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Christmas can be a difficult time of year, especially if your marriage is hurting.
But rather than face the pain, many couples simply mask their emotions in an effort to get through the holidays. Even if they’re desperate to find hope and healing, the stress of the season often holds them back.
If this strikes a chord, don’t wait for the New Year to fix your union. It might never happen. Now is the time to stop pretending and to start addressing the tough issues threatening your marriage. Here’s how:
Talk to a trusted pastor or counselor.
If you’re assuming no one wants to hear about your troubles during the holidays, you’re wrong. A good pastor or marriage counselor wants to see your marriage succeed as much as you do. So find someone who cares about you before pouring your heart out.
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And don’t wait to start counseling “when things slow down.” By February you may be sick of trying and ready to call it quits. You’re not a nuisance for “bothering” a professional counselor around Christmas. It takes two to make a mess, but it often takes three to clean it up.
Related: Marriage Counselor or Financial Coach: Which One Do You Need?
Focus on your finances.
The number one cause of divorce in America is money fights or money problems. So the chances are high that financial stress is at least part of the challenge you’re facing. If you’re dealing with a spouse who spends recklessly or refuses to budget, you can’t force them to change. You can, however, ask them to talk to a financial coach with you or attend a Financial Peace University class.
Even if they say no, you can still go and learn a lot about getting your family’s finances back in order. Hopefully, they’ll see a positive change in your life and decide to attend as well. When you can agree on money, you can begin to tear down the wall of debt and distrust that’s grown between you.
Stop comparing your marriage.
Social media is great at highlighting happy families, smiling children and adorable puppies. Because of this, it can be tempting to assume everyone else is problem-free. But any couple who’s been married longer than two minutes knows that’s a lie. The truth is we just don’t showcase the realities of life that aren’t picture-perfect.
For the sake of your sanity, it might be wise to lay off Facebook and Instagram for a while. This will keep you from envying all those “perfect” couples and families. Plus, you won’t have to craft your own happy timeline for the world to compare and contrast their lives to.
Don’t do it for the kids.
It’s crucial to put up a good front for your children, right? Not if you’re ignoring the real problem. Your children are important, but right now, your marriage is more important.
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We’re not saying have knock-down, drag-out fights in front of the kids—please don’t do that. But don’t spoil them with thousands of dollars’ worth of presents either. Kids are smart. And they probably know something’s up already. So give them all they really want for Christmas anyway: another shot at your marriage.
Say no to extended family.
Holiday travel is enough to stress out a strong marriage, much less one that’s on edge. You’ve got plenty to think about already without Uncle Bob’s awful jokes or Cousin Priscilla’s ceaseless chatter.
It’s okay to take a year off from the exhaustion and expense of traveling to six celebrations. And if your parents or in-laws give you grief, just tell them you have to do what’s best for your family. Use the extra time to relax and do something special—like a movie marathon with the kids or a quiet walk through the park. Sometimes it helps to remember what you loved about being together.
If you’re struggling to keep your marriage together this Christmas, you don’t have to do it alone. Find dedicated individuals who can truly help, and then make every effort to face your problems instead of hiding them until January.
The holidays might not be easy, but they don’t have to be hopeless.
Sometimes you need an independent perspective to see things you might otherwise miss. Dave Ramsey’s team offers personal, one-on-one coaching with a highly qualified expert to help you develop a specific plan to meet your needs. Find out how a financial coach can help you navigate this time in your life.