I hope you and your family are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! As 2015 draws to a close, I wanted to look back on the most popular posts during the past year. While these articles have marriage advice you can use all year long, some of these ideas are especially helpful during the busy holiday season.
If you get stressed out at family holiday gatherings, you’ll definitely want to check out this post. Our brains can go into fight-or-flight mode when we’re tired, overwhelmed or feel threatened — even if the “threat” is just criticism from a family member. We feel flooded with negative emotions that are hard to snap out of. If you feel like you’re about to flip your lid — a couple of warning signs are getting defensive and having trouble truly hearing others — that’s a signal to stand down for a while. Get away from the fray instead of pushing yourself to keep up with the holiday rush. As a couple, plan ahead for a little quiet time (like a quick walk) together in the next few days to head off any flip-outs, especially if you’ll be around relatives who have a knack for pushing your buttons.
One reason certain family members might drive you crazy when you see them is that researchers have found that our brains process physical and emotional pain in much the same way. The insights in the post might help you understand more about why it’s so difficult to be around a distant and withholding parent or a contemptuous sibling. I hope this post will also be a reminder that seemingly small rejections — like mocking your husband’s driving in front of your family — can have a big impact on your relationship.
Yes, this post is about a different holiday, but it has some ideas you can borrow this time of year as well. If you’re stuck on a gift idea for your husband, consider planning an experience to share that’s exciting, that helps you grow or that changes up your routine. Whenever you add novelty and variety, you stoke the fires of passion in your relationship.
You need your husband to help more with getting the house ready for your guests. Or maybe it’s getting on your last nerve that he still hasn’t taken care of the gift shopping he told you he’d handle. But, as I wrote earlier this year, “If you’re trying to motivate your husband with an intense, ‘you’re not going to ignore this anymore’ approach, it may backfire, especially if there’s a tone of blame.'”
If you want to set a 2016 resolution for your marriage, make it to cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect in your relationship. What I wrote in this post, which was the blog’s most popular article from 2015, is still true: “Respect is the very soil from which true love sprouts.” But you don’t have to wait until the new year to restore respect if it’s been lost in your marriage. Listen to each other, even amid the holiday hubbub. Compliment each other in front of your family members. Share a laugh about the fact that you love sentimental presents and he loves gag gifts.
If you’d like to read more marriage tips like these, consider purchasing my book Strong Women, Strong Love as a gift for yourself and for your husband. You’ll find lots of ideas to keep your marriage thriving even amid our busy lives.