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holidays

This time of year, you’ll see plenty of articles about how to have the happiest holiday season ever. You’ll find no shortage of advice on how to deck your halls, craft handmade gifts, start beloved traditions and dazzle at parties.

That’s all well and good, but I want to make things much simpler for you. Today I’m going to share with you one tip that could make this the least stressful holiday season you’ve ever had. It’s free. It doesn’t require crafting or cooking skills. It works no matter which holidays you observe. And it doesn’t have an expiration date. In fact, I hope you use it well after the last New Year’s celebrations have wrapped up.

What’s my magical tip?

When people get on your nerves, assume that they’re not doing it on purpose.

Trust me, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out this mental shift in the coming weeks. What if you stopped assuming things like this?

  • Your husband leaves all gift shopping to you because he doesn’t value your time.
  • Your friend posts pictures of her perfect decorations and gift-wrapping to make others feel inferior.
  • Your brother is always late to gatherings because he’s trying to tick you off.
  • Your mom only picks at the holiday meals you prepare because your cooking isn’t fancy enough for her.

The truth is, we’re all pretty self-involved. We don’t think very much about the ramifications our actions have on others. Unless a person has shown you before that he’s malicious (in which case you’ve got a whole other issue going on), it’s more likely that he just doesn’t know how he’s affecting you.

When you assume someone is being clueless instead of downright nasty, the whole situation suddenly feels a great deal lighter. You let go of resentments and start seeing constructive solutions.

Getting Past Assumptions

Since this blog focuses on how to strengthen your marriage, I would especially encourage you to stop assuming your husband has bad intentions when he does something that disappoints or irritates you.

The holiday season can be a time of high expectations, so it’s prime time for assuming the worst!

Let’s go back to an example from above:

Your husband leaves all gift shopping to you.

 You’ve been assuming you know the reason for this behavior. You’re absolutely certain that it’s because he doesn’t value your time, so he’s intentionally passing the gift shopping off to you.

But what else could be behind his behavior?

  • Maybe he thinks you love gift shopping.
  • Maybe he believes you think he’s terrible at choosing gifts.
  • Maybe his own mom did the shopping for their family and he just assumes that’s how all families do it.
  • Maybe he doesn’t realize how long it takes and that it affects your schedule that much.

It’s also possible he really doesn’t value your time, but it’s important to be sure that’s the case before you work off that negative assumption.

Sometimes it’s easier to start by assuming your husband isn’t doing anything to you on purpose and just letting him know how his actions affect you. That could sound like:

With both our families growing, we’re gift shopping for more people now. Taking care of it all is leaving me pretty stressed. You’d be helping me a lot if we could start dividing up the gift list.

As an experiment this week, pay attention when your husband or anyone else pushes your buttons. Notice whether you automatically assume the worst about their behavior. If you do, try replacing that assumption with the belief that the other person isn’t trying to hurt you. How does that make you feel? Let me know how this mental shift works for you during the holiday season and beyond.