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Amidst the rush of Christmas, with looming work deadlines to meet, pressing social engagements, shopping, as well as a host of other things to get done, I took ten minutes today to go for a stroll. When I say stroll, I mean I put my hands in my pockets, whistled, and walked slowly through the streets of the central city, absorbing the energy of what was going on around me, the rush of traffic, the people on the sidewalk, the people in the shops, the sunshine above me, and the gentle breeze on my face. Ten minutes was what it took for me to refocus on my surroundings and the part I play in the environment around me, and I was humbled.
Christmas is a very stressful time for couples, and domestic violence is at its highest over the Christmas season. Increased pressure, both in demands on time and income, attending office parties, social gatherings, school concerts, and shopping malls, all takes its toll on the one commodity that should be the most precious: your marriage.
Those closest to us often bear the brunt of our frustrations, consciously or not, and it is tempting to let this start a cycle of tit-for-tat bickering or sharing stories of who is more stressed or overworked. And we stress for a number of different reasons! Sometimes it is about making enough time in the day to get all of your tasks done, sometimes it’s fulfilling all obligations to those around you, finding the perfect present, or creating the perfect Christmas meal.
But in doing so, we lose sight of what should be most important. Do you or your partner really want the perfect power tool or designer fragrance, or do you want another shot at a better marriage?
It’s not too late to make a start, no matter how bad things have become, and this Christmas could be a time of redemption for the both of you… provided you really want to make it happen.
So what are a few ways to give your partner another chance this Christmas?
- The first is to stop whatever you are doing. Turn off the television. Turn off the radio. Spend some time alone. Relax. Meditate. Let your mind let go of the day-to-day stuff that clutters it up. Think about the last time you said something nice to your spouse. When did you last compliment them on something nice they did for you? When is the last time you thanked them for anything?
- Next step is to light a candle. Look into the candle and spend a while thinking about all the things in your life that you are thankful for. Think of al the people who enrich your life and make it better. Think of all the selfless and thoughtful things people do for you. Think about all the times you are thankful to your partner for the things they have done for you. Think how fortunate you are in comparison to so many others around you.
- Another idea is to think of a song that is special to you and your husband or wife. What is it about that song that makes it special to you? What special memory do you have attached to that song? Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when you listened to that song together?
- Are you letting the small things get you down? Write a letter about all of your frustrations, and all the little things that you feel that annoy you. Then write another letter about all the things you love about your life and all the things that make you happy. Now I want you to burn the frustration letter. How does that make you feel? Sometimes the expression of feelings, even in something so simple as writing them down, can help let go of the emotion attached to issues. Fold the other letter and put it in a drawer or somewhere that you can come back to when you need strength.
- Say "sorry". I recall the story of how the German and British soldiers in the trenches in France spontaneously sang chrismas carols and stopped fighting on Chrismas Eve. Soldiers and officers managed to lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer. The legacy of this story is that no matter how difficult the circumstances, the human spirit is capable of love. It is not about who is more right, and it is not about who has hurt who more. Sometimes love is accepting your differences and sacrificing some of your pride. But the reward is truly enriching.
Let this Christmas be a time of goodwill, peace, and love, and let this prosper in your home and in your marriage this festive season. It is never too late to offer the hand of peace.