As I write this, I am sitting under a winter storm warning.
People around here are doing what they do when a big snow is on the way. They’re making sure their snow blowers are gassed up and their sidewalk salt is ready to go. Their digging out the winter hats and gloves. They’re gathering the last of the garden harvest. And yes, they’re going to the store for bread and milk.
Yesterday we had some pretty strong winds that gave us a taste of the winter cold. I wore my winter coat, made sure my gloves were in the pockets, and dug around in the basement to find the rest of our winter gear. Big Guy made a grocery store run today and filled up our gas can. Our son raked up the rest of the autumn leaves on our sidewalk so shoveling and snow blowing will be easier. I put the leaf rake away and put the snow shovel where I could get to it easily.
We usually don’t get big snows in November, so we hadn’t figured we would have to do any of this just yet. With a winter storm on the way, though, we changed our expectations. We are both doing what is necessary for us to handle the season of snow. We are as prepared as we can be for the storm that is on the way. When we wake up to new snowfall tomorrow, we’ll probably realize that there was something we forgot to do—but we will manage. And I will bake cookies with the supplies I asked my husband to pick up today.
Although you may not have snow storms where you live, you probably make similar preparations when you know a storm is on the way. People move valuables up to the second floor at the prospect of a flood. Windows get boarded up in expectation of a hurricane. Events get rescheduled or relocated. We make sure we know where our flashlights and candles are. We make a run to the grocery store for the things we’ll need as we weather it out.
The holiday storm
You probably prepare yourself for stormy weather—but do you also prepare yourself for the storm ahead of you right now? You know the storm—the holiday storm. It’s a whirlwind of shopping, baking, parties, programs, decorating, Christmas cards, church services, volunteer work, and year-end reviews and celebrations. If we aren’t thoughtful, we can be flattened by the storm—and so can our marriages.
The stresses of the holidays can be wearing. Many women assume the burden of doing much of the work of this time of year, and we can wear ourselves out. We’ll be around relatives and we worry about our kids behaving and getting along with the in-laws. We have an endless to-do list. We get stressed and exhausted just getting through the day. Who has time for intimacy?
Our husbands often watch us go through the whirlwind of preparations, confused about why we are taking on so much. And maybe they feel a bit left out, too.
We’ve lived through the holiday storm before so we know what we’re facing—so how can we prepare in a way that helps the intimacy in our marriages be nurtured rather than blown away?
There are things you can do to get yourself ready for what is coming. You can lessen the impact of some of the stresses, and you can get yourself equipped to deal with the challenges.
You’ve lived through the Christmas season before, so you know what is ahead of you. Think now about what needs to be done now and during the storm to keep your marriage healthy.
Adjust your schedule. It is okay for you to not accept every invitation or say yes to every request. Sit down with your husband and your calendars now to schedule yourselves for one or two evenings every week for the two of you to have some down time. Say no to new requests, arrange to get things taken care of ahead of time so the evenings don’t fill up with last-minute wrapping and baking. Take one day off from work or arrange for the kids to have a play date elsewhere so you can go to the mall during a quieter time of day.
Get your equipment ready, and make it work for you. Think about what causes you the most stress during the holidays and look for ways to streamline where you can. Do what you can ahead of time to minimize the stress later. Designate a wrapping area. Get supplies for Christmas crafts the kids can do without supervision. Buy a huge amount of gift bags. Buy premade cookie dough. Get Amazon gift cards for the kids’ teachers. Set a price limit on gifts; stick to it by leaving your credit card at home and taking only cash. (Or use some of the affiliate links on this page to enjoy the convenience of online shopping and sending a small commission my direction.)
Ask for help—and accept it. One of the biggest struggles for many women at this time of year is the feeling that we’re the ones doing all the work. Have your kids wrap the gifts for their teachers. Ask your husband to pick out a centerpiece for the table. Let the kids decorate the tree. If you have people over and someone asks to help, hand her the dish towel or ask for help arranging platters or carrying food to the other guests. Things may not get done exactly as you would do them, but if it takes something off your plate and helps others feel more involved, it’s a win-win, right?
Weather out the storm—with your husband
When you find yourself in the middle of the holiday storm, take a deep breath and let your marriage sustain you. One of the ways we are blessed by healthy sexual intimacy in our marriages is that making love can provide renewal, comfort, and the reminder that we aren’t alone. Your marriage be can be an oasis and refuge.
Try some of these things:
- Instead of buying a new dress for a Christmas party, spend the money on a new piece of lingerie.
- Enjoy hot chocolate together—in bed, snuggled up under the covers.
- Make shopping into a date with your husband. Take the day off together. Buy gifts in the morning, go out for lunch, and then come home for a little afternoon delight.
- Put Christmas lights up in your bedroom.
- Look for the ways your husband helps and supports you. Thank him for chopping down the Christmas tree and for taking the kids with him. Let him know you appreciate the fact that he made a grocery store run for you.
- Try some of the ideas in this post.
- When you feel overwhelmed, ask your husband for a hug.
You aren’t the one who makes Christmas happen. God is.
Even if you didn’t buy a single gift, bake any cookies, or go to any parties, Christmas would still come.
Christmas came to a stable all those years ago. It certainly will come to your home even if you attend fewer events, put up fewer decorations, spend less money than usual, or spend some extra time being intimate with your husband.
Rather than stressing out about all the things you have to do, seek comfort—in your husband’s arms.
And . . . sigh . . . if it turns out that the snow blower doesn’t work after all and you and your husband both have to put a little extra effort in taking care of the aftermath, at least you’ll be glowing while you do it.
Image courtesy of ahmet guler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net