Christmas is a great time of year, especially if you’re a marriage counselor or a divorce attorney. That’s because the stresses of Christmas will test the marriages health. The choices of Christmas season can be overwhelming. Who’s going to get a card? Which tree? What decoration? Who gets what gift? When, where and with whom are we going to celebrate? Then the biggie…how are we going to pay for all this?
These decisions can put an enormous pressure on any couple. So couples who have learned how to discuss issues in a safe and respectful manner and can come to a mutually agreeable solution will deepen their intimacy. Struggling couples, on the other hand, who get into the deadly trap of “I win; you lose” negotiations will experience resentment and unhappiness.
So here are four steps that can help make your Christmas merry and bright:
1. Establish ground rules for communication. Pledge to seek a win-win solution. The goal is for both of you to agree on your final decision. Keep your discussion safe. No yelling over each other. No threats. Attack the problem, not the person. And listen respectfully to your spouse’s opinions and desires.
2. Know what your partner wants and why? The goal is for both of us to answer this question. What does my spouse want and why does he or she want it? When you can both repeat back each other’s answers as to what and why, you’re ready to do the third step.
3. Brainstorm possible solutions. Set up a time to get together, to share and write down all the possible solutions to your issue. Remember to keep your answers to step number two clearly in mind. What do you want and why? Don’t evaluate the ideas yet. The goal is to get as many possibilities on that sheet of paper as possible. And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
4. Choose a solution you can both agree on from your list of solutions. Eliminate the ones that will absolutely not work for both of you. Identify the ones that can be modified to work and hopefully there will be a couple of them. Now, talk some more to determine which of these will become the best solution for both of you.
If none of the choices on your list materializes, go back and repeat the brainstorming and try again. Remember, Christmas is not about the thrills and frills of celebration. It’s all about God and sinner reconciled.
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