Christmas is filled with yummy treats, beautiful gifts and Christmas carols.

Christmastime is also a time for family. Whether family is visiting our home or we are going to theirs, the visits can be stressful, especially on our marriage. The key to keeping our marriage a priority during the Christmas season is balance.

Something we do in our home when we are expecting company is prepare for our guests together.

Grocery shopping and setting up a guest room or area together keeps us unified. If you are giving gifts, wrapping them together (while watching a Christmas movie and sipping hot cocoa) is another way to stay connected.

Put together a small basket for your guests of snacks, drinks, puzzle books or any other small trinket with a handwritten note. This simple gesture lets your company know you and your spouse cared for and prepared for their arrival. Doing this together helps you and your spouse bond, and it’s always fun to give to others!

Another thing my husband and I do is go to bed a bit earlier when we have company or are visiting family. This allows us a bit of time to talk about our day and plan for the next. This extra bit of time also helps us focus on each other.

If we are visiting our family, our spouse can feel left out. If we are with our spouse’s family, we can begin to feel left out. To prevent this, be sure to include your spouse in your time with extended family.

If you are the one feeling excluded, pull your spouse aside. Lovingly let them know you understand they do not see their family often and you understand they want to spend maximum time with them. Then gently let them know you are feeling excluded.

Remember though, you are with your spouse much more than their extended family is; therefore, guard your heart against jealousy and give grace during this time.

If you have children, ask your family if they mind watching them for a few hours while you and your spouse go to dinner or a date. Chances are, this is long overdue! This serves two purposes. You are able to connect with your spouse, and your family gets to bond with your children.

Also, remember to take a timeout to care for yourself. We can get so busy tending to others and their needs that we neglect ourself. When we are neglected, we are more emotional and exhausted. Take time for a hot bath. Read a book and dress nicely. If you are a woman, put on some makeup and fix your hair. This simple gesture will make you feel better about yourself and the day.

At the end of the glorious Christmas season, you and your spouse can be more connected than before. And isn’t that what we all really want? A closer, more intimate relationship with the one we love the most.

Until next time, Merry Christmas!

Kindra Warner is a marriage group facilitator at Grace Christian Center in Killeen and a Herald correspondent.

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