The holidays are so full of expectations for the picture perfect Norman Rockwell moments. Each of us has an idea of what we want the Christmas season to be like. What happens when our dreams of Christmas are not met? Often the ideas we have for Christmas don’t match our spouses. Because of this our desires are either unmet or conflict arises. If this happens to you this holiday season one thing to remember is that conflict does not destroy marriages. It is the inability to resolve conflict that becomes so destructive. Conflict can trigger strong emotions that lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort. When handled in a healthy way, conflict has the ability to increase our understanding of one another, to build trust, and to ultimately strengthen your marriage.
Here are 8 ways to recapture the peace and resolve conflict during the holidays:
- When you have a conflict, look for a way you and your partner can compromise and come to a solution that benefits both. Often when you take the time to listen to each other you can find a win-win solution.
- The holidays are filled with memories; for some, those memories are fond. Others, can be paralyzed by the painful memories of the past. If you’re holding on to old hurts and resentments, your ability to enjoy the present will be impaired. When you get stuck focusing on the past you prevent yourself from having a present. Stop yourself from drifting to hurtful memories, and instead, focus on the good things in your present circumstances. Focus on the here-and-now and what you can do to make happy memories today.
- When you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse, it is easy to start thinking that your partner needs to change or that you are just incompatible. Trying to change our spouse will always lead to frustration. The only person you have the ability to change is yourself. Concentrate on any changes that you can make to improve the situation. Remember that conflicts are opportunities for growth—in you and your partner.
- Sometimes when we have high expectations that go unmet, the littlest thing can spiral into a big disagreement. Know when to let something go. Consider whether the issue you are arguing over is really worth it. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree.
- Don’t always insist on being right or having the final say. If you are right, no defense is needed. If you are wrong, no defense will do. When possible, choose peace over being right.
- Make a promise with your spouse during this and every season of your marriage, that no matter how angry you become with each other, you will never threaten your marriage by speaking of or alluding to divorce. You made a covenant with your spouse and with God on your wedding day. On that day, God united you together as one. This promise is for a lifetime.
- One of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse is to follow the example of Jesus and forgive. Be committed to forgive, forget and move past conflicts without holding resentment or anger. “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers” ~ Ruth Graham Bell.
- Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Keeping this in mind, when a conflict arises, look for a lesson that God may be wanting to teach you in those circumstances.
One final thought ~ this holiday season, even when it is difficult, respond in the most loving way to your spouse as a gift to Jesus for His birthday. After all, Jesus is the reason for this wonderful season!