Jill: It’s that time of year again. Christmas music is starting to play as tons of decor hits the store shelves.

Mark: As the calendar begins to fill up with Thanksgiving meals, office parties, and plans to visit extended family around Christmas, it can be difficult to get on the same page as your spouse. Or, even worse, you might feel like your expectations aren’t being met or your wants aren’t considered.

Jill: We’ve found that we each grew up with different traditions around the holidays. As a result, the activities and events that are the most meaningful to us tend to vary. Think about what traditions you grew up with around the holidays. Did they include caroling, grandparents coming to their grandchildren’s Christmas program at church, sharing a large meal together, or exchanging gifts? Those experiences have likely informed what feel important to you during the holidays.

Mark: With so many different traditions, events, and expectations, it’s important to communicate well with your spouse about your family’s holiday schedule. However, this doesn’t have to be a boring negotiation; it can be an opportunity to learn something new about your spouse!

Make a Date of It!

Jill: Rather than having a serious conversation to get on the same page about holiday plans, why not make it a fun date? Mark and I often enjoy going out to one of our favorite restaurants or doing an activity we both enjoy, and using that time to talk about our assumptions around the holidays and ask each other some helpful questions to align our expectations.

Mark: By approaching this conversation with curiosity and surrounding it with fun, you can build connection with your spouse. You’ll also set yourselves up for success by getting on the same page about how you’ll spend your time as a family.

Jill: You may even decide to do a Christmas-themed activity or favorite tradition with your spouse as you discuss how to divide your time and what events are the most important to one another. This could be making an ornament together, creating a holiday-themed beverage, or going ice skating. Again, have fun with it!

Talk About It

Mark: The next step is to have a conversation with your spouse about holiday expectations, traditions, and their expectations. Don’t worry, we have a list of questions to help get you started right here:

  • What was your favorite tradition growing up?
  • What tradition or activity would you most like to practice with our children?
  • When you think of Thanksgiving, what’s most important to you?
  • When you think of Christmas, what’s most important to you?
  • If we could only do one holiday tradition, what would it be? (Give one for each holiday you observe: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, etc…)
  • If we had to pick a word to describe what Thanksgiving week should look like for us, what would it be?
  • If we had to pick a word to describe what Christmas week should look like for us, what would it be?
  • How do we want to divide our time between families this year?
  • Are there any boundaries, goals, or strategies we want to set so that our holiday is spent the way we want it to be?
  • What will you need from me?
  • Should we have any limits or needs around long family gatherings?

Jill: You can add any other questions you may have to this list! It may be helpful to print or write them out in advance so you and your spouse can take turns drawing questions from a jar or bowl. It’s important that you both answer each question that’s asked so you can each hear what’s most important to one another.

Mark: Remember, the purpose of this exercise is to learn more about your spouse and to get on the same page on how you will invest your time. There are no silly or dumb answers. Rarely does a couple line up 100% with how they would prefer to spend their time.

Jill: There are so many different traditions that you may have grown up with that your spouse did not. The fun part now is that you get to decide together what traditions you want to observe together. There may even be a tradition you never got to experience that you want to start in your home.

Mark: The holidays can often bring up stress and even conflict with your spouse. Taking the time now to get on the same page will not only help build a deeper connection and more understanding, but you can also make sure your expectations align with one another.

Jill: Not to mention that you can have a fun date night in the process! ❤️

READ MORE: Invitation Without Expectation: Wisdom for Empty Nest Moms
READ MORE: No More Perfect Holidays: Managing Your Expectations & Attitude This Season



Do you need to rebuild trust?
Learn how through our free Rebuilding Trust webinar!

Want regular encouragement?

Subscribe to get Jill's latest content by email.

(You can view our privacy policy here.)

Powered by ConvertKit