Hang all the mistletoe, I'm going to get to know you better... 

I have these, frankly, absurd romantic notions about the Holidays, that practically never come true. They include playing sappy holiday songs, slow dancing by the fireplace, kissing and reminiscing about years past, then cuddling up with a glass of wine. They never include frantically wrapping presents Christmas Eve, extremely strained hushed voices about how to put the freaking dollhouse together, arguments about whose family has priority with the parties (spoiler alert, it’s always mine) and panic attacks over the credit card bill. While maybe my initial expectations are a bit high, here are some ways to connect with your love this season despite all the stress and chaos that may surround you. 

First, LAUGH. Yes, it's that simple. If you have been centering your day around gratitude, you will start to see the humor, and not the offense, in the small things. When his mother sends him passive aggressive texts about what you guys should be doing, squeeze his hand, (set boundaries, contact me for more on this!) and laugh. When the perfect dinner turns out burned and tastes awful, laugh. When your children scream on Santa’s lap, don’t worry about what everyone else is thinking and blame your husband for missing their nap. Take a deep breath, snap the picture because in about five minutes, it will crack you up and fill you with joy that you passed the quintessential parenting milestone of waiting for years in a line with picture perfect outfits only to have your children ruin it. No matter what it is, in the end, a sense of humor will get you through.

Second, schedule and be intentional about your time together. For years I lived away from family, so date nights were rare. Every Christmas, however, my husband and I set aside time to watch Christmas Vacation a million times, wrap presents, and spend the time quoting the movie ad nauseam. In fact, it is one of our favorite traditions and every year we look forward to those nights, and count down until we can start watching it again. It’s not romantic, but we do love our memories around this simple ritual. Mama, how can you connect with your husband? Can you call a sitter and go on a walk in the snow? Can you pencil in a night where you two slow dance and talk by a fire? What about simply packing up the kids before bedtime and drive them to sleep while you browse the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights? And if they scream the entire time - refer to the point above. It’s the little moments that become the big ones, and even you and your husband deserve to build memories and traditions between the two of you.

Finally, set boundaries. You can't be everything to everyone, and contrary to popular belief, family dynamics do not mean a sacrifice to your mental health. You, your partner, and your children come first, and that will look different with each family. However, clear boundaries are necessary and imperative to not only save your sanity, but save the stress in your marriage during the holidays. You don’t owe your extended family or in-laws anything, at all but you do owe your husband, your children, and mostly importantly yourself, a happy mama and home.

The Holidays are the perfect months to re-connect with your spouse. I encourage you to throw all pre-conceived notions of what it should look like, and think about what it actually looks like, and have gratitude and joy from there. Whether it includes pajamas, popcorn, and cheesy Hallmark movies, secretly recording him swearing and sweating over that damn playhouse, or even red hot sex in front of the fire place (hey, it could happen!) I pray you take this time to cultivate the joy and gratitude in your marriage, and schedule time to share in the magic together. 

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