Throw in a little financial stress, family dynamics, and nostalgic expectations into your first year of marriage and the holidays can be a rough go. As the story goes my father had to work on Christmas the first year my parents were married. It was the 1970s, he was working at a gas station, he was only eighteen, and though he survived being held-up at that gas station and put the Christmas hours in, he was fired for no reason a few weeks later. I can't imagine that was a fun Christmas.
Christmas brings everything out, as does marriage. Life is good, but life is hard. Marriage is good, but marriage is hard. Sometimes you bring out the best in each other and you're a great team and, sometimes you bring out the worst in each other. The monster that you didn't know was inside rears it's ugly head. I suppose that is what the whole iron sharpens iron is about.
It was Christmas Eve, I wanted to make some plans. Should we serve sandwiches on Christmas or something more? Are we going away for a few days after Christmas? Lake Geneva or Downtown hotel? There is no response. I get mad. He just wants to relax and not make decisions. I find these kind of planning decisions fun. I tell him how I feel. Then I go run some errands and calm down. I don't let it carry over, I realize we are just different. This is a difference we will eventually learn how to manage. We'll have a conversation about it, when we are not in the thick of it.
What has helped us get through and still like each other is a little compromise. It's Christmas, early afternoon. The dog needs to go to the dog park before people come over. Joe asks me to take him, I ask him to come along. I want to walk, he wants to drive. We both drive there. Joe gives me a dining room table (yea!). He wants to turn sports on while putting the table together, I want to listen to Christmas music since we are going to have people over later in the day to watch the Bulls and then the Bears. We compromise. The sports are on mute, the Christmas music is playing.
The other thing that helps us is creating things to have in common. Having fun together. On the surface of things my husband and I don't have much in common. He likes sports (watching and playing), I like creative stuff like painting or writing. He's a business sales guy, I'm a relational non-profit work type. What do we have in common to do for fun? We both like to cook and eat nice food. Home and out. It's something to start with, and everyone eats. So, we go with it. But we also have created something else in common: our puppy. People thought we were crazy for adopting a puppy a few weeks into marriage but I think it has been great for us. He is something we both care about. It creates bonding.
My biggest wish this Christmas is that we would love one another more and more each day. My wish is that we would learn to give each other grace and affection everyday. And, my prayer for myself is that I would learn to love my husband and love myself better, the way our maker loves us.
What is your wish for your marriage? What have your found to be the key to getting through the early years and coming out stronger?
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