Christmas…..a time of remembrance and celebration of the birth of Christ. It is also the madhouse, pull your hair out, busy, time of the year where financial stress can soar.
I had a couple come to see me about this very stress. The wife who we will call Sally proceeded to tell me that her and our husband (we will call) Joe rarely fought and argued….with the exception of Christmas. Joe was the one who wanted to stay on a budget. Sally was the one who wanted to go all out regardless of the cost.
As a result this conflict created tension, stress, and of course fighting. They were wanting a resolution. This was the last time of the year that they wanted this type of tension in their marriage. So, they were asking for help! Here is what I told them:
Seek first to understand then to be understood – (Stephen Covey Principle)
Did it ever dawn on you why your wife or husband feel the way that they do about Christmas? Instead of arguing (Trying to be right why you make your spouse wrong) talk with each other about your Christmas experiences growing up. Sally talked about how her middle-class parents never did anything for birthdays. However, they went all out for Christmas. With 7 kids, this is all they could afford.
Joe on the other hand had a dad who was very strict with money and ran a tight ship at Christmas. Joe’s Christmas was somewhat limited while Sally had fond memories of Christmas and lots of presents. Can you see why they were fighting?
Give up the need to be right
We argue because we want to establish who is right and who is wrong. If you want to drastically change your relationship with your spouse, give up the need to right and make your spouse wrong. Work towards a compromise- you know, where each of you give and take for the greater good?
Compromise doesn’t mean change will occur over night – Show Grace
Just because you have had this heart warming break through doesn’t mean that those old tendencies will not show up unintentionally. Show some grace in that instance and learn to trust your spouse’s actions. Unless you are perfect show GRACE!
You have to work at it
Depending on how long you and your spouse have communicated through arguing will dictate how long it will take to undo a lot of water under the bridge. The good news is that effective communication can be developed. Just remember the above steps and try it out this Christmas. Hopefully it will develop into a 12 month commitment.
Seek first to understand then to be understood…..
Give up the need to be right ……