On the eve of this holiday season, when gratitude is so often shown in the form of finely-wrapped boxes, home-baked goods, and cards filled with money, it’s worthwhile to consider a few FREE ways of expressing thanks that may mean even more to your spouse than material things.
The holidays don’t just strain our budgets: they test our stamina and endurance! Be willing to take a deep breath and respond to an otherwise infuriating situation with serenity and you may render your partner speechless! Commit to not allowing anything (including misbehaving children and small kitchen fires) to steal your joy and forbearance. Your spouse will thank you!
Patience often goes hand-in-hand with flexibility, and there are countless chances to practice compromise during the holidays. These opportunities include where to spend special days, which activities to put on your calendars, and how many gifts to buy for the kids. Showing a willingness to meet your spouse half-way – – or all the way! – – can make the difference between warm holiday nights by the fire or a chill between you.
Bringing levity to stressful holiday situations is a gift in itself! If your spouse doesn’t often see you in this light, you will win some major points by bringing people together over a well-timed joke, an ill-fitting Santa suit, or set of reindeer ear muffs. If jokes don’t come naturally, Google some clean ones you can use with any audience and keep them in your back pocket for those awkward work parties and tense family gatherings.
There are many things about holiday events we cannot influence, and peace can be partially achieved by simply accepting this lack of control and going with the flow. If there is a person or condition you simply cannot abide gracefully, choose instead not to attend or participate and do something you’ll enjoy instead. Your partner may not join you but will stand back and marvel in awe at your new ability to let things roll off your back.
Humility involves aspects of each of the above and then some. This is the hardest for those of us who like to be right, strive to be perfect, and don’t want to lose face – – particularly in front of a critical parent-in-law. It’s the ability to say “You might be right. I’ll give it some thought” or refrain from taking the bait when your snarky sibling constantly tries to one-up your accomplishments. Stay focused on the ultimate goal of being gracious and enjoying yourself, then continue this new attitude into the new year and see if it doesn’t dramatically change the outcome of your regularly-scheduled fights with you-know-who.
Looking on the bright side is a trait AND a habit that is extremely attractive in almost any situation and can win you converts for life. If the turkey burns, highlight the ham. If the ham doesn’t come out well, talk about how yummy the sides look and how fortunate you are to have them when so many will go without this holiday season. If your tire goes flat on the cross-country drive to your in-laws, well . . . need I say more?
Of all the virtues listed above, selflessness is perhaps the most challenging because it goes to the core of our innate nature to put ourselves front and center. But it’s also something that makes for a great marriage. Putting the needs of your spouse and others before your own will not only be a huge gift and blessing to them but is often the best way to get your own needs met in the long run.
This holiday season, let’s gift our mates with some of these “attitudes of gratitude” – complete with a smile (the bow on top) – and watch them respond!
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