When our kids were younger and our marriage was in its dark ages, Christmas was an unpleasant time.
I tried to focus on Jesus and think about the incredible gift that God had sent to us through a young woman all those years ago. I tried hard, and sometimes I was filled with genuine Christmas joy.
Most of the time, though, I felt buried by the details and tasks in front of me, all of which were compounded by the not-so-great relationship between Big Guy and me. Christmas was mostly something I did, not something I experienced in a meaningful way. Christmas Eve service at church felt like an obligation, something to get out of the way so I could get back home and finish up whatever I hadn’t gotten done.
Bitterness and resentment filled me. I saw all the things I was doing and all the things that Big Guy was NOT doing. I took care of the extra tasks, while his life stayed pretty much the same. And then, when he wanted to have sex? Aargh. My response would be to dump on him a verbal heap of all that bitterness and resentment. I wasn’t relaxed enough to enjoy sex. I was too tired to have it on my radar. I felt hurt by the fact that he didn’t step in to help me out.
Sex? No way. Not at Christmas.
I felt all alone in doing Christmas, and my stress oozed out of me. Big Guy felt all alone as I was doing Christmas because our sex life and relationship experienced additional tension. December was never a good time for our marriage or for our sex life. It wasn’t much of a Merry Christmas, either.
Every year, it was a relief to get the tree and decorations undone and packed away. I could breathe a sigh of relief that it was over. And then I was able to have sex, although the residual resentment and bitterness got in the way of a genuine connection.
My journey to work on sexual intimacy in our marriage included a commitment to sex. It also involved a lot of work on myself and on my attitude toward Big Guy and our relationship. I worked on letting go of control. I learned to accept that I didn’t need to strive for perfection.
Each one of these changes made a difference. The improvement in our sex life reduced the tension between my husband and me and helped me feel more calm and loving. As I let go of control, my family was able to relax and enjoy our time together more. Accepting imperfection and allowing myself to do good enough rather than just right gave me more time and reduced my stress level.
All of these changes worked together to help me experience a Christ-centered Christmas and move away from my attitude of doing Christmas as an item on my to-do list.
I stopped trying to make everything perfect. I let go of feeling obligated to participate in every single Christmas party or gift exchange. I decided that store-bought cookies were an acceptable substitute for homemade cookies. I did what I could when it fit and would bring joy to my marriage and family. I let go of guilt about the things I wasn’t doing.
After I stopped trying to control Christmas and do it right, my entire family enjoyed Christmas more. I was more pleasant to be around, and we were able to simply enjoy each other. Christmas Eve service transformed from obligation to worship.
Christmas is so much better now. It is easier. It is less stressful. I am filled with love for Big Guy rather than resentment. I enjoy Christmas Eve service—but I also don’t let it stress me if we don’t make it to church that night or if we don’t all dress the way I would like.
And sex? That’s better at Christmas time, too. Most years we even manage to make love in front of the Christmas tree at least once.
This time that used to be difficult in our marriage has become a time of connection, shared enjoyment, and intimacy.
Start Your Christmas Future Now
Your very Merry Christmas can start with just one small change.
If you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and resentful in your marriage right now, start thinking about what you can let go of next year. What do you do that is taking away from your marriage and your family? What is adding stress rather than joy to your life?
In fact, you still have time to make one small change this year: Bake one less pie. Include one less dish at Christmas dinner, or let the deli or a bakery do some of the work for you. Use store-bought whipped cream rather than whipping it yourself. Go with gift bags rather than elaborate wrapping for the rest of your gifts. (If you haven’t bought all your gifts yet, consider using some of the affiliate links on this page to support The Forgiven Wife while you shop!) If you can’t skip an event altogether, arrive late or leave early.
And if you can, try to make love with your husband in front of the Christmas tree.
I will be taking the next two weeks off from blogging. I’ll still be somewhat active on social media, because I like to see all my friends’ pictures of their Christmas festivities. (Be sure to join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!)
While I’m on a break, I will be republishing posts from my archives. I may or may not get to my email. In a couple weeks, I’ll be back in full swing! Be sure to sign up to get emails about new posts and my monthly newsletter.
I wish you and your marriage a very Merry Christmas!