a month, I’ll be sharing a marriage tip, article or story to help encourage you in building your marriage. You can see past posts here. Please let me know your ideas and feedback in the comments!

Ahh, the holiday season. While most marketers would love for you to believe your season will be filled with joy, endless cups of hot cocoa and a warm fire burning in the fireplace, we all know that once people are introduced into the equation, things can go south quickly.

While I am not a professional therapist, I’ve learned over the past six years of marriage that a little communication before the planning emails start flying is a good way to avoid tension, unmet expectations and hurt feelings.

Neither of us likes it but we typically start a preliminary conversation in September about where we’re spending each holiday. We’ve worked out a rotating system to help with other family members’ expectations (and our own!) We spend Thanksgiving with one of our families and then Christmas with the other. Sometimes we have to travel, sometimes we stay here.

By October, we (OK, I) start the gift list. Theoretically I like to be done shopping by the beginning of December because A. that’s when our anniversary is; B. so we can enjoy the season and C. we can deal with last-minute things that pop up and not have lingering dreaded holiday shopping trips.

Although our conversations surrounding the holidays are pretty informal, and they don’t happen all at once, here are the things we talk about:

-(If traveling): How long will we stay? How long will we board the dog?
-Are we buying each other gifts this year? If so, what’s the limit?
-When will we celebrate our own Christmas? (Up until last year it was just the two of us but we made it a priority to create our own little tradition that requires very little effort and planning but is still enjoyable. More on that next month).
-Are we going to be hosting anyone?
-What days will Travis take off from work?
-What special things do we want to do as a couple/family this season?

We still hit bumps along the way but having conversations early and setting our own traditions has helped keep the peace during what can be a very stressful season. 

How do you attempt to keep the holidays drama-free? Let me know in the comments!

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