This is the season of “Peace on earth, good will toward men,” and “Silent night, holy night.” It’s when we prepare our hearts to remember God sending the gift of his Son, Jesus. It’s a time for family, gifts, and celebration.
Ironically, this is also the season that brings some of the greatest stress on a marriage. Bills mount up rapidly as presents, food and travel plans are purchased. Emotion-packed decisions are made about relatives. End of year deadlines loom at work. Serving at church increases with additional services. Parties fill the calendar.
It doesn’t take long for “Peace on earth” to look more likely January 1st than on December 25th. So how can a couple help each other manage the stress and bring “Joy to the world marriage?” Here are a few things to keep in mind. Just key in on the ones that you find most helpful for your marriage and know that we are praying for you!
1. Listen and empathize
Be attentive to the burdens on your mate’s heart. Your availability is important for them to be able to share whatever strain they are facing in the days to come. Be aware of trigger phrases like: “I don’t have time.” “I’m not sure what to do next.” “I really dread ______.” Simply say, “Tell me more” and then listen.
As your spouse opens up, try not to offer solutions unless asked. Instead, work at showing empathy. Empathy says, “You’re not alone. We’re in this together.” It’s been said, “A shared burden is half a burden.” You can help carry the stress on your spouse. We wrote an entire post on empathy and you can read about it here.
Don’t discount the power of your prayers for your spouse! Through prayer you can touch the deepest recesses of your mate’s spirit. You can bring peace and ease their burdens with loving intercession on their behalf.
If they fall asleep before you, reach your hand over, lightly touch them, and say a prayer over them. Or perhaps when they are awake you can take them in your arms and whisper a brief prayer over them. Ask God to give them peace, wisdom, and grace during the holiday season.
3. Be peace-filled
One gift you can give your spouse is a calming presence through this season. The Apostle Paul writes that a characteristic of God’s Spirit in you is his peace. So when you feel your own stress welling up, simply breathe a prayer to God and ask him to replace your stress with his peace. Make the decision that you will “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).
4. Be helpful
Sometimes the best way to bring peace to your spouse is to ask how you might help relieve their burden. It may be simply to listen, support and pray. Perhaps you can help cook, do chores your spouse doesn’t like, shop, or decorate. Together you can come up with some practical ways to open the avenue of peace for each other.
5. Choose wisely
Amid the myriad of to-do’s to accomplish and activities to schedule, you will have to determine together what is best. Begin with your church, your family, and non-negotiables. Schedule in time for the most important things. After that, decide together where you can say “no.” Stay united in those decisions to simplify.
Bring these five practices into your marriage this Christmas season. As you do, each of you will experience greater peace as you build your marriage.