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It’s a happy time of year, still the holiday season can be stressful, and, at times, cause contention between husband and wife. Try these 10 tips and see if they help bring feelings of love and joy between you and your spouse.

1. Plan gifts and events together. When only one of you does all the planning and deciding, there is no way unity can prevail. Sit down together and go through the remaining details of what’s happening in your family to celebrate Christmas and decide who is best suited to handle the different duties. Women are good at bulldozing ahead with the details. That’s okay if it’s part of the couple’s plan, but it’s not okay if hubby gets bulldozed over. You both need to be part of the planning. Decide what needs to be done then do it joyfully so your family can enjoy the peace and love this will bring into your home. President Thomas S. Monson said, “Bringing the Christmas spirit into our hearts and homes takes conscious effort and planning but can surely be accomplished.” (First Presidency Christmas Devotional Dec. 5, 2010)

2. Pray for a spirit of peace. Pray together as a couple that peace will fill your hearts as you work at focusing on Christ this Christmas season. Make it part of your family prayers as well. Your children need to be part of making it a reality. Put a picture of the Savior in a prominent place, close to the Christmas tree. Be sure to have a nativity scene in place, too. This visual evidence of Him and His peace will permeate your home.

3. Have Christmas carols playing so you can feel the Spirit. It will overcome and get rid of the possible grumbling that may take place. Sad to say, murmuring finds its way into our holiday homes if we’re not careful. Setting the stage to not let it in is the key. Music does that. Filling your home with strains of “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Joy to the World”, “Hark the Herald Angels”, “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and all the other beautiful carols fill the house with the Spirit of Christmas. Music will invite the angels and kick out the adversary. Make it even more fun by singing along.

4. Bake that special goody your spouse really likes. When your home is filled with the aroma of that seasonal treat your spouse will feel enveloped in your love. Remember the ditty, “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven”? Well, it’s true. In our house it’s the smell of butternut pound cake. When the kids were home they couldn’t wait to lick the beaters and the bowl. Now we take over the duty and thoroughly enjoy it together, laughing and fighting over the last lick.

5. Thank each other for helping. If your husband has worked hard at carrying in the Christmas tree or assembling the artificial one, then thank him. If your wife has worked at making the decorations come together in a beautiful way, thank her. Enjoy each other and your family as the lights are strung and the ornaments are hung. This year our visiting grandchildren helped decorate our tree. They opened the boxes of ornaments from years past and put everyone of them on the tree. We talked about some of them as they did, sharing the memories that came with certain ornaments. They handled them carefully and smiled with delight as they loaded it to the hilt. We have never had so many ornaments on our tree. We let them have a go at it and loved their enthusiasm. It’s beautiful. Now they’ve gone home, to return at Christmastime. Since we both so enjoyed their decorating it, we now enjoy just looking at the tree together and remember the fun.

6. Remember Christmases past. It’s heartwarming to talk together as a couple about special times you shared in years gone by. As your children grow so will your memories. We were talking about some of our choice memories recently and both of said out loud, “Boots!” We remember so many years ago when our son, Michael, was only four years old. His little face lit up and he was so happy when he opened up his present and found those red boots. When the lid came off the box he shouted “Boots!” The delight on his face was priceless. It took so little to please them when they were so young. We love sharing the memories with each other. Do it and it will bring you closer together. It’s a love builder.

7. Be forgiving. When everyone is so busy trying to get holiday things done it’s easy to be offended by a spouse. He or she may say something that wasn’t meant to hurt, but it did. If it’s something big, talk about it privately out of the heat of the moment and calmly resolve it. Apologize if needed, then forgive. If it’s no big deal, and most things aren’t, just let it slide and forget about it. Some things just aren’t worth mentioning. If they are it can escalate into something ugly and it’s just not worth it. Pray to be able to do this so the Spirit of the Lord can be in your home and in your hearts. We know we should never speak guile, but what about thinking guile. One meaning of the word guile is “treacherous cunning; skillful deceit.” If we spend our time thinking of ways to get even or to hurt back, is that not thinking guile? Pray to be free of any such thoughts, especially regarding your mate. Be forgiving.

8. Watch some good Christmas TV shows together. The Hallmark channel is loaded with good ones this time of year. Or you can put on your favorite DVDs and enjoy sharing a heart touching movie. It’s a good way to unwind and enjoy a little time together, sometimes with the kids, and sometimes just the two of you.

9. Have fun and bring laughter into your relationship. Couples who laugh together can’t help but bring happiness into their homes. Victor Borge said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It’s true. Laugh together and you will become closer.

10. Say “I love you” to each other. Assuming doesn’t work. Say the words. Elder David A. Bednar said, “We simply should sincerely and frequently express love. Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, “I love you”? . . . We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.” (Gen. Conf. October 2009) Loving each other will bring the light of Christ into your home. Let your children see and feel that love and it will bless them, not only this Christmas season, but all their lives.

We hope these suggestions help you have a merry Christmas as you enjoy each other and the blessing of Christ in your lives.

[For more articles and books on building happy family relationships visit the Lundbergs’ website ]